"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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Recent Reads (vol.9)

After not reading much during October thanks to my daily blogging endeavor, I've picked up the books again! I hit the 50-book mark for the second year in a row, which is CRAZY. (My dad is always like "That's more books than I've read in my life! LOL.) But I'm realizing that reading books is part of my self-care. So. Yeah. Here are a few I've read lately:

And Then There Were None by Agathie Christie

This was my first book by Agathie Christie, and I have to admit I read it partially because I wanted to watch the 2-episode adaptation featuring the guy who plays Poldark. The other reason is that I found out that Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, Beauty and The Beast) narrates the audiobook. He did a great job, the book was good, and the mini-series was good too even though they totally changed things and added a couple inappropriate scenes. Ugh. But yeah, now I'm intrigued about Murder on the Orient Express, since it's a movie out right now...

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

If you write and/or consider yourself a writer, you need to read this book. Anne manages to be helpful and hilarious at the same time, reassuring the reader that while writing is hard, it's worth it. Maybe her sense of humor isn't for everyone, but I definitely LOL'd a lot. (There were like at least 2 times that I rolled my eyes at some minor detail - like when she refers to God as a she - but that won't stop me from recommending this to anyone who writes.)

Fire by Night by Lynn Austin

This was #2 in a trilogy. It was a little predictable in regards to the love story aspect, but it was still adorable. It takes place during the Civil War and the main character becomes a nurse, which was totally up my alley. It was interesting reading about the beginning of nursing. Some aspects of nursing have changed over the years, but the basic concept is still the same, which is amazing.

A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake

This was my first Kindle First read, and I really enjoyed it. It goes back and forth in time, from 1822 to 2015, and takes place in Charleston. The main character is trying to find answers about why her parents left Charleston and why her mother was obsessed with events from 1822. I pretty much fell in love with several of the characters. Considering I had just read a book about the Civil War, and this book had a lot to do with slavery, it was a nice follow-up in a way. The author even tied in real events, but I won't spoil it for anyone!

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

This was hard to get through at times (oh, the cheesy poetry!) and perhaps could have been presented a little better...but I gained some life-changing insights. So I’m glad I stuck with it!

What books have you read lately? You know I love to hear!

Monday, November 27, 2017

What's for breakfast? {five favorites}

One of the things I do to keep our food budget down is try really, really hard to make breakfast (ahead of time) from scratch. I love baking, I love breakfast, and I really do notice our grocery expenses being less when I'm making more of an effort to do so.

I tend to make the saaaaame recipes over and over because I am a creature of habit, and I know what I like and what our family likes. So here are 5 of our favorites! Linking up with Ashley...you should too :)

1. Really Good Blueberry Muffins from Andrea Dekker

I probably make these the most! The recipe says it makes 24 muffins but I can usually get almost 36 - just depends on how much you want the tops to overflow. I've never put the extra sugar on top. They freeze great so I always keep a dozen out for the next morning and stick the rest in the freezer.
The boys all love these and there are always crumbs everywhere but totally worth it, in my opinion.

2. Best Banana Bread

I couldn't find the exact link of the recipe I use but this is basically it - just use 4 bananas! It takes just a few minutes to whip up and is the reason why I always buy a crapload of bananas. I want to make sure I have enough to make this deliciousness!

3. English muffin bread from Money Saving Mom

I love bread. I make bread a lot. This is probably my favorite bread recipe ever. I should just leave it at that but I want to add that it freezes great (it makes 2 loaves so I freeze one, already sliced) and it definitely tastes best toasted, with butter. Sometimes we eat just the toast (I like butter and jelly, Logan and the boys like butter and honey) but we usually serve this with scrambled eggs. SO GOOD.

4. Chocolate banana bread from Money Saving Mom

I make this when I'm a banana short for the the real banana bread or when we want some chocolatey goodness. It's a fun breakfast treat on a holiday or feast day!

5. Homemade Freezer Biscuits from Money Saving Mom

I will never buy canned biscuits anymore because of this recipe. Seriously. I try to have these in the freezer when we have company spending the night because they're so easy to pull out in the morning and who the heck doesn't like biscuits?
Throwback to 2015. Landon still loves to help!
Okay, I'm off to make one of these recipes now. Ha.

Do you have any breakfast faves? Let a gal know!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Forget the turkey {Advent thoughts}

I know we haven't even gotten to Thanksgiving yet, but I just can't stop thinking about Advent. I love Advent. I'm a little bummed at how ridiculously short it is this year and wondering what the heck we're supposed to do in that awkward week after Thanksgiving before Advent starts (since usually that week is the 1st week of Advent) but...I guess I'll survive.

A couple of my besties are giving me a copy of Rooted in Hope (an Advent journal specifically for this year) which I'm so dang excited about. I really wanted it as soon as I found out about it but it's just not in the budget right now so I'm just really grateful for my friends and their awesomeness.

I'm usually pretty terrible at celebrating feast days (unless it's a Solemnity) but tend to make up for it during Advent. We go big on St. Nicholas Day (December 6) by filling stockings, we usually have Mexican for either St. Juan Diego (December 9) or Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) or heck, sometimes both because we love Mexican food. Special crafts for the boys usually consist of printing out a coloring page of said saint because I am so fancy. But they love it and remember saints that way so yay for lazy liturgical living. Oh, and those CCC videos help too!

Logan made the executive decision to not take out the Jesse Tree this year. I really do love it but have yet been able to do it every single day so I guess it's okay to take a year off and come back motivated next year. We can't do it all, folks.

This will be the first Advent in 7 years (SEVEN, people) that I'm not pregnant or nursing a little baby. It kind of blows my mind, considering there was a time I seriously wondered if we would ever have any living children.

The Advent 7 years ago was the one almost a year after we lost Levi, and we were having trouble getting pregnant again. It was hard (obviously), especially because the year prior was when I was pregnant with Levi and it was such a fruitful Advent. It was already so neat to be pregnant, because you're literally and figuratively waiting for a baby to be born, and then I found out on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) that our baby was a boy. So to be pregnant for the first time with a boy, just like our Blessed Mother was 2000 years prior, was such a gift.

I think that first Advent (the first in our marriage too actually) is a big reason why I still love Advent so much. It's a time of waiting, trusting, hoping. It can be a time of uncertainty too. But no matter what you're going through, Christmas still comes. Jesus is born. We can rejoice in our Savior, who has come - who did come - to redeem us.

Until then though (two more weeks!), I have to admit I'm looking forward to some turkey and all of the other classic Thanksgiving food - especially because I'm not in the throes of morning sickness like I was for our last 3 boys. There's not much that can ruin a holiday centered around good food and giving thanks, but puking up all of said food can get pretty close.
The winner for our Christmas cards. Landon wins for best pose!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 10, 2017

NFP, veiling, Christmas, and my red ranger (7QT)

Well, well, well....it's actually pretty nice to be blogging about something other than marriage. You know I gotta jump back into the usual randomness with some quick takes, right? Right. Linking up with Kelly!

1. 31 Days of Marriage Fun

I just need to say thank you again to all of you who followed along for the month of October. It was one of those things that I really didn't want to do, but I just really felt God calling me to it. And whoa, He made sure to give me a lot of confirmation that I really was supposed to share that much about marriage. Never have I gotten so many texts, comments, etc., saying that a particular post was exactly what someone needed to read that day. I learned a valuable lesson in following God's promptings, no matter how crazy they may seem.
And all of the marriage talk made Logan really anxious to see me in my wedding dress again, so he asked my mom to bring it when they came in town. It fits! The straps are MIA and it has a few stains that I have no recollection of from the big day, but it was a really fun nostalgic moment.

2. Bye bye, MacBook Air

Just mere days before my month of blogging began, I spilled water on my beloved laptop and it died. For good. Because that is how my life works. But I persevered on using Logan's desktop and am still trying to decide what to replace mine with. We can't afford a Mac right now, I hate Windows, and I really want a Chromebook (cheap + portable). BUT I can't use Scrivener (this awesome writing software that I've been using) on a Chromebook. First world problems, you guys. I guess it's a good thing I can't decide because our funds are pretty pitiful right now anyway.
Landon has made good use of my dead laptop, though. He's so creative!

3. Advent + Christmas

It'll be here before you know it!! I'm 90-95% done with Christmas shopping and wrapping and am optimistic that I will be completely done before Thanksgiving. So, so good. This is a first for me and I really, really hope I can do this most years. Advent is my fave and I'm looking forward to a quiet, stress-free few weeks! Especially because Advent is unusually short this year.
Proof of my badass-ness (that should be a word)

4. NFP + the future of our family

Gosh, so many good posts lately about NFP and being open to life. (Jenny and Colleen!) I have so many thoughts. Since we've had our boys pretty much every 2 years on the dot, we're usually pregnant by now. So it's kind of weird not being pregnant. But it's also pretty nice. While Aaron was our easiest pregnancy, he's been our hardest baby. So that just complicates our already complicated situation of just really hating pregnancy but still wanting another baby. But this time around, I'm really seeing the beauty of NFP and how it calls us to something greater - in our prayer life and in our marriage. I guess this is getting a little deep for a quick take so maybe I need to just blog about it later...or not. You know how it goes sometimes.
It's moments like these that I'm like LET'S HAVE ALL THE BABIES! Seriously. Siblings are the best.

5. To veil or not to veil

Our awesome pastor recently proposed the idea of veiling to all of the women in the congregation. I've always thought veiling was a beautiful devotion but not necessarily one that I felt really called to - mainly because approximately 1-2 women at our church do it. So I took this an opportunity to start! And I'm actually very surprised at how it's (positively) affected my kids, others, and myself at Mass. Again, I could probably do a whole post about this...but yeah. Do you veil? What are your reasons why (or why not)? I'd love to know!

6. Kiddos

It's been forever since I gave little updates on the boys...
Landon (5yo): He's loving kindergarten and is doing really, really well. It's nice to know Logan and I discerned correctly in sending him to school! Thank you Jesus.

Chase (3yo): Well, sometimes he is our easiest kid and sometimes he is our hardest. Because, well, he's 3. But seriously, those dimples, y'all.

Aaron (16mo): Whew, it's a good thing this kid is cute. Normally the 12-18-month age range is my favorite...but Aaron has me changing my mind about that practically every day. He's happiest (and less destructive) when he's outside so that's where we spend lots of our time.

7. It's morphin' time!

Logan has been dying to have a Power Ranger costume and they're just so dang expensive. But I found one for FOUR DOLLARS at Target this week and surprised Logan, and obviously, he was thrilled. Now I'm kicking myself for not saving it for Christmas! I may or may not have gotten the pink ranger costume for myself. And I may or may not have photographic evidence of it. The things I do for this husband of mine...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

First Comes Marriage {day 31}

You know that song we used to sing all the time as kids? “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage.” Or something like that. Well, let me just change it up a bit…

First comes God, then comes marriage, then comes…everything (and everybody) else.

It’s so easy to let other people intrude into a marriage, when really, the only people that should have any say so in a marriage is the husband, wife, and God. That’s it. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from a trusted friend or a wise professional (I actually totally recommend counseling or meeting with a priest, and know many couples who have done so!). And it’s probably okay if a well-meaning person makes the occasional suggestion or wants to give some advice - assuming it’s not laced with passive-aggressiveness or with an air of judgment.

The problem comes when an outside relationship becomes more of a priority than the marriage.

Logan is my best friend, partner in life, and the person I talk to the most. If you can’t say the same, I’m guessing you probably aren’t thrilled with your marriage right now. (And let me be the first to admit that I definitely have not always been able to say that!)

Please don’t misunderstand me - it’s important to have close relationships with friends and family. I have several extremely close friends (who I consider my besties), and I talk regularly to both my mom and sister. These relationships bring me joy, and all of these people have helped me grow as a person. (Thank you to all of you!!)

But my husband still comes first. If another relationship is taking time away from time with Logan (and same with him), something needs to change. Or if another relationship is causing strife in your marriage, something needs to change. Sometimes putting your marriage first will make other people unhappy. Sometimes putting your marriage first means letting go of other commitments or relationships.

Sometimes putting your marriage first is just really dang hard. But oh, it’s so worth it.

(Obviously if your spouse is deployed or some other extenuating circumstance, it’s not always possible to talk to them as much as you would like. My utmost sympathies! And I know there are some seasons where a certain obligation - sick child, planning a conference, etc. - takes up majority of your time. Those are just temporary. I’m talking about when something is consistently being put ahead of your marriage.)

I hope my posts this month have inspired you at least a little to focus more on your marriage and your spouse, and perhaps have given you a few ideas on how to do so. Thank you so much for following along!

P.S. We made it! Blogging every day all month was hard, but so worth it - just like marriage. 😉 I’m unplugging for a bit to recover. But I'll still contact the giveaway winner tomorrow! It ends at midnight tonight.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The hubby: an interview {day 30}

In case you didn’t know, this here blog actually started off as something Logan and I both did. I can probably count on one hand the number of posts he did, and they were a long, long time ago. Even though he doesn’t write anymore, he still reads most of what I write. (Not the book posts, though, because he doesn’t read. Ha.)

Logan definitely reads every post about marriage or that includes him in some way, and I’m very appreciative that he allows me to write about him so much! That means that Logan has read every.single.post before I published it this month. That’s a lot of dedication for a guy who just wants his wife to get off the dang computer!

I thought I’d let Logan participate by answering some questions…(his responses are italicized)

What do you like about our marriage? Communication
What would you like to change about our marriage? Communication. What? That makes no sense. Yeah, it does. It’s what I like and I don’t like. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. 
How can I help you be a better husband? Words of encouragement - continue that.

What do you like us doing together? Playing games. Dates. 
What is one thing you refuse to share? My toothbrush. 
What is one thing women do that grosses you out? Periods.
What about men? Not washing their hands after they use the bathroom. 
What’s your favorite thing about marriage? Sex (🙄) 
What’s your least favorite thing about marriage? Pregnancy (He says that because we can’t have sex, lol. And I just can’t do a whole lot in general so life isn’t very fun.)

What’s one thing you wish I did differently? Laugh at my jokes.
I laugh. Ok. I wish sometimes you would be a little looser with the rules of life.
Like what? Go 6 over instead of 5 over the speed limit. Don’t wear your seatbelt just going down the driveway. 
(I’m just going to cut him off right there because, um, he’s ridiculous.) 
What’s your favorite way to spoil me? Buy you ice cream or something. Clean the house. 
What qualities of mine first attracted you to me? You were shorter than me.
Are you serious? Yeah. 
What do you think attracted me to you? I was taller than you.
Everybody is taller than me. My ruggedly good looks. My personality.
(He was right - I thought he was cute and funny!) 
What is one way I’ve changed for the better since we got married? You’ve opened up more. (Pretty sure I can thank him for that.)
What’s your idea of the perfect date? Skydiving.
For reals? I don’t know. Moonlight cruise. 
Would you rather me take out the garbage or bring you breakfast in bed? Take out the garbage. 
If you had to give newlyweds one piece of advice, what would it be? Pray together. 
Are you my #1 blog fan? No.

Gee, thanks babe.

I asked him more questions and some were pretty lame answers, but it was actually still kind of fun. Just google “questions to ask your spouse” and you can find a bunch of good lists with conversation-starters. You might just be pleasantly surprised with your spouse’s answers! And you’ll probably learn something new about him.

P.S. Tomorrow is the last day to enter the marriage bundle giveaway! One more post left!!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Weekend Away {day 29}

I’m a big advocate for marriage retreats and weekend getaways. I know sometimes it takes a miracle to make it happen, but it’s always worth it. Date nights are important, of course, but there’s just something extra special about setting aside an entire day or two (or more!) to spend solely with your spouse.

Logan and I have done this three times since kids came along, and I know to some people that will sound like a lot and to others it doesn’t sound like a lot at all. I have one friend who has a child with special medical needs and has accepted the fact that her and her husband are in a place right now where weekends away just can’t happen.

But for most of us, I think they certainly can happen. Sometimes it will take a lot of figuring out, perhaps a little bit of money, and maybe it will at first seem like it’s not worth all of the hassle to make it work.

And sometimes you will actually manage to get your husband to ask off work for an entire weekend, you’ll find babysitters, and book a marriage retreat…just to have a hurricane pop up out of nowhere and head straight for your area, causing the retreat to be cancelled 36 hours before it starts, and the hurricane will end up turning east and missing your state completely. (I really wish that was a hypothetical situation, but nope, definitely happened to us at the beginning of the month. Thanks for nothing, Hurricane Nate.) (We are thankful to be safe, of course, but MAN, it’s still frustrating, not knowing if we can make another retreat anytime soon.)

Once you actually do make it happen, though, you’ll understand why a weekend away with just the two of you is so important.

Logan and I have been on two marriage retreats in the last four years (and attempted to go on another one this month, which didn’t work out because of the hurricane), and both times have been so, so fruitful for our marriage and our family. Getting out of your house for an extended period together with zero distractions is something that I’ve found is extremely helpful in seeing your life more clearly.

The first time, I was pregnant with Chase, which was one of the hardest times of our marriage, and I can’t even adequately explain how much that weekend away was exactly what we needed at the time.

At the last retreat, when I was pregnant with Aaron (our youngest), we talked about many changes to make back at home. It was much easier to have certain conversations without worrying about cooking, cleaning, tending to the kids, etc.

Marriage retreats are wonderful, obviously, but sometimes the timing just doesn’t work out. So, I think the next best thing is an overnight date.

We did this two years ago because I just really wanted a fun weekend away with just Logan before we got pregnant again. Due to limited time and money, we only stayed at a hotel one night (and managed to get a great deal on a room thanks to Logan’s coworker), and kind of did a no-spend month beforehand so we could afford eating at a few restaurants.

That weekend getaway is a big reason why I wasn’t completely overwhelmed when I was staring at a positive pregnancy test less than 2 weeks later. Why yes, we did conceive a baby on that trip, because God is funny. It’s even funnier to think about how I vividly remember looking at my calendar to figure out a night that we could go, and that weekend was the only weekend that seemed feasible.

But anyways. When you have a bunch of kids running around (and even when you don’t), it’s hard to think about the fact that one day, it will just be you and your spouse. And if you don’t do what you need to do to foster that relationship with each other, you might find yourself as empty-nesters looking at each other like, Do I even know you? Why do we feel like strangers now that the kids are gone?

Our main responsibility now is raising our kids to know, to love, and to serve the Lord - but they’re going to be on their own before we know it. It’s way too easy to let your kids and housework take up all of your time which is exactly why getting out of the house is a great idea if you need some one-on-one time with your spouse. A change of scenery can be good for the soul too.
Last year on our marriage retreat!


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