"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, March 19, 2017

My Sunday Best, the Jesus Tree, and I'm going to Edel!

It's been awhile since I linked up with Rosie for My Sunday Best, since I never remember to take pictures! But today our church had St. Joseph's Altar all set up and I really wanted a picture of us in front of it. St. Joseph is Aaron Joseph's patron. :) (The feast is technically moved to tomorrow, FYI)

My mom got my dress on clearance from I can't remember where, and I love it because it's petite size. My half-cardigan thingy (is there a proper name for that?) is from Target and I wear it alllll the time over sleeveless dresses. Love it. 
And here's a flashback to last year when Aaron was still in my belly! It feels like forever ago. Crazy thing is that Chase is now wearing the clothes that Landon was wearing in this picture.

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 The one thing I'm doing with the boys is the Jesus Tree from Nancy at Do Small Things with Love. I love the Jesse Tree during Advent but have been generally pretty bad at keeping up with it with everything else going on. So this is like a Lenten version, but on a cross! (You could do a tree if you wanted though.) I'm really liking it. I do tend to forget pretty much every other day, but it works out because then both Landon and Chase get to put on an "ornament" on the same day.

My favorite thing about it is that Landon doesn't have to ask me every.single.day. when Easter is going to be because he can just look at the cross and see how many days are left!

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And the last thing I wanted to mention is that I'm officially going to Edel! I'm kind of banking on the fact that Aaron will be weaned by then, and although the other boys were by 13 months, Aaron is the only one who hasn't been getting bottles too. Soooo we will see. Please tell me if you're going! I can't wait to meet people!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Currently

feeling like Lent is just.so.dang.hard sometimes. I also have been feeling like I took on too much this Lent while simultaneously feeling like I'm not doing enough. What the heck is that about?

thankful that we've been mostly spared from sickness lately. So many people have caught the flu or a stomach bug recently and I'm so grateful we haven't been hit so far! Logan and Chase had a cold this weekend, Landon had a bit of a cough, but Aaron and I have been good.

making a free printable just for you! **see details at the bottom of this post**

wondering if I could finally attend Edel this year. I have no idea if I'll still be nursing Aaron and I refuse to bring a 13-month old along with me...but maybe he'll be fine without me for a couple days? Are any of you planning on going??

ready for Aaron to start sleeping through the night!!! Teething sucks.

reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. I just love me a good WWII novel.

discerning the future of my little shop I had open before Aaron was born.

crocheting some granny squares (when Aaron lets me). I have big plans to make a big blanket! I've done several baby blankets over the years but I want a blanket I can use.

amused at Logan for his endless attempts at french braiding my hair.

praying for so many of our family and friends (online and local) who are in tough situations right now.

baffled at why Landon thought it was a good idea to draw on his shirt yesterday.

missing Trader Joe's cookie butter. I think it will be my Easter gift to myself.

struggling with our no-spend month. Sometimes we just want some takeout, ya know?

loving these guys right here.

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Maaaaybe you really wanted to participate in the marriage challenge I posted last month. But maaaaybe life was just a little too crazy. It's okay! I have a solution!

Thanks to a genius idea from Alicia, I made a printable. I did change the reflections a little bit, but the challenges are the same. Each week is on its own page.

Find the printable HERE. I hope you find it helpful!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Recent Reads (March '17 edition)

I kind of stopped blogging about my 2016 reads...oops. So! I'm just going start with the first 7 books I've read in 2017, mmkay? I'm currently ahead in my Goodreads challenge (9 books read out of 36), but I know I will get most of my reading done in the first half of the year while I'm still nursing Aaron.

Sadly, only one of these is fiction, so I guess I need to branch out a little more. 


1. Night by Elie Wiesel

I read this in high school but didn't remember anything other than I liked it. This time, I listened to the audiobook, which was well-read. It's a relatively short book that kept my attention the whole time. I'd like to read the actual book again one day.

2. A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken

This was part of the inspiration behind the series I did on marriage last month - I mentioned the book in Week 1. The first half was a bit slow but definitely picked up once Sheldon and his wife converted to Christianity. I love the whole point of the book - and I don't want to ruin it but it has to do with the title of the book. There's a good chance this will be on my "fave books of 2017" post.


3. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

The movie preview looked so good so I was hoping for a good book. Unfortunately, it was really hard to get through - too many characters and storylines that I had a hard time keeping track. The actual story was interesting but I felt like it could have been put together better. I'd say skip the book and just watch the movie.


4. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

I read this so I could listen to the Fountains of Carrots podcast about it in a couple weeks. It was funny, refreshing, and totally predictable but I still loved it.


5. Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider


This has been on my to-read list for awhile and then Alicia recommended it to me and I realized my library has the audiobook! I wasn't a fan of the audiobook (even though it was read by the author), but I did like the book itself. It's one of those memoir-type books (my fave) with some good reflections about life. Totally made me want to move to Turkey! Ha.

6. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

So, I realized this is more geared towards people with an actual career, BUT I learned a lot of helpful tips! I definitely recommend this if you have a side business or anything like that and find yourself short on time. Or if you just really struggle with procrastination.


7. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick


I had high hopes for this one because I think Anna is just hilarious. I did like hearing more about her life, but there was just wayyyy too much cursing and sex talk for my taste. I did listen to the audiobook (also read by the author) and that probably just made the cursing and all seem worse. I was enjoying it until about half way through and probably would have stopped reading/listening had it not been my monthly reading challenge pick - "a book written by a celebrity."

Aaaaand that's 7 so I'm linking up with Kelly!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The crosses we bear

I've been thinking a lot about suffering lately, and how we all have crosses. Crosses we wish we didn't have to carry and that seem so.dang.heavy at times.

When I was in college, I used to tell God all the time, rather enthusiastically, “I'm willing to suffer if it brings others to you!”

I still haven't figured out if I was just holier back then or just really, really naïve about suffering. Probably the latter. (Although MAN when I read my journals from those days it seems like I was so much holier. Why is that??)

I think it's safe to say that my crosses back then were not quite as heavy as some now. Because, adulting. And parenting. It's hard, yo.
Anyways. Crosses. I remember thinking, back in our pregnancy loss and infertility days, how hard everything felt. All I wanted was a baby and for whatever reason, God had us wait. I think I struggled with it a lot because I knew I was supposed to be a mother, and I kind of didn't know what to do with myself until there was actually a baby in my arms. I thought that once I finally had a baby to take care of, everything would be better. And in some ways, it was.

But although those crosses of pregnancy loss and infertility have been lifted (for now, at least), I've had others placed on my shoulders since then. Plus there are still some crosses that I'm still dealing with years later and might deal with for several more years.

No matter what the cross is – whether it's dealing with parenting, marriage, finances, illnesses, relationships, whatever – it feels the same. Heavy, hard, and suffocating at times. I know there have been many times where I thought, if only I didn't have to deal with this particular thing, I would be okay...

But I know that's not true. As soon as one cross feels a little lighter, it only makes sense for another cross to feel heavier.

I used to really struggle with why God gives us certain crosses. I'd look at other people and think, Man! If only they knew how easy they have it. I'd much rather deal with their suffering than mine. I'd be lying if I said I still wasn't tempted to think that, but thankfully, I've come a long way.

But of course I'm learning that God gives us exactly what we need to become better people, and often it comes in the form of a cross. And that's going to look different for everyone. It's also funny that as much as I wish I didn't have certain crosses, I'm also thankful for them in a way, because I learn something from each and every one.

With pregnancy loss, I learned so much about grief and how it's different for everybody. With infertility, I learned that having babies isn't something to take for granted and that God's timing is always best. With difficult relationships, I've learned humility. With financial struggles, I've also learned humility (I'm stubborn, I guess), as well as to trust that God will provide. The list goes on and on.

One of my favorite mysteries of the rosary is the 4th Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus carrying His cross. Whenever I feel the weight of my own cross, I think about Jesus and how he carried His cross for us. He fell over and over, yet He got back up every single time. And all along the way He had people help him, from Simon to Veronica to the weeping women. He even met His mother, our Blessed Mother, and I can't help but think how all of those people gave him a little motivation to keep going.

God gives us those people – or graces, or consolations, or whatever you want to call them – too. Because I know just when I think I can't carry my cross anymore, I come across a Scripture passage that speaks to my heart in the most perfect way. Or I start reading the most timely book dealing with my situation. Or I have a friend randomly text me asking how I'm doing.

Yes, we all have crosses, but we don't carry them alone. And I'm so, so thankful. God loves us too much to stay just as we are, but He always gives us the grace to carry our crosses – even when it doesn't feel like it.
Afflictions are the most certain proofs that God can give us of His love for us.” - Saint Vincent de Paul

Friday, March 3, 2017

Life with boys, Lent, and more teething

1. Mardi Gras

We celebrated hard with lots of king cake and just one parade over the weekend. I'm always glad we do the parade thing after the fact, but they just really aren't my thing. Logan worked on Tuesday (most people have off work here in New Orleans), which was a bummer, but the boys and I spent a lot of time outside because the weather has been SO PERFECT.

2. A month for your marriage

There's still time to link-up with this week's post! Clearly I'm not a professional blogger because posting on the same day every week was so hard for some reason. Every time I tried to blog something other than the marriage stuff, I felt totally paralyzed. So weird. But now I'm back to my randomness and all feels right in the world.

3. LENT

It always seems to come at just the perfect time, doesn't it? I know I certainly needed the kick in the pants. But of course now, on the 3rd day, I'm like I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE. Just a little dramatic, I know.

4. Social media

I'm staying off Instagram for allll of Lent and I'll be mostly off Facebook. FYI. But I'll still be here! Blogging away! I just can't quit you, dear blogspot.

5. Crochet

Hannah and I doing a crochet-a-long this month, which is nice since it's been so long since I've crocheted. I'm glad I'm getting back to it but...baby boy (aka teething monster) is making it really difficult. Hannah is probably going to finish 10 granny squares before I finish one! (Sorry girl! I'm trying!)

[this is where I refrain from inserting a picture of my horribly half-finished granny square]

6. Teething tips

Aaron must be getting more teeth because he's back to the whole don't-put-me-down-ever nonsense and I'm trying not to lose my mind. Any tips?? I will take them! (As I type this post one-handed because...teething monster.) I tried carrying him on my back yesterday and he pretty much lost his mind. I did carry him in a front carrier but today I woke up with a pulled back muscle so there will be no baby-wearing today. Sigh.

But he's cute, at least. I know I say that every time, but it's true! (And um, how adorable is he in the sleeveless shirt? It got up to 80 degrees earlier this week!)

7. Life with boys

Boys are so exhausting when they're little but I have to admit that I love it. The older boys have been pretending their ninja turtles are babies, which kind of makes Logan crazy, but I think it's adorable.
He put the diaper on himself!
 I had a good-mom moment last week when I got to Landon's school early for pickup and realized it was the perfect time to cuddle with my middle child AKA mini-me. He's so cute. Totally destructive...but cute. (I can't help it, I think all my kids are cute!!)

 Linking up with Kelly. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A month for your marriage {bringing it together}

In case you missed it, I'm hosting a weekly marriage challenge! Read the previous posts: week 1week 2week 3, and week 4.

How I did on week 4, sacrificial love


I'm pretty sure Logan totally saw this coming, but I took out the garbage all week. He did also ask one night if I could show some sacrificial love by bathing the boys, so I did – and I put them to bed. Normally, Logan does that (when he's not working) since I'm dealing with Aaron. But the timing worked so Logan was able to feed Aaron some solid food while I dealt with the big boys and it was actually pretty nice to switch things up a bit.

So what did you do for your spouse? Link up your posts or share in the comments!

Bringing it together


Whew, we made it! What did you think? How do you think you did?

I have to be honest and say that February was not the easiest month. I felt like I didn't do as well as I would have liked with the challenges because life was just kind of difficult already. Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but I tend to be a perfectionist.

But I will say that about halfway through the month, Logan and I started to feel closer than we have in quite some time. And that makes me think that the little things in marriage add up big time. Yes, marriage takes work...but sometimes it just takes small changes. I'm still writing affirming messages to Logan like I explained in week 3, and I'm finding myself willingly doing things that normally I would ask him to do (AKA sacrificial love). He's been responding in such a positive way!

My church recently hosted a couples date night that included a talk by a guest couple. They explained that marriage has a cycle (and I totally missed half of it because of Aaron so I probably won't explain it very well), but basically you go from Honeymoon stage to Disillusionment to Choice/Decision - to divorce, separate, or stay - to True Joy.

Unfortunately, it's not possible to say in True Joy forever. (Dang!) But I realized that when we're in Disillusionment, it's the perfect time to challenge ourselves to do more and put more effort into our marriage. So many couples get so discouraged in Disillusionment that it leads to divorce, and while I know there are exceptions, I do think that many marriages could be saved by just doing simple things.

I hope the last few weeks has enriched your marriage in some way! I would love to hear about it - feel free to include your thoughts in your post on sacrificial love. If you're blogging about it, here are some questions you can answer in your post:
  • Were the challenges harder or easier than you thought?
  • Did your spouse notice your efforts?
  • Has this challenge enriched your marriage? (I hope the answer is yes!)
  • Do you think this has motivated you to do more for your marriage?
  • Would you be interested in doing this again another month?
  • What suggestions do you have to make this challenge/link-up better? (That one's for me!)

Thanks for following along! I'll be back to my regular random blogging soon. ;)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A month for your marriage {week 4 – sacrificial love}

In case you missed it, I'm hosting a weekly marriage challenge! Read the previous posts: week 1, week 2, and week 3.


How I did on week 3, surprise and spontaneity


So here's where I admit I actually did this challenge a couple weeks ago - Logan read all of these posts in advance and specifically said he was looking forward to this one the most. So obviously I needed to make sure he was really surprised.

I was soooo tempted to setup the best in-home date night (take-out sushi, wine, and a movie, anyone?), but like I said last week, Logan would much rather go out. So when Logan got home from work one day, I told him - well, Landon beat me to it - that the big boys were going to their cousins' house for a sleepover so we could go to dinner and a movie! Logan has been begging to go on a date lately but between our tight budget and Aaron being so ridiculous in the evenings, we haven't made it happen. Needless to say, Logan was thrilled about our date!
Don't be fooled - that cute baby was not happy 90% of the time at the restaurant and spilled my water all over my dress. But we had a gift card so I GUESS it was okay he kinda ruined dinner. We had time to kill before the late movie so we enjoyed strolling around without a care in the world.

To make up for his terrible dinner behavior, Aaron then slept THE ENTIRE MOVIE (where we also had a gift card! #winning). It was lovely. All in all, the night was fun and so, so nice getting to spend time together without having to rush back home to a babysitter or whatever because the boys were spending the night elsewhere. Most dates we just go to dinner so it was cool having an "extended" date. Logan definitely appreciated my efforts!

So what surprise did you end up doing?? Link up your posts or share in the comments!  

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Week 4, Sacrificial love


It's so easy to get caught up in who is supposed to do what in a marriage. It's also easy to let bitterness and resentment build up if it seems like you're doing more than your spouse.

I just love Rachel's post “Happiness in Marriage” (go read it!). Here's a quote from it: “But in marriage, in happy marriage, there is no split. It’s each member of the union giving 100 percent and praying, trusting, that this 200 percent will add up to happiness.”

I find that the times I'm giving my all and just doing what I need to do - whether it's normally my responsibility or not – is when Logan starts doing little extras. He sees me working hard, so he starts working hard too. It's nice.

But I will admit that I often struggle with keeping tally on how many times he forgets to take out the garbage in a row, or the fact that I have little to no break with a nursing baby while he can do whatever he wants (and still forgets about the garbage), or or or. It's hard to keep a sacrificial and loving heart sometimes!

It does seem to me, though, that the more one practices sacrificial love, the easier it becomes. So even though I fall back into the whole bitterness/resentment/keeping tally foolishness, I keep trying. Again and again.

Your challenge this week: Do something for your spouse – a chore that they normally do. And don't tell them!

Some ideas:
  • Take out the garbage
  • Cut the grass (sorry, Logan, I am NOT doing this one...just saying)
  • Bathe the kids or put them to bed or both (since these seem to be “assigned” tasks for many couples I know, for whatever reason)
  • Let your spouse sleep in while you cook breakfast

Check back next week (on Mardi Gras!) to see how everybody did and to wrap things up!

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