"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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Life, death, and Christmas

I always think more about Levi when I'm pregnant. Maybe it's because all my good memories of him are from when I was pregnant - the ultrasounds, feeling him kick, finding out he was a boy, etc. Or maybe I think about him more because for each subsequent pregnancy, I've been pregnant on the day we lost him. It's probably a combination. This is the 3rd time now, since losing him, that I've been pregnant on this day. I don't know how that happens, and at first it was really hard - knowing that I could lose the baby inside me just like I lost Levi.

It's still hard, of course, but now I can't help but think that being pregnant again on this infamous day is a good reminder that our babies aren't actually ours. Yes, God has entrusted us with their care, and we are called to love them, and help them to come to know, love, and serve the Lord. But God loves these babies even more than we do - as hard as that is to imagine - and just like we are His, these babies are His. And He can lovingly call them back to Him before we think it's time.

Even though I know Levi is in Heaven and that him being there actually completes my duty as his mother...I still struggle with it. I often wish he was here with us, playing with our other boys. It's so easy to imagine a third boy alongside Landon and Chase, partly because this baby in utero might be a boy, and partly because they already have an older brother.
Christmas morning before Mass....I did not realize Logan was holding an ultrasound picture until I uploaded the pictures! He's sneaky.

It never occurred to me until this year how ironic it is that we lost a baby during the Christmas season. While we're supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus, we can't help but think about the death of our baby. 6 years now and I'm just now realizing...it kind of sucks.

But maybe it's not so ironic after all. I mean, Jesus was born so that He could die. We don't tend to think about that at Christmas, because it's supposed to be beautiful and joyful. But in a mere 6 weeks (!!) when Lent starts, we'll be thinking about it a lot. And maybe it's just a tiny little blessing that my family is reminded of both life and death when we think about our precious Levi every single year on December 29.

Merry Christmas, y'all. We have so much to be thankful for!

Little Levi, pray for us!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

All the thoughts about things you probably don't care about

The blogosphere is all ......*silence*...... right now, or so it seems, so obviously I need to do my share and fill it with random thoughts. I should be wrapping the last of our presents right now but for some reason simultaneously watching The Sound of Music and reading In This House of Brede seems more important. And now blogging, of course.

The weather in Louisiana has been so ridiculous lately. Is it really December? I've been wearing short sleeves and flip flops most days, with the occasional long-sleeve day. And so far the forecast for Christmas is rainy...temps in the 70s to low 80s. What.the.heck.
But hey! The boys and I played in fake snow one day so I'll guess we'll survive. (I should say that I'd much rather this ridiculous weather than a blizzard. Because, southern girl right here.)
And yes, I am that mother that let their kids roll around on the ground. They were happy, y'all. Don't judge. Okay, so I wouldn't normally let them do that, but Chase would not stay standing no matter how many times I pulled him up. So, whatev.

Logan pulled yet another awesome surprise for me because he's on a roll this year. In my stocking on St. Nick's Day (we fill each other's because it's fun), he put 2 tickets to the US Women's soccer game. Which was SO exciting because I knew they were playing in New Orleans but tickets were ridiculously expensive when I checked. But of course Logan is on the ball with these things and ordered tickets as a pre-sale when they were pretty cheap.
US lost, unfortunately, but it was still a great experience. It was the last game for Abby Wambach (one of the best scorers ever) so to be able to witness that was pretty neat.
Even though this was our view for the first half (you'd be amazed at how much those stupid hats blocked our view *sigh*) and all the smells of the concession food was, um, overwhelming at times. But all for the love of the game!

I really haven't been watching much TV lately, but yesterday I had a particularly bad day with morning/24-7 sickness (seriously, worst name ever) and had a hard time doing anything but just laying down. So when Logan got home from work and took the boys outside to start a fire in the pit, I took the opportunity to watch the movie Jane Eyre and went totally googly eyes over Rochester. I'm pretty sure I've seen that version before (2011), and I've definitely read the book a couple times, but now I'm adding it to my list again because I love it.

I finally convinced Logan to move the boys' clothes into our laundry room and OH MY GOSH it's lovely. The clothes can go straight from the dryer into their bins AND Chase can no longer pull out the clothes and fling them all over the living room. AND when they change clothes we just toss the dirty ones into the hamper right next to washer. I can even easily make room for baby clothes in the middle column! Getting all practical up in here. I'm so proud. (I even labeled the bins! Say what?)

Confession: we haven't done our Jesse Tree in like a week, I think. But I'm okay with that because: Logan's work schedule is ughhhh right now and most days I stay on the couch anyway. First trimester, you need to be over soon, mmkay?

But the good thing about feeling like death for 3 months is that it gives you plenty of excuses to cuddle with your cute babies.
They've been driving me nuts lately, but man...they are some cute.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My favorite books that I read this year (5Faves)

I could blog about how I fell asleep on the couch last night at 8:30pm, woke up at 10:30pm, and then threw up my dinner. Bleh. Or how I'm starting to wonder if I'm already having Braxton-Hicks contractions. (I'M ALMOST 11 WEEKS, PEOPLE. 11 WEEKS.) But I'm sure you'd rather read about books, right? Right? I'm starting to realize why most women don't blog during the first trimester....

This year I read SO MANY BOOKS compared to previous years, so I feel like that qualifies me to write about the 5 books I loved most this year. (I should say that these are books that I read for the first time.) It was hard to narrow it down to 5, but here we go.

Linking up with Ashley for 5Faves! Go do the same. :)

1. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
It took me half the year, but I did it! And it was so worth it. I love how people in 14th century Norway are so similar to us now. Different problems...but the same problems too. I can't say I loved Kristin's character, or Erlend's for that matter, but I was fond of a couple others and really appreciated the Catholic culture dispersed throughout the entire book. The second book of the trilogy was a bit slow in the beginning, but just push through, mmkay? I will be reading this again one day, for sure. (Not anytime soon, but eventually!)

2. The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
I mentioned this in a previous 5Faves post but it really is probably one of my favorite books now. It kind of goes along with the whole theme of my blog!

3. My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell
I also mentioned this one before, too. I'm a fan of big memoirs (if it's not obvious from this list, maybe because I want to write one someday too?) and this was unique in the fact that she talked about several awesome saints, many of which I now want to learn more about!

4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Well. I don't know what to say about this book because in the words of my sister-in-law, "This one will haunt me for awhile." It's definitely on the sad side, as most WWII books are, but the writing is lovely and I really fell in love with the characters.

5. The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life by Melanie Shankle
I have to include this because there aren't too many books that make me literally laugh out loud over and over. I used to read Melanie's blog, Big Mama, and she's hilarious. If you're looking for an easy, fun, and quick read, this one's for you. I read it on our beach vacation and it was perfect.

What favorite books did you read this year??

Friday, December 11, 2015

Our [current] traditions (7QT)

So many Advent and Christmas posts floating around, eh? I didn't intend on adding one to the mix but I kind of like the idea of looking back several years from now and seeing what changed and what didn't for our family. Feel free to skip this one ;)

We didn't really start any traditions until last year, since Landon was finally old enough to understand. And I know we don't have to do it all (we don't!), and I'm still learning what works best for our family. Crafts? Ain't happening. Food? Books? Heck yes. Here are 7 things (except 1) that we did last year and plan to do again this year! And every year after, assuming it still works for our family. But I'm already thinking I might change some things next year...

1. Advent wreath
 Just once a week, even though we have a devotional book with one for each day and could do it daily. Every Sunday night (or Monday, if Logan was working Sunday), we light the appropriate candle(s) and say a little devotional and sing a verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." We bought both the wreath and the book from our church a couple years ago.
Logan would like me to add that he also moves the 3 Wise Men closer to our nativity set-up each week, and Landon really likes "finding" where they moved. I guess you could say it's the Catholic version of Elf on a Shelf ;)

2. Jesse Tree
Nothing fancy, I promise. I printed out printable ornaments and just had to attach twine for hooks. I found a tiny tree on clearance for like $2. I also ordered a book that Kendra made (because she's totally on the ball with these things) with all of the Scripture passages for each day. But since the kids are still young, we aren't actually reading them - we just summarize quickly. Landon does like looking at the pictures, though! And he totally digs hanging the ornaments himself. (Kendra also explains in that post how to make coordinating ornaments with the book, and they're adorable...but I wanted something simpler. AKA quicker.) I should also add that sometimes I forget to do this every night, like when Logan is working, so some nights we do 2 or 3 (or more, ahem) ornaments. 'Tis life. But I do like this idea and it doesn't stress me out even though we sometimes forget about it...so we will keep doing it!
 (In hindsight I should have picked ornaments more child-like...but these are still beautiful. And free.)

3. Stockings for the feast of St. Nicholas
Growing up, opening my stocking on Christmas morning was my favorite because my mom was so good at putting fun (and useful) things in it. And since the idea of opening presents AND stockings is a little overwhelming for me as an adult, I thought it was the perfect excuse to do stockings on St. Nicholas' Day instead. It really is becoming one of our favorite things ever - Logan and I even surprise each other with stuff in each other's stockings! I feel like everybody does the whole shoe thing, but I like the stocking tradition. Bonus that it makes Christmas less stressful.
These boys waited ALL DAY on Sunday for Daddy to get home from work...and then they humored me by letting me take a picture before diving into their stockings. Loooove them. (And, um, Chase looks as big as Landon! And yes, we stayed in PJs all day since we had gone to vigil mass.)

4. Cookies on Gaudete Sundy (3rd Sunday in Advent)
I know some families are really good about saving all the Christmasy stuff for the 12 days of Christmas. We are not that family. YET. (Logan totally loves to decorate the house as soon as Thanksgiving is over and I once suggested we wait til closer to Christmas and he looked at me like I had 3 heads. So, I choose to pick my battles and that is not one of them.) Basically this is our compromise - baking and decorating cookies on Gaudete Sunday. It's supposed to be a joyful day and nothing says joyful to me like cookies. ;) Can't wait to do this in a couple days!
Blurry iPhone picture from last year. Baby Chase!!
5. 3 presents on Christmas
Lots of people do this one, I know, and it totally makes things easier. Although after reading Auntie Leila's post about the 12 days of Christmas, I'm thinking next year I might try to just give the kids ONE present on Christmas...and try to incorporate other gifts on some of the other 11 days.
I just had to include this picture from last year!
6. New this year! 12 books for 12 days of Christmas
I'm pretty excited about this one. I can't guarantee I'll do it every year - because MONEY - but thanks to my sister (ha) who signed up as an Usborne Consultant, I had a lot of books set aside for future gifts. The boys will each get a book as one of their 3 gifts on Christmas, and then they will get to open one book together for the subsequent 11 days.

7. Epiphany party
My friends have been throwing a joint party the weekend of Epiphany for a few years now. We take turns hosting at different houses (although this year we might trying a public place...we'll see). The main reason we wait is because it's too crazy to fit it in the actual Christmas season - lots of people are out of town between Christmas and New Year's. So! We've been doing an Epiphany party and it actually works out well and is a great reminder that we should still be celebrating.
Apparently we didn't take pictures last year (it was at my house, so I was too preoccupied), so this was the year before! I was pregnant early on with Chase. And there was a Saints game on that night, hence the black and gold attire.
We've done other things too if I feel like it's simple enough to add in. Like last year, I hosted a playdate on the feast of St. Juan Diego, and we ate nachos. That's it. Simple! (Not Advent-related, I know. But still.) We also like to decorate gingerbread houses and visit Celebration in the Oaks, a really nice lights display in New Orleans. But we don't have a set day for those activities, mainly because Logan's schedule is not normal, and we have to play a lot of things by ear.

Thanks to Annabelle for hosting this week! Go see her to read more 7QT.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 9 - an update if you're into that kind of thing

After all the shenanigans with my progesterone level, I was pretty darn nervous about my ultrasound today. I mean, a dropped level in itself wouldn't be too bad...but I was already on progesterone. What.the.heck.

I was still feeling pretty pregnant - throwing up (IT'S THE WORST), waking up to pee, bloated, etc...you know, the fun stuff. But that progesterone level! So nerve wracking.

But baby looked good and is growing on schedule! Great heartbeat too. So, so thankful. I got another progesterone level drawn today but it usually takes a couple days at least to get the results.

My official due date is July 8, which is the day before Chase's 2nd birthday. My cervix is looking good too (yay!) which is a relief because sometimes I'm so paranoid that I'm feeling my cervix open. (Is that weird? It probably is. I'm just crazy. But in my defense it did start opening at 11 weeks with Landon.)

We scheduled my cerclage for the beginning of the new year, which will be the end of the first trimester. I'm nervous just thinking about it. You'd think it'd be a cake walk after doing it twice, but...nope. Any kind of procedure while pregnant is just really nerve-wracking, especially when it involves a spinal (similar to epidural) when you can't even feel the baby move yet. And then there's the whole fasting after midnight which is just tortuous for a pregnant woman. But the one thing I'm looking forward to (don't think I'm crazy) is all of the anti-nausea meds being pumped into my system so I can eat one meal without wanting to throw up.

Silver lining, people. Silver lining.

So! We took the boys with us to the ultrasound, mainly because Landon has been asking to see the baby. So thankfully the baby was okay and Landon really loved seeing pictures of the baby. He also told the tech it was a girl. But, we shall see.

He's super proud, that's for sure. He was walking around the doctor's office with one of the ultrasound pictures and kept saying, "I love my baby." It's so fun having a kid old enough to know what's going on!

And the only other thing worth noting is that my next appointment is on December 29 - AKA the day we lost Levi. We're trying not to read that much into it...(Logan is failing miserably). But it's a little hard because the calendar is exactly like it was in 2009. Tuesday. But at least this time we have an extra prayer warrior. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

What I love about the rosary

I mentioned earlier this year how I was rekindling my love for the rosary. And I can honestly say that 8 months later, it has been life-changing. There's still a day here or there where I don't pray a rosary (usually when I'm off my usual routine, like when Logan is not working), but most days I do and I really can't recommend it enough! Logan has also been praying the rosary on his way to work every day and he totally agrees with me. We've had a lot of growth this year in our family - and especially our marriage - and I'd like to think the rosary has been a big part of that.

It's also been one of the things that has kept me [somewhat] sane these past couple of months. I can't even really explain it, but in those moments where I just feel paralyzed by fear, doubt, or stress, grabbing a rosary and focusing on the mysteries is the most calming thing.
When I feel the weight of a cross in my life, thinking about Jesus carrying the ultimate cross really changes my perspective. 
When I feel like people misunderstand me, I think about how Jesus was mocked and He chose to respond with love. 
When I feel like God is so far away, I think about the Ascension and how Jesus had to leave the disciples again in order to send them the gift of the Holy Spirit. 
When I feel like God is asking too much of me, I think of the Annunciation and how Mary willingly said yes to carrying Our Savior in her young womb. 
When I feel like a situation in my life is hopeless, I think about the Resurrection and how God can make the impossible, possible. Jesus was raised from the dead, after all!
No matter what we're going through, focusing on the life of Jesus through the eyes of the Blessed Mother can bring us healing and peace. There's always a mystery that resonates more with my life at any given time. And I just love that when I know I need to pray and just don't have the words, I can pray the rosary.

And I have to mention that because we're meditating on mysteries, you can gain new insight every time you pray. That's why they're called mysteries – we will never be able to fully grasp the meaning of them this side of Heaven.

Of course, Mary is praying for us, and I always add a litany of saints at the end of the rosary so a bunch of other holy men and women are praying too! It really is a win-win-win.

I should also add that there are many other ways to pray, not just the rosary, so for if some reason it doesn't seem to be fruitful, I wouldn't beat yourself up over it. BUT I would only come to that conclusion after attempting to pray the rosary daily for several weeks. Chances are it will change your prayer life for the better. :)

What do you love about the rosary?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

So much crazy talk

I really don't want to blog obsessively about this pregnancy (like I did the last 2), but man...I must have been crazy hoping for a somewhat normal pregnancy this time around. I'm on progesterone for the duration of the pregnancy for the first time and I really thought hey! maybe I won't have contractions now and maybe things will just be easier. But so far it's just caused more drama because of varying medical opinions about my last level that dropped. Add to that the fact that I'm still throwing up (despite the dropped level, WTF) and the ridiculousness that is already surrounding this pregnancy, like waiting 2 hours for that first original ultrasound that didn't get done because the hospital staff was totally incompetent.

But I digress.

Maybe everything is fine with this baby, but just the thought of everything not being fine is just really, really paralyzing. I thought it would get easier the more living children I had, but it hasn't. Yes, I'm so so so thankful for Landon and Chase, but I still desperately long to hold this new healthy baby in my arms just like I did with them. And while I'm sure it does make it a little easier having living children (as opposed to when I was pregnant with Landon and just wanted ONE BABY), having these awesome kids just makes me more aware of what I'm missing out on with Levi and what I'd be missing out on if I lose this baby too.

And to think I'm only 8 weeks along and not even to the cerclage/endless contractions/try to prevent preterm labor part of pregnancy. Oy vey.

Prayers for my crazy hormonal self are appreciated as always. I think the general state of the world and the fact that all my loved ones seem to have something depressing going on is not helping. Oh, and somehow I've managed to read the most depressing books lately (not intentionally). I'm currently in the last book of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy, ironically named The Cross (Simon Andresson, you're breaking my heart!).

I guess I can make this post somewhat useful by saying if you haven't subscribed for Danielle Bean's Advent emails, you should totally do so. Click here to her website and put your email in the sidebar on the right. She includes a music video every day, and I've really enjoyed listening to them while either eating breakfast or snuggling with my boys in bed before we get up for the day.
The winner for our Christmas card, included here because the prints I ordered are blurry. Boo.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What I'm thankful for (5Faves)

Since the past few weeks have been a little crazy, I was totally thinking about writing a 5Faves post on what I'm thankful for this week. Because, well, Thanksgiving. And then Ashley put it as one of her idea prompts, so it must be meant to be! I'll try not to be too sappy, but...no promises.

1. New baby
 First things first! I had an ultrasound this week and am so thankful to report that things are looking good. Baby is due right around Chase's 2nd birthday...which means (God willing) they'll be less than 2 years apart since I always go early. So crazy to think about, since that's a smaller gap than Landon and Chase. But we're excited!
It's not the best picture because Dr. H had to use their dinosaur machine (ultrasound tech was backed up), so we go back in a couple weeks for the official ultrasound. But we saw one baby with a heartbeat!

2. Best hubby ever
Logan has been so great lately. Seriously. First the ultimate surprise and now he's been taking over the dishes because my gag reflex is not my best friend right now. Thanks, babe! You're the best.

3. Big 3-year old
I am so thankful that Landon is super helpful these days. And he lets me takes naps and even joins me sometimes. It's like he knows I'm not feeling well, because he randomly tells me he loves me. So sweet. He also totally gets the baby-in-my-belly thing (which surprises me) so I know he will be really helpful with a newborn.

4. Goofy 1-year old
Gosh, this boy just brings so much joy to everybody. Even though I feel like crap just like the last 3 pregnancies, it's somewhat easier this time because Chase is a pretty easy baby. So, so thankful. And I'm thankful he takes long naps so I can too!

5. A break
Life is slowing down just in time for Advent, and I'm thrilled. I'm so happy to get back to spending more time with my boys, reading them lots of books and catching up on my own book list. I'm hoping I can really focus on Advent this year too. Being pregnant always seems to help with that (because I have seriously been pregnant during Advent every single time). 
Here's a picture that did not make it onto our Christmas cards this year...and yes, that is drool (or snot?) on my shoulder. #keepingitreal

Go check out more faves at Ashley's!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Vulnerability, lies, and hopefully less craziness

There is no other time quite like the first trimester of pregnancy. So many emotions, so many physical ills, and so many opportunities to trust in God's plan. Especially in the first few weeks before you've even seen a heartbeat on a ultrasound. You hope and pray that your baby is okay but still have to trust that God will take care of you...even if your baby isn't okay.

And boy, there aren't many other times where you're this vulnerable to thoughts from the devil.
You've had 2 successful pregnancies back-to-back. You're bound to lose another baby eventually. 
You feel like crap, don't you? Why do you even bother getting pregnant again? It's not worth it.  
How are you supposed to take care of your family right now? Why did you think it was a good idea to go through this again? 
Why do you tell everyone you're pregnant already? People think you're crazy.
What are you going to do if you lose the baby? 
Not to mention all of the ridiculousness that has happened in the past 3 weeks. I've really wondered if we were just nuts to get pregnant in the midst of it. (Well, it's not like we were trying to get pregnant, but we did know it was a possibility.)

I know the devil wants Logan and me to live in fear, to doubt ourselves, and to think we're doing the wrong thing. And I know that's probably going to be even more true is we do lose this baby.

But you know what? I also know that I'm exactly where I need to be right now. It might sound crazy, but even when craziness was happening (especially this past week), God was also reassuring me that He was in charge. Even when I felt like I was fighting a losing battle. Even when I was tempted to listen to the lies of the devil.

I'm so thankful for that. And I'm so thankful for those of you who've been praying for us. We can feel it.

P.S. I didn't actually get an ultrasound done this week (long, ridiculous, aggravating story), but I hope to have one next week. Prayers for discernment are also appreciated, as we're realizing that switching doctors might not be the best decision for our family right now.

P.P.S. The auction is over! And it went well! Lots of money was raised to save babies. Hopefully life will get back to normal soon.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sometimes surprises are just what I need

Well, I could go on and on again about how life is still crazy and now I'm trying not to puke all day in the midst of it and that I've been napping 2-3 hours almost every day (seriously) because I'm so tired and overwhelmed and that after this weekend life will (hopefully!!) be less crazy.

But I think it'd be more fun to tell you about what happened on Friday. I should be doing auction stuff right now but it's kind of been taking over my life lately and obviously blogging is more fun. And if I don't blog now it probably won't happen this week. So here we go!

Random pic of what I've been doing a lot of lately when not doing auction stuff
Logan told me awhile ago that he wanted to take me out on a date the week before the big silent auction, since he knew I'd be stressed and would need a night out. Which was so, so true. So our friend Lindsey (Chase's godmother) came over to watch the boys and we headed out to dinner.

On the way there, Logan said he was proud of all the work I was doing and wanted to give me kind of an early Christmas gift and handed me Matthew West's new CD. And for those of you who don't know, Matthew West is one of my fave Christian artists and this here blog is actually named after some of his lyrics. So I was really touched!

And then I opened the CD and found 2 concerts tickets. To Matthew West. That night.

I should say that Matthew West has never come to southeast Louisiana (to my knowledge) so I have never seen him in concert even though I've always wanted to! So when I realized that we were actually going to Matthew West's concert instead of dinner, I couldn't believe it. How in the world did Logan pull this off without me realizing? (Because honestly, he is a terrible liar and I usually know when he's up to something, but I guess I've been too preoccupied!)

And then my second thought (because...pregnant) was What are we going to eat then? But before I could even say the thought aloud, Logan pulls a bag of takeout sushi out from behind my seat.

I totally cried, y'all. Like lots of tears. And I'm TOTALLY not a crier and have probably only cried one other time that Logan did something super romantic like this. (Seriously, I didn't even cry when he proposed or at our wedding! I have a problem.) Logan regrets not having the whole thing on video. I'd like to blame the hormones but it was probably a combination of that, stress, and being so thankful I married a romantic. He's the best!

Funny tidbit: Logan had to spray a crapload of Febreeze in the car so I wouldn't smell the sushi. He really did think of everything, y'all.

So the concert was amazing and Matthew West was just hilarious, and I highly recommend you see him if he comes to a city near you. It was just the thing I needed since these past couple of weeks have been nuts and I really haven't been able to rest/relax as much as I wanted and needed to (except those naps. They're the only reason I'm surviving!).

On a side note, my first ultrasound is this week so please say a prayer because I would hate to get not-so-good news before my fundraiser event. I have been feeling like crap - which is a good sign, perhaps - but I'm also on progesterone this time around and am not sure if it's that or the baby that's making me feel bad. So, there's that. Hope y'all are having a less crazy week than me! ;)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why we share our baby news early

I know there are about a million posts out there about why you should or shouldn't share your pregnancy news right away. Let me just say that I'm not saying I think everyone should share right away. I truly believe everyone does what they think is best for their family. But in case some of you were thinking we were crazy for telling everybody the day we found out, I wanted to share exactly why we decided to do so. (I should say we haven't put it on Facebook, because I have conflicting thoughts about that...but that's another post that will never get written. But we have told all of our friends and family!)

I don't want to live in fear.
Let's face it, every woman worries about losing her baby - whether she's had a miscarriage before or not. Many women can't imagine sharing their news, losing the baby, and then telling everybody what happened. I know...it's not fun. It's the worst, actually. But I'd rather enjoy a few days/weeks/months of joy (as much as possible) instead of living in fear of what might happen.

I want people to know my baby lived.
Maybe this baby won't make it to term. Heck, maybe this baby doesn't have a heartbeat as we speak and I won't find out until my first ultrasound in a few days. But even if any of that does happen, it doesn't erase the fact that I had a baby - I have a baby - and will always consider this baby part of our family.

I can lose the baby at any time.
Sorry to be super blunt (you know me), and I don't want to sound depressing, but...not every pregnancy loss happens in the first trimester. After losing a baby at 22 weeks, I know how it is to have everyone know I was pregnant (with a big belly! and knowing it was a boy!) and then suddenly not be pregnant anymore. It's so hard. But somehow we survived. And I'm so glad people know we have a son in Heaven, because...

People will say insensitive things, no matter what.
If I have an early miscarriage, people might say "Well, you shouldn't have told everyone so early!" or "At least you didn't get too attached" or "At least you already have your 2 boys!". If I have another second trimester loss, people might say "Well, you knew this might happen again". Or if I lose the baby before we tell anybody, people might ask when we're having another baby - not even realizing we already had one.

Heck, even if I carry this baby to term, I'll probably get a whole slew of inappropriate comments like "You know what causes that, right?" Unfortunately, you can't make everybody happy. So I'm going to do whatever brings my family joy (instead of worrying about everyone else), and that's sharing our news right away.

We need all the prayer we can get.
If you've read this blog during Landon's or Chase's pregnancies, you'll know that pregnancy life isn't easy over here (I know it's not easy for most people!). I'm fairly certain we have survived the last 2 pregnancies because of 1) grace and 2) the faithful prayers of all our family, friends, and blog readers. And I know I would tell a difference in these early weeks if we didn't have all of those extra prayers!

We can't keep our mouths shut.
It might sound silly, but seriously...it's too hard to not tell people. I was going to see my parents in person TWO DAYS after I found out, but I knew there was no way I could keep it to myself until then. So I called them that same day. Logan and I were too dang excited!

Granted, I have not yet experienced an early pregnancy loss, and perhaps my opinions will change if that ever happens. Things also might change if we continue having baby after baby (since you know people love to make comments about big families). But for now, we will share our news as soon as we know. But I support you if you don't feel the same way. :)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Some good things and what the devil hates

Sorry if my last post left you hanging...(it was not my intention, my bad)

Last year I was in charge of a big silent auction for an awesome non-profit organization in the New Orleans area. They literally save babies and positively change the lives of women and their families. Really. I support their ministry so much that I'm helping run the auction AGAIN this year (okay, really it's because I felt called to it...God likes to stretch us sometimes). You can check out their website here if you're interested.

You know what the devil hates? When we help fight against abortion. When we play a part in giving all women hope, no matter what her situation is in life.

Even when it's just a small part, like helping with an annual fundraiser. Because seriously, so many ridiculous things have happened lately, and it gets worse the closer we get to the event. So crazy. I feel like we can't catch a break. The devil is working hard, for sure. 

And then there's the whole new pregnancy thing for our little family. We always seems to deal with spiritual warfare during pregnancy (well, at least we did with Chase), and I guess it's because the devil hates when people are open to life. Especially when it'd be so easy to call it quits and when apparently everyone else thinks we're slightly nuts for not stopping at just 2 kids. (Seriously, those of you with 4+ kids, I don't know how you handle the comments! We've gotten plenty already!)

So those are the 2 big reasons why the devil is all up in our business lately. Continued prayers are appreciated because sometimes it feels like I'm being held underwater. (I know that sounds exaggerated but it's the truth!) Sigh.

 But how about some good things that have been happening in the past week?? I like good things.
The guy who swore in 2013 that he would never drive a van.
  • We bought a (new-to-us) van! Yay! Because last week was so crazy, it actually sat in my garage for 4 days before I got a chance to get a good look at it and even drive it. (I had given the checkbook to Logan and told him he had to do it himself because my brain could not handle anything else.) But Logan did great and it's awesome and I'm totally digging the minivan life after just 3 days.
Isn't she adorable?
  • I unexpectedly got to visit my grandma (Dad's mom). Of course it's because she was in the hospital not doing well, but I'm glad we (my brother and SIL too) made the crazy last-minute 6-hour trip. My grandma seems to be doing better for the time being, and I hope I'll be able to see her again. (Just depends on pregnancy stuff because I usually don't travel far when I'm pregnant.)
I know I look like the odd one out...but that's actually my twin sister on the left.
  • I helped throw one of my BFFs (we go way back to the 6th grade) a baby shower for her much-prayed for baby boy. I cannot wait to meet him!
  • My sister and her family came down for the baby shower so we also got to visit with them! 
And now I'm just pushing through these next 2 weeks and praying life slows down then. Thank you for all of the prayers! I'm praying for all of you reading this. :)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Still here, don't worry

I know if I go too long without posting, people worry, so I'm going to just throw up this quick post, mmkay?

First, let me just say that I'm still pregnant. Saw my new doctor on Monday and will have an ultrasound in less than 2 weeks. Just have to say that so people don't automatically assume I lost the baby!


Y'all. This week has been a perfect storm of big changes, unexpected things, as well as the most ridiculous things happening. All in like 5 days. I was already pretty busy with obligations that will come to fruition (and completion!) in the next 2 weeks....then craziness happened. And I was going to explain in the form of quick takes, but my little overwhelmed brain can't even pull that together for you. Plus, I don't want to come off as whiny/complaining/whatever.

Let's just say that our little family is likely under spiritual attack, due to a number of things. So we would greatly appreciate extra prayers. Let me know how I can pray for you too!

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." – James 1:2-3

Friday, October 30, 2015

Keeping it quick (7QT)

1. Link-toberfest
Hey! I won a prize! It pays to link up with Kelly. Thanks to her and all the other awesome ladies who donated!

2. All Saints fun
I teach CCD every week, and the whole family joined me this week to help with our (early) All Saints' Celebration. My classroom was the pilgrimage place of Assisi, Italy, so naturally I dressed the boys up as St. Francis.
(Because it was also the easiest costume EVER. Landon wore Logan's shirt, Chase wore mine, and I tied this rope twine around their waists. Cost approximately zero dollars. #winning)

3. In the kitchen
I found a recipe for teriyaki chicken (one of my fave things ever) and it was goooood. We ate it with Haley's fried rice recipe (minus the shrimp) in her Feast! book. Yummy.

4. What I'm reading

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - I LOVE books that take place in WWII, and I've heard good things about this. Not far enough into it to have much of an opinion, but so far I'm liking it.
  • The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart - Why is this book making me want to get rid of our phones and computers? That won't happen, of course, but man...I'm starting to wonder what the world will come to eventually. (I really don't know how to explain my thoughts about this book. Just read it.)

5. Chase
 Well, I've come to the conclusion that you can thank this little boy for the fact that we're so open to life right now. (Oh, and Aunt Jess, he needs a haircut when you're in town!)

6. Landon
His favorite thing to say about something is that it's the "biggest one EVER".
"I making the biggest snake EVER." Right, buddy. (Jess, he needs a haircut too!)

7. Memes by Logan

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Maybe you saw this coming

When I wrote this post a couple weeks ago about how having more kids would totally be worth it, I still wasn't sure how I felt about being pregnant. Yes, we wanted more kids, and yes, it would be worth the sacrifice...but holy crap, pregnancy is HARD.

I think I was writing that post mostly for myself, because I knew I was having fertile signs at the time and I knew that I could very well be pregnant soon. Very soon.

This past week I started to wonder if I was indeed pregnant. No major symptoms really, but a lot of cramping/whatever....and a lot of intuition. I kind of feel like these past few months were preparation for another pregnancy. Sounds crazy, and I can't even really explain it. I just felt it in my gut, ya know?

So I tested on Friday. Negative. Then I tested 2-3 days after that. Negative.

I normally DO NOT take that many tests, but for some reason this time around I was really freaking out about possibly being pregnant. I think it was not knowing that was killing me. Was I pregnant or not? WHEN WOULD I KNOW?

Well, as of today. It's official, y'all - we're having another baby! And you want to know my reaction when I first saw that positive test result? Pure joy. I surprised myself, really. I thought I'd have a panic attack or something.

It's so crazy to me that these last 2 babies happened so easily, especially after losing the first and struggling so hard to get pregnant with the second. (We've apparently figured out what supplement I need to take to actually ovulate normally!) And it's hard not to feel guilty when I still have friends who are desperately trying for their first little miracle.

I don't understand it, but I know God knows more than we know and that ultimately, His will prevails. I don't know what these next 9 months hold for our little family, and I don't even know if this baby will come into this world safe and sound. But for now, we will thank God for all our blessings and trust that He will carry us through. Just as He always has.

We appreciate any and all prayers :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lots of reading and another meme by Logan (7QT)

1. Link-toberfest
I skipped last week, but I'm pretty proud of linking up with Kelly for the 3rd time this month! This week's question is "What is your most popular quick takes post?" And I don't even want to link to mine because it just so happens to be my very first 7QT post AND link-up I ever did and, um, no. I was trying a little too hard. So I'll share the next most popular one - but there's actually a tie between Livin' the good life and An old-fashioned vacation (kind of). You don't have to go read those...I just want an extra entry into the giveaway!

2. Family adventures
We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch this week, and the boys loved it. But man...it was hot. I thought it was almost November!! #welcometolouisiana

3. Links I loved
4. The boys
We've been reading a lot of books lately, and I'm just loving how they love books. Even Chase is all about books! I'll ask, "Do y'all want to read a book?" and Chase will toddle his way to the bookshelf, pick one of his fave books, and bring it to me with a big dimpled smile on his face. So cute. The other day, Landon was supposed to have changed from pajamas into regular clothes, but I found him in just his undies, looking at a book. I told him to put his clothes on, and he replied, "I'm trying to read this book first!"

5. Weekend getaway
Logan and I had our first overnight date since Landon was born (3+ years ago)! Unless you count the marriage retreat we went on last year. But I kind of don't, because a marriage retreat is a little different than living it up in New Orleans - staying in a nice hotel and eating at so many good restaurants. So, so nice, y'all. I'm so thankful that we were able to make it happen!

6. What I'm reading
  • How She Does It by Anne Bogel - this was a quick and easy read. I have become so thankful lately for Logan's unusual work schedule (and I use to hate it with a passion), and this book made me realize even more the potential his schedule gives to us to start new endeavors. 
  • The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart - Only about 20% in, but wow, it's making me think. I've already cut down on technology these past few months, so the whole premise was intriguing, and I'm really curious to see how I will feel at the end of the book.
  • Holy Sex! by Gregory Popcak - I finished this...and I really think every married person should read it too. It covers everything, and of course not everything will apply to your situation, and some of it is kind of hard to read (at least for me), but yeah. I wish I had read it in the beginning of my marriage!

7. Memes by Logan
I gave Logan the picture, and he delivered. Gotta love him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

When all you want to do is run away (from your marriage)

I knew I was supposed to marry Logan. We started dating in high school, so we knew each other really well and had plenty of time to discern correctly – including a long period in college that we weren't together. By the time we got back together, we knew it was with the intention of getting married, so Logan proposed less than 7 months later.

Even though I know that Logan and I were meant to be together, I was not prepared to feel the complete opposite. You don't really plan to get married and then at some point wonder why you even got married in the first place.

I know some people – a lot of people, even – don't experience this. Some couples just always have a great relationship and never once doubt whether they made the right decision in marrying their spouse.

But for those of us who have doubted, let me tell you that you are not alone.

Logan and I have been married for almost 6 ½ years, and this past year we've finally gotten to a point where I can honestly say we are happily married. It might sound harsh, but for most of our marriage, it felt like a constant battle. With very different temperaments and very different love languages, Logan and I both felt unloved. He loves being around other people and thrives on physical touch and words of affirmation. I desperately need alone time and feel loved most by acts of service.

Add to that the trials of pregnancy loss, sub-fertility, high-risk pregnancies, and everything else. Needless to say, it's been quite a learning curve. But now we are (mostly) thriving! (Full disclosure: we still our have bad days. Lots of them, actually. That's what happens when 2 stubborn people get married. But overall, we are happy!)

So what do you do when you're stuck in a rut in your marriage? Maybe your husband never pulls his weight around the house and expects you to do everything – even when you already have too much on your plate. Maybe you realize that you're nagging at your husband too much but feel like it's the only way to get through to him. Maybe you feel like you're never on the same page as your spouse but can't figure out how to remedy it. Maybe you're just too dang tired to put any more effort into your marriage because it all feels useless anyway.
So what do you do?

The obvious answer is to pray. That should always be our first reaction – go to God with our troubles and trust that He will take care of them.

But that's not all. Yes, God wants us to have a great marriage, but we also have to work for it. God will give us the graces to do that if we just ask.

The main thing I've realized, when Logan and I are in a cycle of hurting each other (either intentionally or unintentionally) is that someone has to break the cycle. Logan and I can make sarcastic remarks to each other all day, every day, until one of us decides to cut the crap, apologize, and be willing to make things better.

But what if you always feel like you're being the “better person”? What then?

I hate to be blunt, but...sometimes we think we're being the better person when we're really not. And this is coming from personal experience...

I thought that Logan was always the one causing problems. He always procrastinated and never did what I (politely) asked him to do. I thought that “if only” he would help out around the house more, was more motivated about getting things done, etc. that things would be much better.

What's that verse about seeing the splinter in someone else's eye and not seeing the beam in your own eye? (Just looked it up. Matthew 7:3-5.) Yeah. That was me, alright. It was much easier to blame Logan for everything than it was to actually work on my shortcomings. To think about how I wasn't giving Logan the love and attention he deserves. To admit that I didn't have my crap together when it came to my prayer life and housework.

I know I'm not an expert so I'm not going to “offer advice.” But these next 3 things are what I remind myself of often! Maybe it will help someone else who is struggling in their marriage.
  1. Focus on fixing yourself. You can't change anybody else. (We can try, but it won't work!)
  2. Instead of thinking about everything you wish was different about your spouse, think of the good things. And don't tell me there isn't anything! You did get married for a reason. (Logan may not be able to renovate our kitchen but MAN he sure is creative, fun, has a great sense of humor, and likes to surprise me by cleaning the house sometimes.)
  3. It will get better. It might get worse first, but there's always hope. Keep praying, keep making yourself better, and keeping loving your spouse no matter what.
"Only by returning to the God who is love can men and women learn to love one another rightly." - Christopher West

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sometimes the hardest things are the most rewarding

It started all when I was pregnant with Chase.

Are you done after this? Do you plan on having more?

And then when I found out Chase was indeed another boy, it started again...

So are you going to try for a girl?

Well, ain't that something. People just assumed that we were done once we had two kids...except now they were both boys. So surely we would try again only because we wanted a girl, right? Everybody wants one of each.

First off, let me let you in on a secret (except it's not a secret): I would totally love having all boys. Honestly. Being a "boy mom" is so much fun. (I know I might change my tune once they're teenagers, but for now, it's awesome. Physically exhausting sometimes but awesome.) Logan really wants a girl but of course he'd totally be fine with another boy.

So why would we try to get pregnant again? We have two awesome kids, they play well together, they both sleep through the night, I finally have my crap together, and....well...life is good. Another high-risk pregnancy and then a newborn would mess that up. Allllll up. Why in the world would we do that to ourselves?

It's really simple actually: we love kids. We really do. Even though we go through hell for 9 months, then we don't sleep for months, and life is pretty crazy until their first birthday (give or take a few months, depending on the baby), we love it. And we don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

I know some people don't agree with that, and it's fine. Really, I get it. It would be easy to just call it quits right now. I'd be lying if I said it hasn't crossed my mind.

But it wouldn't be easy to think about what we could be missing out on. We'd get less sleep, have less money, yes...but more importantly, we'd have more fun and more love. Man, how we love our children, we love how they love each other, and we really hope we are blessed with more. I'm so thankful for my older brother and my twin sister, and I know my life is so much better because of them. I hope Landon and Chase feel the same way one day (although I'm pretty sure they would say that now!).

I also can't help but think that the whole childbearing/childrearing thing is making me holier (or at least giving me plenty opportunities to strive for holiness). Of course I still have my selfish and sarcastic moments, and I still struggle with pride - as well as countless other weaknesses of mine - but I know I'm much less selfish and prideful because of my kids. Not only do they provide you with more than enough opportunities to grow in virtue, you can't help but want to be better because of them.

Sometimes the hardest things in life are the most rewarding. The sacrifices involved in having another baby (or several) are completely worth it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Get your crap together

So much is said about how moms need to take time for themselves, do things they love, and just make sure they're taking periods of rest amidst all of the craziness of life with small children. And oh yeah, make sure you go on dates with your hubby and keep the romance alive.

I always understood why we needed to do that - to prevent burnout - and that it's important to have a life outside of all your motherly duties - since one day your kids won't be living in your house anymore. But how, I wondered, HOW IN THE WORLD do we make the time to do all of those things??

Well. I am now at the point where I'm actually reading more, getting back to crocheting again, baking from scratch more, AND I feel like Logan and I spend plenty of quality time together. And it's not because I'm less busy....far from it. I'm currently teaching CCD once a week, in charge of a major silent auction, in a volunteer committee at church, helping plan a baby shower, and part of a playgroup (and kind of halfway in charge of it)....while taking care of 2 small boys, one of which has finally started walking and is into all.the.things. So what's the difference, you ask?

Pardon my french, but....I actually have my crap together for once.

Yes, I still have days where all hell breaks loose and I feel like I'm gasping for air by the time 6pm rolls around. And yes, there are some days where dishes stay in my sink all day or I don't actually put away all of the clean and folded laundry. Tis' life, sometimes.

But for the most part, I feel generally on top of things and not as overwhelmed as I used to feel. I started seeing a glimpse of that once I started decluttering like crazy, finding a place for everything, and just getting rid of everything that was more stressful than serving a purpose.

I should also say that making prayer a priority is a huuuuuge factor as well. Somehow, if I make time to pray, God helps me to do whatever else I need to do that day. Because He loves us like that.

It's good to make goals and want to do all.the.things....but you also have to set yourself up for success. I can say all I want that I want to write a book and open an Etsy shop, but if I can't even stay on top of housework and my other obligations, there's no way I'll ever achieve those goals. Ya feel me?
Gratuitous pic of a walking boy who needs a haircut
So, what do I suggest? Where do you start? How do you get your crap (ahem) together? (This is what worked for me. Take what you will and leave the rest, mmkay? I'm not an expert. We're all in this together.)

  1.  Pray pray pray. Don't make excuses. Just do it!
  2. Declutter. Get rid of crap! You don't need it! This may take weeks - or months.
  3. Once you think you've decluttered enough, you'll notice even more that you could purge. Get to the point where you can keep things tidy without much work. Again...it might take weeks. We have a lot of crap.
  4. Focus on one habit at a time - start with the one that makes you feel great about life. For me, it was an empty sink. So I stayed on top of the dishes. Took weeks for me to grasp it, but it's finally stuck!
  5. Start taking some time to do something you love. I chose to read. Once those dishes are done and the kids are sleeping/occupied, take a few minutes to sit and indulge in a book. 5 minutes is all it takes.
  6. Add another habit to maintain (while keeping on top of the first one). The next one for me was laundry - one load a day, all cleaned, folded, and put away. Don't start another load unless the first one is done. Trust me on this.
  7. Add another "hobby" to your "me" time. I started crocheting again. Making pretty things makes me happy.
  8. repeat 6 and 7

I suppose it all really started at the very beginning of 2015 when I realized I needed to change my attitude about prayer. And then the decluttering commenced. Now, as we're in the last quarter of the year, I'm finally feeling like I get it. It's possible to be on top of things, even with small children. It doesn't happen overnight, that's for sure. But God blesses our efforts! Praise Him for that.

Of course there are seasons in life that we need to give ourselves even more grace than usual - pregnancy, newborn phase, or illness - and I have yet to put this all into practice during one of those seasons. BUT I really think that if we stick to the basics, we will be just fine. Let's hope so, anyway. ;)

"God provides for all the temporal needs of His creatures without even waiting until they ask Him for them, and He grants spiritual gifts to those who desire them." - Saint Thomas Aquinas

Friday, October 9, 2015

Robots, adventures, and memes by Logan (7QT)

1. Link-toberfest
Thank goodness for 7QT, because otherwise I don't know if I would have blogged this week. The question of the week is "How many 7QT posts have you written?" This is #33 for me. Go check out all the other 7QT posts, by the way! Thanks to Kelly for hosting!

2. Family Adventures
It's still been SO HOT in Louisiana, but earlier this week it actually felt a tad bit cooler. So obviously we needed to make a fire.
And then we went to a park another day. Because life is just better when you get some fresh air! (But seriously, it's still SO HOT. Why can't snowball stands stay open year-round??)

3. What I'm Reading
  • The Secret to Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen - a few of my friends are going crazy reading all.the.books by Julie Klassen, so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and read this one. I liked it!
  • Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving by Gregory Popcak - should I not admit I'm reading a sex book? Oh well. I think the title is misleading anyway. I'm only 4 chapters in so I don't have much of an opinion yet...but I will say it's already making me look at how our daily lives can reflect our sex life. I guess I should stop saying the word sex now.
4. The boys
Are these hats too girly? Landon requested a red one (I've been crocheting more again! So nice!) so I decided to make Chase a coordinating one too...and they both just love them. It's pretty cute. 
So maybe it doesn't matter as long as they like them, right?
Landon finished up his session of soccer (well, it was supposed to be multi-sport but ended up being mostly soccer). And this kid is just so dang goofy and was totally the class clown. Just like his daddy.

5. Links I Loved
6. What happens when you leave Logan in charge

Lindsey (sis-in-law) and I had a meeting to go to during lunch one day, so we left Logan in charge of 5 kids (Linds took one twin with us). Max (7yo) was SO excited about Uncle Logan babysitting....and now I know why. Because who else would build robots and shields out of boxes?

7. Memes by Logan
Logan was all into DubSmash for awhile making some HILARIOUS videos. And now he's making memes. Never a dull moment with this guy.
 Well, if this doesn't make it obvious he's got a sanguine temperament...somehow he feels so left out when I'm texting my friends.
Maybe I should make this a weekly thing. Because you can never have too many memes. (Kidding. Kind of.)


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