"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.


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