"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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Pictures

Man, why did I stop doing these? It was so fun to look back and remember everything that happened. I tried to just pick one picture per month but of course some months had SO MANY THINGS happen and there was no way to just pick one. So, briefest of brief recaps accompany each month's picture(s). (Okay, now I'm realizing why I stopped doing them...THEY TAKE FOREVER. Just found unfinished posts from 2014 and 2015 in the deep abyss of my drafts folder. Hahaaaaa.)

January

I was pregnant, helped host Lauren's baby shower, and I just couldn't get healthy (morning sickness, cold, pink eye...fun times).
I think I was around 14 weeks in this picture, getting the cerclage placed. And I really would be totally okay if I never had to do that again.

February

I opened an Etsy shop (which is still on vacation LOL #thirdbaby), Logan's godson was baptized, Mardi Gras, our gender reveal, just to name a few.
 We found out we were having another BOY!
I mean, this one was too cute not to include. Right?

March

Logan and I went on our second marriage retreat! I highly recommend it.
We decided our baby in utero would be called Aaron Joseph, so obviously we had to celebrate on St. Joseph's feast day.
Easter!

April

We took professional pictures for the first time in almost 3 years and had fun at the Woman's New Life Center's annual 5k fundraiser.




Our team raised the most money!

May

Landon finished another session of SoccerTots, Chase had eye surgery, and Logan turned 30!

(We just had his follow-up in November and all looks good so far so hopefully he won't need another surgery!)


June

This was one of our biggest months! Landon turned 4, we went on our mini vaca, Landon and Chase had a joint birthday party, and Aaron was born!
 I was 35 weeks pregnant, hiding under an umbrella and drinking lemonade.
Cowabunga dudes!
Why does this feel like forever ago??

July

This was another big month. Chase turned 2 years old, Aaron was baptized, my grandmother (MoMo) passed away, our godson was baptized, Lauren and her family visited, and I turned 30! Plus there was the whole adjusting-as-a-family-of-5 thing.

 This might be one of my favorite pictures of all time. Welcome to the Church, Aaron!
Rest in peace, MoMo!

And this is where I stop recapping everything because daaaaang this is taking too long.

August


September


Landon started preschool!

October

Boo at the Zoo
Annual pumpkin patch visit
All Saints celebration/Trunk or treat at church

November


Our Christmas card picture session via self-timer (#budget)

December


Whew, major fist bump if you made it this far. Happy New Year's Eve!
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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Still Christmas


Day 5 of Christmas y'all!

12 Days of Christmas

We've gotten better over the years about still celebrating Christmas, but mannnn it's hard when the rest of the world is like totally over it already. Ugh. I had actually written a separate post about our 12 day plans and never posted it because professional blogger I am not. But hey! Maybe it's a good thing because the only thing we've done so far is hit up a lights display that also had fake snow and a carousel to ride. We do have big, BIG plans though to decorate a gingerbread house, do this Nativity craft I bought on clearance, and read lots of Christmas books (okay, okay, we don't have lots...but I did buy 2 "new" ones from the library for 50 cents! hollerrr), and have our annual party with friends.

Seven years today 

Today marks 7 years since Levi went to Heaven. How is that possible? Some days I can hardly believe we have 3 more boys now because it still feels like yesterday that I was in the hospital with Levi. It's crazy, though, how I consider him one of my biggest blessings now. (Heck, he's the reason I started this here blog!) Please pray for us, Levi! We love you so much.

Birthday? Remembrance day?

One thing I have always struggled with is what to call today. For some reason I've always felt weird saying it's Levi's birthday, because it was a stillbirth. But I also feel weird just saying "Levi's day." What do y'all think? Should I just get over it and say it's his birthday? Pregnancy loss can be so complicated sometimes. (I know I probably sound ridiculous talking about this SEVEN YEARS LATER.)

Bikes!

We asked Logan's parents to buy Landon and Chase bikes for Christmas and they generously agreed!


Landon has totally got the hang of it now and sadly Chase is too short to reach his pedals but still loves his trike. And check out those helmets!

Writing space

YOU GUYS. Logan is the best gift giver! Look at this picture (from before we moved in) of a little nook in our bedroom - between the closets.
We've put different things there over the past few years, including my vanity, a pack'n'play, and more recently, my dresser. But Logan decided to revamp it as my Christmas present...
...into my very own writing space!! That opens into a little desk. Seriously one of the most thoughtful gifts ever and could probably double as a prayer space (which is what I thought it was when he first showed me). Now if only I could get the chance to use it! (As I sit at the kitchen table, typing with one hand, holding a nursing baby with the other while the big boys watch a video about St. Juan Diego in the next room.)

Mini vacation

Logan was able to take off a few days so we could spend Christmas at my parents' house, which is always really nice because they serve yummy food and live in a beautiful neighborhood and it just really feels like a mini vacation. Logan works pretty much every holiday that we stay home for so it was REALLY nice to have 5 straight days with him.
Landon looks mad but he was just being goofy!

The elf pajamas, y'all.

Baby's 1st Christmas

Now let me please bombard you with cute baby pictures since it was Aaron's first Christmas.
The only thing we got him was a teething rosary from Chews Life and he loves loves loves it.



His new friends ;)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas!
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Visitors, fried eggs, and flip flops in December (7QT)

1. We had visitors this weekend! We went to vigil Mass so the lighting isn't the greatest. Mass also involved a diaper blowout (right before, thankfully, and explains Aaron's casual onesie - and he had looked so cute! boo), lots of spit-up and passing around of the 3 younger boys. But we survived! 4 boys, age 4 and under is no joke. Linking up with Rosie for My Sunday Best! I'm wearing a Nicole dress from LuLaRoe. I may or may not have a few of them...
Lauren and her little family are always a joy to have over and I'm thrilled that they're now only a couple hours away. We will be making these visits a regular occurrence. It's so fun seeing the boys all play together!


2. I've been getting rid of most of our baby clothes as Aaron outgrows them and even getting rid of some before I put them on him. After Landon and Chase, I did not feel inclined to get rid of much, and it totally worked out since we kept having summer babies...and all boys. But now I'm like AWAY WITH ALL THE THINGS. And it's pretty freeing. (Totally not saying we won't have another baby. I just don't think we'll need many clothes if we do have another one, and consignment stores are great for that.)


3. Fried eggs are my new fave thing to eat, especially now that I'm avoiding milk and cheese. I'm weird and have to have the yolks cooked completely, which might defeat the purpose of fried eggs, but oh well. Fried eggs for breakast, lunch, dinner, mid-morning snack. Whenever! Fried eggs on hamburgers. GIVE ME ALL THE FRIED EGGS. With avocado on top, thankyouverymuch.


4. Louisiana weather is so weird. We'll have a couple of days that require jackets and maybe scarves and then I'm back to wearing flip flops the next day. Followed by a day of cold weather. But I will admit that I totally love it. It is depressing though, to have Landon ask where the snow is and tell him that it doesn't get cold enough down here for that. (Last time was 8 years ago when Logan and I were engaged.)
December 2008, y'all. I haven't seen snow since.


5. Gahhh my baby is so cute. I know I say that all of the time. I don't care. He's cute! This week he started belly laughing and it's pretty much the greatest thing ever.


6a. Well, this picture perfectly displays Chase's goofiness. I don't understand how a human being can be so frustrating and destructive (oh, the stories I could tell) while simultaneously being freakin' adorable. Those dimples are his saving grace, I can assure you.
6b. Landon had his first school performance this week and did really well as the cutest camel ever. ;) He's growing up so fast these days and I'm kind of in denial that I'll have a kindergartener next year. Soon I won't want to post these kinds of pictures because of his possibly-embarassed future 14-year old self (sob) but maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself.


7. Well, the year is almost over and I haven't quite reached my (second) reading goal of 75 books. But I'm close! And there's still time! I plan on posting about my faves that I read this year which should make a really good list because man, I read some good ones.

I know I won't be able to read as much next year since Aaron will be crawling and walking and all so I'm still thinking about my goal next year. I just love books and am so glad I realized this past year that I can actually make time for reading. (The short answer: don't watch TV.)


Also linking up with Kelly. Go check out everyone else's posts!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Little graces just when we need them

If my last post wasn't any indication, I'm struggling a bit in this thing called life right now. And I really don't mean to sound like I'm complaining - I'm fully aware that I am so, so blessed. No major stuff going on. Just a lot a lot a lot of little stuff. So much so that there have been way too many moments where I can't decide whether I should laugh or cry.

As someone who has the tendency to get depressed (thanks, melancholic temperament), I've learned to look for the bright side in life. A lot of times I fail miserably at that, but heck, I'm trying. And what I'm realizing is that more often than not, God sends little graces (AKA gifts, consolations, take your pick) to make whatever life is hitting you with just a little more bearable.
While it certainly was not a joy to be woken up at 2am to the sound of my kid throwing up on our carpet, it only happened once and nobody else succumbed to that illness. 
While I've been dealing with a bad sinus infection, the day I felt the worst happened to be the day that Logan was off work so I was able to take a nap. 
While it was SO FRUSTRATING to get all of the boys ready to take Landon to school just to realize my van was completely dead (the day after Landon missed school already because of sickness), we ended up having a pleasant day at home - probably the most pleasant in a very long time.
So after realizing that while yes, there have been a lot of frustrations lately but that they've also been accompanied by positive things, it didn't come as much of a surprise to me (because God needs to reinforce things due to my stubbornness) when I was reading the First Reading today and realized it included one of my favorite verses:
"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back." (Isaiah 54:7, NAB)
Sometimes it feels like God just lets us drown, so to speak, for a little while. And while he's not doing it to be cruel (actually just the opposite), it's hard. But I know that it's because of those difficult times that I'm able to realize when life is oh so very good. And it's also because I've seen how God has rescued me from those bad times that I'm able to see that he sends us little graces at the exact moment we need them.
"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul." (Psalm 94:19, NRSV)
Cute baby = big consolation

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Despite the best intentions

Advent is one of my favorite - if not my absolute favorite - times of the year. Maybe it's because for every single one of my 4 pregnancies, I was pregnant for all of Advent. For obvious reasons, it's much easier to get into the Advent spirit when you're carrying a precious baby in your womb just like Mary did.

When I was pregnant with Levi, we found out on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (today!!) that he was indeed a boy. And that was probably my favorite Advent ever - pregnant, with a boy, just like Mary was over 2000 years ago. Even if we didn't get to celebrate Christmas quite the way we were anticipating.

I really do have the best of intentions every single year to slow down, pray more, spend more time with my hubby and kiddos, and basically, just focus on Jesus, Mary, and the beauty our Church has to offer this time of year. Being pregnant really helps with that, especially because the last 3 times I've been in the throes of morning sickness (and with Landon I was on bedrest!).

This year, though, I feel like I'm failing big time - even though we don't have any major events going on like several of my friends (i.e. moving, pregnancy, etc.). I don't remember the last time I've been this behind on laundry, the baby and I are still holding on to a cold the big boys had last week, said baby is also cutting his first tooth, I think we've only done our Jesse Tree 3 days (despite starting it early), there's baby pee on my bed sheets (proof that he nursed alllll night....size 4 diaper couldn't even handle it) that will contribute to the worsening laundry situation, there's poop in the baby's carseat due to an unfortunate diaper blowout situation, and, um, I'm tired. So tired. Oh, and I also realized this morning we need to pack up all the 6-month clothes and bust out the rest of the 9-month ones because big boy keeps growing. As babies do (though why does it seem to happen overnight??).

Did I mention the laundry situation? Right.

Between the baby's endless nursing and the big boys waking up earlier and earlier, I'm finding my morning quiet/prayer time is being oh so limited too - despite the fact that I've been setting my alarm for months and even started setting it earlier. I'm really, really trying to slow down and create quiet space/alone time in my life. But still I'm finding myself praying Morning Prayer in bed as I nurse the baby, just to wake up and have approximately 30 seconds of journaling time before one of the other boys wakes up. Sigh. Life isn't exactly cooperating with me at the moment.

I can't even blame the holiday craziness on everything either- our Christmas cards went out last week, I have 95% of our presents done, and we did stockings on St. Nicholas Day so those are done too. Yet I found myself, on perhaps the coldest day in Louisiana this fall thus far (it's in the 40s! go ahead and laugh away you northerners), rolling up to preschool drop off this morning wearing a t-shirt, pajama pants, flip flops, and glasses, in lieu of real clothes and contacts. For the first time this year. What the heck is happening? (The kids were dressed, at least...)

Despite the best intentions, my Advent is not looking like I hoped it would. Sometimes you just can't plan around the craziness of life.

But perhaps it's what God planned for our little family this year. Because there is no doubt in my mind that all of these unplanned situations and frustrations - and the ridiculous lack of sleep going on in my house right now - is what has me clinging even more to the fact that Jesus is coming. We'll celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, yes, but He's coming too. It could be next year, next month, heck TOMORROW, and it won't matter how far behind I am on laundry or how much sleep I'm getting (or not).

What matters is that our souls are ready, our eyes are looking heavenward, and our hearts are at peace because we're resting in Him. And I'm going to keep making time for prayer and silence, no matter what life brings my way, because we don't know when Jesus is going to make his grand entrance. Gotta be ready.

We've got this. (Right?? I hope so.)
"Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, 
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand." 
-James 5: 7-8, NAB

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A beautiful gift (and how I'm stubborn)

You ever feel like God keeps telling you the same thing over and over again, just in different ways? Like He's constantly nudging you to do something?

That happens to me a lot. (I guess I'm stubborn.) Right now I feel like He keeps wanting me to spend more time with Scripture.

Last year, I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours, just Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. And somehow I stopped doing that, even though I really liked it - probably because I really wanted to focus on a daily Rosary and thought that somehow I couldn't do both.

I know it's called Liturgy of the HOURS but really, each hour takes maybe 10 minutes (Night Prayer is even shorter). So once I realized I really had no excuse, I started praying Morning Prayer again a few months ago. My intention was to add Evening Prayer, but I ended up adding Night Prayer first because it's shorter and the most pleasant way to end the day.

Hopefully I'll manage to throw Evening Prayer back in there, and maybe occasionally some of the other Hours and the Office of Readings, but for now I just have to say that praying the Psalms (which the Liturgy of the Hours is mostly comprised of), as well as the other readings, is really making me appreciate Scripture more. So much, in fact, that I've been feeling those gentle nudges from God to bust out my Bible more often - because sadly, it doesn't happen too much anymore.

And then because I am stubborn, I keep getting the same message in things I read. First, it was in Colleen C. Mitchell's book Who Does He Say You Are? Colleen talks about how she's gone through several Bibles in her lifetime because they all became worn from use. What she writes in her Afterword about her thirst for God's Word is just really beautiful. (Seriously, y'all...read this book.)

Then today in the Blessed Is She's Advent journal, Elizabeth Foss writes: "If we want to get to Christmas without falling over in a great, sorrowful heap, we need to cultivate the habit of opening our Bibles."

YES. So, I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to cultivate this habit, other than making sure my Bible is right where I can see it, easily accessible to open whenever I have a spare minute or two. But what I do know is that Scripture should always be what we come back to and that we should remember (I'm preaching to myself here most of all) that it's such a beautiful gift given to us by God Himself. Let's not waste it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent randomness

I totally wrote a [different] post about alllll our plans for Advent and then I realized that is a great way to get overwhelmed. And that's not what Advent is about. So while we definitely have our Advent wreath set up, as well as our Jesse Tree, I'm not going to stress about it (as well as all the other things on our list). We'll do our best when it comes to all the Advent things, but making ourselves feel defeated and guilty when life happens is probably what the devil wants. (He can suck it, by the way.)

So! Things you might not know:

  • Logan does 100% of the Christmas decorating around here. Not kidding.
  • He has already finished all of the decorating, inside and out, with the exception of ornaments on our tree - which we will do on St. Nicholas Day.
  • I'm the world's worst wrapper of presents. But I don't care because 80% of ours are already wrapped and under our tree. (And most of the rest are being shipped to us as we speak!) 
  • Logan is a bit obsessive about his decorations. Okay, that's an understatement...he's super obsessive. But he's SO GOOD at it that I can't be too annoyed.
  • I'd much rather save all the Christmas fun for the actual Christmas season (December 25th - January 6th), but Logan does not. So we compromise. I'm slowly converting him, though. 
  • We do love to throw in a couple of super fun days amidst the Advent waiting. Our 2 big days are St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) and Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent, which will be December 11th this year). Logan just so happens to be off work for both of them this year because Jesus loves me.
 My sister bought this inflatable for Logan for Christmas last year and he was dying to put it up this year. When I walked outside, he exclaimed, "THIS THING IS AMAZING!" He's so special. (But I still love you, babe!)

So. Advent. In case you're all "What? It's Advent already?" Take a deep breath; it'll be okay! Here are 3 things you could do if you haven't yet thought about the whole prayer/spiritual aspect of it yet:
  1. Blessed Is She Advent Journal. This is what I'm doing this year and I know I'm going to love it, just after one day. I've been slacking off on my personal journaling lately (mainly because of a baby who likes to be held alllll the time), so this is a perfect excuse to get back into the rhythm. If you were too late to buy a print copy, don't worry, you can download a digital copy here ($15).
  2. Pray More Advent Retreat by John-Paul and Annie of PrayMoreNovenas.com.  It's an online retreat with videos, transcripts, and study guides. Some of them look really good! You can pay however much you want, but if you can't pay, you can still join.
  3. Advent boot camp by Meg at Held By His Pierced Hands. She has a guide for prayer time each day. If I hadn't already committed to the BIS journal, I would totally be doing this. (It's free!)
While it's tempting to want to do all of these things and then some, I'm keeping my expectations super low and sticking with just the journal for now. The important thing is just to do something, whether or not it's any of the above, and to prepare our hearts not only for baby Jesus, but for when Jesus comes again too. Mary at Better than Eden has a great post about "punching the devil in the face this Advent", so to speak, so go read it!

I will leave you with a sleeping baby pic because somehow that seems appropriate. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

What I'm loving (and not)

Love: all the things Landon is learning at preschool! He can write his name and is always asking how to spell other people's names so he can write those too. And now he will spend hours coloring and doing artsy things.

Don't love: thinking about what we're doing next year for kindergarten. Public school, private school, homeschool? I DON'T KNOW. SOMEONE DECIDE FOR ME. Just kidding. Just pray we make the right decision please. :)


Love: our Christmas cards! I was totally feeling proud of myself for having them done before Advent started. Logan keeps getting mad at me for showing people before we actually mail them out, but like I said...totally proud over here. Toot toot.

Don't love: how our printer is not working so I cannot print address labels for said Christmas cards. I have computer files with address labels both for birthday party invitations and Christmas cards which makes mailing things out SUPER EASY (and possible me super nerdy). But I can't put easy peasy labels on envelopes when MY PRINTER WON'T WORK. It's okay, though. I'll manage. First world problems and all.
UPDATE: I was about to publish this post when Logan informed me the printer is now working! Yay! Cards coming to a mailbox near you. (I'll wait until Advent though, promise.)


Love: how I'm finally having a pleasant breastfeeding experience. I still can't believe it sometimes actually. In a way, I'm thankful for the last 2 times not going so well because I can appreciate this time around soooo much more. Funny how that works.

Don't love: that I realized me eating dairy makes Aaron not a happy baby. I can manage without milk (except that that also includes ice cream, wahhh), but cheese? Sigh. You don't realize how much you eat something until you can't have it.


Love: this goofy kid and his dimples.

Don't love: how he throws EVERYTHING on the ground, makes such a mess every time he eats (no matter what it is), and that I feel like I won't ever catch up on housework because he is a destroyer of all things. Two year olds are fun.


Love: how Logan surprised me with a bath tub of piping hot water (seriously, there was steam!) and a glass of wine after I had the worst weekend with the kids while he was at work.

Don't love: how said bath lasted less than 10 minutes because a certain baby would not stop screaming for his momma. A million brownie points for effort, babe.


And I will end with one last love, on a positive note: Colleen C. Mitchell's book, Who Does He Say You Are? Every woman should read this. For reals. It will be one I read over and over, I'm sure. I've highlighted a bunch (via Kindle) and here's one...
"If we will set our hearts on the discipline of prayer and give up the things that keep us from living wholly dependent on him, we will see God in action, recognize him at work, and have the courage to go out and proclaim his presence with great rejoicing."

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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