"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mercy wins every time

You ever feel like God keeps giving you the same message over and over, just in different ways? That happens to me a lot. I'd like to think it's just because God thinks I'm forgetful, but it's probably because He knows I'm stubborn. 

The message I keep hearing, seeing, feeling lately? Be vigilant.

It is becoming more and more obvious to me how much the devil wants to ruin things. He takes the smallest opportunity to turn things in his favor, without us even realizing it. He's sneaky, and he wants us to forget that.

He wants us to take that one innocent comment by a friend and get offended by it. 
He wants us to get swept up in the ridiculousness on Facebook when everyone has to share their opinion in a rude and sarcastic manner (as if those conversations actually change people's minds). 
He wants us to assume that our spouse is not on our side, just because they forgot to take the garbage out again. 
He wants us to yell at our kids when they're being just that – kids. 
He wants us to focus on all the risks and what could go wrong during a very routine procedure. 
He wants us to think that skipping prayer time “isn't a big deal” just that one time (which will inevitably lead to another time, and another time...). 
He wants friends to fight, family members to hold grudges, and co-workers to gossip. 
He wants to distract us from the important things in life, which are faith and family.

And somehow we let him.

Thankfully, God is always there, showering us with His mercy and grace. We just need to ask for it! The Divine Mercy chaplet is such a beautiful prayer, and I just love how the Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday. Yes, it's so easy to let the devil distract us and steal our joy (ask me how I know!), but there's always forgiveness. Always. God's mercy and grace is endless!

This glorious Easter season is a time to celebrate and be joyful. But sometimes that's hard – life tends to knock us down a time or two. Things happen, and we don't always feel like celebrating. But being joyful doesn't mean everything is perfect. It means finding the joy in our blessings (which are many!) and knowing that after suffering and death, there's a Resurrection. 

The devil wants to steal our Easter joy. Don't let him.
The Closing Prayer to the Divine Mercy chaplet...because it's one of my faves!

Monday, March 28, 2016

A wonderfully normal holiday

I've gotten rather used to not having many true "holidays", due to Logan's work schedule. It's just part of working in hospitality - they never close! We do manage to get to my parents' house for one holiday a year for a couple days, either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but other than that, Logan is usually working. (He worked this past Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day, just as an example.)

So while I don't normally blog about an entire day, I'm going to blog about our Easter because Logan was actually off work when he wasn't supposed to be originally. It was so wonderfully normal and I know I'm going to want to remember it. Especially if he has a normal schedule one day and I start taking holidays for granted.
I had already made breakfast the night before (y'all, this buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake was SO good...you're welcome), so the boys looked through their baskets and then we ate. Logan finished first so he snuck off to hide some eggs.
Goodness, they're cute.
It rained pretty much all morning, so Logan hid the eggs in our living room. Chase wasn't walking last year, so this was his first egg hunt and he picked it up pretty darn quickly! The boys loved it.
We had plenty of time to get ready for Mass, which was good because I had no idea what we all were wearing (I'm notoriously bad at wardrobe. Just saying. It's probably why God keeps sending us boys.).

But we all found something, the boys looked adorable (says their biased mother), and we attempted a few self-timer pictures. Outside pictures would have turned out so much better, but...rain. Lots of it.
And then I took some of the boys (and Marley, because she loves to be in our business) while Logan did some obnoxiously hilarious thing behind me to get the boys to smile. Obviously, it worked!
I wasn't planning on putting ties on them, because we only had one that matched (the pink), but Landon INSISTED on wearing one. I still can't believe he remembered we had it. Their shirts are from Carter's, by the way - I literally just ordered them for a photo session we're doing when Aaron is born, but turns out they worked for Easter too. Winning.
Then we had Landon try to take a picture of Logan and me...let's just say he needs more practice. 
But he sure does look handsome, eh? Can't believe he's almost 4!

Off to Mass we went, where we realized that the boys will never again eat a morsel of candy before Mass. Seriously. They were bad.
But thanks to a friend, we did get a family picture afterwards (sorry, Chase, you look candy drunk in all of them). And Father gave all the kids candy-filled eggs and said one of our boys will be a priest one day. I sure hope so!

We had plans to go to Logan's parents' house, but wanted the crazy boys to nap first so we put them down for an early snooze as soon as we got home. And then Logan and I pigged out on chips and salsa (he gave up chips for Lent, so holla) and played a game of Scrabble.

I'm just going to pause for a moment because I don't know if that has ever happened before - BOTH boys napping while Logan and I had almost 2 hours to do something that didn't require technology.

Around 2pm, the boys woke up, we changed them into play clothes, and took off for Logan's parents' neighbors' house (you confused? me too), where we had too much crawfish, too much candy, and another Easter egg hunt. And maybe a couple selfies. Thankfully, the weather cleared up!
Not enough eggs. Ha.
I have to admit I did not think I would be one of those women who dressed their boys alike all the time...but I kind of love it. No shame. (Shirts are from Target. Clearance section, baby.)
Logan thought he was too cool to take a picture with me...
...but maybe he does love me after all!
No, he's not crying... just his blocked tear ducts. Sigh.
Around 6pm, we went home, picking up a couple Redbox movies on the way. We severely limited TV for the boys during Lent, so we wanted to reward them by watching The Good Dinosaur (which was so good). So we did. Well, let me rephrase that - Logan, Landon, and I watched while Chase turned into a crazy toddler that threw food all over the living room, stole everything from Landon's Easter basket, and kept climbing on top of me.

Clearly, letting him eat 5 pounds of candy in one day is not a good idea.

The movie ended just in time for their bedtime, so Logan put them to bed while I showered. After he had a quick shower, we watched the movie War Room - which was also very good. One of those God movies with some pretty bad acting, but a great message nonetheless. I can't remember the last time I watched 2 movies in one day, but it was nice.

Our movie was interrupted when we found out a family member was going to the hospital and Logan went to make sure everything was ok (but that's not my story to tell, and everyone is fine now, don't worry).

So we didn't finish the movie until midnight, which is wayyy past my bedtime and poor Logan had to get up at 5am for work. But it was worth it. So very worth it. Jesus is risen, after all.

Happy Easter, everyone! Remember it's 50 days of celebration!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Holy Week rambling

My goodness. After quite a fruitful Lent - probably the best one in years - this week has not been easy. Not the hardest, by any means, but difficult. But I guess that's how Holy Week is supposed to be, eh?

I'm now having Braxton-Hicks contractions every day, where before I had many days without any at all. And then on Monday I decided to take the boys to Costco by myself, something I don't do while pregnant, because shopping at Costco without them already brings on a few contractions as it is (as does anything that requires walking and lifting, unfortunately...so we stay home mostly). But we had an empty fridge (seriously, I should have taken a picture - it was bad), and I also wanted to bring food to a friend who just had a baby. So Costco it was!
Good thing I hit up Chick-fil-A on the way because they were still setting up most of the samples and Chase just couldn't handle it.

When we got home that afternoon, I put both boys down for a nap (yes! Landon hasn't been napping as much lately but some days I just really need him to) and then spent entirely too long on the phone dealing with health insurance issues. My counter is overflowing with paperwork, thanks to taxes and endless EOBs and bills - most of which I had to call about it because insurance is dumb. The whole day I had been having contractions, but it wasn't until I was talking to my mom afterwards that I realized they were happening way too often.

So off to the couch I went with water and a big protein snack, where I stayed for several hours, contemplating whether or not I should call my doctor. Thankfully Logan got home from work not long after and was able to deal with the boys. I was trying not to freak out, because I hadn't had that many contractions this pregnancy, but I also wasn't cramping and I could feel Aaron move. So I just stayed put and it wasn't until 5 HOURS LATER that I noticed the contractions had decreased.

Needless to say, I started packing my hospital bag this week after that little episode.

It's hard not to be extremely frustrated with the fact that I can't even go grocery shopping without my body going crazy. Because, um, we need food. And I'm also noticing that I have more contractions if I'm not chugging the water and eating every couple of hours. And if my bladder is full. Which is totally a catch-22. (This all has happened with the last 2 pregnancies...)

But I'm also extremely thankful that we made it this far without any shenanigans, which is a first.

On Tuesday, I started feeling some pressure down there, which again has happened in previous pregnancies, but not this one yet. So again I was off to the couch where someone decided to join me.

Photograph by our resident 3-year old.

Marley has been acting so weird around me lately, always wanting to be in my lap. It's kind of nerve-wracking (because is she sensing something?), but it's also kind of cute.
She was not going anywhere!

As if pregnancy shenanigans hadn't already made me crazy, we learned yesterday that Chase should have a procedure on his blocked tear ducts, which would require general anesthesia. Just the thought of my sweet baby going under brings on the waterworks because hormones suck. We've been so fortunate to have healthy boys, and it isn't until times like these that you realize you took it for granted.

I had grand plans to attempt not putting on lights in our house for the next 3 days, but at 9:30am this morning it suddenly got dark and started raining.
I lit a candle but it didn't do much and Landon started begging me to turn on the light. Oh well.

My boys seem to have lost their mother loving minds this morning so I'm currently typing this randomness out while they watch a movie - something we gave up for Lent and actually stuck with (except maybe a movie a week, usually watched as a family). Because I was also going to lose my mind if I heard them shrieking and fighting one more time. Desperate times, yo.

That's enough rambling for now, I suppose. Both boys have lost interest in the movie (FAIL) and are begging me for food. As they do 24 hours each day.

Hope you're all having a blessed Holy Week and I will see you in the Easter season!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

We're all in need of mercy

It seems like social media and the news is always coming out with a new story...

...the celebrity that said a racial slur 20 years ago. 
...the politician who doesn't have a clean past.
...the teacher accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
...the professional athlete accused of cheating.
...the spouse who had an affair.

The list goes on and on.

It's so, so easy to just assume everything you hear is true and to start judging the victim, saying they should have known better and that they deserve everything coming to them.

Until it happens to someone you know.

I'm naturally a very critical, judgmental person. My first instinct is to assume the worst. But it's something I've been working on, because 1) you don't keep friends that way, and 2) Jesus was the complete opposite and I'm very much striving to be like Him.

So when I heard some not-so-good things about someone who used to be my best friend, I surprised myself even by being completely and 100% in disbelief. I didn't believe it. I still don't, actually, but even if I found out it was true – you know what?

It doesn't matter anyway. We need to start extending mercy and not judgment. I'm not perfect, you're not perfect, and my friend is not perfect. But we can all help each other get closer to that perfection to which God calls us.

My least favorite part of Palm Sunday is during the Gospel reading when the congregation is supposed to play the part of everyone condemning Jesus to death. “Crucify him! Crucify him!” they all shout. But I don't want to say that...I don't want to crucify Jesus, I tell myself. 

And today it hit me that I do that more often than I care admit.

When I just assume the grouchy man in the checkout line is a miserable bastard. Maybe he's just in pain after the death of his wife and needs a friend. 
When I see an overwhelmed mom of littles and think, she shouldn't have so many if she can't handle it. But maybe she's actually a newly single mom who just found out one of her kids was diagnosed with a medical condition. 
When a woman can't bring herself to look at my pregnant belly and 2 little boys. Maybe she's dealing with infertility or just lost a baby of her own.

Every single time I see someone and make cruel assumptions, I'm crucifying Jesus. That's a hard thing to admit! So instead, I try very hard (and still fail sometimes) to assume the best. No matter what the situation is, I think of any possible explanation that is in that person's favor – and not condemning them.

Well, you're just naïve, you might be thinking. Some people really are just as bad as they seem.

You would be right. But even then, what those people need are our love, encouragement, and prayers – maybe they don't get it from anyone else.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Backyard plans, feast days, and soccer (7QT)

1. Backyard plans

We're planning to fix up our little backyard since Logan's parents bought the boys a swingset for their (very early) birthday present. Logan needs to level it all out the ground with some dirt first, which he was going to do this morning but of course it's raining. We also want to put up a short fence so I don't have to worry about them running off. I CANNOT WAIT until it's done. Hopefully by the end of next month!

The swingset is probably going in that corner. That's our neighbor's shed and our property ends right before it. And thankfully the people behind us are putting up a fence so we won't have to along the back!

I'm really hoping the "after" pictures will be much more riveting than these "before" ones. It's easier to see the potential in person, though, I promise!

2. In the Shop

I added one new thing this week - the option to pick your own color and cross charm for a rosary bracelet!

3. Liturgical Living

For the first time EVER, I was prepared for 2 feast days this week! St. Patrick and St. Joseph. I'm really trying to be better about this, especially now that Landon is totally old enough to understand. Things don't need to be fancy either (note to self: the kids love to color)! Tomorrow we're planning on going to the St. Joseph's Altar at our church. 

4. Baby update

24 weeks!!! Viability, baby. My progesterone has stayed the same, despite doubling the dose...so that's kind of annoying. Braxton-Hicks contractions have picked up a little. But my cervix is still hanging in there and baby's heartbeat is good! Yay. OH! We went ahead and scheduled a c-section for July 1st! I did go into labor 9 days before Chase's scheduled arrival, though, soooo we will see what happens this time around.

5. What I'm reading

I finished the 3 books I mentioned last week so skip this one unless you want to know what I thought about them!
  • Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington - I really liked this. Many things I've already been doing the past year, but still gained some insight. If you're drowning in life, read it!
  • Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand - goodness, this makes me so grateful for everything. Louis went through so much! It might be on my top 5 list of books this year (but it's still early, so we'll see!)
  • Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make by Carrie Rocha - while I didn't have any new revelations from reading this, it totally motivated me to get our finances to where I've always wanted them to be!
I also started reading Father Elijah by Michael O'Brien, which I read several years ago. But I want to read it again since he came out with a sequel a few months ago!

6. Landon Gerard (3.75 years)

He started another session of SoccerTots and did SO well. It's so fun seeing how he's gotten better with each session. 1st time he used his hands all the time, 2nd time he was basically the class clown, and this time he was on a mission. No more using his hands! #proudsoccermom

7. Chase Michael (20 months)

He kept darting on the field to play soccer too and was so upset when Logan stopped him. Now we know to sign him up too next time! He was happy when he got to cuddle with his momma instead, at least. I won't have room in my lap for much longer! #dimples

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Because I love a good planner (5Faves)

It's been awhile since I've done just a random 5Faves post...here's what I'm loving right now!

1. Aquasana glass water bottles

I've kind of been on a mission to minimize the plastic in our house, so I ordered these water bottles when the price dropped on Amazon way back when. I was initially concerned about them breaking easily, but somehow they're still all intact, 3 months later! Pretty easy to throw in my purse or diaper bag. They do have silicone covers that I was planning on buying but I'm not so sure it's necessary anymore. Water tastes SO much better in glass.

2. Plum Paper planner 

I ordered my first planner from them over a year ago and loved it so much that I just ordered another! My brain doesn't process those daily ones with each hour listed, and I like how I can have a section for each family member (although if we keep having babies I'll have to change my process). And I was pretty thrilled to see they made a few small changes that my attention-to-detail self loves. I'm such a planner nerd.

3. KEEP bracelet

My sister-in-law hosted a KEEP party on FB somewhat recently, and in case you're not familiar with them, they sell jewelry. The bracelets and all are called "keepers" and you can buy different "keys." Mine is pretty simple at the moment (because, budget), but I'm looking forward to adding more keys later (maybe the boys' birthstones)! The consultant thought our group of friends was so fun that she's actually flying from Wisconsin to Louisiana in June to host a couple live parties. We're just awesome like that. ;)

4. Kashi granola bars

I picked these up on a whim at Target because there was a steep Cartwheel coupon and I realized that granola bars are the perfect preggo snack. And um, they're yummy. Totally crunchy (like texture-wise), which is a nice change from your typical granola bars. I have to be sneaky about eating them because the boys beg me for half if they notice I open one.

5. Yes to Blueberries shampoo

We cancelled our Melaleuca membership several months ago and have slowly been finding replacements for all the things we used to order. This is our new shampoo! Logan likes it too because he says it smells like fruit loops. I originally bought it on ePantry (now Grove Collaborative or something?) but it's cheaper on Amazon. Not gonna lie, I'm an Amazon snob. Subscribe and Save for life, baby.

Don't forget to go check out the other posts at Ashley's!

Friday, March 11, 2016

More books, new shop listings, and crafting it up (7QT)

1. Brothers

These boys just love each other. Most of the time. I know I probably say that a lot but it's true! And I love how Landon keeps telling me how happy he is about getting another brother. It's so fun when they totally understand the concept of a new baby coming.

2. In the Shop

Etsy stuff went on the back burner for a little bit but I listed some new things this past week. New printable quotes, a different variation on a God Bless banner (specifically for First Communion), and a 6-piece wine charm set! Go check it out. And follow my shop account on Instagram for more frequent updates because I have less than 20 followers....(I'm pretty terrible at hashtags. Help.)

Gosh, I miss wine.

3. Crafting it up

I bought this PDF to make a quiet Rosary book, and Landon and I have been coloring away (I'm using the excuse that I'm making one for Chase). I forget how calming coloring can be! I bought some of the "quiet elements" last night so I know Landon is going to be even more excited once he learns there's more than just coloring. (There's a felt version if you're more ambitious than me, but I know my limits with crafts. Ha.)

4. Baby update

Well, really nothing new to report other than my fluctuating progesterone levels. But I will take it, because my contractions have been minimal most days. I'm still having a hard time accepting the fact that I am pregnant and will be having a baby in LESS THAN 4 MONTHS - I'm so used to dramatic pregnancies! Aaron is also the least active baby I've had in utero, which can be a little nerve-wracking. Let's just hope he continues that chillness once he exits the womb.

And say some prayers for Dweej! What she's dealing with is one of my fears. 

5. What I'm reading

  • Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington - the Kindle version dropped to $2.99 a couple weeks ago (not anymore, sorry) and came highly recommended by Crystal Paine at MoneySavingMom. It's been a perfect read for me this year since my word of the year is "rest." 
  • Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand - this is my current audiobook (I listen while folding laundry and getting dressed and all). We watched the movie last year before I realized there was a book. So far, so good! WWII stories are fascinating.
  • Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make by Carrie Rocha - I found this ebook on my Kindle (I used to download a bunch of free books) and while I have been changing my attitude towards money, I know I still have a ways to go. This is good motivation.

6. Landon Gerard (3.75 years)

This boy wins the award for the ability to fall asleep ANYWHERE.

7. Chase Michael (20 months)

He's been pretty darn cuddly these days, and I think that's part of why I'm having a hard time accepting that I'm having another baby....because Chase is still a baby! At least that's what I think. I guess the more kids you have, the more the baby seems like a baby...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Making a rule of life work for you {1st P - Prayer}

Read the intro here. With each of these next 5 posts, I want to encourage you to spend at least 2 weeks (or more, depending on how long it takes for a habit to form) focusing on just that area. So for now, make sure you are praying! A lot! Make it a habit and then move onto the next P, person.

I already wrote a post somewhat recently about prayer (go read it!), so I thought I'd mostly just tell you what my day of prayer looks like as of now...

But first! Remember that anything worth doing is not always going to be easy. I don't always want to pray. But I can honestly say that less now than I did a year ago. Most days I actually really do want to pray. The devil wants to mess that up, though, so I try to remember that when I don't feel like praying. 

Okay, now for my [current] day of prayer! This will probably look different in a couple months, and I know it will look different once we add another baby to the mix. That's okay, though. (And don't think your day needs to look like this. We're all different. I almost didn't post this because I don't want you to compare....I just want you to know it is possible to have a decent prayer life with kids.)

So here's how my day looks like now, not including my Lenten extras, in bullet points:

  • Wake up and grab my phone (while still in bed, mind you) to pull up the Laudate app. I have the Morning Offering bookmarked, so I pray that, then I check to see if there's a Saint of the Day (also on the Laudate app). Next I pull up my email and read the Blessed is She devotional, which includes the Mass readings for the day. This takes less than 10 minutes total! All while in bed. Morning Offering + Saint of the Day + Mass Readings + Devotional. I wasn't always good about reading the Mass readings, but now I do it every day and it's been pretty wonderful.
  • In the afternoon, I pray the rosary once I put Chase down for a nap and set Landon up with a quiet activity/movie (no TV during Lent, though...and sometimes I can get him to nap).
  • Some nights we pray a decade of the rosary with the boys after dinner.
  • If Logan is at work once the boys are in bed, I spend another short period in prayer, but nothing specific just yet – I'm still trying to figure out what I like/works best. And if Logan is home, we pray together before going to bed.

Figure out what works for you. Right now, I am not waking up an hour before my kids to pray. Not happening (because, pregnancy...I haven't been sleeping well lately). But I do make the effort to pray a Morning Offering. It really doesn't have to be fancy, or long, or overwhelming. The point is, no matter what you choose to do or how to do it, is to start the day with your eyes fixed on Jesus and He will carry you through the craziness.

(I do highly recommend waking up before your kids though if it's an ideal season for you. I just don't do it when I'm pregnant or when I have a baby who doesn't sleep through the night yet. Give yourself grace, mmkay?)

I know it's really, really hard sometimes, but when you actually do have 5 minutes to yourself, don't think about the dishes in the sink or the laundry that needs to be folded or how you really want to just take a nap. Pray first! You will be so glad you did. And somehow you will also get done what you need to get done. God is good like that.

There are other things I add here and there some days (especially during Lent), like the Divine Mercy chaplet (one of my faves) and Liturgy of the Hours, but I've found that just having at least 2 main periods of prayer and reflection – in the midst of craziness with kids – has been life-changing.

Keep in mind that you might have to change things up a bit, depending on your current phase of life.

  • Maybe you can pray an hour from Liturgy of the Hours as you wait in the doctor's office (There are a couple apps for that if you don't have the books!)
  • Maybe you can pray while nursing a baby...or holding a baby that won't let you put him down.
  • Maybe you can utilize your commute to work as your daily rosary time (but also dedicate time to prayer when you're not driving).
  • Maybe you can stop at an Adoration Chapel on the rare occasion that you get to run errands by yourself.
  • Maybe you can make a deal with your spouse to take turns going to daily Mass once a week while the other one watches the kids at home.

Like I said, figure out what works for you (and your family)! It does take time and lots of effort...and what works for you might change during different seasons. I know it certainly has for me. I used to go to daily Mass a lot when Landon was a baby, and even when Chase wasn't mobile, but now I cringe thinking about bringing both boys by myself (especially now that I'm pregnant). As soon as what I'm doing stops working, I just figure out what will work. Don't beat yourself up over it. I know life might drastically change when this baby arrives in a few months, so I'm preparing for that and getting ideas now on how my prayer life might change.

I should also mention that Logan and I are also starting to incorporate more couple prayer and family prayer throughout the day. But that's still totally a work in progress – and honestly it wasn't until I had my prayer life down that I even considered doing more with Logan and the kids. (And now we're extra motivated after our marriage retreat!)

God will certainly bless your efforts, and as my experience has shown me, it does get easier. Now I can honestly say my day doesn't feel complete unless I've dedicated a certain amount of time to prayer. It's what sustains me and gives me the graces I need each and every day.

Some links I love:

Monday, March 7, 2016

God knows what we need...and the devil wants to ruin that

When I was pregnant with Chase, we went on our first marriage retreat. It was awesome, and I kicked myself for not having done that sooner in our marriage. I should also mention that I just so happened to be 22 weeks pregnant at the time, which is the most nerve-wracking point of pregnancy for us because of my history. So it was just a much-needed weekend all around.

It's so, so easy to let our marriage drop down on our list of priorities. Even if you're good about going on dates occasionally, I still think we need to do more! Like a retreat. :)

We wanted to go on another retreat before Aaron is born, and there was really only one weekend that worked for us. But God made it happen! This past weekend was so wonderful...and it just so happened that I was 22 weeks pregnant. Again. How crazy is that? We certainly didn't plan on it, but God just has a way of working things out even better than you expected. We just have to let Him.

So! Marriage retreat. I just have to reiterate again how lovely it was, probably even better than the last one, and how I think every married couple should go on one every year or two (every two years has worked for us because we keep having babies and I don't like leaving them in their first year of life). This past weekend there were couples of varying ages - one husband said he was 69 years old! So in addition to it being really nice to talk to your spouse without any distractions, it was also inspiring to see couples 40 years ahead of us still happily married. They were encouraged by us, and we were encouraged by them. Such a beautiful thing.

And do I even need to mention the no cleaning or cooking for 2 days? Yes. I do. Also, the grounds we stayed on were beautiful!

 We had to take the same picture from 2 years ago....
If you're in the New Orleans area, or even a few hours away, I highly recommend attending the Willwoods Community retreats. You have plenty of "couple reflection time" where you can go wherever to talk with your spouse - this was our favorite spot! Plus the speakers were awesome, there was Mass both days, and we even got to go to Confession, Adoration, and Vespers with the monks at the Abbey. Alllll in the same day!

Logan and I had some good talks about our marriage and family and changes we want to make, and I know it probably wouldn't have happened had we not gone on this retreat. It was such a blessing. (Have I convinced you to go on one yet?? I hope so!)

But I should also say that I woke up this morning - first day back in reality - to this: 1) Chase who took off his poopy diaper in his bed for the first time ever, and 2) Landon running a fever. The devil really wants to ruin the progress we made this past weekend, just like he wants to ruin our marriages and our family life. Don't let him!!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Maybe I read too much (7QT)

I feel like this is going to make me a big nerd, but...these quick takes are all books I've read in the past couple of weeks! I promise I've kept up with the laundry and spent time with my kids too. It's just crazy how much I can read when I don't watch TV or get on my computer.

I really enjoyed all of these (still working on a couple), so if you're looking for some recommendations, you've come to the right place.

1. The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith

This has been on my to-read list for awhile. If you need some motivation to make your house a place you enjoy, or if you're struggling with contentment in your current residence, this is the book for you. I may or may not have gotten Logan to rearrange all kinds of furniture after I finished this...

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I don't know how I've never read this series before! I was quite an avid reader when I was younger but I guess I was too obsessed with the Babysitters Club. I'm almost done with this audiobook, and I don't know how else to explain it other than...pleasant? I really do like it. Anne is hilariously dramatic.

3. The Temperament God Gave Your Kids: Motivate, Discipline, and Love Your Children by Art and Laraine Bennett

This has also been on my to-read list for a long time. I find the 4 temperaments so fascinating, especially because Logan and I are opposites (sanguine and melancholic, respectively). And I'm pretty sure Landon is sanguine and choleric, so I need all the help/advice/encouragement I can get! Totally recommend this to parents. I'll be reading this one again.

4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is the book I was not planning on reading and had not heard of before until Ashley picked it for book club. I really enjoyed this! And if you get too hung up on how grumpy Ove is, you're missing the whole point. #justsaying

5. Boys Will Be Joys by David Meurer

I really thought this was going to be a parenting book. But it was more like a memoir about parenting. I guess I can forgive the misunderstanding, because this really was hilarious. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting, but I still liked it.

6. Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle

I've read Melanie's other 2 books, and she never fails to make me laugh out loud. I've totally been reminiscing about all my childhood friends while I read this. And I'm so thankful for all of my friends now!

7. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Oh, these were some of my favorites books when I was younger. It's so fun to read them again! This is my March book for my reading challenge with friends - "a book from your childhood."

Go check out the other quick takes at Kelly's


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