"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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Updates galore (7QT)

1. Backyard update

We have a swing set!! Logan was off Monday and Tuesday and really got to work. He still needs to add another layer of timbers around the border, but the kids can play now and it's lovely. We still have plans to put up a short fence, as well as some landscaping ideas to make the backyard prettier. But I'm so glad he got this much done despite all the rain! You can expect a full blog post when all of that is done because...#bloggersgonnablog

2. Words that spoke to me this week

"When the Holy Ghost, her Spouse, has found Mary in a soul, He flies there. He enters there in His fullness; He communicates Himself to that soul abundantly, and to the full extent to which it makes room for His spouse." - page 21 in St. Louis De Montfort's True Devotion to Mary

3. What I'm reading

I just wrote about the books I finished this past month. Here's what I'm currently reading:
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - started listening to this audiobook this week. It's not something I would normally read, but it is pretty interesting so far.
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I loved these as a kid so I'm reading them again. I have to admit, though, I'd much rather read about Laura's family instead of Almanzo's.
  • Quiet by Susan Cain - I'm not too far into this one, but I already find it so fascinating the point she makes that America thinks extroverts are more appealing than introverts. Because obviously, introverts are awesome and can contribute just as much ;)
  •  True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort - his feast day was yesterday, holla! I'm taking this book pretty slowly but I'm loving it. I don't know how I haven't read this before...

4. Landon Gerard (turns 4 in June!)

 Oh, this boy. He can just be so fun and grownup sometimes that I can't believe it. I could go on about his strong-willed temperament (because OH MY GOSH sometimes I think he's going to put me in labor), but I'm going to focus on his cuteness and helpfulness. Logan and a friend took the boys to the zoo a couple weeks ago and I asked Landon for a picture with the giraffes. He was more than happy to do that for me!
I put a few things in the washing machine the other day, got distracted, and when I finally remembered about it I found the boys finishing it for me. Seriously, they loaded the washing machine all by themselves. Landon was totally on the ball and I love how he loves to help.

5. Chase Michael (21 months)

I know I say this all of the time, but y'all. The dimples! And it is has become even more obvious that Chase needs the procedure done on his tear ducts (because, tears rolling down his cheeks even though he was super happy in this picture). So hopefully we can get it done in 2 weeks as scheduled.
Also...he's been super cuddly and clingy lately which makes me think that he's sensing his time as the baby is coming to an end. He can be so sweet (when he's not shrieking at the top of his lungs). And seriously, this boy can eat! I'm still amazed at how much he puts down sometimes. I think he finally caught up to his big brother in weight!

6. Etsy update

It's obviously First Communion season because my little shop has been getting some sales the last couple weeks! I sold out of a couple of the girls rosary bracelets and I've made enough "God Bless" banners to make me want to take them out of my shop forever. Ha. Kidding. Kind of. (I loooove how they turn out but they can be time-consuming. And well, children live here.)
I've got some wine charms and women's rosary bracelets if you're still needing something for Mother's Day! Hint hint. Use the code MOTHERS16 for 15% off your purchase through Sunday!

7. Pregnancy update

Just trucking along here and am still baffled at how quickly this pregnancy is going. I'm starting to get the typical 3rd trimester aches and pains which is fun (ahem). Most days the contractions are minimal, though, so that's good. But I still do have a few strong ones here and there, and by the end of the day I'm feeling way too much pressure down there. Dr. H said this week that my cervix is hanging in there though! #30weeks

Linking up with Kelly!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Recent Reads {April edition}

I was planning on doing a quick takes post on Friday with one take dedicated to books - but then I realized I've read way too many this month. So here are the books I've finished! I'll save the ones I'm currently reading for Friday's post.

1. Father Elijah: An Apocalypse by Michael O'Brien - I read this several years ago and read it again since he recently came out with its sequel. It's dark at times, so that will probably be the last time I read it, but it really is a good fiction read and makes you think A LOT about the end of the world...

2. The Martian by Andy Weir - gosh, I really liked this one. It has a good bit of curse words, which was annoying, but I still found it highly entertaining. Logan and I watched the movie again after I finished it, and of course they left a lot out (which is why a book will almost always be better than the movie!). But I still liked both!

3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - I'm on a WWII kick this year, it seems. I listened to the audiobook of this, which was really good with the speaker's French accent. The story was depressing, and I'm still mourning the death of one of the characters (but won't say because I HATE SPOILERS), but it was so, so good.

4. Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin - I started off really loving this book. As it went on, I was a bit annoyed by the author's obsessiveness, but I did get something out of the book. And I do recommend it if you're having trouble forming habits...I just feel like a lot of it are things I've realized over the past year or so on my own.

5. Chiara Corbella Petrillo: A Witness to Joy by Simone Troisi and Cristiana Paccini - If you're in doubt that it's possible to be a saint in the 21st century, read this book. Chiara's story touched my heart on so many levels and made me look at suffering in a whole new way.

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - this is probably my least favorite book in the series because Umbridge is THE WORST. But it's still Harry Potter, which is always entertaining. I'm rereading the books and then Logan and I are rewatching the movies together. It's fun!

If you're looking for some more book posts, Hannah and Ashley just shared their latest reads too!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Making a rule of life work for you {3rd P - Partner}

In case you're new here, this blog series is about what helps me keep my top 5 priorities in order - Holly Pierlot talks about this in her book, A Mother's Rule of Life. Read my previous posts to catch up: Intro, Prayer (1st P), Person (2nd P).

I have to admit, I was dreading this post the most. Maybe because I feel like our marriage struggles the most when I'm pregnant, and I just really feel like I'm a lame spouse most days lately. Most posts I've written about marriage are about how hard it is and protecting your marriage in a survival season. But hey! I did write that post about what was making our marriage better. I should read that every week.

Okay, I'm just going to jump in, okay? Come Holy Spirit! *takes deep breath*

I'm so glad I'm a big fan of books, because our marriage would not be the same had I not known about the 4 temperaments and the 5 love languages. If you aren't familiar with them, I highly recommend reading those books! (Links at the end of the post – NOT affiliate, just saying.) Logan and I are opposites when it comes to pretty much everything, so knowing what makes each other thrive and tick is OH so very helpful.

That also means that in order to keep each other happy, we have to do things that makes the other person happy – not necessarily ourselves. So that's why it's important to be taking care of yourself first! (Is the whole 5 P concept thing sinking in yet??) 

Although I'd much rather have an in-home date night watching a movie and eating takeout sushi, I know Logan prefers getting out of the house – it totally energizes him. And I actually don't mind doing that (even though it can be exhausting to my introverted self) because I also take the time doing things that refresh me. It's much easier to make sacrifices for others when you're taking care of yourself – if that makes sense.

I think date nights are so, so important, because it's so easy to get caught up in everything else in life – jobs, kids, etc. - that it's incredibly easy to forget about our partner in life. Schedule date nights just like you schedule doctor appointments! I recently had the revelation that of everyone in my household, I see Logan the least amount, so I need to make more of an effort to be present when I actually do see him. Date nights (whether in-home or somewhere else) help with that. Marriage retreats help even more!

What I've also learned is that it's the small things that really make a difference in your marriage. A quick back rub or shoulder squeeze, simply asking Logan if he wants something to drink, or encouraging him in whatever endeavor he's undertaking at the moment. It doesn't take much! Plus, the more I do these things, the more Logan reciprocates. It's a win-win, really.

Also, as much as I don't want to mention it - have sex. Lots of it too. You can be doing everything else to make your marriage a priority, but if you're not uniting physically too...there's going to be a disconnect. This is coming from someone who can't have sex while pregnant (9 months is SUCH A LONG TIME), so you know, trust me on this. (And please pray for us. Thanks.)

One of my favorite times of our week is something we started somewhat recently – having a weekly meeting every Sunday night. Nancy at Do Small Things with Love has a free printable agenda that I came across one day (it was totally a God thing, because I was not looking for it) that I printed out and hung on our fridge so we remember to do it. It usually take 5-10 minutes – sometimes longer, depending on if there are issues we need to discuss – and makes such a difference in how we approach our week. We're both on the same page regarding activities, finances, etc., and I love how it gives us an opportunity to talk about anything that's bothering us. Logan and I both have the tendency to let things build up and then we're full of resentment – which doesn't help things AT ALL – so being able to have a time set aside at least once a week to really talk about things has been life-changing.

I've also been reminding myself lately that Logan and I are a team, and the times we act like one are when our marriage is thriving the most.

We're not quite 7 years into this marriage thing, though, so we still have plenty to learn. So tell me – what do you do to keep your marriage a top priority??

Links I love and books I recommend:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Discoveries of life (vol.2)

Waking up at 2am to realize your kid is standing by you staring at your face will surely scare the heck out of you.

The smell of chocolate chip banana pancakes will lure a tired pregnant woman out of bed. (Thanks babe! Just make some coffee next time too, mmkay?)

Your children, who rarely get sick (we're lucky, I know), will come down with a cough/cold/yuckiness the week one of them has surgery. I probably don't have to mention that neither of them have ever had surgery before, so you know...life is funny aggravating sometimes. (Thanks for the prayers for Chase! Unfortunately we will need them again in 3 weeks, as the surgery was postponed due to a cough that started last night. Ugh.)
We decided to be fun parents and have a late dinner at IHOP (to help Chase not be a ravenous beast when he woke up, because, fasting for surgery). All for naught. Sigh.

You will consider yourself someone who tolerates spiders until you find one crawling down your leg while you're sitting innocently, eating a snack. Then spiders are suddenly on the same level as snakes (which are the worst!!!).

It is indeed possible to live without a microwave. Even when your hubby accidentally buys microwave-only food at Costco.

Your least active child in utero will choose the hours between 3-5am to do somersaults and karate kicks. (I love you so much, Aaron, but Mommy needs sleep!).

New throw pillows can really make a difference in a room. (I found $5 removable covers - hollerrrrr - for the throw pillows we already have and I loooove them! I've been wanting covers forever now but couldn't find any cheap enough).

It's okay to stop reading a book that you're not enjoying. Really. It is. (I did this for the first time ever this week. So hard for my perfectionist self - because if I start something it NEEDS to be finished - but it actually was freeing!)

It is impossible to enter a craft store and then leave it without buying anything. Impossible, I tell you. (See the bit about pillow covers above.)

I use parentheses way too much. (Does that aggravate you? Sorry. Well, no. Not sorry. It's my blog.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sometimes you gotta blog it out

I had to bring Chase to see his pediatrician this morning as a check-up before his eye procedure this week (blocked tear ducts, eh), so I put the boys in the van and then got in myself. It took me probably longer than it should have to realize that I wasn't actually going to be able to drive anywhere - since I definitely started buckling myself into the passenger seat.

Pregnancy brain at its finest.

Anyway! As life would have it, Chase started with snot this morning so if you would say a prayer that it clears up in time for his procedure on Thursday, I would greatly appreciate it. He doesn't have fever and his ears and lungs are clear, so he should be fine for surgery (and his doctor did clear him), but still...I'd feel much better if he was 100%. Prayers all around for a successful procedure are appreciated too (and that I don't go into labor or something crazy, because that is definitely how my mind works...#worstcasescenario).

I feel like it's been forever since I did a general update on family/life/whatever, and that's pretty much all my brain can handle for today, soooo here we go.

Life has been good and slightly stressful at the same time. We've been busier than I'd like, but I suppose that's just springtime for ya. Parties, First Communions, fundraisers, etc. Logan was also in charge of one of those fundraisers (which went well, yay!), so now he's finally been able to work on our backyard project when it's not raining. But it's been raining a lot, unfortunately. April showers and all.
We finally got (freeeee) dirt delivered and Logan is working on leveling out our flood-prone backyard.

Our boys, as cute as they are, have been rather difficult lately. It's amazing how much a little person you love so much can make you SO CRAZY.
 Like this boy. The dimples seriously are his saving grace sometimes, because his favorite thing to do now is SHRIEK AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS whenever he is slightly hungry, annoyed, or tired. Or sometimes just when he's happy. And sometimes a lot of times his big brother likes to annoy him...so you can imagine how fun playtime and going to Mass is right now. And running errands. I'm fairly certain Landon did a similar thing at this age, so I'm just hoping it's a phase that passes quickly. Like, preferably tomorrow. But I will settle for June.

And this boy. He talks SO MUCH. And I never knew a 3-year old could be so argumentative and bossy until these last few months. Even when I fully (and calmly) explain why he cannot have another snack/go outside/go to a friend's house/watch TV/kick his brother/whatever else he wants, he still has to argue and lose his you-know-what over it. It's exhausting. I know (at least I'm telling myself!) he will do great things one day, this sanguine/choleric. But for now, he makes his melancholic/phlegmatic mother hide in another room just to get 2 minutes of silence.

But I do have to say that they both can just really melt my heart with their voluntary hugs and kisses and cuddles. And most days they both nap, and that's probably the only reason I'm somewhat sane. (Seriously, Landon has had more naps as a 3-year old than he did as a 2-year old. I don't understand.)

OH and hey! I'm 28 weeks pregnant! This pregnancy has definitely been the smoothest, which I'm so thankful for, and I honestly cannot believe I'm already in the 3rd trimester. Less than 11 weeks left! Craziness.

I have more I could blab on about but I'm sure half of you have clicked away by now. I'll leave the rest of the fun for another day. ;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

5 ways we're creating a more peaceful home

I am most definitely one of those people who gets overwhelmed with too much stuff, too much noise, and too much craziness. Our boys are both going through, um, difficult stages right now, so I'm having to put a little more effort into making our house more peaceful. But it's so worth it!

1. Less TV.

I'm rereading the Little House books, and well, they didn't have TV. They just all sit together, doing their own activity, or listening to Pa play the fiddle. It's very rare that we just have the TV on anymore (and if we do it's usually because there's crazy weather or something we're wanting to see on the news), and it's much easier to talk to each other and enjoy each other without the stimulation of the TV. I'm very tempted to get rid of it altogether, but Logan would probably disown me (which yes, he did verify when reading this post! Haha). And we do like to watch a family movie together sometimes - but I'd rather do some sort of other family activity any day!

2. Read plenty of books.

Maaaaybe this sounds boring if you're an extrovert (maybe this whole post does, oh well), but reading books is SO peaceful. Granted, little kids sometimes lose interest, but for a brief 60 seconds when they actually do listen to the story, there's complete silence. No fighting, no shrieking. Wonders of all wonders.

I've also realized that reading books myself just makes me calmer about life in general. I can't explain it, but it's true!
These moments don't happen often but when they do...bliss.

3. Play more board games and do more puzzles.

Why do people not do this much anymore? Let's bring it back, y'all. Some of the most fun family times we've had are when we are playing board games or working on a puzzle together. Same when we have friends over too. Bonus points for it stimulating our mind at the same time! (Yes, I'm a nerd. I fully embrace that.)

4. Silence our phones.

I've never turned on notifications on my phone (with the exception of Etsy, so I know when someone orders something) because OH MY GOSH that would make me crazy. Sometimes even the dinging/ringing of texting and calling is a big distraction. So sometimes Logan and I silence our phones for a period of time, or we just leave our phones in another room for a short period - especially if we don't want to be interrupted anyway. It's lovely. That doesn't mean we're not checking our phone (because, emergencies do happen, and I can usually hear my phone vibrate if it's close) but just decreasing the amount of noise as we spend time together as a family really makes a difference.

5. Creating systems that work for our family.

I already mentioned what I've been doing lately as we prepare for baby Aaron, and really, I've been doing this for over a year now. It's like I knew I needed to make life easier for a subsequent pregnancy. And it's amazing how much smoother and peaceful life is when we create systems that actually work - and by work I mean things we actually follow through on that make our lives easier.

What about you? What do you do to make your home more peaceful?

Linking up with 5Faves!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Discoveries of life

1. Almost 4-year olds like to vacuum. And they're good at it. (Whyyyy have I just discovered this?! It was thanks to Logan too.)

2. Your early riser will choose to sleep late on the one day you have to set your alarm.

3. As soon as you decide to place 3 holds on library books, they will all become available within 3 days.

4. When you have a rough day with your children, spending one-on-one time with them the next day will erase the craziness of the day before.

5. Professional pictures are worth every penny.

6. Your house-trained dog will choose to pee all over the house on the same day that your diapered kid keeps pooping and your potty-trained kid keeps having accidents. *insert toilet emoji here*

7. Flowers on the kitchen table make me feel better about life (even when they're fake flowers).

Linking up with Kelly for 7QT! Go read her post if you want a good laugh. Seriously. It's funny.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What nesting looks like

The 2nd trimester is such an interesting time - I feel like I'm energized and exhausted all at the same time. I'm motivated to get all! the! things! done, yet whenever someone asks me how I'm feeling, my response is usually, "Not bad! Just tired."

This is the first time since Levi I've been able to do projects while pregnant, which I'm so thankful for, because I kind of feel like I'm preparing for the Apocalypse since Chase was such an easy baby. Surely I won't be getting another easy baby, right?! (Sorry, Aaron - please prove me wrong!!)

My big thing lately is creating systems that work for our family and will hopefully make life easier once little Aaron joins us this summer. Here's what I've been up to:

1. Decluttering

Goodness, I feel like this is just a constant thing I have to do. I've gotten rid of SO MUCH STUFF lately, and while it definitely helps to keep the house clean...I feel like we could still declutter some more. I always have a donation basket to throw things into, and I don't feel bad in the slightest about throwing some things (I'm looking at you, stupid trinket toys) straight into the trash can. A simpler life is a better life!

2. Get rid of furniture that isn't working.

I had this desk for a couple years that I loved and is super cute. But it was constantly collecting crap to where I couldn't actually use it as a desk (this was one of the worst times, but still...). So we recently sold it, and I realized I don't actually need a desk. I usually have my laptop at the kitchen table or on the couch, and whenever I'm doing certain Etsy things I can always use Logan's desk if needed (he has a desktop computer for his video editing).
We also sold this big piece of furniture (Is it a hutch? I don't know) that was in our kitchen. I acquired it from my sister when she moved to North Carolina, and although it's a nice piece, I never could find a good purpose for it. So after our microwave died (story for another day!), I decided to finally get rid of it. And ohmygosh I love my kitchen so much more now! The hutch thingy was way too big for the space, so now our kitchen feels more open and bright.

3. Move furniture to where it works better.

Once I got rid of my desk, I wanted something in our living room (we have a large L-shaped room so this one corner serves as an office of sorts) to put all of my craft supplies where it was easily accessible. So we decided to move this dresser from our upstairs hallway, where it was just holding extra bedsheets and a few spare diapers (all of which was easily dispersed into bedroom closets). It's perfect here! And now I can easily put whatever I'm working on - when I get interrupted, which is all the time - into a drawer where it's out of sight. 
I still have some organizing to do in the corner. Baby steps...

We also moved our loveseat from our living room into our playroom. We still have a futon and a couch in our living room, which is plenty of seating. The loveseat just tended to collect stuff (are you sensing a theme? Get rid of things that collect crap!), and I've been wanting a place to sit while the boys play but didn't want to have to buy something new. It really has been one of my favorite changes ever - even Logan agrees. Now the boys and I have somewhere to read books together, and if I start having a bunch of contractions, I can easily lie down while the boys play. Bonus points for it being by a window which always makes me feel better about life.
Marley loves the change too. (And that is plastic toy food on the floor...not poop. Just saying.)

4. Organize recipes.

I've decluttered most of my cookbooks because, frankly, I never used them. I started a "Recipes" binder several years ago to organize all the recipes I print out (which are many!) but never finished it. So recently I finally went through alllll of my recipes, throwing away most and just keeping the ones I actually use. I also created tabs for different categories, making it easy to find what I'm looking for. No more random recipes all over the kitchen!

5. Baby prep.

This is probably a given because the baby is probably why I feel the need to do all the things right now. My hospital bag is mostly packed, my newborn (and premie, just in case) clothes are washed, and newborn cloth diapers are ready to go. 
The boys' clothes are in our laundry room (best decision ever). Landon's PJs, tops, bottoms, and socks/shoes are in the left column, and Chase's are on the right. So now Aaron's things are in the middle (burp cloths/bibs, clothes, cloth diapers)! Still need to label them though.

We already have a swing set up in our living room that we're borrowing from my cousin. All that's left really is getting out the rock'n'play and setting up the pack'n'play in our room, since Chase is still in the crib and I'd like to keep it that way forever. Or maybe just another year. Baby Aaron, we're ready for you! (But please stay where you are until at least the middle of June, mmkay?)

Linking up with Ashley for 5Faves! Go check out everyone's posts. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Making a rule of life work for you {2nd P - Person}

Here's the next post in my "rule of life" series! In case you missed it, read the intro here and the 1st P (prayer) here

Ah, the 2nd P. Person. I'm sure women struggle the most with this because how the heck do we take time for ourselves when we have a husband and children needing so much from us? And oh, laundry and dishes and all of that fun stuff.

It's hard, absolutely, but we have to remember that we can't give of ourselves if there's nothing left to give. You're not doing yourself any favors by not giving yourself enough rest and whatever else it is that makes you happy.

Like I said with prayer, figure out what works for you. I've realized that I'm a much happier person if, once I have some time to myself, I sit down with a book instead of turning on Netflix. Maybe you're the opposite! Totally fine by me. The point is to do things that fill you up. Crafts, exercising, getting together with friends, etc. Take your pick - we're all different.

I was talking to a couple friends recently, and we all agreed that taking the time to read (or exercise or whatever you prefer...but this was 3 introverts talking) motivates us to get other things done, like the laundry and dishes. It's almost like fuel! Tackling a load of laundry doesn't seem like a big deal if I spend a few minutes reading first.
One thing I started doing this past year is really keeping the Sabbath holy. I don't know why I've never done it before, really. And since Logan works works on weekends, at first I felt bad “resting” while he was at work. But then I realized that I wasn't taking any other day to rest and recharge, and I was struggling. So, it was just easier to pick Sundays as my rest day because that's what you're supposed to be doing anyway.

(I tried “resting” on Logan's off day but we tend to have other obligations since they're usually week days. Plus, Logan likes to have family fun, which usually means we leave the house, and that is NOT resting for this introvert. Fun, yes. But exhausting.)

Other than going to Mass and the occasional party or lunch with family (because no cooking!), most Sundays we don't do anything or go anywhere. I don't do laundry or clean – unless we're having company over. We do dishes, but that's it. I usually read a lot myself, read and sing to the boys, write, and maybe watch some football (in the fall). It sounds totally boring but it's actually pretty wonderful. And it didn't take me long to realize that a day of rest is just what I needed to make it through the rest of the week! It really does rejuvenate me. So, don't underestimate the power of taking care of yourself! (Plus, the boys LOVE it! Sometimes we lay out a blanket to hang out on while we read.)

I think a big part of why I've grown in contentment over the past year or so is because I started taking more time for myself, doing things I love and that inspire me and fill me up. Reading, writing, doing random projects, etc. Our kids will move out of the house one day, and we need to make sure we still have other things to live for when that happens.

And if you're someone who just really struggles with the guilt of taking time to yourself, let me encourage you to just try it! Soon you'll realize that you are a much better mother because you're taking care of yourself, and you're actually not depriving your kids. Trust me on this.

Some links I love and books I recommend:


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