"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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recent Reads (May '17 edition)

Welcome to another episode of Jen Reads Too Much!

GoodReads informs me I'm 8 books ahead of schedule in my Reading Challenge. Buuuut there's just so many books on my to-read list! I can't stop! And now it's summer and we FINALLY put up a fence (post forthcoming I hope!) and so we will be outside a lot while the boys play and I read. Anyways. About those books I've been reading....

Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend

I used to own this book because everyone raved about it when I worked at Family Christian Bookstore in college (random fact #1). I only read maybe half, just couldn't get into it, and got rid of it a couple years ago. But this time around, it was life-changing - I was kicking myself for getting rid of it, as I will refer back to it often. (I did end up buying it on Kindle for like $2.) So I guess it just depends on the relationships in your life as to whether or not you should read this!

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Rea Drummond

I came across this while browsing my library's biography section (my weakness, apparently). Some parts were funny, some were annoying. I'm a big fan of memoirs so I liked hearing her love story. It was drawn out, though, and she's got a particular writing style that's probably not for everyone.

33 Days to Merciful Love: A DIY Retreat in Preparation for Divine Mercy Consecration by Fr. Michael Gaitley

Well, this is one of those books that I might be reading every single year. Normally, I'm not good at reading daily devotions or anything like that, but I did not miss a day of this - I looked forward to reading it every day! So much good stuff in it.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

This wins the award for Most Unexpected 5-Star Read this year. A couple other bloggers (I think Hannah G. and Alicia?) recommended it and it was fascinating! A surgeon explains the history of aging, the birth of nursing homes and assisted living, and discusses what's really important at the end of life. It was totally up my alley because I'm a Registered Nurse (not currently working because of all these babies) and my dream job has always been hospice (random fact #2). But I think everyone should read it!

Little Women (Book One) by Louisa May Alcott

I confessed never having read this in its entirety before, and it was actually the book I chose for my reading challenge with friends - "a book I abandoned." It took me awhile to get into it (um, again), but I ended up loving it. Jo and Laurie's relationship = all the heart-eye emojis.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

I read this because I kept seeing it mentioned EVERYWHERE. It's my first book by Ann Patchett, and while I loved her writing style, the actual plot was just not my cup of tea. There were things I did like about it though...

Read any good books lately? I wanna know!

Saturday, May 13, 2017


I've never seen the Pride & Prejudice miniseries with Colin Firth until this week, even though I read the book awhile ago - I've always been a big fan of the Kiera Knightley movie version. Which I own and have seen countless times. (But now I can TOTALLY see why so many people hate the movie because the miniseries is soooo good. Not quite done yet though.)

This week I got the random idea to wear my prom dress and go on a date one day. Sounds insane but I think it would be fun. (Logan and I were high school sweethearts and went to our Senior Prom together!) Sad thing is, I'm sure people will actually think we're still in high school!
Throwback to 2005. You're welcome.

I've gotten rid of 90% of Aaron's clothes as he outgrows them. I don't even feel bad about it.

We want a break before having another baby. Like, a long break. Mainly because pregnancy sucks so much for us. But of course we said that after Chase's pregnancy...

I stopped cloth diapering when Chase was about 9 months old and planned on cloth diapering Aaron when he was born. The diapers sat until a couple months ago, when I randomly decided to start using them again! It lasted like a week.

So many times I think about getting off the Internet completely other than email and online shopping. No blogging, no reading other blogs, no social media. Am I crazy? Sometimes it feels like things would be easier that way...

I just made Aaron's baby announcement. He's 10 months old. It's totally not fancy and took me like two minutes, but really I just made it to put in a shadow box like I did for the other boys. The only announcement I actually mailed out was for Landon...

I haven't been watching the news or anything lately (unless we're under a tornado warning or something, then I check the weather). It just causes me so much anxiety that I'd rather live in my little bubble. I know that's not good, really, but for now I rely on Logan to keep me updated.

I've been keeping a personal journal since 2003 and am on my 20th journal. It keeps me sane.

I had never read Little Women in its entirety until recently. Not sure how I, a book lover, managed to go so long without reading it. Okay, so I just read Volume 1, but I plan to read the rest eventually!

Okay, confess something silly/weird to me so I don't feel so crazy! ;)

And now Logan wants me to try on my prom dress to see if it fits...(picture in a future post? Hahaha)

Friday, May 5, 2017

What I'm loving lately

Hannah's post reminded me that I've been wanting to do one of these posts! It's a quick list of 7 so I'm linking up with Kelly for 7QT!

Crochet dish cloths. In case you didn't know, they're so much better than regular towel ones!! I found one that I crocheted a couple years ago and never used, and it quickly became my favorite dish cloth to wipe down the counters. So much so that I crocheted another one! (I realize this may sound so nerdy. Oh wells.)

Designated Survivor. Um, this show is so good. I've kind of gotten away from binge-watching shows over the last couple of years, but this one tempts me every time I watch an episode! Keifer Sutherland is da bomb.

Coloring. Why yes, I mean adult coloring. Sometimes if the kids are being too crazy for me to be able to focus on reading or something, I plop myself down and color. So relaxing, I swear. Try it! (Above sheet is from Bible Verse Coloring Through the Year, which came in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.) I've colored some Rescue Bots too which made the boys SO excited. "Good job, Momma!"

Outside time. The weather has been SO PERFECT. The back of our house is extremely shaded, which makes it even better. and our neighbor put up a fence so we have more privacy. Once Logan finally puts up a fence around the rest of our yard, it will be so magical. I cannot wait.

Stretchy shorts. I got a pair of these casual drawstring shorts (in the throwback pic above from August) at Old Navy when I was pregnant with Aaron in preparation for that fun postpartum time when nothing fits. I quickly regretted not buying another pair or two in different colors, and when I went back they were GONE. Sigh. But a few months later I had the genius idea to look on ThredUp! And they had some! So I bought two. I will be living in all three pairs this summer, thankyouverymuch.

The library. We go through phases where we're hitting up the library often, and now is one of them! Some of the books have been great, some not so much, but we've really been taking advantage of checking out new movies. Gotta love freeee.

Helpful big boys. Landon is turning 5 next month and I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel! He's been making his own PB&J lately, as well as feeding the dog and occupying Aaron when I need a few minutes to do something. He even started cleaning the table this week! Chase tries to do everything Landon does, which is cute but also annoying because sometimes he just makes things worse. But they're learning to be helpful! Yay!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The summer of FUN

It dawned on me this week that Landon, our oldest, has only a couple weeks left of preschool. Barring any drastic life changes, he will be attending kindergarten at a school in the fall. It wasn't an easy decision for me, since I still feel a pull towards homeschooling, and Logan's work schedule (working weekends) already makes it hard to have family time. But for a bunch of other reasons, it's what we've discerned is the best move for our family right now.

We've made family time a priority, as hard as it is, but this past year we've gotten to utilize afternoons once we pick up Landon from preschool around lunchtime. Next year we don't get to do that. *sob* So the thought of sending my kid off for 7-8 hours a day is kind of depressing.

ANYWAYS. We had quite the lovely time at the zoo for our family time this week, and I started to get really sad thinking about how we won't get to do that much next year. If Logan's job/work schedule stays the same, he will have off every other Sunday. Other than that, though, his off days are during the week - while Landon will be at school all day. I'm really not sure what we will do for our family time then, but I guess I have some time to figure it out.

In the meantime, though, I have decided to dub the next few months "the summer of fun." We've been brainstorming all kinds of fun things to do, and I wanted to share our list here! I doubt we will get to do all of these, mainly for budget reasons, but we have decided to spend all of our birthday money on these activities. Considering all 5 of us have summer birthdays, it's just a little too perfect.

Now for the list! For my sake, I've included travel time (if it's longer than 30 minutes), ticket costs, whether we have gift cards/tickets already, etc. If you're local, maybe this will give you some ideas! If you're not, maybe this will motivate you to do some research in your area. 🙂

Activities at home:

  • Kiddie pool outside
  • Sidewalk chalk on the driveway
  • Coloring
  • Water balloon fight
  • Rent a waterslide
  • Sleepover with cousins 

Activities close by:

  • Go for a walk
  • Visit a playground (we have a bunch to choose from!)
  • Visit the library
  • Play tennis
  • Get snowballs
  • Swimming at my brother's house (did I ever mention they moved closer to us?? And they have a pool now!)

Half-day activities:

  • Global Wildlife in Folsom, LA for Safari Wagon Tours ...1 hr 15 minutes away, already have 2 child tickets, additional adult tickets cost $19 each (Aaron will be free, 1 and under), feeding cups cost $2 each
  • Sector 6 Extreme Air Sports in Harahan, LA to jump on all the trampolines....already have 2 gift cards, 1 hour tickets cost $13 for adults and $10 for kids (6 and under).
  • Spray Park in Destrehan, LA...free! FYI hours are 1pm-6pm.
  • City Putt in New Orleans for mini-golf....already have 2 tickets, additional child tickets $6 but we will only have to pay for Landon (3 and under are free). FYI closed Mondays. 
  • Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans...free with our membership

Full-day activities:

  • Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, LA - beach, fishing pier, hiking trails, nature center, water playground...1 hour away, $3 entrance fee per person (3 and under is free). FYI water playground is closed on Mondays.
  • Wetland Watchers Park in Norco, LA - nature walk, marsh overlook, fishing and picnic areas...free!
  • Audubon Zoo in New Orleans...free with our membership

Longer trips:

  • Annual beach trip to Gulf Shores, MS....3.5 hours away, already paid for from our vacation fund! Still putting aside spending money each month.
  • Visit Mimi & Pops (my parents)...3 hours away, free!

Whew, I'm ready for summer now. How about you?? Got any other ideas for me?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Recent Reads (April '17 edition)

Happy Easter Octave! I'm going to be super lame and celebrate by sharing some of the books I've read lately. If you missed last month's Recent Reads post, you can read it here. These are 7 books again so I'm linking up with Kelly!

1. The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively by Drs. Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

I've been knowing about the love languages for years now but this was the first time I've read about them outside of the original The 5 Love Languages book. It was so enlightening and I'm sure I'll revisit this one over and over again. I listened to the audiobook, which I wasn't a fan of, but maybe I'm just weird. The content was invaluable though. Highly recommend!

2. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

I've been having this on my bookshelf for years and finally got around to reading it. I did not expect it to like it as much as I did. It inspired me to pray for Logan more and to be more specific in how I pray for him.

3. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

This was a serious book, set in WWII England, but the characters have dry and witty senses of humor - which I loved. It's not as good as All the Light You Cannot See and The Nightingale, but it's still a good read.

4. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

I'm not sure why I picked this one up, because I'm not in a stage of grief or anything. It was honest and had insightful reflections, and I'll definitely read it again whenever the time comes. It's pretty short.

5. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza (with Steve Erwin)

I could not put this one down - I read it in 2 days! It's not the best written book I've read, but the story is amazing and Immaculee's faith is inspiring.

6. Anchored: Finding Hope in the Unexpected by Kayla Aimee

Kayla shares about her experience with a micropremie in the NICU, and it totally made me think of Levi. Granted, our stories ended differently, but I just love a good story about accepting God's will when it's completely different than what you had planned for yourself. (Hence the blog name.)

7. Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin

A few of my friends read/are reading this 3-book series so of course I had to join them. I loved some of the characters (Eli!) and didn't love others. It was a bit long but kept my interest - and now I want to read alllll the Civil War books. That time era is so interesting!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The home stretch

Lent always comes at the perfect times, it seems. The high of the new year has come and gone, and we're all in need of some extra motivation. And then as Lent drags on and on and on, we slip back into our old ways. Or maybe it's just me?

Example: Logan and I started off Lent just watching one episode of something each week (The Walking Dead was our top choice until the season ended). Graaaadually we added a movie here, another episode of something there. And then I found myself this past Saturday, watching episode after episode of Designated Survivor (so good, by the way). I rarely - and I mean rarely - sit and watch TV for extended periods of time. I could blame it on the fact that I ran (and I mean ran! I didn't walk at all!) a 5K that morning and then Logan went to work for the rest of the night and there was no way I was going to do anything, um, productive. Except feed my kids and all.

So! Here comes Holy Week, kicking me in the butt once again. The TV has stayed off except for one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the big boys (which I agreed to on Monday before I remembered that we weren't watching TV this week, oops).

We've been spending a lot of time outside with the lovely weather and I've been purposely leaving my phone far away from my person - thanks to Jenny for that little nudge - and it's just been nice. I feel like I just really love my family right now and part of me wonders if it's because I'm less distracted. Less staring at screens and more staring at the cute faces of the people I love the most.

Super fancy photo [awkwardly] taken with my laptop because I'm too lazy to go upstairs to get my phone. 4 more days!! I think I've enjoyed the Jesus Tree more than my kids because of the Scripture readings - although they do love putting the "ornaments" on.

I've been really bad lately at reading way too many books at a time. The biography section at the library really got me last week because I'm just a sucker for people's real life stories. But since it's Holy Week and all, I'm trying to focus mostly on St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life that I've been slowly making my way through since January. Definitely recommend it.

My church had a one-night mission this week that I was fortunately able to go to allllll by myself. It was the first time I've had an entire evening to myself without Aaron attached to me and it was very much needed. There was Adoration at the mission and it just kind of hit me that although I've been praying as I should lately, I'm missing the deep and personal relationship with Jesus. Sometimes it's so easy to just go through the motions...

I suppose that's enough Lenten thoughts for one post. I hope everyone has a beautiful Holy Triduum and a very happy Easter!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rocking Motherhood

Heyyyy. There's this challenge going around blogs that is calling us mommas to think of allllll the ways (well, 10 ways) we are rocking motherhood. I love the idea, actually, because it is so easy these days to focus on all the ways we feel like we are failing miserably. Heck, I can easily list things that I could do better - less yelling, more reading aloud, less distractions (hi IG and FB), less losing my patience, and generally just more quality time with my kids.

Of course, it's good to be aware of all the ways you can be better, but it's equally as important to remember all of the things you're doing well! Thinking about those things, though, is a little more challenging. But I did it! Just took me a week and a half. Thanks to Alicia for tagging and challenging me!
Thanks to Deroche Photography for the lovely photos

So, let me assure you that I am far from the perfect mom. It's hard not to sound a little conceited with this type of challenge (or maybe it's just me?). But the following things are how I'm rocking motherhood:

I randomly sing and dance. Not very well, I admit, but that's not the point. Pretty sure my boys will hide when I do this in 10 years, but now they think it's the best thing ever. Mom is fun!

I teach my boys manners. Future wives, you're welcome. They already hold the door open for me (without me asking), and say please and thank you.

I bake yummy stuff from scratch. Bread, cookies, you name it. I'm not a fan of cooking so I don't cook 5-course meals by any means...but baking? It's my jam. And my kids love all of it.

I'm crafty. Man, I used to not consider myself crafty, but you know what? I totally am. I love making cute things, especially for their birthdays. Which reminds me...

I throw awesome parties. I know, I know...totally not necessary. And if they tell me they don't want a big birthday party anymore, I will totally listen. But for now, the boys LOVE their big joint summer birthday birthday bash and I just love planning it.

I have my own hobbies. I think it's important that my boys see me doing things I love - and not just chores. They see me read (a lot), crochet, and make cute crafty things.

I read parenting books. I want to be better, and I learn so much from others. I know I'm a much better mom because of all the insight I've gained from books. You can never learn too much!

I pray often (and my boys see me). Okay, so maybe I don't always purposely let them see me, but a lot of times it just happens. Landon wakes up early during my prayer time, or he interrupts my Rosary during nap time. My boys know that Morning Prayer and the Rosary are just part of my day, and I hope that sticks with them. We do pray together before meals, we say a prayer to our guardian angels every time we leave the house, and we pray before bed.

I apologize. I'm not always the best mom, but I make a point to say I'm sorry for yelling or not handling a certain situation in the best way.

I do certain things just because I know my boys will love it. Examples: making an impromptu visit to the zoo during nap time just because. Having a picnic outside for lunch because the weather was perfect. You know, the things that are more work...but are totally worth it.

So there you go. 10 ways I'm rocking motherhood. It was so tempting to throw in a negative thing for every positive thing, but I refrained! (So hard, though, not gonna lie.) Now I want to hear your list! No pressure at all, but I'm tagging the following ladies to make a list of 10 ways (or less, whatevs) they are rocking motherhood:

(I promise we will still be friends if you don't do it! ;))

Friday, March 31, 2017

Running, family pics, and the infamous butt scoot

Gosh, life just feels so crazy lately. It is certainly Lent and I just really want it to be Easter already. I'm sure you agree, right? Linking up with Kelly for some quick thoughts about all the things.

1. 5K, baby

Logan and I have been training for a couple 5Ks. And by "training" I just mean going for a couple walk/runs every week. Logan pushes Landon in the single jogging stroller while I push the younger boys in the double stroller. People always make comments about how Logan is making me push the bigger stroller - but I actually want to do it! I'm more out of shape than he is and if you ever want to seriously train as a runner, push a double stroller. Trust me. (I'm totally making Logan push the double for the actual races, though. I'm no martyr!)

2. Yes, we have a TV

During one of those runs last week, we passed a guy on the sidewalk who was talking to a couple people inside a parked car. He looked up as we passed and yelled, "Y'all don't have a TV??" Being the type of person to assume the best rather than the worst, I just laughed because I thought his comment was about us running instead of sitting in front of a TV.

Then I felt like an idiot as I realized he was actually talking about the fact that we had 3 young boys in strollers. I'm still kicking myself for not realizing earlier because then I could have yelled back, "But sex is more fun!!" Seriously, y'all. People these days.

3. Family pictures

We finally took professional family pictures with Aaron outside my belly!
This is the only one I've seen so far and I CANNOT WAIT to see the rest. Chase refused to smile the entire time but Aaron and Landon were a couple of hams. Thanks to my friend Caroline for letting me borrow her adorable dress! And thanks to our friend Lauren for taking awesome pics!
Flashback to a year ago when Aaron was inside my belly. Crazy how much difference a year can make!

4. The butt scoot

Speaking of Aaron, he has officially mastered the butt scoot in lieu of actual crawling. Chase did the same thing as a baby and it's hilarious. We plop Aaron down on one side of the room and a few minutes later he's on the other side...still sitting.

5. Craziness with boys

There have been so many days where Landon and Chase have been SO CRAZY, like in a run-around-the-house-like-crazy-people-without-ever-stopping kind of a way, and it makes me kind of worried about when Aaron will be joining them. I know they're young boys and full of energy, but does it ever stop?? Even on the days where they don't nap and we have plenty outside time, they're still nonstop and I'm just so tired. Mom of a bunch of boys, tell me your secrets to sanity. Please.

6. Adulting

Two days after I spent a lot of money on my ticket to Edel, Logan's vehicle stranded him on the Interstate for the SECOND TIME IN TWO MONTHS. Then we spent even more money on the repairs and a rental car for a week. Sigh. We're looking into getting another car now. So, it's a good thing I already bought my ticket to Edel, otherwise I probably wouldn't be going. Adulting is hard sometimes, yo.

7. Words I loved this week

I'm reading 33 Days to Merciful Love right now and will finish on Divine Mercy Sunday. I'm loving it. One of my favorite quotes I read this morning:
"In sum, then, the Little Way is often a little way of darkness. It's about accepting that we are to put up with ourselves - with all the darkness of our weakness, brokenness, and sin - without getting discouraged. It's recognizing, without giving up, that some struggles are chronic. It's realizing, without despairing, that they may be with us till our dying day. But it's also about realizing that this does not prevent us from becoming saints." - Fr. Michael E. Gaitley in 33 Days to Merciful Love, Day 11

Sunday, March 19, 2017

My Sunday Best, the Jesus Tree, and I'm going to Edel!

It's been awhile since I linked up with Rosie for My Sunday Best, since I never remember to take pictures! But today our church had St. Joseph's Altar all set up and I really wanted a picture of us in front of it. St. Joseph is Aaron Joseph's patron. :) (The feast is technically moved to tomorrow, FYI)

My mom got my dress on clearance from I can't remember where, and I love it because it's petite size. My half-cardigan thingy (is there a proper name for that?) is from Target and I wear it alllll the time over sleeveless dresses. Love it. 
And here's a flashback to last year when Aaron was still in my belly! It feels like forever ago. Crazy thing is that Chase is now wearing the clothes that Landon was wearing in this picture.

 The one thing I'm doing with the boys is the Jesus Tree from Nancy at Do Small Things with Love. I love the Jesse Tree during Advent but have been generally pretty bad at keeping up with it with everything else going on. So this is like a Lenten version, but on a cross! (You could do a tree if you wanted though.) I'm really liking it. I do tend to forget pretty much every other day, but it works out because then both Landon and Chase get to put on an "ornament" on the same day.

My favorite thing about it is that Landon doesn't have to ask me every.single.day. when Easter is going to be because he can just look at the cross and see how many days are left!

And the last thing I wanted to mention is that I'm officially going to Edel! I'm kind of banking on the fact that Aaron will be weaned by then, and although the other boys were by 13 months, Aaron is the only one who hasn't been getting bottles too. Soooo we will see. Please tell me if you're going! I can't wait to meet people!

Monday, March 13, 2017


feeling like Lent is just.so.dang.hard sometimes. I also have been feeling like I took on too much this Lent while simultaneously feeling like I'm not doing enough. What the heck is that about?

thankful that we've been mostly spared from sickness lately. So many people have caught the flu or a stomach bug recently and I'm so grateful we haven't been hit so far! Logan and Chase had a cold this weekend, Landon had a bit of a cough, but Aaron and I have been good.

making a free printable just for you! **see details at the bottom of this post**

wondering if I could finally attend Edel this year. I have no idea if I'll still be nursing Aaron and I refuse to bring a 13-month old along with me...but maybe he'll be fine without me for a couple days? Are any of you planning on going??

ready for Aaron to start sleeping through the night!!! Teething sucks.

reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. I just love me a good WWII novel.

discerning the future of my little shop I had open before Aaron was born.

crocheting some granny squares (when Aaron lets me). I have big plans to make a big blanket! I've done several baby blankets over the years but I want a blanket I can use.

amused at Logan for his endless attempts at french braiding my hair.

praying for so many of our family and friends (online and local) who are in tough situations right now.

baffled at why Landon thought it was a good idea to draw on his shirt yesterday.

missing Trader Joe's cookie butter. I think it will be my Easter gift to myself.

struggling with our no-spend month. Sometimes we just want some takeout, ya know?

loving these guys right here.

Maaaaybe you really wanted to participate in the marriage challenge I posted last month. But maaaaybe life was just a little too crazy. It's okay! I have a solution!

Thanks to a genius idea from Alicia, I made a printable. I did change the reflections a little bit, but the challenges are the same. Each week is on its own page.

Find the printable HERE. I hope you find it helpful!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Recent Reads (March '17 edition)

I kind of stopped blogging about my 2016 reads...oops. So! I'm just going start with the first 7 books I've read in 2017, mmkay? I'm currently ahead in my Goodreads challenge (9 books read out of 36), but I know I will get most of my reading done in the first half of the year while I'm still nursing Aaron.

Sadly, only one of these is fiction, so I guess I need to branch out a little more. 

1. Night by Elie Wiesel

I read this in high school but didn't remember anything other than I liked it. This time, I listened to the audiobook, which was well-read. It's a relatively short book that kept my attention the whole time. I'd like to read the actual book again one day.

2. A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken

This was part of the inspiration behind the series I did on marriage last month - I mentioned the book in Week 1. The first half was a bit slow but definitely picked up once Sheldon and his wife converted to Christianity. I love the whole point of the book - and I don't want to ruin it but it has to do with the title of the book. There's a good chance this will be on my "fave books of 2017" post.

3. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

The movie preview looked so good so I was hoping for a good book. Unfortunately, it was really hard to get through - too many characters and storylines that I had a hard time keeping track. The actual story was interesting but I felt like it could have been put together better. I'd say skip the book and just watch the movie.

4. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

I read this so I could listen to the Fountains of Carrots podcast about it in a couple weeks. It was funny, refreshing, and totally predictable but I still loved it.

5. Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider

This has been on my to-read list for awhile and then Alicia recommended it to me and I realized my library has the audiobook! I wasn't a fan of the audiobook (even though it was read by the author), but I did like the book itself. It's one of those memoir-type books (my fave) with some good reflections about life. Totally made me want to move to Turkey! Ha.

6. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

So, I realized this is more geared towards people with an actual career, BUT I learned a lot of helpful tips! I definitely recommend this if you have a side business or anything like that and find yourself short on time. Or if you just really struggle with procrastination.

7. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

I had high hopes for this one because I think Anna is just hilarious. I did like hearing more about her life, but there was just wayyyy too much cursing and sex talk for my taste. I did listen to the audiobook (also read by the author) and that probably just made the cursing and all seem worse. I was enjoying it until about half way through and probably would have stopped reading/listening had it not been my monthly reading challenge pick - "a book written by a celebrity."

Aaaaand that's 7 so I'm linking up with Kelly!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The crosses we bear

I've been thinking a lot about suffering lately, and how we all have crosses. Crosses we wish we didn't have to carry and that seem so.dang.heavy at times.

When I was in college, I used to tell God all the time, rather enthusiastically, “I'm willing to suffer if it brings others to you!”

I still haven't figured out if I was just holier back then or just really, really naïve about suffering. Probably the latter. (Although MAN when I read my journals from those days it seems like I was so much holier. Why is that??)

I think it's safe to say that my crosses back then were not quite as heavy as some now. Because, adulting. And parenting. It's hard, yo.
Anyways. Crosses. I remember thinking, back in our pregnancy loss and infertility days, how hard everything felt. All I wanted was a baby and for whatever reason, God had us wait. I think I struggled with it a lot because I knew I was supposed to be a mother, and I kind of didn't know what to do with myself until there was actually a baby in my arms. I thought that once I finally had a baby to take care of, everything would be better. And in some ways, it was.

But although those crosses of pregnancy loss and infertility have been lifted (for now, at least), I've had others placed on my shoulders since then. Plus there are still some crosses that I'm still dealing with years later and might deal with for several more years.

No matter what the cross is – whether it's dealing with parenting, marriage, finances, illnesses, relationships, whatever – it feels the same. Heavy, hard, and suffocating at times. I know there have been many times where I thought, if only I didn't have to deal with this particular thing, I would be okay...

But I know that's not true. As soon as one cross feels a little lighter, it only makes sense for another cross to feel heavier.

I used to really struggle with why God gives us certain crosses. I'd look at other people and think, Man! If only they knew how easy they have it. I'd much rather deal with their suffering than mine. I'd be lying if I said I still wasn't tempted to think that, but thankfully, I've come a long way.

But of course I'm learning that God gives us exactly what we need to become better people, and often it comes in the form of a cross. And that's going to look different for everyone. It's also funny that as much as I wish I didn't have certain crosses, I'm also thankful for them in a way, because I learn something from each and every one.

With pregnancy loss, I learned so much about grief and how it's different for everybody. With infertility, I learned that having babies isn't something to take for granted and that God's timing is always best. With difficult relationships, I've learned humility. With financial struggles, I've also learned humility (I'm stubborn, I guess), as well as to trust that God will provide. The list goes on and on.

One of my favorite mysteries of the rosary is the 4th Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus carrying His cross. Whenever I feel the weight of my own cross, I think about Jesus and how he carried His cross for us. He fell over and over, yet He got back up every single time. And all along the way He had people help him, from Simon to Veronica to the weeping women. He even met His mother, our Blessed Mother, and I can't help but think how all of those people gave him a little motivation to keep going.

God gives us those people – or graces, or consolations, or whatever you want to call them – too. Because I know just when I think I can't carry my cross anymore, I come across a Scripture passage that speaks to my heart in the most perfect way. Or I start reading the most timely book dealing with my situation. Or I have a friend randomly text me asking how I'm doing.

Yes, we all have crosses, but we don't carry them alone. And I'm so, so thankful. God loves us too much to stay just as we are, but He always gives us the grace to carry our crosses – even when it doesn't feel like it.
Afflictions are the most certain proofs that God can give us of His love for us.” - Saint Vincent de Paul

Friday, March 3, 2017

Life with boys, Lent, and more teething

1. Mardi Gras

We celebrated hard with lots of king cake and just one parade over the weekend. I'm always glad we do the parade thing after the fact, but they just really aren't my thing. Logan worked on Tuesday (most people have off work here in New Orleans), which was a bummer, but the boys and I spent a lot of time outside because the weather has been SO PERFECT.

2. A month for your marriage

There's still time to link-up with this week's post! Clearly I'm not a professional blogger because posting on the same day every week was so hard for some reason. Every time I tried to blog something other than the marriage stuff, I felt totally paralyzed. So weird. But now I'm back to my randomness and all feels right in the world.


It always seems to come at just the perfect time, doesn't it? I know I certainly needed the kick in the pants. But of course now, on the 3rd day, I'm like I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE. Just a little dramatic, I know.

4. Social media

I'm staying off Instagram for allll of Lent and I'll be mostly off Facebook. FYI. But I'll still be here! Blogging away! I just can't quit you, dear blogspot.

5. Crochet

Hannah and I doing a crochet-a-long this month, which is nice since it's been so long since I've crocheted. I'm glad I'm getting back to it but...baby boy (aka teething monster) is making it really difficult. Hannah is probably going to finish 10 granny squares before I finish one! (Sorry girl! I'm trying!)

[this is where I refrain from inserting a picture of my horribly half-finished granny square]

6. Teething tips

Aaron must be getting more teeth because he's back to the whole don't-put-me-down-ever nonsense and I'm trying not to lose my mind. Any tips?? I will take them! (As I type this post one-handed because...teething monster.) I tried carrying him on my back yesterday and he pretty much lost his mind. I did carry him in a front carrier but today I woke up with a pulled back muscle so there will be no baby-wearing today. Sigh.

But he's cute, at least. I know I say that every time, but it's true! (And um, how adorable is he in the sleeveless shirt? It got up to 80 degrees earlier this week!)

7. Life with boys

Boys are so exhausting when they're little but I have to admit that I love it. The older boys have been pretending their ninja turtles are babies, which kind of makes Logan crazy, but I think it's adorable.
He put the diaper on himself!
 I had a good-mom moment last week when I got to Landon's school early for pickup and realized it was the perfect time to cuddle with my middle child AKA mini-me. He's so cute. Totally destructive...but cute. (I can't help it, I think all my kids are cute!!)

 Linking up with Kelly. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A month for your marriage {bringing it together}

In case you missed it, I'm hosting a weekly marriage challenge! Read the previous posts: week 1week 2week 3, and week 4.

How I did on week 4, sacrificial love

I'm pretty sure Logan totally saw this coming, but I took out the garbage all week. He did also ask one night if I could show some sacrificial love by bathing the boys, so I did – and I put them to bed. Normally, Logan does that (when he's not working) since I'm dealing with Aaron. But the timing worked so Logan was able to feed Aaron some solid food while I dealt with the big boys and it was actually pretty nice to switch things up a bit.

So what did you do for your spouse? Link up your posts or share in the comments!

Bringing it together

Whew, we made it! What did you think? How do you think you did?

I have to be honest and say that February was not the easiest month. I felt like I didn't do as well as I would have liked with the challenges because life was just kind of difficult already. Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but I tend to be a perfectionist.

But I will say that about halfway through the month, Logan and I started to feel closer than we have in quite some time. And that makes me think that the little things in marriage add up big time. Yes, marriage takes work...but sometimes it just takes small changes. I'm still writing affirming messages to Logan like I explained in week 3, and I'm finding myself willingly doing things that normally I would ask him to do (AKA sacrificial love). He's been responding in such a positive way!

My church recently hosted a couples date night that included a talk by a guest couple. They explained that marriage has a cycle (and I totally missed half of it because of Aaron so I probably won't explain it very well), but basically you go from Honeymoon stage to Disillusionment to Choice/Decision - to divorce, separate, or stay - to True Joy.

Unfortunately, it's not possible to say in True Joy forever. (Dang!) But I realized that when we're in Disillusionment, it's the perfect time to challenge ourselves to do more and put more effort into our marriage. So many couples get so discouraged in Disillusionment that it leads to divorce, and while I know there are exceptions, I do think that many marriages could be saved by just doing simple things.

I hope the last few weeks has enriched your marriage in some way! I would love to hear about it - feel free to include your thoughts in your post on sacrificial love. If you're blogging about it, here are some questions you can answer in your post:
  • Were the challenges harder or easier than you thought?
  • Did your spouse notice your efforts?
  • Has this challenge enriched your marriage? (I hope the answer is yes!)
  • Do you think this has motivated you to do more for your marriage?
  • Would you be interested in doing this again another month?
  • What suggestions do you have to make this challenge/link-up better? (That one's for me!)

Thanks for following along! I'll be back to my regular random blogging soon. ;)


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