Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Virtual Christmas Letter

Let me just wipe off the layers of dust from this old blog...

Happy Advent, dear friends, and so very soon a Merry Christmas!! I think I'm finally resigned to this season of my life not being a blogging season but I don't think I'll ever close it down for good, so here's a little peek into our life this year.

Honestly, it's been a wonderful year. The prior year held many challenges and this year felt redemptive. We still had our ups and downs this year (even some significant downs) but our marriage and family relationships just seemed to thrive through it all and that was such a blessing.

P. continued to stay busy with his pro-life and social justice work for the Church and has even been sought after as a speaker in other dioceses farther away. Remember how we almost adopted a baby who was scheduled to be aborted but the mother decided to parent? That story was picked up and published by the Day 41 magazine of 40 Days for Life, which was exciting for all of us (they very kindly gave us the complimentary family photos I'm including here). Besides his hard work for building a culture of life, he is an amazing daddy here at home. Even when we were dating, I knew he'd make a great dad whenever I watched the creative and energetic ways he played with his niece and nephews. As I write this, he is dressed in a "blanket cloak" being Joseph while my daughter is dressed as Mary and playing with baby doll "Jesus."

I have settled in more and more to my role on the home front and love it. Though there are many moments when I feel in over my head with the exhaustion and responsibility of it all, I really do treasure this opportunity to stay home with my babies every day. I'm also deeply grateful for a large network of mama support in our area. Several of us got to attend a mothers' retreat this Advent with the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor and it further deepened my gratitude for both my vocation and my friends. Besides full-time momming, I still write monthly for can see my posts here. This fall with some help from two other moms and my husband, I began a miscarriage ministry called Zelie Ministry. We have sent care packages to over a dozen grieving parents so far and I love that God is helping us "comfort those with the comfort we've received" (2 Cor 1:4).

G is our sweet, sensitive, smart, and imaginative girl. She has made incredible strides with her speech and delights us daily with her many thoughts and opinions. Her play skills are through the roof with creativity and I love to watch her play baby dolls or Barbies. She also is my little sous chef and crafting partner. She and little brother enjoy a once a week Musikgarten music class but otherwise we have not done any formal education. We have almost officially decided we will begin homeschooling next year but haven't completely ruled out our parish school or a local classical academy for down the road.

J is our impulsive, charming, energetic, and cuddly boy. His daily antics both exasperate me and melt my heart. We never knew our difficult reflux baby would turn into one of the happiest, funniest little buds you ever met. He is passionate and determined and loves to make people laugh. He loves music and will rarely sit still unless someone begins singing a song, then his attention is all yours.

Baby#3 (!!!) is currently growing rapidly and taking up lots of room in mommy's tummy. We have had several scares during this pregnancy (a fall down the stairs with a resulting bleed being the most complicated) but we continue to trust in the Lord's providence and presence, and we are so very grateful to be adding another child to our family. When you have walked the valleys of subfertility and miscarriage, every new child just feels like an overwhelming and abundant gift. We can't wait to meet this little one and watch the love and joy multiply.

If I were blogging more, I would also tell you more about some of my recent favorite things: homemade chocolate peppermint biscotti, DIY vinyl-lettered floursack towels for Christmas gifts, discussing The Heart of Perfection book by Colleen Carroll Campbell with my book club (I cannot recommend this book enough!!!), prayers and coffee by the light of the Christmas tree when I can sneak down alone in the morning, air-popped popcorn dates with my husband watching our newest series after the kids are in bed, and keeping up with my best friends long-distance using the Marco Polo app.

Wishing you and your families a Christmas season full of His true peace and joy, and a new year of blessings that draw you closer to His heart.

Emmanuel. We are grateful.

Friday, July 5, 2019


Since I pretty much only do occasional book reviews and even less occasional old-school blogging, I figured it's time for a post of the latter...maybe if I start these Friday Quick Takes tonight I'll be able to post them by next week. ;)

1. Food. Because we all know I think about it a lot. Cooking it. Eating it. Planning it. And all that good stuff. Child number one likes meat and veggies but has lately been unpredictably picky about what she wants (tonight refused pizza. I know). Child number two likes fruit and dairy and doesn't like to sit still enough to eat enough of either. Husband number one is on a dairy/egg free diet ordered by a doctor for two months. So for all these reasons, cooking and meal planning actually haven't been as fun for me as they usually are. I, however, am not pregnant or breastfeeding for the first time in almost three years and have zero dietary restrictions so give me all the summer potlucks and forbidden foods. I recently made myself (no one else was able/wanted to eat it) a delicious quiche from Magnolia Table (I heart Joanna Gaines) and even splurged on the fontina and gruyere cheeses it called for. I enjoyed that for breakfast daily for a week. Amazing!

as usual, my food photos reveal why I am not a food blogger

2. Mornings. Little Man is currently an early riser and is rather noisy and clingy when waking up. I didn't really enjoy my mornings very much when this first started occurring because it was such a difficult task to try to keep him content and quiet (sister sleeps an hour longer sometimes) while trying to pray myself and drink a cup of coffee. Enter summer mornings outdoors! Somehow I started taking him for a morning run in our jogger stroller and we both LOVE it! I have no major running goals but it feels so. good. to be out that early and getting the exercise. He loves the movement and nature. We both are refreshed when we get home and enjoy breakfast together (still a bit loud and messy on his end) and I have switched my devotion/coffee time to be during my breakfast. I'm also starting to add in walking or biking with him in addition to running (not all in the same day. ha. Just one of the three.)

3. Speaking of morning prayer, I will be sharing my current routine soon and would love to hear more about yours! Or your evening prayer routine-- my morning one is good but my evening one lacks badly!!

4. We had a HORRIBLE stomach bug this June. The kids got it the worst. It was Little Man's first time and that's just never fun to watch your baby throw up and feel awful and not understand why. It breaks your heart. Sweet G gets stomach viruses really severely and we had to take her to the ER. I am so, so grateful for health these past few weeks. Sometimes I tremble in my boots flip flops when I think of how much sickness we're going to have over the coming years as we raise and add little ones to our family. I know it builds their immune systems, but man.

5. In the weeks after our recovery, we have done all sorts of fun summer things. The weather is topping out in the 90's lately but we still are enjoying it! We have visited many metroparks, ate lunch with Daddy at work, played outside in our kiddie pool and sprinkler, ate popsicles, taken walks and bike rides...all the summer good stuff. This week P had off and we went to the zoo, a state park, a splash pad, and stayed with my parents at their river house. Sweet G fed a parakeet from her hand at the zoo with Daddy and loved it. Mommy was a little nervous walking through the "keet retreat" where they had 150 (doth my fear exaggerate this estimate? I know not) parakeets and other birds in a room on fake trees flying to and fro that you could feed (the birds were flying, not the, and you fed the birds not the trees...too lazy to go fix all that grammar).

little family photo op at a metropark

6. I'm reading a ton this year. I wish I had the time to update you on mini reviews of all of them. I love my Kindle so much. (maybe I shouldn't love an inanimate object? I greatly esteem it?...just finished Sense and Sensibility...). Currently reading a fascinating memoir by a Navy SEAL. Could talk forever about books but need to wrap this up so I can grab a snack and get to bed! We were up late at my parents' last night and we all need a normal night's sleep tonight in our own beds!

7. I have had some great scores as usual at the local garage sales. My kids get in on the excitement as you can see in the pictures. But seriously. Such deals! That cute winter coat for $1 and the booster high chair for $4! Also-- look how much my girl has changed! Thank you, Google photo, for those little time capsule photo things you send me. Oh my heart. That's all for now, friends. More to come someday on books, miscarriage ministry, road trips, and prayer routines! Thank you for your patience with my hurried, unedited blogging. Better unedited than never, right? ;) Have a wonderful weekend!

He is JUST as ornery and charming and high-energy and adorable as he looks!

All the heart eyes. 

Linking up with Kelly!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dear Mom Scrolling Through Social Media

Dear Mom Scrolling Through Social Media,
I see you there, after the bedtime craziness, taking a few minutes (or an hour? Oh, these addictive phones … ) to scroll through Pinterest, see what’s new on Facebook, and check your Instagram. It’s been a long day and you deserve this time to yourself. Grab a handful of chips and even a bowl of ice cream. I won’t judge … I eat a lot of ice cream.
But do you ever have those times when the social media and ice cream just aren’t cutting it? Instead of feeling relaxed and connected and content afterwards, you feel restless, unsettled, even a little empty or sad? Yeah. Me too.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Recent Reads

Earlier this year I mentioned how I had gotten into a habit of negative thinking and complaining. When I saw this book, I thought it looked like a fun read with a good message-- a serious topic dealt with using a bit of sympathy and humor based on the title! It was a great read! There were a few times I felt like it got long and drawn out. A few times it seemed like just another book on motherhood. But overall I have to say it really made me think and it really was convicting. The author is excellent about sharing her own story to be relatable but doesn't stop there with justification or excuse. Instead she calls both the reader and herself to a higher place and helps us examine our motives for why we allow ourselves to get into complaining or negativity about motherhood and 'the daily grind.' I really appreciated the way she gently yet persistently argued against acceptance of motherhood just being a hot mess (even though we all have those days) and encouraged the reader to dive deeper into our spiritual lives for things that might be holding us back from excellence (yet NOT perfection!) in motherhood. 4 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for my complimentary e-copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Oh, I wanted to like this one more than I did. I LOVE Amy Parker's children's books and was excited to see she was coming out with a collection of Biblical bedtime stories. Maybe I set myself up for disappointment with my high expectations. The stories are good. The pictures are good. The 'extras' are good. But it's all just good...and I kind of expected great. The book is smaller than I thought for a collection of stories and I think it would be better if it were a larger size. I couldn't figure out the target age range for the stories. On one hand, the book seems better for a child who can read it him/herself. Yet since it's a bedtime collection, it seems as if it should be read to a younger child. Plus there are some slightly cheesy rhymes with each story...maybe too cheesy for older kids? Yet my almost-3-year-old seems too young to understand the stories written as they are, especially without many pictures and in a smallish book. Am I being hard to please? Maybe. But unfortunately was just 3 out of 5 stars for me.

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days where all the crazy was shaken up and poured out. The house was so messy and I felt like I had a million things started and nothing finished. Crumbs, laundry, name it, it was on the floors. A plastic Easter egg full of play dough was mysteriously empty and I had to call Poison Control because most likely Little Man had eaten it. (I knew it was nontoxic but this was a huge amount!). Then later that afternoon I found him in the laundry room eating coughing up lint from the dryer. While he finished up a snack of applesauce and yogurt, I attempted to get dinner made...only to turn and find much of it in his hair while his big sister G was drawing black marker "tiger stripes" all over her arms and hands. So we had an impromptu bath before dinner and ate soup without the homemade breadsticks I wanted to make. Oy! It was one of those days!

But today was too. One of those days where everything runs smoothly. I swept and mopped and vacuumed the floors while Little Man napped. Miss G had her first eye doctor appointment and behaved like a ten-year-old instead of two-year-old...I was so proud of her. We had a fun outing to the library with both kids and they happily ate the peanut butter sandwiches I packed for lunch on the way home in their carseats while I peacefully drove. They played (mostly) quietly together in the afternoon. I didn't even have to make dinner because I had put meatloaf and veggies in the crockpot before we left in the morning. I even caught some time for a cup of tea and a book. Ahhh. It was one of those days.

Tonight I drove to the Adoration Chapel for some prayer time while my husband watched the kids (I need to do this way more often than I do!). As I passed by the cemetery and prayed a quick prayer for the souls (#Catholic), I reflected on the past couple days and realized what a drop in the bucket "those days" are. How fleeting this life can be. How the people in those graves had crazy days and smooth days and days in between. But those days are gone now and they're in eternity. My own days are numbered too and those days are going fast. I don't mean this in a creepy way or sad way but in a sobering, slow-down-and-live, think-of-eternity way. Some days I can't believe I'm married with two kids who are growing so fast-- the single years seemed so long! It's easy for me to let my thoughts and emotions be affected by how each day unfolds, but when I step back and think about the bigger picture I want to be more steadfast. More unshaken by the circumstances of my days (good or bad!) and more focused on a faithful development of virtue and gratitude in the daily life.

One of these days, I'll wake up and realize my kids slept through the night (soon, Lord, soon! ha!). But one of these days, I won't get to cuddle with a footie-pajama'd baby in the wee hours of the morning. One of these days, I might be able to concentrate for a whole Mass without interruption or littles tugging on me. But one of these days, I'll miss seeing the precious way my toddler tries to genuflect like mommy and daddy do.

One of these days, they'll be grown up and out of the house, even though I can't imagine that now.

One of these days, a long time from now God-willing, my days on earth will come to and end and I hope I'll enter into eternity with God in heaven.

But for today, just for today, I'll live with gratitude for this amazing gift of life and all the people who share it with me. Even if it's one of those pour-out-the-crazy days.

We found the play-dough today, if you were wondering.

Friday, March 22, 2019

7 Things That Got Me Through Winter

It's Sprrrriiiiiiinnnng! Yay!!! However, just for fun here are seven things that made my winter tolerable enjoyable. Linking up for Quick Takes today. Happy Friday, friends! :)

1. Podcasts. I have finally understood why people like podcasts! Downloading the Stitcher app was one key for me, as it makes it so much easier to subscribe to ones I like and easily access them as well as be notified of new episodes. My favorite podcast these days is At Home With Sally (Sally Clarkson). I have officially become a huge fan of her (I've reviewed her books on here before). I was originally intimidated but the more I read and listen, I am delighted to find she is a both wise and humble mentor for women in general, but especially for young mothers. Other podcasts I like are Don't Mom Alone, Messy Parenting, and Cultivating the Lovely. How about you? Are you a podcast fan? Let me know ones I should listen to if so!

2.  Fresh flowers. I love that Aldi carries beautiful bouquets (including roses!) for only $3.99. I've gotten a few different ones to last almost two weeks in our home. I loooooove flowers, so having fresh bouquets here and there throughout the winter, especially after Christmas was over, really brought me so much joy!

3.  These faces. I love them so much. Winter can be hard with littles and being cooped up inside so much, but there's also so much joy spending time with them, playing with them, singing and dancing and watching them learn and laugh each day.

4. New makeup regimen. I bought two new makeup items that decreased my routine in half. I don't wear a lot of makeup but just a bit each day makes me feel freshened up and ready for the day. My new items are Mineral Wear foundation powder (now one step instead of the previous tinted moisturizer and powder I used to use) and Burt's Bees blush/lip stick (now one item instead of both blush and lipstick). I haven't timed myself but I'm pretty sure I can do my makeup routine in literally one minute. It's great. If only I could make my hair look nice in that amount of time. ;)

5. The Office. I am such a closet fan of this show but I'm admitting it here. The first time I watched an episode was ten years ago and I thought it was the stupidest, most crude show ever...what does that say about me that I think it's funny now?? Oh dear. But P and I struggle to find stuff that we both enjoy if we watch TV in the evenings, and this show has provided so much lighthearted humor in only twenty minutes so we're able to do our own thing (read, pray, etc.) but then sit back for a twenty-minute episode before bed. Are you like the young me or the current me? Do you love the show or find it repulsive?

6. New projects. I continue to write for once a month and it's a great push for improving my writing. My latest article is here on a topic I'm currently passionate about (see #7). I also am in the process of organizing a miscarriage ministry for our diocese with two other moms. It's been on my heart for awhile now and there's just such a need. It's been incredible to see God send us signs that He wants this too.

7. Getting together with friends. I have been intentionally pursuing friendship for the past couple months and we try to have one to two play dates per week. I also try to send more cards in the mail to friends or connect through texting. I have also been going to mom's nights out after the kids are in bed since both sleep in their own beds these days!! It's so refreshing cultivating friendships with other women. I'm really grateful.

How did you survive winter this year? What are you most looking forward to this spring?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Recent Reads: Two Not-So-Great Book Reviews

This book was written well and the author is great at weaving words and drawing you into story...but I just didn't care for it. The author has a long list of fiction books she has written on historic Biblical women. This is her first nonfiction book but she definitely uses artistic license (likely similar to her fiction books...I haven't read any) in the way she describes the characters. The chapters each center around a woman from the Bible and begin with a fictional account in first person from that character, then the chapter moves on to the author's voice and a nonfiction tone as she describes what we can learn from the historic Biblical woman. It's a nice idea, and some people may like this, but I was not a fan. I don't like that much artistic license when it comes to the Bible, it honestly made me a bit uncomfortable and it doesn't really help me learn from that character when we don't know if that's truly how they were. It's really hard for me to admit I don't like a book and I do NOT like giving bad reviews...but sadly this one was just not my cup of tea. 2 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for my complimentary review copy. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]

I wanted to like this book. I love prayer books, devotionals, anything of the written word in a daily format to aid my prayer time. This one sounded beautiful with its variety of prayers from over the years and a wide range of authors. I loved that it included many Catholic prayers from the Liturgy/Mass as well as Liturgy of the Hours. I also like reading prayers from historical men and women. The book itself is a lovely hardcover with deckled page edges and a ribbon bookmark. That all being said, it fell a little flat for me. My favorite prayers were the ones I would get from reading the daily Mass (like Word Among Us devotionals) or the Liturgy of the Hours app on my phone, so I just didn't see a big need for this book in my life. Womp womp. Yet another so-so book review, guys. 3 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]