Monday, February 29, 2016

With Grit and Grace: March Goals

March is almost here! I'm always amazed at how fast February flies even though there are only a few days less!

I really enjoyed having some reachable and specific goals for the month. I wasn't perfect but it helped me focus on doing a little more than the usual routine. Here's how I did...

February Recap

-Spend time with Jesus one hour a week at our Adoration Chapel (this is my Lenten goal as well)
(Yep. Although one week I only stayed 20 minutes because there was some kind of varnish smell that was giving me a headache in the new chapel!)
-Make a German chocolate cake from scratch for my birthday
(Check. Cake and frosting from scratch. But guess who forgot a picture for proof?)
-Organize our pantry
(Big fat no on this one. Still looks messy as ever. But it's functional, so another day perhaps? ;)
-Make a few Valentines for friends 
(I found the cutest tea-themed ones on Pinterest that looked like a tea bag and held a real tea bag inside.)
-Host a couple for dinner or coffee (this is a monthly goal for my husband and I)
(We had such a wonderful time with M. and E. this past weekend! No dinner but I did try new recipes for hot pizza dip with French bread, and chocolate fondue with fruit. Wish they lived closer!)
-Create a prayer space in our home office
(A cozy chair, blanket, and a table with a coaster for tea and a basket of prayer books.)
-Trim the Little Dog's nails
(No more clackity-clack on the kitchen floor.)
-Make nontoxic household cleaners
(Made dusting spray and all-purpose cleaner. Still would like to make glass cleaner.)
-Begin organizing our basement
("Begin" is the key word in that goal but we did accomplish a lot! There are just so many more boxes!)

Here's what I'm working on for March! 

-crochet a baby blanket for my sister-in-law due next month
-organize under my kitchen sink
-find out if our insurance will cover Bradley childbirth classes
-host our marriage group from church for dinner (eek! Why did we offer to host the 14 people this month??)
-pray when I get home from work on my work days (since morning and evening aren't proving to be good times on those days)
-clean windows in hopes that there will be lots of spring sunshine coming through!
-make healthy peanut butter cups
-pray the Magnificat prayer daily with my husband (our marriage group commitment)
-go on two dates nights
-enter fully into the Easter Triduum and all the grace of those three days then celebrate the joy of the Resurrection!

What are your goals this month? How did last month go?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Currently // vol. 3

February was a fast but fabulous month! March is looking to be pretty fabulous as well. Here's what I'm currently up to these past few and the coming weeks...

wishing // this gorgeous, sunshine-y weather would mean spring is here. We've had such a mild winter, I don't necessarily have cabin fever, it's just that I can't wait to be outside more often!

craving // healthy things and it's wonderful! (No more gummy fruit snacks or Frank's red hot sauce poured on tortilla chips.) My favorite things to eat right now are roasted asparagus and a salad of spring greens, strawberries, pecans, cheese and poppyseed dressing.

going // to visit my little brother's new house this weekend. So excited for him on the journey of home ownership, and to see all the renovations he'd done (or planned) so far. (although I'm still sad he didn't buy the house in our amazing would that have been!)

wearing // most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and wondering where baby is hiding in there.

learning // that my fears and anxieties about this pregnancy are simply evidence that learning to trust in God no matter what is a lifelong lesson, it just looks a little different each season. Thank goodness He's so patient with me.

Would love to hear what you're currently up to! Visit Anne or Jenna for the Currently link-up!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Snuggle Time Prayers: A Book Review

You can never have enough children's books! One of my dear friends has been collecting them for years and it will be so fun to see her share them with her children someday (I have a feeling she'll be getting engaged pretty soon...and you know, love, marriage, then the baby carriage. *wink*)

We don't have any books yet for our little one and this particular book totally tugged at my heartstrings when I saw it! Snuggles and prayers-- it doesn't get much sweeter than that!

It's a lovely hardback book with board pages and a cushioned cover-- definitely toddler friendly. Inside are the most adorable prayers to introduce little ones to the God who loves them and wants to be their friend. For example:

Goodnight, God, it's time to sleep;
I've put my toys away.
And I just want to thank You
For a happy, fun-filled day [...]

Precious, right?

I love the idea of introducing my children to God as friend and Father, to help them have a relationship with Him even at such a young age. To never be afraid to go to Him, for He always wants the little children near Him.

All in all, I was very pleased with this book and I'm excited to put it in our nursery-- and even more excited to snuggle and pray with our baby this year.

[This book was sent to me at no cost in exchange for a review. This post contains my honest and original thoughts. Thank you, Book Look Bloggers!]

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Talk # 21: Another Year Older

Last week I celebrated my twenty-ninth birthday. One more year of the twenties ahead. Craziness! I'm soaking it up. ;) Actually, several of my friends (including my hubby) are in their thirties now, so I don't think next year's birthday will be a tragic event by any means. But still. I'm a little sentimental about the last year to close this decade.


So it was an amazing birthday. I had very little expectations for it, considering it was on a weekday and a work day. My husband convinced me I should let him make dinner and I happily agreed. Not only did he make dinner, but he had trails of rose petals starting in the garage when I arrived home and parked my car and leading to the dinner table, a few gifts, a dozen fresh roses, and even a cute little setup with our little black bear stuffed animal (honeymoon souvenir from Gatlinburg) holding a rose and a special message for me. He's so darn creative and romantic, he puts me to shame! Dinner was delicious: fettucine alfredo and roasted asparagas (I think I finally found a vegetable I want to eat during pregnancy--sooo good!). He invited my brother as a surprise dinner guest and a friend to stop by later in the evening. Thank you, Jesus, for such a loving husband.

Other delights of the day included non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice from a friend, a cookie cake and card from my coworkers, several texts and cards and voicemails from loved ones, and later on the weekend a visit from two girlfriends to catch up and make cards together. Nothing like a birthday to make you feel all warm and cozy and loved. I think my expectations decrease as an adult when it comes to birthdays so that makes each sweet kindness from others all the more special.

What are your favorite ways to celebrate your birthday?

Want to join this week's link up? Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!

 Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Michelle at Grammie Time | Pinterest | Instagram 

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.

Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My State of the Blog Address

So here's the thing, sweet friends.

We need to talk about the blog.

I've had this little spot on the web for almost eight years. Seven of those years I've been single and childless and living in my cute bachelorette pad of an apartment. Now I'm married, a home owner, and the mama of two little ones (one in Heaven and one growing beneath my heart).

Even though to me it's been a lovely, smooth transition, the reality is that my life has drastically changed. And I feel like I don't know how to blog anymore. Can I share something with you? Especially you longtime readers...

I'm afraid you're going to think I've turned into a mommy-blogger.

I'm not. But yet I am.

Stay with me. (both in this post and for good-- ha!)

For years I've shared with you my heartaches, my joys, my reflections as a single woman learning to trust God on the journey. The reality is that I'm still that same woman, still learning to trust God on this new journey. My path looks a little different, but my heart looks a lot the same. 

In some ways, my heart will continue to relate most deeply to single women or women struggling with infertility. Honestly, sometimes I feel more comfortable in those circles than in circles of married mamas who haven't had those struggles. To the average reader walking in, I'm a woman with a husband, a home, and a baby on the way. But how do I let them know my heart heart remembers the nights after breakups and my broken engagement, the confusion with God's plan and wondering if I was even on the right path. My heart remembers the years of diagnoses and the treatments for a body that won't work right. My heart remembers the tears and overwhelming grief from losing our first little one. My heart still struggles with fear at times that we'll lose this one, too.

So there it is. This tension and struggle of how to embrace and share this new season of life with you while remaining relevant and real to my past readers. The desire to say, I'm still me, while also rejoicing in the new beauty of marriage and homemaking and pregnancy.

In the end, at our very core we are simply women. Whether old or young, married or single, physical mother or spiritual mother, we share the same joys and struggles. We all know hope, disappointment, loneliness, love, joy, longing, and fear. 

So stay with me, old readers? Get to know me, new readers? We're all in this together, this crazy adventure called life.

And no matter what season we find ourselves in today, if we have the eyes to see it and the heart open to God's grace, we will find that life is beautiful. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

With Grit and Grace: February Goals

With Grit and Grace. A Monthly Goals Linkup.

This link up is just what I need! I was inspired by Christina's post and realized how helpful it would be to make simple monthly goals in addition to the usual things that need done. I'm definitely a list person, and goal setting can either inspire me or intimidate me. I think the important thing with goals is to make them realistic and not overwhelming, and to include things that are creative and get you out of your usual routine. My sister and I often lament that by the time we meal plan or prep, clean, work, etc. we don't have the time or energy for other projects or hobbies. But with goal setting, it will help me prioritize these things-- even if it means the dishes sit a little longer in the dishwasher that day!

Here are my goals for February! 

-Spend time with Jesus one hour a week at our Adoration Chapel (this is my Lenten goal as well)
-Make a German chocolate cake from scratch for my birthday
-Organize our pantry
-Make a few Valentines for friends 
-Host a couple for dinner or coffee (this is a monthly goal for my husband and I)
-Create a prayer space in our office
-Trim the Little Dog's nails
-Make nontoxic household cleaners
-Begin organizing our basement

What are your goals for the month? Give me some comment love! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God." 

-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

(Happy Ash Wednesday, friends! Let's follow Jesus through the wilderness these 40 days and find Him anew in a deeper way!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tuesday Talk #19: Our Love Story (a blog hop)

Joining the other Tuesday Talk hosts by sharing our love stories today! I hope you will join us! 

If God is still writing your love story, I hope you will take heart and hope from the stories shared. I didn't get married until my late twenties, learned the joys and struggles of the single life all too well, and went through a few heartbreaks (including a broken engagement) along the way to my 'happily ever after.' And even though love and marriage are incredibly beautiful and leave me humbled and grateful for my husband and our journey the end, the only real happily ever after is with our Savior in Heaven, for "to fall in love with God is the greatest of romances." -G. K. Chesterton

But without further ado, I decided to share just one chapter of our story today: how we met.

It was a gorgeous midsummer day and I was helping my brother with the music for church at his university parish. He was their summer musician and invited me to sing with him for Mass one weekend. 

Afterwards, there was an annual parish picnic and reunion for the current and past college students and parishioners. Not one to pass up on a cookout and festivities, I stuck around after Mass. I sat down with a plate of food at the nearest table with an empty spot. (When my husband tells the story, he insists there were plenty of other seats and that I purposely chose that spot.)

Little did I know I had just sat down across from my future husband: the new campus minister.

He was looking pretty hot that day. Typical campus/youth minister, I thought. Athletic, good-looking, outgoing. Even spikes his hair in the front a little. I was not impressed. I had a preconceived notion that youth ministers tend to have an ego and don't necessarily ever grow up.

But my future husband was quite smitten with me. He took every opportunity to talk with me and I enjoyed our conversations but was actually oblivious that he was singling me out. 

Maybe that's because I was dating someone else at the time!

The next day P. (my husband) proceeded to tell his new friend (who also worked at the university church) all about this amazing girl he had met. His new friend smiles and says, "oh, you must have met my girlfriend Laura." 


Yep. I was dating the other guy, who had been out of town the day of the picnic. My hubby was shocked and embarrassed and mumbled something about how he wasn't sure and then ended the conversation. 

It's one of our favorite stories to tell, and P. tells it a lot better than I do-- I love hearing his version of it!! 

Obviously, things gradually moved in his favor (and mine!) over time. A few months later, I broke up with the other guy after realizing he wasn't my Mr. Right. A few months after that, there was a mission trip my little brothers were going on with the university church group and they needed another chaperone over the age of 25 (I had just turned 25!). I was excited about the idea of a mission trip and needed something like that after a long winter. I talked to the campus minister (yep, my hubby!) and he was all about the idea of me chaperoning. Wink, wink. He even accommodated me so well by making sure I was in his van on the drive. 

Long story short, by the end of the trip, I was head over heels. I couldn't believe how I had failed to see how incredible this man was! He was charming, handsome, funny, deeply spiritual, and an amazing leader! No one had ever given me butterflies like he did and does! Thankfully, he was still smitten with me and we started dating the week we returned! 

We had our ups and downs throughout our relationship, and even a few breakups, as we discerned where God was calling us and whether or not that was together. But God worked through everything and on May 22 of last year, we began our journey together for the rest of our lives as husband and wife. Marriage has been very, very sweet. We chose to save sex and living together for marriage and it's just been indescribably beautiful to live out this sacrament the way God intended (but we're still very much two sinners trying to get to Heaven!). His plan is always so good, so joyful, and so rich with beauty and grace. 

Here's to 50 more years! ;)

Here's a picture someone took of us at the church picnic the day we met. We were playing a crazy game with the college students. (The photographer says she totally knew we'd get together someday.) 

Laughter -- one of the necessary ingredients for a good marriage!

Want to read the rest of the stories?

Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls  //  Becky at BYBMG
Jessica at Sweet Little Ones  //  Emily at Raising Barnes
Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me  //  Stasia at Our Life on a Budget
Sarah at Abiding In Grace  //  Ruthie at Rear. Release. Regroup.
Laura at Life Is Beautiful  //  Christina at Waltzing In Beauty
Michelle at Grammie Time  //  Tina at Go Big or Go Home
Whitney at Polka Dotty Place

Or link up your own below?

Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Currently // vol. 2

Linking up with Gold and Bloom and Anne in Residence to take a look at the little things in life currently...

Sending // Bills! It seems like they all come at once. Our property taxes were due and it's always painful to send that large check, but we're so thankful for our happy home and the money to pay our taxes on it. God always seems to provide and we continually pray that He be Lord of our finances.

Eating // Leftover oven-fried chicken. I thawed some drumsticks from the freezer, coated them with a delicious mix of Panko, flour, and spices and baked them in the oven in a stick of butter for some extra crispiness. We both enjoyed our 'Southern-style' meal, including my first attempt at homemade baked beans.

Dreaming // of Spring. We've had some unusually warm weather the past week or two, the snow has melted, and it feels like Spring is on its way! I know we have awhile to go but I can't help but dream of green grass and beautiful flowers and singing birds and sunshine. It's so gorgeous when the world awakens with new life.

Smelling // Everything. There's something about pregnancy that heightens your senses. This is both good and bad. One night I could have sworn there were onions on my pillow...

Hearting // The month of February. I always get so excited about it. I love Valentine's Day (even when I was single!). It's just so pretty with the pinks and reds and lace and roses-- and chocolate helps, too. ;) Then there's my birthday, too, which I tend to celebrate the whole month according to my husband, friends, and family. My birthday wishes? Card-making party with friends, organizing the basement with my husband, and a big fat German Chocolate cake.

What are you currently up to, dear friends?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Talk #18: DIY and Organization

I'm starting to feel better this week. Still tired. Still a little sick. But it comes and goes instead of constantly.

Sometimes I even get these spurts of energy where I feel like a racehorse just let out onto the track. And all of a sudden all I can see are cupboards that need organized, recipes that need made, and Pinterest projects to accomplish. *wink, wink*

Here are a few of the things I've been working on:

Homemade spice mixes. I love making tacos or fajitas for a quick meal but the recipes generally leave me two options-- throw in some spoonfuls of different spices on hand (tedious and not foolproof, lol) or toss in a packet of fajita seasoning from the store (which I don't buy because of the nasty ingredients like MSG or preservatives). So I searched on Pinterest and found these great DIY mixes! I'm excited to have them on hand for a weeknight meal-- and save money and our health.

Homemade cleaning products. My cleaning products (umm...and routine...what routine) need a desperate overhaul. Our supplies consist of my husband's harsh chemical products he brought from his apartment and my homemade cleaners from my apartment which are almost gone or the spray bottle no longer works (I hate that when you squeeze it and it won't go back to normal!). We also have a two-story home so my goal is to create two spaces (one up and one down) with all the homemade products we need for cleaning different surfaces. Here are the recipes I pinned.

What are your DIY projects or goals this month?

Want to join this week's link up? Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!

 Becky at BYBMG | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Michelle at Grammie Time | Pinterest | Instagram 

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.

Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop: