Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Quick Takes

1. Hallelujah, we have internet again! Okay, so we were only without for a couple days...but it's nice to have it again! ;) We've had the same internet company for two years and twice they have tried to increase our rate but somehow we have continued to get the same promotion. This year, however, no go. They weren't having any of our sweet talk. So we cancelled! Ain't nobody got time for paying double the amount. At least not us. My neighbor had told me about a different company that was almost HALF the price of what we were currently paying! Yay! I switched but obviously everyone else did too because it's going to be two weeks until they can install it...but our generous neighbors are letting us use their Wifi until then. I just love our sweet Mayberry town and neighbors.

2. Speaking of neighbors, a random neighbor invited our whole neighborhood to her Pampered Chef party this weekend. I think I'm actually going to go! I don't think I really need anything for our kitchen, but I've always enjoyed Pampered Chef parties, and it might be fun to meet some new ladies from the neighborhood! Despite sometimes being pricey, there are a few PC thing that I LOVE-- like my glass mixing bowl or my potato peeler. What kitchen products do you like, Pampered Chef or otherwise?

3. And while we're talking about the kitchen...I am CRAVING homemade salsa. And not just any recipe, but my favorite recipe I make every fall. It's from my friend's mom and we've been making it for probably twenty years now!!! It is SO good and I've never tasted anything like it. Today I mixed up the spices and tomorrow I'll head to the farm market to get some peppers and tomatoes. Mmmm...I can't wait. I think I'll eat a bowl of it for each meal, ha!

4. On the cravings note, I'm really starting to feel all the preggo symptoms. Which is interesting with a toddler around. Thankfully, both her pregnancy and this one it's relatively mild, just uncomfortable. Like nausea, short of breath, and fatigue uncomfortable. But it's manageable. Most of the time. And when it's not, I just lie on the floor and let her crawl on me, haha!

5. Tonight we're headed to a surprise birthday party at good ol' Chuck E. Cheese! Despite what you may think, it's actually a party for an adult! ;) They disguised it by telling him it's a birthday party for a two-year-old, but little does he know when he arrives that we've all gathered there for his 30th birthday!! I haven't been there in years, but it sounds fun to see friends, play games, and have some (likely cheese-less?) pizza. :)

6. My husband is hitting one of the busy seasons of his job. The fall holds 40 Days for Life Campaign and Respect Life Month so he generally has lots of events and talks scheduled. In addition this year, he's has masterminded and organized and led a core team to host a diocese-wide conference on the problem of pornography. Matt Fradd is coming to speak and I really think it's going to be a powerful conference. We've already felt some of the spiritual warfare surrounding it all, and I know God will use this to free many people from such bondage. So proud of my hubs, but please pray for him and all the team and all those who will attend.

7. And finally, some baby photo dumping. Here are the latest shenanigans in our daily life:

We cook together.

We do laundry together.

We, um, dry dishes together?

And then we chill out together. ;) That smile, though.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Work of Creating a Home

There's no place like home. A safe, comfy, beautiful haven where we can let our guards down, relax, and enjoy ourselves. Where we can make memories with loved ones. Where we can be refreshed before going back out into the crazy and chaotic world.

But now that I stay at home full time with a baby-turning-toddler, I'm realizing how much work it takes to keep our home a haven! Oddly enough, it seems that the more often I'm home, the harder it is to keep it clean, warm, loving, and welcoming!

This past weekend was one of those where I was shamefully nitpicky to my poor husband. To be honest, weekends at home can be challenging for me these days. I've spent a long week of making and cleaning up messes and taking care of G, but my husband has spent a long week of working hard as director for his ministries. We're both exhausted but there are still meals to be made, messes to be cleaned, and a mini energizer bunny to keep up with. There's a tension inside me know both he and I desire a break, so who deserves it more?? (I know, I know. I'm not proud of these feelings, just keeping it real!). If I see him lying on the couch, I feel resentment building up inside, thinking he should be helping me do all the work around the house (and don't get me wrong, he often does help!).

Yet one day as I was driving alone in the car, I was reflecting on the situation and a totally different perspective settled in. Yes, it's a lot of work to create a home, but it's also a blessing to have that as a job! Like any job, there are exhausting moments, discouragement, frustration, and such. But what a satisfying feeling to know that because of your efforts, other feel comforted, welcomed, and restful. When my husband is lying on the couch, it's not that he's being lazy. It's that my efforts to create our home have given him a safe space to rejuvenate after his long days working hard in ministry. What a gift that I can provide that for him! It's so funny how just a change in perspective can change your whole attitude. Seeing things this way helps me to see my work as a gift, a privilege, even *gasp* a joy. It's rewarding to know that even the most mundane work that I do (dishes, laundry, meals) is sustaining a life-giving place for my loved ones to flourish.  While my husband will continue to help me around the house (grateful!) and while self-care and my needs are certainly an important balance to have with homemaking, I'm finding a renewed energy in my role. Instead of seeing the endless and monotonous, I'm seeing purpose and art.

Whether we're single, married, or mothers...whether we live in an apartment or house...whether we have lots of money or very little...I believe all women have the gift of an innate ability to create a home with beauty, comfort, and security. What are your favorite ways to create 'home' in your space?

Saturday, August 19, 2017


Little Miss G has a new role coming next spring. As you can see, she is still adjusting to the idea, but my husband and I are thrilled! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

This and That on a Monday

-I took a walk a few nights ago with the dog after the baby was in bed. Normally I'm ready to crash on the couch and read or watch something, but I'm so glad I made the choice to get out-- I forgot how much I LOVE summer nights!! It's so still and quiet except for a few neighbor kids playing. The sky is huge and the stars and clouds make one so reflective. It was a great night to think and pray and reminisce. I remember so many summer nights when I was single. I loved to dream and think and pray while watching the night sky, sometimes alone or sometimes with a friend or two. And here I am, married and with a baby. It's crazy how life feel like it's going slow and then all of a sudden you look back and wonder where ten years went.

-We got a bike seat installed for Little G and we took it for a spin for the first time. So fun to be on bikes again! G wasn't quite sure what to think but she had some smiles so I'm going to say she cautiously liked it.

-Our weekend turned a little sour because G had a cold and P had a stomach bug. Sadly, we missed a family reunion because of the sickness, but I have a feeling a weekend at home after all our traveling with be good for us health-wise anyway.

-As much as I love summer, I do love the structure and routine of fall. I'm looking forward to my book club starting back up as well as a couple other events that I might try to make more part of our schedule in the fall. And then of course there are the apple orchards and pumpkin patches (all the heart eyes!!!)! Look for a fall bucket list post soon. ;)

-Our local Aldi is closed for six weeks! How will I survive?? haha. Are you an Aldi fan? I'll manage with Kroger in the meantime (and I have to admit it will be nice to not have to bag my groceries while feeding the babe puffs) but I can't wait until the remodeling is finished and I can go back to my favorite grocery.

How was your weekend? What's new with you?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Book Reviews

I was first introduced to Jane Austen when I was in junior high and I was hooked. Since that's been over fifteen years, I've not only read all of her novels, seen most of the movie adaptations, but have also enjoyed spinoffs and Jane Austen themed books and movies as well. Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge is a modern take on Sense and Sensibility. It followed SandS very well, where it was easy (and fun!) to see who was who and what plot twists mimicked the original, but it was also unique and had its own enjoyable and original plot. Most of the time I read with a happy, amused pace but occasionally I have to admit I would get a little bored or it would feel somewhat predictable or even silly at times. I definitely appreciated the Captain in this modern version much more than the Colonel in the movie! Overall, it was a pleasant fiction book and I'd recommend it, but don't expect it to be a page turner. :) 3.9 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for my review copy at no cost. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]

This is a lovely, gift-type hardcover book with reflections on motherhood from not only Nichole Nordeman but also several other well-known women. There are beautiful real-life pictures on each page, great writing, reflection points in each chapter, and space for journaling. This would make a fabulous baby shower gift. I haven't read all of the book, but I've been impressed by the authenticity of the writing. It's neither a fake, fluffy depiction of only the sweet parts of motherhood but neither is it about fighting through the dreadful trenches of motherhood. It's a great mix of the reality of the beautiful and the reality of the hard. I've already been brought to tears a few times, and definitely nodded my head several. I used to listen to Nichole Nordeman years ago in her first gig as a Christian music artist. I didn't realize she had gone through some rough times, including a divorce. It made me really sad to read her book knowing that she was a single mom. I don't mean that in a judgmental way, but more in a way that my heart just saddens anytime I hear about motherhood after a broken marriage and how tough that would be. Despite that sad reality, Nichole seems to treasure her children and motherhood and writes in such a beautifully real and relatable way. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my review copy at no cost. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I Am Devotional: A Book Review

Ever since I read Sara Hagerty's book Every Bitter Thing is Sweet and learned about her daily "adoration" prompts using the names of God, I've been so intrigued by the different names of God and I'm amazed at how beautiful they are and how they draw me closer to Him. So when I saw a children's devotional based on the names of God, I was all about it. I Am Devotional is written by Diane Stortz and includes 100 devotions about the names of God.

It's like any relationship-- the more facets of a person you learn, the closer to you are them from seeing the many sides and attributes they have. When my daughter learns about God as "Jehovah Jireh" (the God Who Provides), she will know she can trust Him to provide for her needs. Or when she remembers He is "Jehovah Rapha" (the God Who Heals), she can rest in His arms and wait for His healing touch on any of her wounds.

The format of the devotional includes 100 unique names of God and accompanying discussion/Biblical stories about each one. At the end there are discussion questions and ways to apply this new concept to your life. It's deep in a beautiful way, but also practical for young ones. I would say it is definitely more for school-age children than littles. It is a gorgeous hardcover with colored pictures on each page and a purple ribbon bookmark. I'm very delighted with this book!

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

Seven Quick Takes

1. Our little girl turned ONE! I was both nervous and excited about her party because simply inviting our parents and siblings brings the total to 35+ people! Add in a few neighbors and friends (and an extra dog) and I was anticipating some crazy wonderful chaos! It actually all went beautifully. My husband's mom came a few days early and helped me get some things ready. My brother-in-law came with his 2 and 4 year old girls a day early and despite three little girls getting toys ALL over, it was so adorable to see G interact with her cousins. The day itself was so joyful and I (amazingly) didn't feel stressed at all! I think I let go of a lot of my expectations for the day and was able to just enjoy all our family being together in one place (they live all over the state). I feel so blessed with my family and my in-laws as well. They're all truly such great people, and were so kind to travel to celebrate with us.

2. We are continuing to watch Poldark and have started season two. You guys. It's painful. I'm too hooked now to quit but the stuff that happens is killing me. I'm probably going to have to cut these quick takes short to join my hubby for our Friday night episode.

3. I'm a little less burnt out with summer cooking but I'm still not on my game. It's been challenging with G starting finger foods because she is quite the picky eater and I spend most of my time figuring out what to feed her and then cleaning up after her (because her favorites are anything with peanut butter and spaghetti sauce, haha!). She does look super cute when she eats, though, especially with a fork. My latest/greatest meals are nothing to brag about or share, but we did grill out tonight and that was fun because we grilled PIZZA!! Bucket list check! I've always wanted to do that!

4. I'm reading a nice little stack of books these days and a few of them might be coming up in reviews soon. My spiritual book: Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly. My homemaking book: The Lifegiving Home by Sally Clarkson. Another spiritual book: Unseen by Sara Hagerty (excited to be on the launch team for this one!!). And fiction book: Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge. Reading always refreshes me so much, and these books have all been stellar so far.

5. I used some extra money I earned from teaching CPR to treat myself to two new goodies (rarely buy myself anything these days!). The first is a FIAT shirt was @brickhouseinthecity etsy shop. It's so comfy, so cute, and reminds me to give my 'fiat' or say 'yes' to each day, whatever it may bring, as Mary did. I also bought a rosary bracelet from Chews Life company that has essential oil diffuser beads for the 'Our Father' beads. It's gorgeous, smells lovely, and helps me pray more often. Need I say more? :)

6. I went to the Farmer's Market this week for the first time in awhile. Nothing makes me happier than fresh, local produce in my kitchen. We've enjoyed swiss chard, green peppers, Peruvian new potatoes, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and peaches these last few days! Yum!

7. Here are some pics of G's party to finish it off, since it's time for Poldark. Dah dah dum...

Note: these are NOT pinterest worthy, but we sure had fun!! Ironically, my sweet dairy-free baby had an ice cream themed party! ;) I had hoped we'd be able to eat ice cream by this time, but as St. Gianna would say, "Whatever God wants!" ;) Have a great weekend, friends!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Ordinary

It was a typical morning. My hair was messed up. I was overtired, chugging the coffee while I tried to read a devotional or pray a morning offering. The baby crawled around, interrupting me every two minutes but smiling so darn cute. I started thinking about all I needed to do for the day, most of it trivial yet necessary (meals, laundry, cleaning, etc.), and I could feel a negative attitude coming on.

And then a quote changed the course of my morning.

I'm reading Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly. There's nothing particular new about each chapter, yet all of them are life-changing. It's the simple things I don't do but should. The truths that are so important yet I forget.

Like this one:

"God loves ordinary things. The world is always trying to seduce us with the extraordinary. The culture fills our hearts and minds with spectacular dreams about hitting home runs, but life is about getting up every day and hitting a single."

If your life is feeling mundane and ordinary today, embrace it. God does. Let's focus on faithfully hitting a single today.