Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Monthly Recap vol. 39~ November 2016

This was a good month. I was able to continue with my reading goals for the Reading Challenge 2016 on goodreads. I feel good about it, and I'm excited about finishing my December books and getting ready for a new year of reading. It has been a lot of fun. It's like "Summer Reading" all year long.

44. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Well, this deserved all of the rave reviews it got and has gotten. I think Niequist has figured out how to cross over into bestseller territory and it's official: this book will appeal to anyone.  She has a clear, poignant message for our time. This book made me read out loud to Stephen, it made me cry, and it may have changed my life.   I still absolutely love her other books, but this will have a broader appeal, certainly, and there is nothing wrong with that. #5/5stars

45. Be Frank With Me
This quirky, hilarious novel was absolutely precious and a delight to read.  It's a page-turner, but it is refreshingly different from many books I've read this year.  It's about an eccentric kid, an appealing nanny with an adorable perspective on life, and a handsome man name Xander who changes her life. ;)  The second half of the novel was not as good as the first half, plot-wise, but it was still fantastically written and would have inched up to my top picks of the year if it weren't for this. 4/5 stars

46. Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber

If you're looking for a journey to Christianity through the eyes of intelligence, hope, and real faith, I think this book, although long, will go by quick for you. The references to famous places, and people, are deftly handled by an expert humility and deep passion for literature, Britain, and faith in the deepest sense. Read. 5/5 stars

47. Discernment by Henri Nouwen

This is an excellent journey of faith. It would be an absolutely perfect companion if you are trying to discern your vocation, God's will, and his voice speaking in your life. All handled adroitly by only the very best: Nouwen. Read. 5/5 stars

~Kids are Reading~

Molly is just like me- she always has about five books going at once. She is now becoming more like her Daddy, in that she keeps starting new ones and not finishing the ones she is in the middle of.  She doesn't have to finish books until her AR is due, as long as she does a certain amount of reading each day. I have to praise her and say that she is doing a wonderful job keeping up with her daily reading {time}  quota. (Just finish 'em, girl!) She *did* finish Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle this month. 

As for Frances... 

she is beyond prolific! She got a personal pan pizza for reading 20 books. Brag moment because I am a proud Mom-- the Mermaid Tales book was her first chapter book. She is just reading and reading. ;)


I thought this was funny... so many funny details. My favorite posts from Tiffany are always her stories!!! ;-)

I love this place: Austin, TX @ The Art of Simple
I hadn't read *anything* on this blog in years, but when this sprang up in my news feed on Twitter, I marked it as "to read." Finally read it this month, and guys, it may be one of Tsh's best in a long time! I learned so much about Austin. Having only road-tripped to Texas once (Dallas, Fort Worth area) I had a tiny idea of what it was like there, but this was sure illuminating~ ;-)

Did you know that Tolstoy,   and other authors, wrote children's stories? Learn all about it.

Donald Trump is Naked:@ A Knotted Life
An old-ish post but still relevant nevertheless and unfortunately ;)

16 Literary Puns Only Readers Will Understand @ Bustle {link credit: MMD fb page)
This is hilarious - if you are an English major, a reader, or simply a pun-lover (or pun-creator).


We've started watching The Crown and it *is* good. Prompted by the Sorta Awesome podcast.  My love for all things Brits and British royalty is rekindled, officially. Although watching the main character is like watching Kate Middleton with a boob job. #notnecessary #notgoodforyoursoul #leaveittoNetflixtosuckthesouloutofsomething Hmm... 
I love the community of the old Gilmore Girls, so I've watched it here and there in anticipation of the reunion (if you're living under a rock: the new episodes available on Netflix on Black Friday). No spoilers ahead, don't worry.;) Besides my favorites from the first season, my favorite episodes overall are with Rory's college boyfriend, Logan. I like the drama with Tall Dark and Handsome Marty! I also love where Luke and Lorelai are in their relationship (mid season 6) and Kirk just makes me laugh at that point. So. much. Suki is by far my favorite character.  Naturally I was excited about the resurrection on Netflix. 
Also we watched: The Nutcracker ....I prefer the Pacific Northwest Ballet version designed by Maurice Sendak.

Celebrating our 10th Anniversary on the River. My parents own this house on the river, and one thing I love about it is that it is completely screen-free. It is far enough out in the country that they don't get wi-fi, and they purposefully do not have a TV or computer there. #ADDfree
{{book picture: hers <-----his---->  }}

If you didn't hear, we are having another baby! Baby Beck #6 is due to show up around these parts around May 13th! :0)  It was a total shock, but we're really happy and excited. You can read the story of finding out here.  Stay tuned for a little gender roulette coming up on the blog. 

Also: If you read one post from my blog this past month, read: What's Coming: State of the Blog Address  ;-) In it, I talk about why I'm giving up instagram for Advent. I'm alllllll about Sabbath rest and I need the break from posting just as much (or more!) than I need a break from viewing. I'm looking forward to a peaceful season!

~Funny Things They Say~

Me: {Showing Anders the ultrasound picture} This is your little brother or little sister. We'll find out which one in about a month.
Anders: And I think we are going to find out in about five minutes.

Me: Frances, Mommy is going to have a baby! I have a baby in my tummy right now.
Frances: YAY!! Maybe it will be a boy! And then we can name him after a boy in my class!!!!
{She suggested Thomas, Atticus, and Ryder} #cryinglaughemoji

Molly: I called my teacher "Daddy." She didn't respond. Sometimes when I don't think, I just say, "Daddy!" lol

Me: Madeleine, Mommy has a baby in her tummy. What do you think about that?
Madeleine {listening} I can hear the baby breathing! {Feeling my tummy} And kicking!!!!
--cute--- (you can't quite feel the kicks this early, but her idea that she could hear it was pretty precious).


Still really enjoying Mipso. I've also discovered Mandolin Orange (think Alison Krauss meets First Aid Kid)- listen to "Hey Stranger." I'm also loving NONONO's song "Pumpin Blood" from the JF show. I was also reminded recently of that magical moment in Parenthood when Adam escapes the stress of life by sitting in his car listening to Ray Lamontagne, I think the song, "Are We Really Through," inspired me to listen to that again.

the difference between Obama and Trump ;-)

The difference between Hillary and Trump ;-)

this message brought to you by election failure ;-)

Just in case anyone is wondering about #;-)girl
Now I'm just glad it's actually Advent and I will see you on the flip side, guys! Chicas! All of you!
Linking up here and here

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Twenty-Some-Odd Quality Christmas and Advent Books to Own

Isn't overwhelming when trying to decide which books are worth owning when it comes to Christmas and Advent? How do you know what will be suited to your children's ages, and how can you be sure to have a conglomerate of age-appropriate material? I have been searching for only the best for my kids, and because of the library,  I'm keeping our collection down to a small, selected few. (Don't overdo it... because who wants to deal with taking care of that many books and things?!) I've tried to keep it from getting out of control in amount, and that collection is what I'm sharing with you here today.

Advent Books

This includes one "intro to Advent" and several books about the saints days that take place during the season of Advent.

The Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman

This is our kids' introduction to the Advent season. It is like an Advent calendar within a book. Exquisite is really the only word that can describe this meticulously drawn companion to Advent. Like an Advent calendar, each page contains a door, which opens to another gorgeous, hand-painted illustration, with a Bible verse describing the scene. My daughter Molly loves this book and says, "I can't believe my eyes!" whenever we pull it out each Advent season.
a peek inside The Advent Book

The Legend of St. Nicholas by Demi

One of the beautiful things about celebrating Advent as a Catholic family is that we get to celebrate the Feast Days in full force. We own this book about St. Nicholas, and combining illustrations with writing, I think it is one of the best on the market right now.

St. Francis and the Nativity by Myrna A. Strasser

This is a sweet story that teaches children about St. Francis. I believe it is a fictional story about St. Francis organizing a nativity scene for children in his city in Italy. The illustrations are incredible and middle elementary students will enjoy reading this picture book aloud.

Lucia Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde

I absolutely adore this book, and I think it is one of the best out there. We set it out on the kitchen table on her Feast Day, and we have a special breakfast in commemoration.  This book is such a wonderful way to introduce this saint to your children!

Books About Santa Claus

I love the legend and tradition of Santa Claus. I think it adds to the culture in our home around Christmastime. I love the wonder and the magic of hanging stockings and making cookies for Santa, and what this magic brings to children's hearts. Plus, I think the fact that Santa is inspired by St. Nicholas confirms that it is a wonderful tradition that should be passed down. ha.

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

This is a classic book and it is one worth owning.  It has been passed down through the generations in the Beck family, and I value this one so much! The illustrations are just gorgeous. Fun fact/ bit of trivia about this book for you: the old copies have Santa holding a pipe. In the newer versions, (we have the newer one) the pipe has been edited out! LOL

Richard Scarry's Best Christmas Book Ever

I have always adored Richard Scarry, and this book is no exception.  He has a quirky way of presenting everything from letters and numbers, to people and cities and even Christmas traditions in such a funny, thorough, and completely unique way. Highly recommended!

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This is a must-have. The classic poem with so many famous and familiar lines should be part of your regular Christmas reading! I remember my own imagination being sparked as a child by many of the lines in this poem. Be picky about which version - there are so many well-illustrated copies out there (Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite!;)  I found this copy on amazon, illustrated by Tasha Tudor (yep! highly recommended!).

Santa's Snow Cat by Sue Stainton

Imagine if a white cat rode along with Santa on his sleigh? This will capture the imagination of your Pre-Schooler or Kindergartener, and it has lovely illustrations.

The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear by Jan Berenstain

After reading and checking these books out from the library for almost nine years, I actually think the superior Berenstain Bears Book "out there" is The Berenstain Bear's Old Fashioned Christmas. Someday I think we will add it to our collection. For now, Santa Bear is a fun read-aloud for young and old- something I love about the Berenstain Bears. (And I admit I read these as a child growing up, so there is some nostalgia with these books as well!)

Books That Will Become Favorites (Too Good Not to Share/Buy, Some of My Favorites:0)

This is my list of our favorite Christmas books that we own. I think that when you get to the point where you read it enough times, it should be bought!  All of these fall into that category, in one way or another.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

I just love this book about a train ride to the North Pole. It gives me chills every single time I read it. I think the movie isn't half bad either. (It has made it into our yearly rotation of Christmas movies!)

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

This is an appealing story about a girl who provides the tree for her Church Christmas pageant, and dresses as an angel while her father is off at war.;) It is a sweet story, with adorable illustrations.

Frosty the Snowman by Walter Rollins

Babies love this sing-along picture book, and the older kids will join along. Toddlers can "read" it along with you as they sing. I think that alone is a good reason to own a copy of this one! I also *love* that Frosty has a "jolly, happy soul." Anders has latched onto that phrase even at 3 years old. He gets it!

Holly & Ivy  by Rumer Godden

I love this author, and the illustrations for this sweet story are phenomenal. This book is a bit longer for a picture book, but if you break it up into a couple of nights, it would be a good read aloud for Kindergarten and middle Elementary age students. I think it grows with the child, as there is always something new about the story or pictures that I notice, each time I read it.

The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet by Deborah Hautzig

You've got to have a good rendition of this book on the shelf.  This version has a concise telling of the story within the ballet. A great introduction for young elementary-aged students.

Also try: the version by E.T.A. Hoffman, with Maurice Sendak's illustrations, pictured above.

Christmas Carols, illustrated by Noel Tennyson

I love having an illustrated book of Christmas Carols. When you feel like singing, pull out a picture book like this! It will establish good traditions and good memories in your home!

Books That Tell The True Story of Christmas

The Christmas Story

This book is selections straight from scripture, combined with gorgeous paintings depicting the stories, taken from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met to NY natives). I highly recommend adding this to your collection.

The True Story of Christmas by Nell Navilius

This book is great for younger children, as it has recaps of the Bible stories in short, concise sentences on every page. The hand-drawn illustrations are lovely to boot.

Christmas ABC Book

This might be a good choice for toddlers, or people just learning their letters. ;)  I enjoy reading this to my little ones, because it concisely tells the true story and meaning of Christmas.

Lift the Flap Nativity by Allia Zobel Nolan

This book is perfect for babies - ask me how I know? Experience, the best teacher! ha. They are never too young to hear the true story and meaning behind all that we do at Christmastime!;)

The True Night Before Christmas by Timothy Penland

This is a fun book, as it is written by a grown-up, but illustrated by a child. Highly recommended for explaining the true story of Christmas with rhyming stanzas and cleverly, child-illustrated.

The Shepherd's  Christmas Story by Dandi Daley Mackall

This story is better for middle-grade readers. It's a little longer and it will hold their attention without being too simplistic, short, or boring.

What Child is This?

This would be a good choice for babies or toddlers, and all of my kids enjoy listening to this read-aloud.

Tomie DePaola Christmas

Joy to the World: Christmas Stories and Songs by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola has written over 200 picture books for children, so his Christmas books aren't the only thing he is famous for. However, his style, beautiful illustrations, and infusion of other cultures and Catholic traditions, I would assert makes him one of the best Children's authors of children's - and Christmas stories - living today.

This book is definitely one worth owning. Every time Stephen or I read one of his stories to our children, we debate back and forth over that being our favorite. Then we read another one again, and we think- no, that one is our favorite! They're all that good!

Pictured below, the contents of this book, a collection of stories and songs: (They all have a special place in my heart, but you've got to read The Night of Las Posadas- it will take your breath away).

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

As you can see, we have some overlap with our Christmas collection.  This is a sweet story, so having an individual copy ensures we read it more often. There's nothing wrong with that;)

Jingle the Christmas Clown by Tomie dePaola

Not included in the collection, I think this one is my favorite. LOL. Really though, I love how he infuses a bit of magic (or, ahem, miracles) into each story. This is no exception. The thought of a child dressing up himself and his animals to portray a Christmas circus for the elderly in an almost-abandoned town in Italy is simple and so sweet.

Just For Fun

Sometimes the holidays call for a slice of pumpkin pie, and these books fall into the dessert variety of books. They may get the boot if we replace them all with Jan Brett classics, but for now, they're fun to have on the shelf. ;)

I Spy~ Merry Christmas by Jean Marzollo

These are good for bigger kids, waiting ever-so-patiently for Christmas to arrive. I mean I know my kids just sit for hours looking at these. Ok, maybe not on Christmas Eve, but, you never know. LOL

The Christmas Blizzard by Helen Ketteman

I think I got this at a used bookstore, and it is a cute little story of a blizzard that comes right on Christmas in Seattle (where our cousins live!)

Little Critter's Christmas Book by Mercer Mayer

You may have strong feelings about the Little Critter books, but this one is definitely cute and I'm glad we own it. I enjoy reading it to our kids. The family celebrates the season as fully as possible.

The Animals's Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum

This is a cute, simplistic story and it was given to our kids by grandparents. I'm sure it was inexpensive and it's a cute read-aloud for littles.

Christmas Fun For Kids~ Stories, Crafts, Songs, and More by Jane Jerrard

This is exactly what it says! The illustrations are decent, but the crafts and recipes are definitely worth buying a book like this.

Ideals Christmas

Did you know they still make this? It is in its 72nd year!!!! Holy cow. My Mom always had these old magazines lying around at Christmas, and for older kids, these are so fun to flip through. I'm really not sure if you'd have to turn to eBay or an old used bookstore to find the vintage copies, but they're a lot of fun for generating that "Courier and Ives" feeling of a classic Christmas.

Can You See What I See~ Toyland Express by Walter Wick

This book is more than an I Spy book, as it also has riddles! ;)

Corduroy's Christmas Surprise by Don Freeman

Corduroy is a classic, and this Christmas rendition is a cute read aloud. It captivates the youngest children and would be an easy first-reader for Kindergarteners.

Merry Christmas- From Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

I was reluctant to get on the "Biscuit" bandwagon, but they are appealing to babies, I will give you that. I still remember thinking how silly I felt saying "Woof-Woof" on every page to Molly when she was just a baby, but I've read it to all of her younger siblings since, and all the babies love puppies and so they love this book!  Although I admit, it kinda makes me think of Kevin in Home Alone... "Buzz... your girlfriend... Woof!"

If you're interested, just search the titles on Amazon. I'm not sure all of them are available there since some of these books came from Used Bookstores. But! I know I'm leaving off some good ones. What are your favorite read-alouds at this time of year? Let me know in the comments.

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What's Coming ~ State of the Blog Address

I don't know about you, but I for one am just so glad the election is over. So much endless checking of articles in my newsfeed, even though I did take a whole weekend off from the 'net just after the election result came in. :0) ;-) #ADDfrommyTwitterfeed ---> In any case, I know we are all ready to start thinking about what's next: holidays, Advent, and Christmas!

For various reasons, I felt that now would be a good time for a little State of the Blog Address.  If you've been reading and following my blog, you may remember that I took several weeks off in October, and that I'm also expecting a baby come mid-May (so you can probably put two and two together now! ;) During that break, I had a lot of time to think about where I'm going with this blog, what my purposes here are, and all of that. Rather than ruminate in my head about it, I thought I would just go ahead and share with you, readers, where this blog is going in the near future. I'm really excited and proud of my past work from past years, on this blog, and what all of that has taught me, and how all of that is tying together. It's fun. :0)

~ Advent Week-by-Week

This is returning to the blog for the second (or is it third? I think it is third) year running.  It can be difficult to strategize for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Do you ever feel like the most you do to celebrate Advent is watch Christmas movies, bake cookies, and perhaps listen to a few Advent carols?  I felt that way at one point. It was frustrating, because I knew that Advent wasn't technically "Christmas season," and yet, I didn't know how to truly celebrate it without going to the American traditions passed down to me (and Stephen!) by our parents.

This year, I hope to guide you - my readers- week-by-week, as my family celebrates and observes Advent. Come here, and let's talk about what makes Advent different- and special- as opposed to celebrating Christmas all December long.  We'll define it, we'll remember our Catholic traditions for Advent, and yes we make cheat a tiny bit. We do put up our Christmas tree and sometimes we even  listen to a single Christmas carol. Or two. In Advent. (No!!! ;)

~ Advent Books

We have quite a collection of holiday-themed books. As I have searched on Pinterest, I've found there is a decided lack of posts dedicated to Quality Advent and Christmas books.  There are plenty that will tell you to read secular Christmas books or Christmas according to Pete the Cat, but I'll just go ahead and poo poo that right this minute to get it out of the way! ;) I hope to remedy that lack of great posts, with a post of my favorite read-clouds for Advent and Christmas. I'll share what we've collected, what we found worth buying, and why.

~ Meditation: Why Mary Was the Most Important Person at the Nativity (Next to Jesus)

Last year, I punctuated my Advent post series by doing a little "spiritual" meditation in each post. They ended up being short and somewhat simplistic, and so I've decided not to add those meditations to the posts this year. Instead, I hope to beef up the actual posts, telling you what we *actually* did for Advent, and I'll instead put all of my Advent reflections into one, more tightly written post. My faith is everything for me at this time of year. I think that's why I love Christmas so much, and why I've dedicated such a big part of my blog to Advent preparations. I've already decided on the theme for that post, and it will be about Mary, and her role as the most important person at the Nativity. Next to baby Jesus, of course. :0)  Yes. I'm getting Catholic on you here. ;)

~ My End-of-the-Year Recap of all the books I read this year, with awards!

As you know, I love to discuss all things books and reading here on this blog;) My tagline is Where Faith + Family Meets Books + Coffee, and I do indeed love to read and discuss books here! I can't describe to you how beneficial my reading habit has been for my soul these last couple of years. Since my conversion I have become a changed thinker, reader, and soul-searcher. This will be the post that articulates the what, why and how of all of those books. I will be commending the best books I read with some little awards here on the ol' blog. ha.

~ Advent Unplugged re: instagram

Finally, in addition to taking a break from the blog for Thanksgiving (+weekend), I will also be off Instagram for the month of December. I need to carve out some space during Advent, so that I can be present and focus on the season. My heart needs a rest from posting, and viewing! haha ;)

Thanks for reading! Do you have any articles that I should read concerning Advent (or the "war on Advent"?) Let me know in the comments, I am all ears.;)  Now- everybody go rest up and have a fantastic, wonderful, awesome, and AMAZING... THANKSGIVING! :0) ;)
Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, November 18, 2016

Pregnancy Recap in 7QT~ The Art and Science

Have you talked to someone (anyone) recently who has been pregnant six times? If not, then pull up a chair next to me, so we can talk about the art and science of being pregnant, (cough cough) again.


Suffering from fatigue, nausea, and just general weariness? Eat a banana and then eat another one. Yep, eat two in a row. Drink gallons of water. When you feel sick, do these two things plus drink juice and eat a bowl of cereal. Or two. Have raisins and prunes or other dried fruit on hand, for those times when you can't stomach a banana. If all else fails, sling back two heaping spoonfuls of applesauce and go to bed. Keep all of this in mind and it should help your morning sickness *and* your terrible attitude tremendously.


You will cry about anything and everything. Normal, kind people will appear rude and unworthy to grace your presence. You will have weird personal space attacks when someone sits too close to you or right in front of you in Mass. You will call your husband, crying. You will say, "I'm super hungry and tired and I don't feel like doing anything. I finished my book, what should I do now that I have a babysitter?" This is normal. You will end up going grocery shopping. And then you will eat three more bananas and a gallon of water.


You will look and feel bloated 99.9% of the time. Try not to think about self; think about how you're doing this for baby and it will all be worth it in the end. Even if you feel ugly. All the time. Even if the pants you really like, couldn't wait to pull out for winter, and didn't expect to wear while pregnant this season just. do. not. fit. I'm sure we all have something we could change about our bodies. When you're pregnant you just roll with. it. all. The end.


When you go the doctor, they will start scheduling your appointments like every other day. After having a midwife, this is culture shock. Take your pre-natals, get lots of sleep, take naps whenever you can squish them in.  If this baby is your sixth and you have had experience with endless doctor visits and midwives (and you know the difference), just try to put off that first appointment for a couple more weeks. If you feel healthy, accidentally schedule them an extra week apart. You will need the wiggle room. You know exactly what they're going to say every single time. A midwife will be super hands-off and laid back. The doctor will be the extreme opposite. Bear this in mind.

Disclaimer: this is *only* if you feel healthy and have no weird warning signs about your health or energy levels!!


You will let your kids have extra screen time. Like, let's-just-turn-on-another-one during your First Trimester. (I think I'll call it First Trim(e)?). You will nod off. You will sneak upstairs to your bed. You will feel extremely guilty about it!!! Because of all the things you have done, like art camp and tea parties and homemade dinners you will not care if people judge you for it!!! (Ok, ok a little bit- you'll get a babysitter for some of these moments!). Music and audiobooks for kids come in handy in the car, though. Now if only your kids would sit still for these things so that you can take a nap.  Nope. A movie afternoon it is... night night. Did I mention that we have been having forest fires in our area as a result of no rain? This means it is smoky outside and we have been told not to play outdoors because of poor air quality. And did I mention that in Tennessee, it is as dry as a bone?!


You will ponder pulling over to the side of the road to take a cat nap. Like when you're only driving the short amount of time between home and school. You'll think about putting your head on the steering wheel at each and every stoplight. This comes to a head after a doctor's appointment in which the nurse took (a lot of) your blood. This would have been manageable with two bananas and water, but your daughter can't find her leotard and you drive to the store to buy her a new one. You don't have your purse. In a stupor, you drive home and ransack the house for 20 minutes, unable to find leotard but you do have your purse. You drive back to the store, kids in tow, to buy her another leotard, this time with your purse. You think of how nice it would be to have a blanket and a pillow in the driver's seat with you in case you ever decide to pull over.

You seriously contemplate these lyrics (from this song) every single time you drive:

"Hearing your voice in the blue light,
calming people in the house,
traveling upstairs -
good to be there
now, right now

Oh, I'm near to sleeping, I'm keeping awake.
Oh, I'm near to sleeping, I'm keeping awake,

hearing your voice in the house, in the house,
hearing your voice in the house

Under those trees we will all be
sitting, blankets down.
It's tomorrow, yes it is.

My room is held in someone's arms,
my bed is held in someone's arms.
I am-I'm held now

In the house,
in the heart of paper vines,
Junie runs into her room
next to mine, Dancing.
And we are all in for the night.
Talking is coming,
is coming up over the stairs."
(-the innocence mission from the amazing album "Glow")


You will have super-power / super-Mom moments where you actually get so much done, you think pregnancy is the reason and inspiration for this "new you." You'll look around and think: I have no idea where that little burst of energy came from, but I will take it because I am a hero(!!!) And then the slump will come back-- reminding you that you are, indeed growing a little human inside you. This lasts until you start buying ten tons of fresh fruit and vegetables and ingesting them like there's no tomorrow. (This is called Second Trimester).  Early bedtimes are not above reproach, and let's admit once and for all that that's where the super powers are coming from!;-)


adding my link to Kelly!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Happy... {an announcement}

Sooooooonic... ok... you eat strange things when you're expecting...


Fair Warning!  If you don’t like vocabulary related to femininity, you can click away or just skip this one for now!;)

My anxiety was fairly high that night. I had just finished listening to an epic Jennifer Fulwiler show on podcast, where she helped Hallie Lord announce the start of her new radio show, and the release of her book, On the Other Side of Fear.

I had been really, really emotional the week before. Like: crying every single day for a week. Fighting and crying non-stop to Stephen. Calling friends I hadn't talked to in weeks sobbing, telling them to pray for me because I didn't know why I was so tired, why Stephen and I couldn't stop fighting, and why I couldn't get any housework done. (Go figure).

I had had pasta for dinner, but the thought of it started to bother me.  I was a little worried, because I was a little late in starting my scheduled period, but I kept having nausea and saying to myself, "False alarm."

I had gotten so much done that weekend. In two days, I had mopped, vacuumed the entire house, and done about fifteen loads of laundry- AND I put it away.  I thought I was exhausted, so when I couldn't fall asleep because of my "gas," I got up and ordered a copy of Hallie's book.

Then I went outside and threw up. Twice.

We had a plan. No babies for at least three years. No. babies.  Because I was so done with all that, right ("Haha," God laughed).

Then I paced the inside, going back and forth in my head until I knew that this nervous feeling wasn't the panic attacks that had become semi-regularly (Bi-monthly or so). This was something different and I was just hoping it was good different.

"Ok, I just threw up outside twice, " I said to myself. "If that doesn't say 'your typical, oh-so-typical, stereotypical Catholic mother of five children... " then I don't know what it does say.  I could just imagine our neighbors looking outside and saying, "I just looked out my window and saw her throw-up, twice... I wonder what that could mean...LOL..."

And with the dawning light exploding in my brain, I ran to the store praying, "Please let it be the pasta."  I bought Pedialyte and a pregnancy test, and drank the Pedialyte all the way home to combat my nausea. Then, within ten minutes I knew.

Yep, I'm pregnant.

This baby will be 21 months younger than Annabel. {Insert not enough of a break sigh here}. Two years apart in school.

I went up to our bedroom, pacing, trying to decide whether or not to wake Stephen. When I told him, he smiled. He sat up, or sort of rolled over, Smiled at me. "Maybe it's another boy," he said. I said, "I know. I'm just so scared. I'm in shock. This wasn't our plan."
He said, "We've done it five times before.... it will be ok."

 I tried to settle into bed, my relief of having shared the news settling and my anxiety dissipating. It felt like a nervous weight had definitely been lifted... even though Stephen and I were the only ones in the world who knew (and who would know for quite a while). His reassurance, that "We've done this before- in fact, five times before," was so reassuring. When you are open to life, miracles await you around every corner. Every single dang corner.

As I was drifting off to sleep, he nudged me and said, "Now I can't sleep."  At that, I got up, went to the bathroom, and threw up two more times.

The next morning, I felt totally fine.  And as the verse says, "Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning." All the night before, I just kept thinking about how sick I felt and how awful this was. I was worried about another human to care for. But mostly just worried about the gestating part where I get uncomfortable and large. lol I was feeling very, very, very sorry for myself. I kept repeating, "I can't do this for nine months."

But in the morning, I calculated and realized I had already done 6 weeks of pregnancy. (I am now 15 weeks.) How did I do that? I wondered. I thought about Stephen smiling in bed next to me. Smiling and smiling. We both couldn't stop smiling.  I thought about a sixth baby. A baby. Sweetness.

I felt this sudden rush and this was my thought: who cares how many there are? (Yes, that's what I thought, even though you are now probably picturing flies on their noses). God will provide if we need more space, a new car. God will provide and gosh,  it's a baby. A sweet, precious baby. I think when we had just one baby, and we weren't Catholic, we used to say, "What if we didn't believe in birth control?..."   How out- of- control our lives would be!" And now, I think, "What if we *did* believe in birth control?" Most of our little one and this baby wouldn't be here at all. Our yes to God confirms that no baby is an accident.

Every child is a gift, created intentionally by God, at the perfect time. Yes, we believe that. Yes, it can be hard, but yes to this. Yes to this.

Whatever will be will be... we're blessed and God provides and the rest is horse cr*p.



My peace I leave you, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

And so the middle of May... probably the 13th. I'm now almost 15 weeks and in my Second Trimester. Yay! We're pregnant. (again) Time to celebrate by drinking my thousandth La Croix this week. ;)

...and happy thanksgiving. ;-)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, November 11, 2016

The husband behind the blog


I don't talk much about Stephen, but I decided that since he has taken a decidedly quiet place on the blog, I should write up a little post about him. It's just in time for our 10th wedding anniversary, so look how put together I am! ha ;)

Here are a few things you should know about Stephen, the man behind the blog:

- He's as smart as a whip. Stephen decided that studying computer science in college was just too easy. All that higher math and he was ready for something more challenging. Ha. So he decided to get his Masters in Liberal Arts at St. Johns, then go on to get *ANOTHER* Masters in Greek and Latin at CUA in D.C.

- He loves to read and has about a million books and things (articles, mostly) on his Kindle at all times. He reads all of the stuff I find tremendously boring. History, war stuff, math stuff, programming stuff, Greek,  and Latin, also a few genres we can agree on: Catholic books, Churchy books, and the occasional biography.

-He now works in computers, doing programming for a large company in San Francisco- remotely. He is such a hard worker. His skill set is diverse, and his work ethic is over the top. He has earned a wonderful income for our family. He also teaches Latin to priests online! #coolfunfacts

- He's a really good Dad. He loves talking to our kids, making them laugh, and laughing along with them. He is always telling me the funny things our kids say.  He teaches them how to talk. Not joking on that one at all. He helps them with homework and keeps them steady with routines and high standards. How lucky am I that I get to raise my kids with this guy?!

- He is a good photographer. If his instagram account says anything, it says, "Perfectionist." He loves taking pictures of our kids, and whenever I'm out and about and he's home with the kids, he texts me the cute pictures of them.

- He's an awesome husband. I couldn't begin to explain how amazing Stephen is. I've learned *so* much from him. I love talking to him; he has always been easy to talk to and learn from. He has great taste in music, and he is obviously really perceptive and smart. Trust is a huge thing and I know I have that in him because of prayer, God's grace, his strong faith, and our standards for ourselves and our family.*

one more bonus take-->If we ever have struggles in the future, I think mutual faith and mutual trust will give us grace. We see marriage as a journey, and in the midst of the bumps, most of the time I feel like I'm the luckier one of the two of us. We are both of us imperfect, because life is a challenge and a battle - always- against the powers and authorities of the spiritual world. But, having a mutual Catholic faith and reliance on the hope of the gospel, is the main thing we feel strongest about- and it is our greatest unifying factor. ;) That, and of course, prayer. Marriage is a refining process, and having children has made us both grow in unfathomable, immense ways.

*I think the best example of this is that when we were dating, he told me that he was teaching a class at his Church on St. Augustine and to me, that said, "Husband." That fun fact about him proved to be true about him over the long run: he cares about faith, theology, and seeking out wisdom. Little did I know we would convert to the faith of St. Augustine shortly thereafter. ;) 

-He likes Trump. Ok... not everyone is perfect!!!! haha ;) Disclaimer: he actually voted Third Party :-0 But we had a shake-down about the election a time or two in this house! I am just like everyone else.... so glad it is finally over with. I voted Democrat this year. And it's true- she *does* have better  hair! ;)


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Delicious Recipe~ Irish Nachos

photo via handmade & craft

You guys! This is so good! I found the recipe for Irish Nachos on Pinterest, and I tried making it a while back. It was a big hit, and judging by the fact that this is also gluten free (last time I checked potatoes were gluten-free, aren't they????;) and it has healthy, protein-rich toppings, I have since served it several ways to my kids! Our local restaurant, Sticky Fingers, has a recipe very similar to this. They call it "Sticky Skins," and it is in their appetizers. 
These girls *love* Irish Nachos!  haha.

This dish is basically Irish Nachos with Pulled Pork: It is Southern, it is Irish, it is awesome. Now, doesn't that sound good?!  
My kids love it. They usually gobble it down, and ask for seconds, always with lots of cheese.

Here is the first way. 

Make Baked potatoes. 
-Wash the skin and rub with olive oil and salt. 
-Wrap in tin foil (opt). 
-Bake in a 400º oven for 40 min-1 hr.

Cut potatoes into fourths, and scoop out some of the potato, leaving the "skins." (you could use extra potato for mashed potatoes or another dish, such as potato pancakes. Or you could serve it with butter on the side!).  Add your toppings to the potato skins- and enjoy!


Directions for Irish Nachos (Sticky Skins-- almost!;)
-Thinly slice your potatoes, slightly thicker than potato chips, but round
-Preheat oven to 450
º F.

-In a large bowl combine potato discs, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir until coated.
-Place potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet. (for several potatoes, you will have more than one cookie sheet)

-Bake in your fully preheated oven for 20 minutes
-Place cooked potatoes in a large oven safe skillet. Top with cheese and bacon -- or pulled pork (can use leftover pork shoulder, with a small amount of BBQ sauce, from the slow cooker). ...
-Sprinkle with green onions/chives.

-Serve with a dollop of yogurt*
This is my less-than-stellar photography, hence the borrow up above...

You could also add ham, but sometimes I get sick of ham ;-)

Delicious!  BUT_-- Seriously guys, try this! ;-)
* I have been using plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt, rather than sour cream, and I honestly can't tell the difference!!! In taste;)

If you're still hungry after this, you can have a BBQ sandwich with green beans and a sweet potato, french fries, or a biscuit, a la Sticky Fingers. But I honestly, I bet you won't be. lol  Lately, I've been baking a few potatoes while I cook up the sliced potatoes. That way I can eat on the leftovers for lunch for several days. Frugal to boot. ;)

Find this and other recipes (I'm currently obsessed with winter squash) at my food blog, Tacy's Recipes

Also: if you are looking for clear recipe tutorials, I highly recommend Nikki Dinki. Her youtube channel is excellent. Start with the video on creme brûlée and how to torch creme brûlée.

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, November 4, 2016

Goings On... First Week of November in 7QT

1. I took Madeleine to a field trip at the Pumpkin Patch this year, with her Pre-K class. It was a lot of fun, and Guthrie's farm had anything and everything a kid would want to do!

First, we went on a hayride to a pumpkin patch. I know by now you've seen dozens of pictures of pumpkin patches, but isn't this one so ideal?

She was able to "pick" her own pumpkin! I love seeing my individual kids in action. Being a chaperone was a very good way to see how she's doing at school with her friends! ;)
Speaking of friends, I got to meet all of her good friends, which was so fun. This sweet girl cracked us up all through lunch.  Kids are hysterical. This particular kiddo is off the charts. (And that's saying something, because Madeleine is one of the funniest kids/people that I know).

donkeys *and* horses!

They had a bunch of animals, which is always fun for littles. Madeleine just lit up.

After that, I watched her ride the big tricycles. All in all, a very fun day.

2. I love to shop the Dollar Store at this time of year.
I got all of the supplies for a little Pumpkin Carving party in preparation for Halloween.
We always do our Halloween decorating and our first candy-snacking when we carve pumpkins. Generally this happens the weekend before the holiday.

The kids had a blast... ooh, scary! ;)

3. Halloween

This year, we went all out for Halloween.

By some miracle, they sat oldest to youngest. And they were: a Greek Goddess (Athena), Belle, Ariel, Batman, and Yoda baby. I can't believe Annabel's face! That was all her.
And I'm a big fan of these smiles! ;) 

When Molly was a toddler, she saw a picture of Yoda and said, "Mommy...that's a bad pig."
They've only seen Star Wars movies once - I think they've seen each movie once- but that line goes down as a classic in our family. So to have a Baby Yoda was necessary, we felt. lol

My kids always have so, so much fun dressing up.
see what I mean? #laughcry

They weren't standing for the picture up above, so you couldn't really see Madeleine's mermaid costume. She also had stars on her face courtesy of Dollar Store face paint. Madeleine's commentary: "Ariel's father is worried - he says not to go to the shore. He's scared of humans! And her Mom died."
~leave it to Madeleine to always focus on the positives~

We had a day about a week and a half prior to Halloween where they wanted to pretend it was Halloween. I guess you could call it a practice run to make sure we had everything we needed. Obviously, we didn't, so it was a good thing we did a practice run. Prepared. always. be.

4. 31 days Recap ~ I had a fun 31 days of drinks this year!  Everyday in October, I document whatever I am drinking- a drink per day.  ;)  It was a lot of fun, and even more fun than last year.  Just check the hashtag #31daysofdrinks and you'll see all of my posts from this year *and* last year. How fun is that? Thanks, instagram for making social media cool and all of that jazz. ;)

5. I wanted to do something liturgically-minded for All Saints Day (the first of November) this year, so I used most of the same party supplies and decor from our Pumpkin Carving to have an All Saints Day tea party. I got the idea from Catholic Icing, which you can see here.  Here's what we actually did! ;) We had the tea with little snacks*, then we watched this short video on St. Kateri Tekakwitha, and they did coloring pages. We talked about some of our favorite saints and I got the kids a new St. Therese Shining Light Doll.

*Snacks: Green soda and Irish tea for St. Patrick, Goldfish for St. Andrew the fisherman, Christmas cupcakes for St. Nicholas, and Flower cupcakes for St. Therese. They played a saints guessing game, colored, watched a short film, and enjoyed the snacks and drinks.
It was a lot of fun!
On the left, a dress for sale at Walmart in Molly's size~ for $6.44! In person, it looks a little worn.
On the right, a dress for Winter/Advent on sale at BabyGap... still haven't made up my mind, but the sale price is pretty good and I can tell that dress would last a long time. (wink wink double wink)

6. On Wednesday, I participated in #OneDayHH for the very first time. I posted pictures of our daily routine throughout the day.  I tried to keep it "typical life" since we are very motivated by routine around here! check out the hashtag #OneDayHHor just simply #OneDayme to see just my posts.

7. Now that Halloween posts are in full swing, all I can thin is that I can't believe we only have a few weeks until Advent. I do love Advent, but I always feel so busy at this time of year. I will duck my head down and brace myself, because there's nothing else you can really do except say. "Here... we... go!" haha.
for more goings on, check out my Monthly Recap from October.
Linking up with Kelly