Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What I've Learned By Giving Up Shopping (for Lent)

What do you DO?
Three Questions

but back to the series...

"Three things are necessary for man's salvation," said Thomas Aquinas, "to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do."

In this three part series, during Lent, I am going to take apart this quote from Aquinas. In this quote, he begs the question.... actually three questions.

What do you believe?

What do you desire?

What do you do?

These are the three essential questions for faith and for salvation.  Aquinas said it: it must be true!  :0)

This year during the season of Lent, this will be the focus of my conversations. 

Today, I'm discussing what we do.

How's the 'no shopping' going for Lent?

Well, it's interesting. It is really opening my eyes!  The first few days, I just went about my normal routine, and I was surprised at how my consistent shopping this year has rescued me from the temptation to go to random stores throughout the week! :)  I changed my routine, so that instead of going to run errands Monday and Tuesday, I now go to Aldi on Sundays so that I don't have to go shopping or run any kind of errands during the week.  Without my rules in place (consistency is the backbone of life!!!), I think this would have been a disaster.

I was also able to have a day out with Frances on Sunday.  That way I could focus on her and her needs without the temptation to buy a whole lot for myself (I did get a stampad, a gluestick, and rubber cement for my craft collection on Sunday)!  That was a definite win and a resurrection moment for me-- taking my eyes off myself because my myopic lifestyle was damaging my relationship with my kids.

Am I saving money? Well.... not really. Yet.!  I am saving my going to Aldi. The thing is, I was going over-budget before, meaning Stephen wasn't really saving either.  Now I think he is saving, but I'm sticking to budget.  It is really frustrating and humbling to be in this position. But have you ever had to feed and raise 6 kids?!?!   They eat SO MUCH food and they are little consumers themselves. ACK!!!  The sad thing is we're going to be in a little bit of debt when we do our renovations. I would so much rather save a huge chunk in advance, but we'll have a loan to pay off when this is said and done. I suppose the upside is that we have NO other debt... no student loans, no credit card debt to pay off.... ETC!  SO I feel good, all told.

What am I learning by giving up shopping for Lent?

I am definitely learning how selfish I am.  I didn't realize how much I think about what we "need," constantly.  I have had to lay down my wants and focus more on my needs.

I have also learned that shopping is hard to avoid. I can't even read some blogposts or check the weather without feeling like I'm shopping on Amazon.  Avoiding all online shopping has been difficult!  Honestly, though I have gotten out of the habit of shopping on Amazon and almost completely online shopping, because we have had to be super thrifty especially recently!

How does 'no shopping' affect relationships?

This is HUGE.  There is more trust and even affection between me and Stephen. There is an arrow pointing from within our hearts and straight to God (I won't disclose what he gave up for Lent, but it has been a period of growth for both of us, FOR SURE).  We have that love for God in common, and in turn he leads us in paths of righteousness and excitement for his namesake.  #hyper

My kids of course notice that I'm not spending a bunch of money, and they respect me for that. Especially the older two. They notice everything we do, guys.

My relationship with myself is better, too. I have more self-respect because I don't have to question where the money is going.  During Lent, it goes for groceries and gas.  So far, that's about it.  Plus providing for my kids' needs.  I am able to do my job as wife and mother with more grace, and just that alone is worth the sacrifice for me in the end. (!!!)  :)


I know some people give up something different everyday of Lent.  Or one day a week.  Or just Fish Fridays. I challenge you to challenge yourself. It is tough, but worth it.
cross-posting at the ACWB

Friday, February 16, 2018

Three Things Are Necessary: A Series on Lent (Pt. 2 ~ Desire)


A Huge Oopsie

The other day, after picking my oldest up from her volleyball practice (she joined the team last week and will begin competing in games in the near future),  I let the kids play in water outside because despite being February, we had the rare 70 degree day.  They were squirting the hose, and playing and laughing.  I put Conrad down for his nap, checked my iPhone, then went outside, to find no one in the backyard.  I called for Annabel (the toddler) but she was nowhere to be found.

I looked in the front yard first, then ran upstairs and asked Molly and Frances where Annabel (and Anders and Madeleine) were.

Within 5 minutes, I had found them *you turn your back for one minute, guys*.... they were playing "Let's go to the swimming pool" and Madeleine - the ring leader- had brought them to the car. The three of them had gotten cold from the hose so they were trying to warm up by sitting in the car.

They all got in HUGE trouble.  But because it has been cold and we've mostly not been in the yard, they needed to learn the NEVER play in the car rule. It is not a place to play. ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I've had some bad past experiences with this and it is a huuuuuuge trigger for me.

They all had to change after that and I was shaking.

Cue all the anger and anxiety, guys!!!

Have you ever done anything like that?

Three Questions

but back to the series...

"Three things are necessary for man's salvation," said Thomas Aquinas, "to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do."

In this three part series, during Lent, I am going to take apart this quote from Aquinas. In this quote, he begs the question.... actually three questions.

What do you believe?

What do you desire?

What do you do?

These are the three essential questions for faith and for salvation.  Aquinas said it: it must be true!  :0)

This year during the season of Lent, this will be the focus of my conversations. 

Today, I'm discussing what we desire.

The Creamer Girl, Revisited

Last time, in part one of the series, I discussed the example of the 'creamer girl.'  She said in a blog post that she wrote about Lent that she wanted to give up creamer in her coffee for Lent.  What she, in fact did, was give up creamer on Wednesdays.


First of all, why?  

Well, to put it plainly, it is more serious than that.  Like finding your kids playing in the car (even if it isn't hot outside), God sees us messing around and it concerns him deeply.  Jesus is with us but he also says, "If you deny me, I will deny you."

If you say you're giving something up, it is - personally I believe- somewhat dishonest. You aren't taking it seriously.

What if you said, "I tithe to my parish!"  but when pressed, you admitted that you only tithed 10% of December once a year.  

Does that count as tithing?  Um, no.

Same goes for giving something up for Lent. If you give something up, REALLY give it up. If you don't, there is no way to know the joy of Easter (or mini-Easters).

I've had mini-lents in the past .... once I tried giving up caffeine and I actually did it (way back in college) but I tried again in my mid-thirties and failed miserably.  Mini-lents are weak sauce and I'm sorry ... they don't count in my book because like tithing, God only gets part of our heart. The rest is balderdash.

What do you desire?

There are honestly SO many things that I desire.  I want to travel, I want to be a *real* writer, I want to homeschool my kids for a year, I want to go to the moon on Elon Musk's car-- or maybe on his dime??? :)

I want so much. What do you want? Do you want to be an artist? Do you want to live on a farm? Do you want to homeschool your kids? Travel?  Become a maker on Etsy?  Make $150,000 a year?


Is the cry and the desire of your heart something you feel when you start dreaming, but you can't even put it into words?

We all have a romantic urge within us. It's *that thing* that makes us wistful, dreamy, and come alive.  It's a deep feeling of joy and desire. It is important to dream. It is also important to dream with the people we love. Dream with your spouse, out loud, together. If you are unmarried, dream with your friends and superiors.

Dreaming gets to the root of what is the cry of the heart and soul... and it often has to do with your future.  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

God wants us to have a wistful longing... because there are better things ahead than any we might leave behind.

Surrendering to God's will is the quickest, easiest way to find out what JOY feels like.  An answer to pray is the fastest route to freedom.

Ultimately, as a Catholic and as a Christian, I believe that UNION with God is the ultimate cry of the heart and soul.

I smell coffee....

So what does Lent have to do with it?

I feel like my heart is full of improper passions.  When I surrender the passions and lusts of my flesh to God, I end up finding out his will for me.

When I pray more,

1. I hear his voice.

2. I see his work.

3. I feel his presence.

4. I taste his strength. (5 senses anyone?? :)

5. I speak love.

6. I serve.

7. I listen and learn.

I am reminded that I can even live this way in ordinary time!

But during Lent, I find out just how powerful God is.  

When I am weak, then I am strong, says Paul.

When I put to death the lusts of the flesh.... and I'll be on the surest route to joy and freedom.

What is the dream of your heart?!


this is part two in a series, read part one here
linking up with kelly and acwb

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Three Things Are Necessary: A Series on Lent (Pt.1)

Three Questions

"Three things are necessary for man's salvation," said Thomas Aquinas, "to know what he ought to believe, to know what he ought to desire, and to know what he ought to do."

In this three part series, during Lent, I am going to take apart this quote from Aquinas. In this quote, he begs the question.... actually three questions.

What do you believe?

What do you desire?

What do you do?

These are the three essential questions for faith and for salvation.  Aquinas said it: it must be true!  :0)

This year during the season of Lent, this will be the focus of my conversations. I am going to start that conversation here, with part one on my blog!

Let's Talk About Lent

And before we get into that question, I want to discuss Lent for just a minute.  I remember in years past, I heard about a girl who was going to give up creamer in her coffee for Lent. However, it was too tough for her, but she still wanted to honor God by doing some kind of sacrifice during Lent.  She decided to give up creamer in her coffee one day a week.

I personally think that despite many shares on social media, "creamer girl" example is weak sauce.  If it was too hard for her to give up creamer in her coffee, then she should pick something else, and really give it up, and actually stick to her guns.

Why? Because the purpose of Lent is to make room for God.  We do this by practicing self-denial.  Even though she got a bunch of shares on Facebook, seriously... don't be like "creamer girl" because the backlash and repercussions of a lack of follow-through can really stall you in your goals. That's a fancy way of saying, "Oops."


I'm giving up shopping this year for Lent. I plan to REALLY give it up. The only exception (not excuse!!!) is Sundays. Sundays are little Easters- a day of rest- and so we can take part in that which we gave up on Sundays.

Lent begins this week on you guessed it- Valentine's Day (celebrate a day early?)  But going back to the first question in Aquinas' quotation, what do we actually believe.... what do we believe about the Church calendar? What do we believe about the resurrection from the dead?  What do we believe about Easter?

If we know the answer, then Lent makes sense. I'm not going to give up shopping "in name only" and still do whatever "the *h*" I want. I'm also not going to indulge in other things during Lent. Any kind of excess defeats the purpose of the fasting we practice.  If I gorge myself on cookies or become hugely addicted to crisp white moscato while I'm giving up shopping, I'm missing the whole point of Lent, which is to ...what?

What do you believe?

The other day I was out in nature, pushing two of my children in the stroller. That experience tapped into so much of what I believe about daily life. I believe that fresh air and sunshine and exercise are all good for you. I believe that my kids need to be in nature for their development to be consistent and healthy. I believe that stretching my legs, working my muscles, and getting my heart rate up all help me to be a healthy person.

Do you believe in the almighty dollar? Do you believe this is a free country, so to each her own? Do you believe your personality explains (away) every little thing that you do, sinful or not??

Our beliefs inform our desires and our actions.

If we don't know what we believe, but we are simply practicing Lent by giving up sweet tea, or wine, or sugar, or shopping...... then it is not going to be effectual in the cleaning out of our souls.

As Catholics, we say, "Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed... enough for you to enter under my roof."

That means we allow him to clean our souls. Thereby he can enter in and make our hearts holy .... Holy enough for Him! Holy enough for him to dwell within us.
When we ask God for a clean soul, we are expressing what we ought to do (which we will get into later in the series).

Each and every time we deny our flesh, we are asked to pray.  We are also supposed to practice almsgiving and chastity.

"Lord I am not worthy for you to enter under my roof. But only say the word and my soul shall be healed."   This is my prayer this Lent.  To be FOCUSED on God and his will for me!

How can you take steps this year to have an effectual Lent? What will enrich your faith, or that which you believe?
cross-posting with the ACWB

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What's "Saving My Life" Right Now

Of course we all know WHO saved the world.  It wasn't Martin Luther King, Jr. But in other news, these are the little itty bitty things that are "saving my life"  right now.  Linking up with MMD to share just that!! :)

1. Working Out

So at the end of January, I joined a gym.  This has been a long time coming, and after so many years of walking around the block, I'm finally not braving 30 degree nights any more! YAY!  I'm running on treadmills, doing the bike, lifting weights, and doing sit-ups/crunches/push-ups again. My gym has a locker room with showers, hairdryer, and more.. and it is in a superb location. Aaaaand I couldn't be happier with how good a deal I got! (Did anyone know that the Y is *so* expensive??? I'm paying about 70% less per month at my gym!!!)

2. Teaching Molly to vacuum

Recently upon dumping out a toy bin (see below), I handed Molly the vacuum cleaner, taught her how to use the hose attachment, and showed her where the "on" button was. I then proceeded to leave the room.  It has been so freeing now that she is ten to tell her, "Here, do this" and just LEAVE the room!!!! I don't have to supervise, and so much more cleaning is getting done! Woop. woop.

3. Repurposing storage containers

Over the past weekend, I used a file box like this one except turquoise to organize Madeleine's toys. This in turn created a domino effect, and for the first time ever, we organized the toys >>by person<< rather than by type of toy.   It has been wonderful.  I started noticing lots of un-used storage containers throughout the house, and by giving away one VERY large hamper of toys to Salvation Army, I got the girls' room organized once and for all *with our new system.*  Frances has her toys in this type of organizer , different color, in the closet, Molly is using a toy box in their room, Anders has a large basket, and Annabel has a plastic bin in the nursery.  I love it!

While we're talking storage, I've learned that smart people a) buy more unisex clothing and b) buy large.  The blue and pink are cute (sure it is!) and all, but if I had to do it over again, I would have gotten gray, green, white, and yellow onesies and passed them down to all the kids. Same goes for black pants and navy leggings. Jeans, khakis, and jeggings are often too gender-specific, but the cross-over there also doesn't have to be so stark. Perhaps it is all more dim and gray-ish than we think. :0) #buysmarter  I know I can still do this in the future. Also-- buy large then they can wear for 6 months or more, haha... AND black doesn't stain, neither does dark navy or dark plaid. :)

4. Buying coffee and Cleaning {And it goes without saying, reading}

Lately the thing that is getting me through the Winter is going out to a coffee shop somewhere downtown, and buying a good (not super cheap, but amazingly delicious) cup of coffee, and coming back home where I tackle one cleaning project in our house for the day.  It is fun because I often buy Annabel a little treat (her favorite is a chocolate chip cookie as a reward for eating a plate of eggs-- and I'm hoping to blend the treats into potty training in the very near future).  We live downtown, but it is so nice to actually take advantage of all that we have within arms' reach. I am getting better about it now.

It's also nice to finish the cleaning project, rehydrate by drinking a large glass of water with lunch, then make myself a cup of coffee, and read while the babies nap.

5. Drinking wine while perusing Pinterest + Protein powder

Ah, ordinary time, how I dost love thee!!!  Since we're remodeling soon, I have been saving a lot of ideas for our future playroom.  Do the words, "Accent wall" make anyone else hugely excited? No? Just me?  I want to paint the tan walls white, then add one accent wall of either pale pink or pale turquoise-ish like this color, silver mist.  Something about the routine of drinking one glass of wine while checking in with Pinterest makes me feel like I'm still getting a Happy Hour at 5pm everyday. :) Even though the kids climb on me nevertheless!!! But Lent, it cometh soon. Fast approacheth all types of self-denial and this might be the first or second thing that gets the boot!!

Also, this casein protein powder. Tastes delicious.

6. Consistency in errands and shopping +  Saving money

I'm still tackling my weekly chores using this system, and it is working marvelously!  If you missed that post, I do one Walmart run every Monday for staples, then I head to Publix on Tuesdays for any produce or recipe-specific extras.  It's a nice system for my forgetful self. I always know that I can pop in an easy dinner like frozen lasagna on Mondays, then make sure to get everything I need for more complicated menus, for the rest of the week, on Tuesdays.

And I'm not saving money yet --  and it doesn't help that I had $10-20 in my glove compartment that was taken, when Stephen I were both robbed from our cars over the weekend. UGH-- he lost his gym shoes and headphones 😭  I just lost some cash, that I know of.  However, I am planning to give up shopping entirely for Lent, so I'm hoping to save more money that way.  Perhaps a weekly trip to Aldi instead??

Here's hoping!!!!

Friday, February 2, 2018

100 ideas *to actually do*, besides go shopping!

Back when Molly was a toddler, I made a notebook full of homeschooling ideas and other things that kept me inspired. When I found that old notebook recently, I decided to jot some of the ideas down here on the ol' blog.  I found it inspiring that I don't really *need* anything to get started with most of these...... and I hope it inspires you, too!

I have noticed a huge trend with "unboxing" and I know online shopping is a pretty big deal, as are subscription services.  With Pinterest and all of the Amazonian wish listing going on, and add to that the fact that many people see shopping as a hobby or a way to bond with others (family or friends), I feel that we should start a counter-cultural movement.  The NO-shopping movement.

Is it possible? Absolutely yes. Is it better?  A million times better.  Have you heard of buy-nothing groups? They were started in Seattle, which is where my sister lives. Yet we don't have one anywhere near my area.  Let's get on that, people in the South!!!  It is a gift culture, where you give away things you no longer need, and can receive what others are giving away. For free!

So without further ado, here are ten ideas in ten categories for a non-shopping movement. :) And even though this isn't 7 things, I'm linking with Kelly today.

1. visit the warner park playground
2. frolic in the woods
3. hike
4. see a waterfalls
5. find a cool tree
6. gather greenery
7. gather wildflowers
8. wade in a creek
9. ride horses
10. fly a kite

1. draw a taco
2. DIY create your own decor
3. paint a flower with watercolors
4. practice drawing rainbows
5. make a collage
6. make greeting cards for pregnant mothers
7. make art for a wedding or baby gift
8. sew a bag
9. color with the kids
10. teach the kids a new crafting method

1. make hot chocolate
2. make mousse
3. make seafood
4. make pacific salad
5. drink coffee and plan
6. buy ingredients for scones
7. make a new smoothie recipe
8. make soup
9. try a new crockpot meal
10. make a cake

1. make valentines
2. make a banner
3. make a pennant
4. perfect playlist
5. simplify a wardrobe using color schemes
6. put inspiring words around the house
7. make sangria/drink a new wine
8. try a new hot tea
9. work on a photo scrapbook
10. make a recipe folder or box

1. read a memoir
2. read a mystery
3. journal
4. draw your prayers
5. create and use a devotional journal
6. journal collage (possibly with a magazine)
7. write a book review
8. plan a series for the blog
9. read aloud to the kids
10. peruse new releases at the library

gardening and planting:
1. get a new houseplant
2. save money in a planter
3. plant bulbs
4. force a bulb
5. get a fern for the front porch
6. build a digging area for the boys
7. plant flowers in pots in the backyard
8. plant flowers on the porch(es)
9. build an outdoor "housekeeping" area for the girls
10. make a backyard tent

health and wellness:
1.  do a video workout
2. long walk
3. make an instagram story about a beauty routine
4. make a new essential oils combination and diffuse it
5. try on new lip colors
6. organize your makeup
7. self-manicure and self-pedicure
8. dance party
9. do pilates
10. swim

with friends:
1. visit with friends for an afternoon playdate
2. get high tea
3. make bread
4. go to a pretty spot for a playdate
5. see a movie
6. go on an overnight to visit a friend
7. visit the zoo or aquarium
8. play tennis or cards
9. meet at library story time
10. go to a museum
making a sugar scrub with lavender oil, using things we already had on hand 
{coconut oil, lavender drops, brown sugar, and baking soda}

1. go for a drive
2. go see the stars
3. write a thank you note
4. write an email to an old friend
5. write a letter to a new friend
6. start a book club
7. write a devotional book
8. make a list of things you are thankful for
9. engage in liturgical reading and studying
10. try lectio divina
-visit a new city
Guess what?!  NONE of these things involve shopping. Not even the thrift store. You might have to buy a magazine or print some photos. Or go grocery shopping. Otherwise--- NOTHING.  The extra hashes are for you to think of your own ideas. What is your hobby, or what is in your wheelhouse?

also! read my January monthly recap 'inspired' if you missed it.

Life is so rich and full. Let's enjoy it shall we?!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monthly Recap vol. 51 ~ January 2018 ~ Inspired

This month was a little sad and gray. I know as per usual for January, but I think we all came down with colds. I got a sinus infection after my cold.  Annabel burned her hand severely, and Frances got the flu, and then of course, she passed it to Madeleine, who passed it to Molly, who passed it to Anders and then me.  Anders had the flu way back in December, I think it is going around again, so we are all on the mend, I think, fi----nally. :)

Right before the flu went around.... Molly is now double-digits, which is so hard to believe, and we did a double-birthday with parties with school (roller skating) and church (PIZZA) friends.


I got a slow start on my reading this month, and with birthdays and colds, it's no wonder. I found 3 Kristin Hannah books at McKays here in town, and I have been perusing several from the library that I plan to (I hope) read cover to cover before the end of February.

I'm not pushing myself to hurry with reading, but a pretty stack or two. I finished Kristin Hannah's Fly Away and came close with The Cafe by the Sea by Colgan, but making plans to tear through some serious books in Feb.  File this away under #whatIlearned in Jan., but something about being sick makes me want to disappear into a podcast episode.


We watched the Coen brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis, and boy... the cast, the soundtrack, the acting---- SO FREAKING GOOD!  I highly recommend it. If you haven't seen it yet-- find a way.  You need to see this movie!! Justin Timberlake is in it... it stars Oscar Isaac, and it is like a cross between O Brother Where Art Thou and Once.  And hot damn, if that doesn't sell it for you, it is also inspired by >>Bob Dylan<< and the Greenwich Village scene in the 60's. (!!!!)  So. good.

I also enjoyed watching the free documentary on Netflix about Pentatonix.  It is called On Our Way Home.  I was sick and it was entertaining enough to take my mind off the flu. However, I learned some things about the members of the group (namely, that 2 are gay) and I honestly couldn't listen to them the same way again.  As a Catholic, I just simply find it kind of sad. Nothing against them. Nothing at all. I just found it sad and since my Church stands behind me on that, I'm not afraid to say it.  What fellowship has light with darkness?

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel  which has some language, but it is written by Amy Sherman Palladino (who did Gilmore Girls) and it won a Golden Globe.... best actress and best comedy.  The premise feels really fresh and the dynamics and timing are spot-on.  The music is very 50's big band I guess, and It sorta reminds me of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt meets Gilmore Girls.


So many podcasts, so little time.  This month I really got back into listening to podcasts and some of the ones I hadn't listened to in forever got back into regular rotation.

-What Should I Read Next
-The Simple Show
-Fountains of Carrots
-Song Exploder
-Read Aloud Revival

Do you ever hear someone's voice and think, "OH MAN,  is this grating on my ears?!"  Like, I love what this person has to say, but either her voice is too high and saccharine sweet sounding, or she sounds airhead-y, or can't shut up and has no concept that she is interrupting her hosts over and over and over again? And you almost just have to turn it off because someone's voice is getting to you? That is my only problem with podcasts.  Sometimes I just want to tell someone: Listen, you are annoying.  STOP.  Usually it's a guest or a co-host.... so know that I have nothing against you if you are a podcast host.

I asked Stephen to listen to a recent podcast about Stranger Things, and his only commentary was, "The person they interviewed had better vocabulary than the hosts."

also listening to the band Steel Wheels// check out their song "Scrape Me Off the Ceiling"


Bitcoin Bubble Could Be a Billion Dollar Problem for Banks @ USA Today #evilcoin

Winter in Minnesota in January @ Minnesota Hot Dish

This is excellently written and easy to understand. It's encouraging in al the right ways and just like a piece of pie, comforting and inspiring!

This scrapbooking room.... whoa.

Virtuous Evildoers @ First Things Magazine

This may not be at first easily accessible.  Vocabulary excellent, though.

Oscar Nominations 2018 @ Variety

This Youtube channel....  has children's read-clouds, fun! ...there are some that are sketchy to me... (storybook nanny comes to mind, not least because of what I assume would be copyright laws and the voice) but Pink Penguiny whose subtitle is "learn with me" has a cute voice and I love the books she has picked to read. I wouldn't mind sending my kids to that channel over much of what is included on the Youtube Kids app.  😲

Pink Penguiny reads My No No No Day
"        Reads  5 Classic Nursery Rhymes
"        Reads The Grouchy Ladybug
"        Reads The Shape of Me And Other Stuff 

ETC!  :)
~Funny Things They Say~

Madeleine: Did you know that Dr. Martin saved the world?
Stephen: Who is Dr. Martin?
Tacy: (I think she means Martin Luther King Jr?)
Madeleine: Yeah! Martin Luther King Jr. ... He saved the world from laws!
BaHA. 😂

Anders: (holds up a toy dinosaur) Is this dinosaur from Jurassic Park?
Madeleine: Well, it isn't from My Fair Lady.
{Can you tell what our family movie nights this month were comprised of?? heehee}

She dressed herself... and asked me to do her hair like her doll. #jojo

Here's to GOOD HEALTH and PREDICTABLE weather and maybe even some/the occasional affordable beauty/wellness products in February!!!!!!  And here's to inspired living now and during the season of Lent.

Linking up here and here


Friday, January 19, 2018

The Journey to Love (with help from applying ye olde theology notes)

The weather is unreliable, we were eager for a heavy snow day with temps warm enough to enjoy it, and instead we got flurries and freezing temps.  In spite of these circumstances, everyday, my goal as I raise my little people, is to truly love them.  It led me to dig through my old notes.... and I came across an almost theological treatise in the pages of my old NKJV Bible.  Now that I'm Catholic, it is fun to apply ye olde theological classes from college to my life now.

We live in an age when "true care" is rare and the computer screen becomes a nice "perfect haven" to hide behind. We can hide our wounds, our true selves, and we can hide from God's call on our life... whatever it may be and wherever it leads us. For me, that looks like joyful motherhood to six and living the happy domestic life.  But instagram and other social media channels can easily steal our joy, or at least threaten it!

St. Therese had something to say about the modernity of her age, and of course she connected it to love, how to love, and this desire to love that she found in her heart.

We are living now in an age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs … I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. … The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more. 

How do we go about following God's will to love and perfection? And shouldn't this be our aim everyday of our lives?  It may take a minute to read, but let's dig a little and find out what Paul had to say about this!!

(1)  the best place to find discourse on Love is in 1 Corinthians... the "love is patient and calm" verses.  I know that just like St. Therese, I want to find a little way.  God's love is "the bond of perfection." Do you need a hyperlink that will take you straight to God? Look no further than his directions in 1 Corinthians for loving others.

(2) In seeking this "hyperlink" to God, we have directions from the Scriptures.  We go beyond "the moral life" as discussed by Socrates*, and we go further into Spiritual life (life by the Spirit) as according to Jesus, in his Scriptures.  We have to put off covetousness and the evils of living by our flesh, by the meat and muscle.

(3) Galatians is a great book for learning about salvation. Paul has traveled around, he was persecuted by Pharisees who believed in 'salvation through circumcision,' who were peddling the Word of God... !! But Paul tries to tell them that circumcision should be an outward sign of an inward salvation and grace.  The law is a tutor or instrument to bring us to Christ. We are slaves under the law, however, sons of God have identity, family, relationship, and salvation.

(4) Ephesians, in summary is about the abundance of spiritual wisdom (namely, love) that is found in Christ. We should pray for the eyes of our heart to be enlightened with wisdom. We are saved by grace and peace means access to the Father by the Spirit. He is our cornerstone. The 'mystery' of the Spirit is the sheer magnitude of God's love for us: his high, long, wide, and deep love!  Therefore, we must walk worthy of his calling and get along.  We should imitate God, amid works of darkness, and submit to others out of reverence.

(5) Philippians asks the question: (or maybe begs the question):  how do we know God began a good work in us? (AKA: Are we growing in the gospel, or the 'good news'?)  If we are suffering for Christ without fearing our adversaries, if we esteem others better than ourselves, if we are unlike the Pharisees who look to deeds for salvation, if we have the maturity in Christ to be 'of the same mind,' then God will supply all our needs and wants, and we can rejoice as we meditate on whatever is good! This means.... contentment.

(6) Colossians is all about living with our minds on 'things above'--- NOT on earthly things or the outward appearance... but rather the heart.  We must have faith in jesus, we must put off legalism, we must trade angry annoyance for humility/patience, and above all, we must LOVE.

(7) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not pre-judge, it does not boast.... it is truly the bond of perfection, the secret to unity, and the way of truth.

Put off impurity, immorality, all kinds of covetousness, and the wickedness of the flesh. Put on love, the tie that binds us together in community.

How will you seek the hyperlink to God and his love in your life? How about in your day today?

*In my last post I credited "The unexamined life" quote to Aristotle, but it was actually Socrates (from Plato's Apology) who said that! My apologies for the mistake! 

If you made it to the end, CHEERS! 

Adding my link to ACWB and Kelly's !

Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Goals and Word of the Year (expanded)

Well, I already wrote a reflection for the upcoming year, but I only mentioned a few New Years' Resolutions, and I never got into my other hopes, plans, and dreams for 2018. I'm really excited about establishing some goals and my One Word for the year in 2018, so I'm linking up with Kelly again to talk about just that!

My life right now: (except with babies)



Read 55 books

Naptime, playtime on the playground, after they're in bed.... I read. I love to read, which is why I do it. What I also love is having a goal and a rhythm for those moments I can nab and also harness for myself and my #readinghabit.

Get  outside, get into nature {become more active as a family}

We just found a new-to-us playground very nearby, and I'm excited about utilizing that as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer. (Although this week the high where we live was 60, so..... #thatsabnormal ... It seems like this past year was the year for very abnormal weather. I hope it is slightly more predictable this year...!!!!)

Limit screen time and be more creative with kids' activities

One of my goals is to do more pre-school-ish stuff with Annabel, since this is her last year before she starts Pre-K.  I also want to get into the routine we established over winter break, which was doing Chores before any screen time, and making the kids pick up their room and start homework before dinner.  This is our Crafts and Activities page, and I've tried to fill it with *fun* things to do with toddlers.

Lose 10 lbs.

I still haven't gotten all the baby weight off, so my goal is to get in shape this year.
Hiking and walking
Riding bikes
Just Dance
Danielle Peazer from London, England
The 7 Minute Workout
This Workout for Abs
Treadmill workouts


Save money

I want to use the library and used bookstores more frequently, since buying books is one of my biggest weaknesses.  I also want to continue my practice and habit of (1) shopping sales and using coupon codes,  (2) not buying retail if I can help it, (3) waiting on the big purchases, and (4) traveling less and eating out less just in general. I can easily save nearly $500 in a month. To me, if you want to save money, shopping shouldn't be a hobby.  I feel like it should be a duty, and beyond that, it gets dangerous.


Keep the house cleaner

This speaks for itself. I want to declutter al the things and only keep that which brings me JOY!

(7) Get more done and keep balance

I need to delegate, as this is the year that we Renovate and Redecorate the Upstairs and Attic of our house. We're hopefully starting that little journey this month or as soon as we can get our loan approved. :)

My One Word

Last year, my word was Struggle. It was SO apropos.  First, we had Conrad.  I was lazy through the entire pregnancy, and I ate a lot of fast food and Subway.  I struggled to the finish line, his due date, with every last ounce of patience I had stored somewhere in my reserve of self-control. I was exhausted by the process. (**It turns out he is an easy, happy baby, so other than being tired and up at night, having him hasn't been too bad. Yay**)

Second, we stopped eating out for dates, and.... that was hard.  We also had some pretty serious crisis-conflict moments, mostly about differing views on travel, leisure, and decisions in regard to both. I really struggled through some family issues head-on, mostly boundaries stuff. I cried countless times and I think MOST of those times had to do with pregnancy hormones and Post-Partum stuff. Now that I'm 8 months out from giving birth, I cringe to think how EMOTIONAL pregnancy made me.  In fact, it has been a few months since I broke down crying.  It hasn't been that long since I had an angry breakdown (something I'm working on in counseling... it usually means yelling about something COMPLETELY random and not using reason to think things through...).  I appreciate those in the blogosphere who remain vulnerable about this type of thing, so I join them in saying I hope 2018 is better in that regard.

So yeah, struggle was real and the word was so perfect for 2017. When I think about politics and the things happening in the world, I think I can safely say it was a hard year for many. #keepitreal #metoo, etc.

This year, I'm focusing on the word Bright.  It serves two purposes. One, it can motivate me to spend more time in the sunshine getting vitamin D.   Second, as Aristotle said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." That is so true, and I think it also serves to remind me to live a well-thought-out life.  I can use my brain, to reason and make good decisions.  I can inspire others to live a bright life, as well. I can keep growing and I can keep my mind sharp.

Only God knows what 2018 has in store... I will love and I almost can't wait to have Hindsight 20/20 about this word as I do now about the word Struggle. #apropos

My Goals 2018 Pinterest Board


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How I Fight Depression *and* Seasonal Affective Disorder (And Attend to Serious Boo-Boo's)

These are the months. The months of the year when you listen to James Vincent McMorrow, buy too many books, there is more darkness than light, more cold air than warmth, your 2-year-old gets a severe burn, and maybe more quiet and loneliness than friendly interaction, as well!

I have struggled over the years with Depression, and I want to share with you how I stay attentive, and keep the demonic of comparison at bay in my life, and I'm talking currently. While I'm attending the second or third degree burn from a baby putting her hand on the stove. Yeah.

If you feel like life is hard, remember that stress, demands, challenges, and disappointments are common to all.  Struggling is universal. Being a Mom has its own set of challenges, but that doesn't mean I am undermining whatever it is you are going through-- I do get it. We are all trying to do our best and enjoy life.  We are all trying to live above the circumstances, not because of them.

This goes without saying that a healthy diet is essential to feeling your best, and aloe vera and soaking in egg nog works wonders. Onward.......!

How do I fight depression and seasonal affective disorder, as a Mom to littles and a person with a lot of responsibility? (I can't check out or a baby will fry her hand)

1. Fill your life up with life

It's an understatement that we have a lot of life in our home.  #😂 We have six kids under the age of 9 roaming our halls, and they.are.all. prancing across beige carpet and running slimy hands against beige walls.  But this is actually my happiness and my joy. My baby's giggle can cheer me up any day.   Of course it's my calling, and I'm unbelievably biased, but these people make me happy. :)

Also, don't fill your mind with junk and garbage (can you say Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey?!) ... because out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Maybe fill your mind up with life, as well. 😊😳

2. Stay busier than you would think normal (say it with me: color-coded spreadsheets!!)

If you saw my to-do list, you would think I'm a crazy person.  I'm not OCD, not even close, but I have a million things constantly rotating through my Google Document + Sheets. (This is not Excel, I'm talking --- >  Open Docs, Tap the Upper left corner, you'll see the word "sheets"-- that stands for spreadsheets). I honestly have tired but I don't really use any fancy, expensive apps on my phone. I tried using apps for a while, (I know what you did last Summer), but it can be a time suck and you have to invest precious time that I simply do not have.  Spoiler alert: I cheated ... by searching on the internet for helpful tips.  If you're interesting in using Google Sheets to get organized, this article is a helpful place to start.

I DO use Reminders consistently, but I don't usually print out my to-do list, because if I write it in my planner, I can take photo on my iPhone and that's a lot easier!  BUT-- I do use spreadsheets for my To-Do's, Grocery List/Meal Plan, Book Read for the Year, Recipes, and Budget. I can transfer to my phone after I do a major brain dump in Docs and Sheets.  A great resource for grocery store staples can be found here.

One thing that's really helpful is to denote the difference between expenditures and budget.  You can write down everything or have a million money/finance organizing and to-do apps, but *if you don't set limits,* you still won't be organized, ultimately.  Organization means reaching attainable goals, and so without a real budget, not just jotting down accidentals and expenditures, you can't do that. {preaching to the choir, maybe?} :)  If there is something you really want, you can always wait a month (or longer) and see if you really *need* it. We tithe every month and truly leave our financial peace up to God. Flexing is never going to be more simple than that.... I'm serious :)

But yeah, I'm so very busy. I'm running errands, cleaning like a maniac, folding laundry, doing the dishes, constantly thinking of more I could do, and of course taking care of the kids. Shuttling them around, finding socks and homework and  books and you name it.  My planner is out.of.control! I love my mini happy planner, and I'm not gonna lie, I do love stickers.

The trick here amidst the CRAZY is that I rest on Sundays.  It makes me *more* productive throughout the week.  I'm pretty serious about it. Yeah.....if you're worried about me, you can read more about that manifesto here. (HA!)

3. Have conversations

Yeah, I'm talking IRL conversations, not texting or voxer!!!  :0)  Life isn't perfect. But mostly when I say this, I'm talking about talking to the people you do life with- mainly, for me, that's my husband. Obviously, I need someone to de-stress with. A lot of that is "How was your day" stuff over dinner. I also need someone to rehash situations or experiences with!  He is a good listening ear.  But I also have a tendency to be needy in talking with him.... waiting for him after the kids go to bed to have a "talk."  For those serious conversations,  I also need sisters, friends, Moms, mother-in-laws, grandmas, aunts, uncles, brothers..... you get it.  I have some dear friends who check up on me and whom I check up on, and I see them mainly at Church and Church events.  And, I have a counseling who I see for therapy on the regular.

4. Get fresh air

Even if you walk around the block at 6:30PM... in the dark, in the rain-- that counts!  Of course daylight hours are preferable, but at this stage in my life, I'll take what I can get.  Kids need fresh air, too. Schedule it into your week if it's hard to make it a priority. I'm talking to myself, here.

5. Be involved in a community {Don't make excuses}

I have been blogging for over 10 years, and during that time, I've met some really lonely people.  One specific category seems to be in chat groups on Facebook. I have met people in this subculture who may live in rural locations, or even those who "See" people everyday in a big city, but truly "Know" no one.  Perhaps life is a series of dates and shallow, empty parties or out-to-eat experiences... or the need for friends is "met" online, and so they only interact with their immediate family .... and that's about it. There are those who simply do not have the habit to make a lot of friends, and it concerns me the way the internet seems to make people feel less alone, so they do not reach out to the people in their own locale for x, y, or z reason.

Make friends.  Do it. There will always be bad days. Amidst those, DON'T make excuses, but in a moment of light, reach out. It takes courage- I've been there. But. Really. Make some friends!!! If you don't have an IRL community, you are missing out on alllllll the perks. Help, assistance, honesty, a ride, a listening ear. ALLLL the perks.
 #sufferingiswhenyouneeditmost (!!!)

6. Give feedback and receive it

Community requires work and vulnerability. I'll leave it at that. But don't be too proud to receive the honest truth about yourself.... and never be afraid to offer the truth to someone else. It can be painful. It can be scary. The truth takes work.  Learn how to have a conversation. It will be worth it..... in the end.

7. Receive Christ in his Eucharist

Just sayin.  My faith makes me whole. My faith, I believe, is the fullness of the faith of Christianity. Read more about that here:   A Convert on Mary  // Reading Our Way into Catholicism

8. Keep good parameters

Trite but true.  Boundaries with friends, family, screens, Twitter, Facebookin' and all of the above! Within limits, is always found freedom. It makes life much, much better. 😅

9.  See your family and keep up with them

This has become so special to me over the past 5 years. Even though it has its drawbacks at times, being close with my family is a good that outweighs the bad!  I can reach out if I need a listening ear or a favor. A ride, an errand, a prayer, an answer to a burning question, medical assistance, you name it. I have help and love and that support from my family brightens my day nine times out of ten!

10. Have limits and set limit

Practice giving something up for Lent. I gave up blogging for Lent last year, and it was so very good for me, I'm considering doing that again this year.  We as a family practice "No Screen Sundays" and it is outstanding for letting our kids un-fry and just play!  We can focus on them better, and that always seems to work wonders.

11. Consume Caffeine :)

True, although it can become a crutch and your nasty temper might flare if you can't get your fix (ask me how I know).  I love this nespresso maker and it can work wonders.  We have this milk frothing wand to easily make cappuccinos with our espresso machine.  I love this chocolate and diet cokes. I also love this french press, although ours' is old and missing parts so I haven't used it in ages. We use this pour over method for each cup of coffee. A cheaper espresso maker can be found here.  I love real half and half, and you can even steam it -- called a breve.

If you see me with a smile, usually it's because I am well-caffeinated. HA. 🐡

Set limits for yourself.
Be in community.
Soak in the sunshine.
Read for growth and for fun.
Read to your kiddos.

Oh and pray!

I hope this helps! :)

cross-posting here at the ACWB