Friday, December 30, 2016

Chilling Out for a Better Christmas

Did you celebrate Christmas with small children? If so, you probably saw a lot of faces like this. I know we did! 

This was our fourth Christmas as parents, and I think I am finally starting to understand how to do Christmas with small Children. It was a hard adjustment at first. especially for my type-A, plan-ahead, perfectionist personality. I had to learn how to be ok with my plans being interrupted, or changed all together. I had to learn to be ok with not doing every single family gathering. I had to learn to be ok with a little chaos. Naps get missed, bedtimes get thrown out the window, pandemonium ensues, but you know what? Everyone survives. 

I am slowly but surely learning how to chill out a little bit, and it's making the Christmas craziness a lot more enjoyable. Here are the things that help me the most. 

Lower expectations. We didn't get a family photo Christmas Eve, and that's ok. Johnny got his Christmas pajama bottoms dirty and the kids didn't match on Christmas morning, and that's ok. We were late to all our family gatherings, and that's ok. Trixie was a hot mess during Christmas Eve Mass, and that's ok. Johnny got the stomach flu two days before Christmas. Yes, I was a little terrified of him throwing up during Mass. And yes, I carried a barf bag in my purse all weekend. But everything ended up being ok. I was not expecting things to go perfectly, and so when they didn't, everything was ok!  

Let go of the schedule. Our kids nap at 1:00, and they go to bed at 8:30. Not during Christmas. Naps were squeezed in here and there, bedtime was anywhere from one to four hours later than usual. The kids were a little crabby. Johnny wanted to be held a lot, and Trixie wanted to nurse non-stop, but they did ok! Getting some extra family time in a couple times a year is worth abandoning the schedule for. And our Christmas bonus this year was the kids ended up sleeping in until 9:00 a couple of mornings, which never happens, and which was greatly appreciated. 

Don't try to do all the things. A few years ago I made a homemade gift for everyone in my family. I loved doing it, it was one of the best parts of my Advent and Christmas season. I really wanted to do it again this year.  I started planning on September. I got supplies. I made a secret Pinterest board to plan out my projects. By the time Thanksgiving rolled around I could tell I wasn't going to get all my homemade gifts made. I sulked a little bit, then I prayed for the ability to let it go. And I ended up being a lot happier by not worrying about it. Being present for my family is more important than making presents for them. 

I did get some stockings made for my sister and her husband. And I did get Johnny's train quilt finished in time. And that was enough. 

It's ok to say no. This year we skipped Christmas Eve dinner with my family, and the annual Science Museum trip with Alex's family. We skipped two things, that's it, and it made such a difference. We had just enough time get a little rest, and get a little organized, and enjoy the rest of our gatherings all the more. 

Remember what's important.  It sounds like a no-brainer. But I do have to remind myself why we are even doing any of this. "And the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."  We made it to Mass. We celebrate the Word Incarnate. We know that God is with us, and that He comes to save us. When I keep this in mind everything becomes more meaningful, and it's a lot harder to get annoyed when parenting conditions are sub-par. 

It is now the fifth day of Christmas and we are slowly getting new toys put away and boxes broken down. Laundry is being caught up on and I finally did some meal planning and grocery shopping again. The kids are returning to their normal sleep schedules and normal chores are being resumed. But the tree is still up, we're still celebrating, and I'm still trying to chill out and enjoy it all. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

God With Us: a Christmas letter

The other day as Johnny and I were making Christmas cookies together, I was thinking about and how engrained with family traditions this time of year is. I was showing him how to place the cookie cutter shapes neatly and closely together, while Johnny would let his cookie cutter fall at random across the circle of dough. I remember doing the very same thing with my mother when I was little. It made me smile to see how I was now the mother, teaching the next generation to make Christmas cookies.

The family traditions extend to all the corners of our house in December. We have homemade stockings hanging up. Our tree is decked with the dozens of ornaments that Alex and I have received from our mothers over the years. There are also a few that I have gotten for our children. We put on the Christmas music that we grew up listening to. Harry Connick Jr. from my family, and John Denver and the Muppets from Alex’s. One of my very favorite, and wonderfully simple traditions is taking off my glasses and gazing at the beautiful blur of the Christmas tree; something my parents and I always did, and still do, together.

While all of these little traditions make us feel warm and nostalgic inside, it’s the way they buoy up the Main Event of the season that make them truly special. Advent, where we take a timeout from the noise of the world and the noise inside our own heads to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. And Christmas, when we rejoice with all the angels that He is here.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

Emmanuel. God with us.

Do we realize that God is with us? It doesn’t always feel like it. Life tends to move at a dizzying pace and I sometimes forget to be aware of God’s presence in my life.

Alex is in his final year of PA school. He’s in the middle of his second clinical rotation, where he has been doing lots of well child visits and diagnosing lots of pink eye and bronchitis. Most days he says he feels like he doesn’t know anything, but I can tell he’s growing in knowledge. I’m so proud of all the hard he has been putting in the past three years. Twelve months from now he will be graduating, and I am counting the days. We’re both excited to see where he ends up as a PA.

The biggest change this year has been Johnny starting at his amazing school for deaf and hard of hearing children. He attends four full days a week and with the great speech therapy he’s receiving we are seeing his language skills expanding every day. I am well aware of the providence of God in that this school, with only 8 others like in the nation, is just a ten-minute drive from our house. Outside of school Johnny is very passionate about trains, specifically Thomas the Train. He has a Thomas t-shirt that he would wear 7 days a week if we let him. He loves counting things, and his favorite foods include Pop-tarts, ketchup, and chocolate.

Trixie has usurped Johnny’s spot as the difficult child. She is noisy in church and throws tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. She has both parents up multiple times during the night while she gets ALL her teeth at once. But she is also snuggly and affectionate, and loves to spend time with her family. She also loves to play with toys, mostly her big brothers toys, jump on the bed, and put on and take off socks.

I am teaching 20 piano students this year, in addition to keeping everyone fed and in clean clothes. School drop-off and pick-up adds to the business. And I try to make time for my favorite hobbies of knitting and blogging. Most days my head is spinning from trying to keep up with everything. And so I pose the question again, do we realize that God is with us?

If I’m being completely honest the answer is most days, I forget to even think about it. I have to make myself stop and be quiet before I realize, He is here.

He is here, in the miracle of life that is our two children. He is here, in the fellowship we share with our family and friends. He is here, in the way He provides for our daily needs. And He is here, in the comfort He offers throughout life’s sorrows and sufferings.

He came as a baby into the mess and muck of a stable, and He comes to us now, every day, in the real mess of our own lives. It may not always feel like He is here, with the way the world rages, and with our own personal burdens and anxieties. But Jesus is no stranger to suffering and He is not deterred by yours.

He is Emmanuel, God with you.

So, do you see Him?

My prayer for you this Christmas is that you will find the peace and quiet that you need to see the presence of Jesus in your life, and that your New Year will be filled with joy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Blessed With Rest

Sometimes blessings come hidden in strange disguises. For me the blessing was a true day of rest last Sunday, the likes of which I haven't had in.....I don't really remember. The disguise was that all four members of our family were sick. Thankfully not with anything too serious. Just some bad colds and sinus stuff that had been hanging on for a couple of weeks. No one was stuck puking into the toilet, be we were sick enough that we needed to cancel the commitments we had made that day and just stay home and rest.

It was the perfect amount of sickness, and honestly, one of the most enjoyable days I have had in a long time. We stayed in our jammies, and napped, and snuggled, and ate left overs and didn't worry about getting anything done. We had a day of rest.

Rest. This is something I do not do well. I sleep fine. I'm usually asleep withing about 30 seconds of turning off the light at night. But during the day there are almost zero moments of rest. There's the obvious busyness of life with small children. Constant comforting and carrying, feeding people and keeping them clean. And the new element and getting a child to and from school certainly doesn't add any restfulness. But even when babies are napping or have gone to sleep at the end of the day I seldom choose rest, because there is always that extra chore I can't get done with the kids around, or there's a post bedtime social gathering I'd like to get to, or there's the temptation to stay up late with a new crafting project, or in front of a screen trying to crank out a new blog post. As relaxing as knitting and blogging are for me, I'm not sure that I'm really resting when I do those things. My brain is still racing, trying to think up something creative, original and inspiring. I'm obsessed with having something to show for my time. I want to see output, results, the fruit of the labor.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and 
I will give you rest." Mt. 11:28

How long have I had this verse memorized and yet how often I read it and weep because the thing that I desire most but deny myself so often is resting in the sweet, restorative presence of Jesus.

Let's face it, life is busy and noisy. Results are everything, success is measured by achievement, and our minds are racing to absorb a never ending feed of information. There's always more, but my soul is crying out for less.

So here's what I'm advocating for, for myself and for anyone else feeling burned out and in need of true rest. Not a total abandonment of chores and responsibilities, just the ability to be ok with an unfinished to-do list. Not the adoption of a life as a hermit, but maybe saying no to one social commitment each week. Not denying yourself the creative outlets you need, but realizing that they are not the end, output does not equal fulfillment, and please, don't start something new if it's after 10:00 pm. Then, take those little moments of time you have now carved out each week to rest in Jesus, and do nothing else, and be ok with doing nothing else. Finally, go to bed 30 minutes earlier everyday.

"Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him." Ps. 62:5

Friday, October 28, 2016

7 quick takes vol. 29

linking up with Kelly, as always.


Remember a couple weeks ago I was talking about how Alex was starting rotations and I was hoping they would be easier on our family than his academic year was, but I was bracing myself because each step of PA school has gotten progressively worse? Well, it's been two weeks of rotations so far and...the jury is still out.

The academic year was grueling, but his schedule was set. He was usually home by 4:00 and could play with the kids while I made dinner. He had to study all the time, but he had no class on Fridays, he was around in the mornings, and it worked out perfectly for him to take Johnny to school. This first rotation, ENT, has been rather unpredictable. He's working long hours, going to multiple locations, some of them are an hour away, no more Fridays off, and he has to leave really early, so now I get to take Johnny to school. Wah-wah. And he still has studying to do. Sounds like it's worse, right?

But, strangely, it doesn't feel as stressful. He doesn't have deadlines, the studying is more focused. He seems more motivated to make the most of his studying, since he's using it in real life situations. He also feels like he can stop, take a night off, or most of the weekend. It's busier, but it's less stressful. So, is it worse? I'm not really sure.


I did a Warby Parker home try-on a few weeks ago. Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on Instagram. I couldn't decide on a frame, so I sent them all back. But then a friend of mine told me we have a WP store right here in Minneapolis. So the two of us went together, along with a collective four children under four years old. Sounds like a perfect storm, but no one had a melt down, and we both found frames we like. These are mine! They look almost identical to my old frames. So....really exciting!


As I mentioned earlier, I am now taking Johnny to school in the morning.  I don't like it for many reasons. Having to get up and out the door with two small children first thing in the morning is not my idea of fun. I realize that unless I end up homeschooling this will be my life for the next 15? 20? years, so I better get used to it. But some mornings there's no time to make coffee before I leave and soon we will have snow...Ugh.

Early morning struggles aside.  I've realized I don't like taking Johnny to school because I don't like leaving him there. Not because I think it's a bad place or that he doesn't like it.  It's a great school, his speech is improving every day. And he has a lot of fun there. His teachers told us at his parent-teacher conference (wow does that sound grown-up) that he's kind of a class clown and likes to make the other kids laugh.(by putting his shoe on his head apparently? idk) But it still makes me sad to leave him there. I think it's still just a little unnatural to not have him with me all day long. He's my first baby, and even though he's a wild and stubborn little boy, he's still my baby.

Picking him up at the end of the day is much more fun. He is always so happy to see me. And even happier to see Trixie.


Lots of fiber arts going on here. I spent the first couple weeks of October working on Trixie's birthday presents. I knit her a hat and mini infinity scarf, because she needed them. And I crocheted her a little purse, because she loves to carry my purse around, and a little doll, because we have no girl toys.  They were both really fun to make, although it took forEVER to put that little doll's hair in.

I'm currently working on this sweater pattern by Isabell Kraemer. I'm making it with some Malabrigo yarn I got with a birthday gift card and I'm making it for myself. I love that golden rod/mustard yellow that has been all over the place the last year or two, but it really doesn't work with my ruddy/fair coloring. All the same I really wanted to use it in a sweater. So I'm making the majority of the sweater gray, but the last 5 inches or so will be yellow. I think the accent- far away from my face-will work nicely.


Laurel shared this squash recipe on her Instagram feed a couple weeks ago and we made it last week and oh my stars was it AMAZING! I can't stop thinking about it. I think I'm even dreaming about it. It was so tasty and such perfect cold weather comfort food. I ate an entire half of a butternut squash you guys. No joke. You've GOT to try it.


In case you missed it. We've got our line-up of speakers for the Midwest Catholic Women Bloggers Conference this spring. I'm so excited to have Haley, Laura, and Nell together under one roof sharing their wisdom and expertise. I feel so lucky to have met all these ladies before, and to live just a few minutes away from one of them (here's looking at you, Nell). They're all lovely and I know it's going to be a blast. If you want to stay in the loop join our Facebook group, or send me an email if you're not on Facebook.


Now that Johnny's in school every week day except Friday, our Friday mornings at home have become really special. We stay in our jammies as long as possible and I try to kiss my babies as much as they will let me. One of their favorite games is to "play on papa's bed" as Johnny calls it. I don't know why it's just "papa's bed" and not "mama's bed" or more accurately, "mama and papa's bed." Whatever, everyone knows papa is more fun, so that must be why the fun game is associated with him.  But they just love to jump on our bed and roll around and then lay down on the pillows. It's very cute, and it means I get to stay in bed.

Here's hoping you all have a great weekend, and that you can stay in your jammies as long as possible.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trixie is One

"Time like an ever rolling stream soon bears us all away,
We fly forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day."

Trixie turned one last week. Our little Beatrix is officially a toddler! I'm feeling that thing every more experienced parent has warned me of- it goes by so fast. These days with babies can be so long and grueling, but the years are whizzing by and when I look at my giant baby I know I need to savor them more.

We had a birthday brunch for Trixie on Sunday, and as if she was holding out for a celebration, she started walking! She's been doing a couple steps here and there for about a month. But she decided her birthday party was a good time to start walking in earnest. She's been going back and forth across the living room and is getting steadier and faster everyday. 

In addition to walking, she likes to turn pages in books, ruin Johnny's train sets and put on his backpack and my purse. She also likes trying to put on socks and shoes. She loves to bounce on the bed and loves to be kissed. She says mama, papa, bye-bye, and water. I thought these were coincidental at first, but she's so consistent. I guess she's started talking. (Very different from our first born.) She's in the 50th percentile for height and the 90th for weight. #thosethighstho Oh, and she had zero teeth until she was about 11 months old, then she cut her top four all at once and it was terrible. 

I love when people do monthly updates of their babies. I was never organized enough to do that. But I did look through photos from this past year and pick out one from each month, thus reinforcing this feeling that it's going by way too fast. What happened to my little baby? 


one month

two months

three months

four months

five months

six months

seven months

 eight months

 nine months

ten months

eleven months

one year

Monday, October 17, 2016

Marriage is Awesome, Even When it's Not Awesome

Today is our 7 year anniversary. And it's probably one of the most mundane anniversaries we have had yet. Alex woke up at 6:00 for his first day of rotations. I got up at 6:45 to get Johnny ready for school. As I was getting ready to load the kids in the car I got a text from Alex saying he left his wallet at home. So after school drop-off I spent 20 cruising around the hospital parking ramps looking for his car. I will teach lessons this afternoon. We may go out to dinner tonight, depending on when he gets home. We may just go out for a drink. Who knows! Life keeps ticking along at a pretty rapid pace, and isn't really going to afford us the time to stop and celebrate.

I think this has been a year of paradoxes for our marriage. It's been a really hard year, with grad school, adding a second child. financial stresses, but there have been so many good things happening at the same time.

At first glance it may seem like we don't have as much fun as we used to. We don't go out on dates, we don't go see movies, we don't travel, we don't workout together  at all, our house is messy, there are crayon markings all over the walls, we're sleep deprived, and we seem to be crabby a lot of the time. But somehow, we have so much fun together, and with our kids. We make jokes about everything, we laugh all time. Sometimes I feel like I have to either laugh or cry, so I'm going to laugh. We're also learning to have new kinds of fun. It's not glamorous fun. It's frozen pizza, wooden train tracks, and babies in the the bathtub fun. And I'll take it.

Our time together is very limited, but we have so much meaningful time together. We've learned how to make it count, because we've had to. Alex is gone all day, he studies all even and most of the weekends.  Dinner time is race to eat as fast as possible while keeping a baby happy and a toddler in his seat. So when we do get a few quiet minutes to just talk, we make it count. we talk about our day, our goals for tomorrow, our beautiful children who, even though we breath a sigh of relief every night when we get them to bed, we can ever seem to stop talking about. And we pray together. Not as much as we should, but we do it. And when things get really hard it's always our first line of defense.

I have been challenged more than ever before in what it means to die to self. And at the same time I have never felt more strongly that I can stand by this man through anything. I believe so firmly that when the storms of life come (that is when, not if, because if there's one thing you can count on in life, it's that storms will come) you can either let them tear you down, or you lean into the storm and come out stronger on the other side. We have been through other storms together, infertility, miscarriage, health complications with our first born, and I know they have made our marriage stronger. So much so that when I think back on favorite moments in our marriage I don't think of the time we spent Paris, (although that was great) I think of the time we spent sleeping on a foldout couch together in our son's NICU room. That was the hard stuff, the real stuff, but it was also the good stuff.

So, here we go, year 8 of marriage. Bring on the good stuff.

Friday, October 14, 2016

7 quick takes vol. 28


Yesterday Alex took a four and a half hour test that marked the end of the academic half of PA school. Yay! On Monday he will start clinical rotations and then after 14 months of that he will be totally done with school. Yay!

This first half of PA school has been really difficult, for Alex, for me, and for our family life. Except for the couple times a year that he's on break, there has been the constant feeling that he should be studying and because of that he misses out on a lot of family time. And then when he decides to take a break and spend some time with us I have a constant feeling of guilt because I know he should be studying.  I'd like to think that rotations will be better because nothing could be worse than what we've been going through. But that's what I thought when Alex was working full time and taking prerequisites at night."there's no way PA school could be worse than this." But it was. So I'm bracing myself for something terrible come Monday. I'm learning the art of lowering expectations. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised.


Trixie turned one on Tuesday! Alex was taking finals and Johnny was at school so Trixie and I walked down to Starbucks for a birthday latte, and then that turned into lunch at the Whole Foods across the street. My lunch, just to clarify. Trixie wants nothing to do with solids. We presented her with a little piece of a cupcake that night after dinner and some of it ended up in her hair while the rest ended up in Johnny's mouth.

So Darling Daughter won't eat solids, but last week I found a stitch marker in her dirty diaper.  At first I felt like the World's Worst Mom for letting her eat a stitch marker on my watch.  Then I felt completely indignant that she scorns every tasty morsel of real food we offer her, and then when we're not looking she goes and eats a stitch marker.

Anyway, we're going to celebrate her birthday properly this weekend. More to come on that, I'm sure.


A few of my friends started writing lectio divina styled scripture studies this year. They asked me to be a guest contributor for their most recent study, Waiting in the word: A Couple's Journey. This study centers around fertility and all the ways it affects our marriages. I am so honored to be a part of it. It's available for purchase now, and if you want to participate in an online study group it's kicking off this Sunday.


Blessed is She is also launching something new; By The Manger In The Morning, a prayer journal for Advent, written by fellow BIS writer, Elizabeth Foss. Each day has scripture readings, reflections, calls to actions, and space for you to journal and reflect in your own words. I got a sneak peak at this journal a few weeks ago as I was helping out with some editing. It is truly beautiful and so well written. I am really excited to use it to bring some calm to my own Advent and help keep me centered on Christ.

I know that Advent seems like a million miles away, but I check the calendar, and it starts in just 6 short weeks. Yikes! You can find the journal, as well as beautiful Jesse Tree cards and lovely Advent prints designed by the very talented Erica of Be A Heart, all in the Blessed is She shop. Check it out and get ready to have a great advent. 


I just started listening to the most amazing podcast. The West Wing Weekly. My SIL told me about it over the summer and I just got around to checking it out this week and oh my. It's pure gold. If you don't like, or have never seen The West Wing, first of all, these are problems we need to address. And secondly, I can guarantee that you will not like this podcast. It's main objective is to discuss episodes of The West Wing in great detail, WITH West Wing cast and crew members. But if you're a TWW fan you'll be in heaven.  Each episode is about an hour long, and I listened to 5 episodes yesterday. It's so good. And, as is true of all podcasts, it's perfect for knitting! 


We've got a date for our Catholic Women Bloggers Network Midwest Conference! (What a mouthful! Maybe we need to work on a shorter name.) It's going to be March 25, 2017, right here in St. Paul, MN. So if you're a Catholic woman who blogs, or is thinking of starting a blog, or a woman blogger who is Catholic-curious, save the date and join our Facebook group so as not to miss out on any other exciting announcements. Teaser: we've got our speakers lined up and will be announcing them soon. It's going to be a lot of fun.


We had some family photos taken last night by my very talented friends Kristen and Jameson. I had a lot of anxiety and indecision over what we all should wear and spent many minutes scanning Pinterest for some outfit combos to copy. I was feeling like maybe Alex and Johnny were too matchy and that maybe all my smiles were too forced, but Jameson posted a sneak peak on their Facebook page that put my mind at ease. Actually, I'm over the moon excited about them. Especially this one. Thank you Jameson for capturing our family so beautifully.  I can't wait to see the rest. 

For more quick takes head on over to Kelly's. Have an awesome weekend everyone!

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Mother's Act of Contrition

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for all the yelling I did today,
For losing my patience more times that I can remember,
For rolling my eyes, and slamming doors,
And forgetting that they're just babies, and they don't know any better.

I'm sorry for failing to be a good partner to my husband,
For blaming him when my day is difficult,
As if his day spent with other adults is somehow responsible for my children's terrible naps.
And for forgetting that we are in this parenting thing together.

I'm sorry for choosing to do bad, and failing to do good.
For being selfish instead of serving,
For trying to escape instead of being present,
For seeking earthly comfort instead of Heavenly treasure.

I know that these things grieve Your heart, and I know that I don't deserve Your mercy.

But I know that You still love me.
Because after my child threw the most epic of tantrums,
And after he spent three minutes in the time-out chair,
I wanted nothing more than to pull him into my arms and say I love you.

In these moments I can see what it must be like for You to love me through all my faults and failings.
Nothing my child could do could make me love him any less,
Even though sometimes he makes me want to pull my hair out.
I'm so grateful that this is only a shadow of what Your love for me must be like.

Help me, with Your grace, to start again, O Lord.
Help me, with Your grace, to see every hardship as an opportunity to share Your cross.
Help me, with Your grace, to remember my children are the sheep You have asked me to feed, the mission field you have placed me in.
Help me, with Your grace, to give myself to my family, even as You gave Yourself for us.
Help me, with Your grace, to love the way You love me.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sick Babies and Our New Normal

Johnny's school sends out an email every time a kid contracts some sort of contagious illness. In the first three weeks of school we've gotten two alerts for strep throat, as well as an alert for pink eye and pneumonia. Every one of these emails makes me wonder if we're doing the right thing sending Johnny to school and maybe he's too little and just needs to be at home and maybe we'd all be better off if he just stayed at home. I have to remind myself that with weekly trips to usually three different groceries stores (Trader Joe's, Aldi, and Target, in order of favorite to least favorite) and with 20 piano students coming into our house every week, there is no way we could avoid germ exposure, and I should just settle down. I also shouldn't be surprised that both of my kids got sick this week.

Johnny stayed home from school on Monday as a result. And even though he's only been in school for three weeks I've gotten pretty used to having just Trixie around during the days. We miss Johnny when he's gone, we talk about him all the time and look forward to picking him up at 3:00, but I was a little terrified about having both of them at home all day Monday. It's only been three weeks! Have I really forgotten how to be a mom of two already?

It ended up being fine. They both hate the Nose Frida now. We played lots of trains and Johnny only made Trixie cry about 26 times.  But it just amazed me at how quickly I got used to having him in school, when I was so anxious about it at the beginning of the year.

It's been three weeks and Johnny in school has become our new normal. We get up at 6:45 everyday (except Friday) so that Alex and Johnny are ready to leave the house at 7:30. Alex drops Johnny off on his way to class, and I pick up Johnny when he's done at 3:00. I teach piano lessons after school three days a week.  We have dinner together. We hang out for a while, then we get the kids ready for bed. That's our routine and we're pretty used to it.

Johnny learned how to say "tomorrow" this week. At night when we're putting on pajamas he will say "bedtime, school, morrow." And sometimes he'll add on "papa's car." The fact that he's putting three words together on his own is amazing, and not something he could do even a month ago. But he also seems to understand what's going on. He can tell us a little about what he did that day, and he can talk about what he's going to do tomorrow. I love being able to hear what he's thinking about. This is only one example, but things like this happen everyday that make us feel so good about our decision to put him in school. Even if our germ exposure this year has gone up by about 500%.

Friday, September 23, 2016

7 quick takes vol. 27: things I'm pumped about.

linking up with Kelly for some quick takes. 


You guys, it's been a good week. I think it's because I'm still riding the waves of the amazing retreat I got to go on last weekend. You guys know that I have been writing for Blessed is She for about 2 years now. Well, last weekend, for the first time ever, we had a Blessed is She Team Retreat.  Almost all the writers, plus creatives, plus our beautiful founder Jenna all gathered in the woods of Wisconsin for some In-Real-Life togetherness.  And it was amazing, for so many reasons:

1.  Meeting people in real life who I have stalked online for the last 2 years, or longer.

2. Having lots of meaningful conversations, prayer time, and the like.

3. Talking more about what it means to do women's ministry.

4. Being totally spoiled and pampered by Nell and her family at their amazing lodge in the woods.
If you're on Instagram and look up the hashtag #BISteamretreat you can get a pretty good idea of what the weekend was like.

It was such a blessing to be there and I'm still not quite sure how I got so lucky as to fall in with such an amazing and holy crowd.

This was the "Dance Party" playlist for the weekend.  If any dancing actually happened it was after I went to bed.  But it's a super fun playlist so I wanted to share it with all of you!


Sunday after the retreat I got to go to a calligraphy class taught by Erica, who designs the logos for Blessed is She, as well as the amazing planner that everyone, including myself, is now in love with.  I have always wanted to learn calligraphy but never thought I would be able to because I am left-handed.  But I totally learned! And it's awesome!


So, this one is kind of random, but I'm just so excited about it.  We have been having trouble getting the fitted sheet to stay on our bed. Every day the elastic corners creep up the sides of the mattress and everyday I pull them back down. We have a memory foam topper on our bed that makes it quite a bit taller, and so regular sheets don't stay on that well. Alex found sheets with "deep pockets." And all I could think of was making a decorative plaque says, "I like my men like I like my sheets, with deep pockets."

But the deep pocketed sheets still wouldn't stay on the mattress.  So then Alex, (who is very determined) thought, "if only there was something like suspenders that you could put on the underside of your mattress to hold the sheets in place." 

Guess what? There is! And guess what? They really work! No more having to pull the fitted sheet down over the mattress every morning.

It's the little things.


I got a pair of Crocs. Yes, I know they're ugly. But my feet hurt! I got them as indoor shoes to wear, mostly while I'm standing in the kitchen making dinner. I usually do this barefoot, and my feet have been really sore lately. So I got some Crocs. I got the flats and they're actually kind of cute. And they're really comfortable. So I don't care!


We decided to check out the first episode of This Is Us last night. I don't want to give away any spoilers to folks who haven't watched it yet. All I will say is I cried my way through it, of course. There's a very interesting twist in the plot and I still get goosebumps when I think about it. We will definitely come back next week for more.

But I think I confused some of my Instagram friends when I posted a picture of one of the main characters and said I was watching my brother on TV. To clear up any confusion, Milo Ventimiglia is not my brother.  BUT he looks exactly like my brother. And they have all the same mannerism. I've thought this since I first started watching Gilmore Girls many moons ago. And now that Milo has a beard the likeness is even more pronounced.  It's actually kind of freaky.

See what I mean?


I think I've mentioned before that my little sister is a professional hair stylist and she is always one step ahead when it comes to all things fashion. When we were little she was always trying to steal my makeup and borrow my clothes. But now, oh how the tables have turned.  One of my favorite things to do when she comes over to babysit my kids is dig through her giant makeup bag and play with all the super high-end goodies in there. 

Well, knowing me as she does, she got me an Ipsy subscription for my birthday and I got my first delivery last week. It's always fun to get mail, but when it's makeup, it's like a party! I loved all my products, but the best by far was the Bombshell nail polish they sent me. I normally don't even bother painting my fingernails because they just chip within a day or two, But I am going on one week and my nails still look great! 

The rest of my bag included a mascara, a contour brush, a conditioning hair mask, and a BB cream that is perfect for my skin. It's only $10 a month and the quality of everything is amazing. I think I just might keep it up even after my gifted months are over. If you want to use my referral link to check it out you will score me some points. Thanks! 


I have been so fascinated by the Describe Yourself In Three Fictional Characters thing that's been going around all the social media. I've been thinking about this long and hard for the last couple of days and here's what I came up with for myself.

Tami Taylor, responsible and sticks to her principles. Molly Weasely, nurturing and worries about her family a lot and will stick up for them no matter what.  And Anne Shirley, wildly imaginative, and short tempered.  And all of these great ladies have red hair. So there you have it!

Have a great weekend, y'all! 

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