Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Second Generation Homeschooling

Where did my babies go?! I am seriously in shock every time the UPS man comes by and drops off another book order. Get out of here! We always planned on homeschooling our kids. But if 5 years of parenting has taught me anything, it has taught me that things don't always go according to plan, every kid is different, and always always ALWAYS have a stash of chocolate. Not for the kids. For yourself.

I am thankful that we are able to homeschool this year--
and look forward to whatever adventures are to come!

Isaiah and Judah are twins born 15 months apart. They don't cope well without each other and it would seriously crush them to be separated. Thus, the brothers are doing kindergarten! The little nerds.

I was homeschooled 3rd-12th grade, and my husband was homeschooled for a couple of years as well. I've had so many people look at me and tell me, "Well, since you were homeschooled this will be easy for you." False. I was homeschooled, but I wasn't the educator-- ordering books, putting together lesson plans, making sure all the subjects were checked off the list. I'm just as intimated as the next rookie! Someone get me a sensei.

I shared over on Instagram a moment I had with my aunt. She's a homeschool veteran with eight kids of her own. These words are my mantra this year:

"I was going on about 'all the things' I want to commit to for the school year-- and she just kindly smiled and shook her head. 'I'm going to tell you what I wish someone would have told me when I was at your point,' she said. 'This is the only time in your life where all of your kids are happy to be doing the same thing in the same place. Your attention to them isn't much divided yet.' Sometimes I focus on how hard it is that everyone is very dependent on me right now and forget how easy it is at the same time! Per my aunt's advice, you will probably find us all snuggled in and reading books on the couch this school year... because she's right! All the extras are coming. But for now, we are all really good with just being little. I'm sure I'll look back and think, 'Man, I'm glad she stopped me in my tracks.'"

Isn't that good? I feel like those words affirmed me so well as a homeschooling momma. I am so looking forward to living and learning with my kids this year.

Here's a glance at what our Charlotte Mason inspired Catholic Kindergarten will look like this year:

This book. I want to grab a cup of tea and curl up in the pages. It is so restful and freeing to be using Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home. Elizabeth Foss gets me. It's less about the details and more about the journey.

A Beka K5 Math

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons- I watched my siblings learn to read from this program! It is so easy to teach and is perfect for 3 1/2 - 5 year olds. HIGHLY recommend. A "no cry" approach to learning how to read. And that's what we need around here. Less tears!

Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven: A Catholic Preschool Curriculum

This one is so sweet and perfect for us. Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven: A Catholic Preschool Curriculumoffers a gentle outline for pre-k. Scripture, saints, poetry, excellent book lists, and ideas for math, science, and art based around the letters of the alphabet. Less "book work" and more "real life application".

My kids also love Catholic Children's Treasure Box Set 1-20!!!! These are colorful, easy to follow, and perfect for my little learners. Saints, guardian angels, poems, activities, and more!!! I love how the stories and characters continue throughout the series. These are what we read when snuggling on the couch together. They are special.


There's no line between home and school in my brain. Learning happens in pajamas around half eaten bowls of cereal- it happens while folding laundry or jumping on the trampoline- it happens while working in the garden and making dinner. Some days will be more organized and "put together", but most will be busy and alive as we seize the moments to learn from our books, from the situations we find ourselves in, from the world around us, and from each other.

I'll report back every now and then as this school year develops and let you know how things are going! Or not going!? I'm sure we will have lots to share on what we love and not-so-much. Until then, if anyone wants to be this guinea pig's Jedi master step right up!!!

Because these pictures and ideas are nice and all, but real life is like...

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Wild Church

My grandma always tells this story of the time I went out and picked strawberries. I brought them in, mud and all, washed them, removed stems, and put them in the fridge. All by myself. I was 6 years old. It is still my favorite fruit.

Dressed from head to toe for the wild blackberry patch, I will never forget holding my breath, on the edge of the field, as my grandma sprayed me down with bug repellent for the hunt. After a long cool shower with Dial soap, I would run up to my grandma's kitchen where she would have those berries all rinsed and ready to go swimming in a bowl of fresh whipping cream. It was magic.

My grandma taught me most of what I know about the land and it's ways.
I love to garden because of her.

I meet God in the garden; my wild church full of good fruit and a few unruly weeds - all jumping out of their pews, praise hands, guts and glory - alleluia.

Every day is Sunday here, and the congregation is full of all types; old, young, diseased, healthy, weak, strong, stubborn, lazy, and just ripe. All shapes and sizes fall in, represent. Tending, weeding, guiding, harvesting - a gentle communion - God coming to earth to do His work for us and in us.

I am drawn to the land. I think it's because it feels like He's been here, is still here; extending His hand to me and my family in the gift of fruit. Every visit a surprise. Color so alive you can taste it. I think it's because I feel close to grandma here; extending her motherly wisdom, taking care of me, so I can take care of my family.

We bought a home this spring with a yard big enough for a garden, but I chose to plant on my grandparents' land in the country instead. I didn't want to miss the chance for me, for my kids, to spend time with grandma and grandpa doing something so rich and life-giving. Tabby dog runs around the yard, happy to see us. Grandpa revs up a tractor or lawn mower to the delight of two little boys. Grandma drives around in her John Deere gator passing on her secrets, handing me a hoe, stopping to dig up some carrots for me or take baby Bella for a spin.

And I think it's important. I think it's vital that we step away from the rush of the American lifestyle and slow down, breathe a little, grow something outside of ourselves. I feel like I am suffocating sometimes as the to-do list creeps up to my neck. Someone always needs something, there is always something to be done. But in the garden we are on God's time, and I like that.

This year we are growing green beans, peas, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, sweet corn, zucchini, spaghetti squash, and lettuces! We've also been able to harvest apples, peaches, blueberries, black raspberries and strawberries! Thank you, Lord, for the land, for grandma and grandpa, for the life you've given to the generations that gather around the garden for communion with You. Amen.

For more #tlfgarden15 adventures -- catch us on INSTAGRAM!!!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

6 Years

He taught me to drive his motorcycle on this country road. We caught fireflies and took a walk that night as well. He told me, "Hey, you know you're leading this walk as much as I am, right?" I don't even remember responding. I was willing to walk all night; the night I fell in love with Nathan.

I tried to convince him to date one of my Christian girlfriends. I'm not particularly good at playing matchmaker or anything, I just get a kick out of the imaginary pairings and mock marriages in my brain. Needless to say, he didn't like my idea. And he still doesn't like it when I go playing matchmaker for other people. He calls me "Emma" sometimes. Any Jane Austen fans? It usually means: A.) Badly done, Brittany or B.) Stop it now.

"I've got the perfect gal for you to date," I told him one afternoon while riding on the back of his bike.

"Can you just find me someone... like you?"

He was dead serious. Always so forward. For real- it was a little painful to watch him fall all over himself, making passes at me time and again. It was adorable, but painful. Haha. It was as cheesy as you are imagining. Now Nathan admits to feeling no control over the words that were coming out of his mouth. He's told me that he would say things and then his inner monologue read: "WHAT AM I DOING?!" Love does crazy things to the human heart. Turns people into walking Hallmark cards!

One time I was sitting at the bar at Applebees, where we both worked, waiting on my food, when he just real subtly dropped, "You're really cute!" To offset the awkwardness, I awkwardly replied, "I know." He just pushed further, "No, you are cuter than you know!" Yea, ok, buddy. Ha. I wasn't in a position where I could date him. Heck, I wasn't even sure I wanted to date him! I seriously would get rid of serving shifts when we were scheduled to work together because I just wanted to "be friends".

At least that's what I told myself.

Like the scene from Little Mermaid, when Ariel is in big trouble with her dad, "He's a human! You're a mermaid!" Every girl born in the 80's has this memorized by heart, am I right? But yea, I had something similar reeling through my head, "I'm a Catholic! And he's a Nazarene!" He doesn't like that. He'd tell you, "Christian." Which is true, but he has the vibes of a Nazarene. It paints the picture and adds to the drama here. So I'm gonna leave it.

My mom fell in love with him first. That's not awkward. She MADE me invite him out to this study she was leading called Theology of the Body. Literally, she put the phone book (remember when?) in my hand and told me not to come out of my room until I had called and asked him to attend. Luckily he said "yes" and I got to come out of my room. So basically it was an arranged marriage.

The night of the first meeting he came out on his motorcycle. We sat at the same table together with a bunch of other young adults, including my boyfriend at the time. Afterwards we had a bonfire in my backyard where Nathan shamelessly sang a song that he wrote for me. In front of current boyfriend. I thought nothing of it, but I'm pretty sure my boyfriend told me that he would "rip his face off" if Nathan sang to me again. And my mom was all like, "Oh my gosh! Nathan is wonderful!" #facepalm. I like to think we gave Nicholas Sparks a run for his money.

So after all that, I did the only logical thing to do. I asked him out.


The relationship with the boyfriend was rapidly ending anyway and I was hurt, and probably should have waited to officially "break up", but I didn't. And this is exactly why I tell people NOT to date in high school. It just rarely makes for a comfortable story to share. Ha.

Nathan picked me up from my hair appointment that day. And when he dropped me off, he prayed with me. I couldn't see straight between my broken heart and growing fondness for him. I liked this man. A lot. He felt like home. You know what I'm talking about? I just knew, ok?! Cliche of all cliches.

It wasn't a few weeks later, after my previous relationship was officially over, that we stood on my back porch together.

"What am I going to do with this heart?" Nathan asked.

"You're gonna marry it," I prophesied.

Apparently I'm forward too. Match made in heaven.

And just like that, 3 years later, after breaking up and getting back together 3 times, we realized that King Triton was wrong all along. Humans and Mermaids can totally get married if God wants them too.

Celebrating 6 years.
Happy Anniversary to us. XO.

P.S. I'm the mermaid. Nathan is the human. In case anyone was confused.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

I Quit Cutting Myself

She asked me, "What happened in the fall, Brittany?"

I closed my eyes and let the words of the text message, blaring like a tornado siren, race through my memory; searching the hard drive. Where is it? All those pieces! They have to be here somewhere. The shards of glass, the remains of something so beautiful, shattered by bitterness and resentment - coursing through my entire being.

I am cutting myself.

"Nathan, you have to take me to the house."

It had been a year since I had last asked. I am sure he thought I was finally moving on. His clear, merciful eyes - rings of dark brown, wild fire surrounded by pools of blue - met mine and I could feel the pity. Not the kind of pity that comes with being pathetic, but the kind that sees and feels and knows because he understands my heart as if it were his very own. He has walked through that abandoned house with me before. More than once - holding my hand, sitting on the back porch, playing in the yard with our children, gathering the forgotten lilacs, collecting remnants -an old roasting pan, Mason jars, a red scarf- left behind when they vacated in a hurry.

"Maybe this will be the last time she needs to go here. To be here."

// this is a real picture posted on Facebook from the first time I went back

It doesn't really make much sense. It's just the house that I grew up in. Four strong, historical brick walls erected at the very heart of town. Made of mortal materials. All passing. In the grand scheme of eternity, the mighty fortress is really just a tent that will one day be totally blown away like any other grain of sand in the dessert. It shouldn't matter. But it does.

I begged my mom to stay, to wait it out. Time is often the enemy, and in this case it definitely was, but I had hope of conversion. Maybe time would eventually be our friend and bring back together what was being torn apart. She yelled at me that night. Told me I was too young to understand the situation. Perhaps 22 was too young. I will never know. He drank more than he should. Maybe that was part of it. The disconnect, the job loss, the lack of means to keep the house. Gone. But I know daddy cared.

The bedroom where I stayed up late whispering with my sisters, the big, orange 1980's kitchen bar - a thousand family meals vanishing into thin air - the hook hanging in the living room that held our homemade advent wreath every year - hopes, dreams, prayers - pear trees, the garden. There were no more chapters to be written. We had reached the end of the book.

I left that house as a proper "home" for the last time on June 21st, 2009. It was the weekend of my little sister's wedding. It was the sweetest of occasions - so happy and joyful that the weight of saying goodbye to our family home seemed silly. Too silly to be sad. I was distracted. I jetted off back to Ohio- back to work- back to college- back to plan my own coming wedding. I didn't say "goodbye."

I woke up that September. It had only been a few months. The weddings were over and my parents and younger siblings had begun a life out on Long Island. "I want to go home," I told my new husband. Slowly, counting his words, he said, "Babe. You ARE home." I couldn't breathe so I cried. I couldn't go home so I panicked. So this is the source of the sirens; blaring and etching such a tragedy deep into my skin.

That was the first time I got so sick. And every year after for five years, the cycle has repeated itself. Always sick in the fall. Diagnosed autoimmune. It all makes sense now. Emotional trauma strong enough to take hold of my cells and use them against me. Inflammation burning, antibodies screaming, my entire being rejecting a growing list of foods. Maybe because it all happened in the fall. The waking up, the realizing that it all hurt so much - my heart so beaten and bruised. "They" took the house from me. "He" took the house. "She" took the house. "God" took the house. And now I can't go home.

I decided to stay broken that September. Knocked down from one too many childhood memories, I decided to stay down. In my mind I rationed that no one would hurt someone who is already hurting. Right? I was betting on the mercy of Jesus and mankind. Take it easy on me. I'm wounded down here. I used bitterness and resentment as fuel to drive me to pick up shard after shard of that shattered house, buried deep within my soul, and cut myself. Over and over again. Stay broken. Keep bleeding. Easier than being hurt again. Build new walls. Thick as unforgiven.

She texted again, "Once you locate the wounded memory, you must forgive everyone involved and you must forgive yourself for being vulnerable, for not forgiving sooner." Her words didn't feel like real life. You know when someone is talking as somehow each word means everything even though there's no way they could possibly know? It was like that.

Grace. God must have been holding some back for me, because I somehow found enough hope to pull myself up off the floor, release my emotional fists full of glass, and go ask my husband to take me "home" one more time.

I wore black that day as if I were going to a funeral. We pulled up and I slowly opened the van door. Nathan asked if he should go with me, but I said it was ok - "I need to do this."

I slipped the key to the back door off of my key ring. Five years. A daily reminder of loss. A token of pain that I treasured for all the wrong reasons. An excuse to hurt myself. All those years, I let it hang with all the other keys to my "life". Like a disease it spread deep and wide.

I walked into the yard, into my old garden, all overgrown with grass and such, and in the cold, December air, just days before Christmas, I looked up to heaven and told God I was sorry. Sorry for not letting Him heal me. Sorry for taking bitterness and resentment as my gods. I forgave all those involved. I forgave myself.

Kneeling down, I pushed that key into the hard, frozen ground - breaking the earth this time instead of my heart. I buried that key with tears falling from my eyes, and hope rising in my soul.

I'm done. I'm done cutting myself from the inside out.

A few months later I found myself sitting in the office of a Christian counselor I found by doing a Google search. That could have gone so badly, but luckily "Matt" was a swell guy who made a big impact on my life.

He asked me one day, "Are you willing to let God heal you in HIS ways?"

So often we have this list of ways we want God to heal us or those we love. Here. Here. And here. In this order, by this date, please and thank you. Amen. Like small children we either ignore a wound to keep on playing or we demand a band aid without thought of being cleansed. How easy it is to forget that wounds need to be cleaned before bandaging to prevent infection, further spread, deeper damage.

His ways always seem to surprise me. As if 28 years of being His daughter has taught me nothing. Like the day I got that text message from a friend. Like the moment I felt Him ask for the key to my childhood home. Like the night I knelt in the garden and let it all go. Like the moment I stopped making myself bleed.

I stood up after burying that key for the first time in a long time. I decided to get off the ground and not be broken anymore. I decided to let Him heal me and run the risk of being knocked down again. Because that's what happens in this world. We live with Goliaths and Pontius Pilates. But spoiler alert - the good guy always wins. I would do well to remember that and quit dealing with the devil and his lies.

It's not like every day of my life is puppies on a beach now. Healing is a journey. And even if I keep getting sick every fall for the rest of my life, I am still glad I decided to let God "heal me in HIS way" because life is too short to not live fully alive. I don't want to "go home" anymore, I truly don't. I was released that day in the garden.

Funny. It all started in a garden so long ago. A fall so great the wound spread, a deadly disease, throughout all mankind. And then one glorious Good Friday God came down to rescue me, to rescue us, from our misery. He's in the business of masquerading as text messages to get our attention. He's in the business of meeting us in the gardens of our lives and undoing all that's been tragically done. And He's in the business of getting us "home."

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

And We're Back

It's like The Lily Field: Season 2.
Welcome back, my friends. Welcome back!

It has been so nice to step away for awhile and gather myself.
Third baby did me in, y'all. I thought being the oldest of 5 children was plenty
of parenthood prep. Wrong. Like how I also thought that being homeschooled was a license
for an easy-peasy approach to homeschooling my own brood. Wrong again. Ha.

Live and learn. Live. And. Learn.

I AM learning. And letting go. I've lowered my expectations to a whole new level
and it just feels good. Like not doing laundry for 7 days straight kind of good. And letting
myself eat cereal for breakfast?! Amazing. I know what you're thinking now.
Miss Uptight Underwear needs to let her hair down. That's what!

Oh it's down. At least in a half pony tail.

We have had so much going on with having a third baby, buying a new home, moving towns,
changing jobs, going on vacation, post partum counseling, taking care of family, etc.

I literally have had like 8 skillets on a four burner stove. Something had to give.
And so I gave The Lily Field so that I could give to the people that are physically present
in my life every second of every day. Family. I love them.

I love you too. Just not as much. Ha.
For real though - prayed for my readers often!!!

Anyway! I am excited to start sharing more about our latest adventures once again!!!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blogging and Cold Turkey

It's been two+ weeks since I last blogged.

The crickets around here might not be bothering anyone else, but they are kind of
bugging me. Pun intended. I'll be here with mom jokes all day, people. Ha.

Life is happening so quickly right now; the drama splintering off in half a dozen
different directions at a time. As soon as I feel like I've got it all reeled in and
under control, my line slips and something is getting away from me... again.

I just can't do it all. And that is hard as stale gumballs to admit. I mean, I CAN do it all.
I know I can. I've done it before. But I guess I'm choosing NOT to in this season of life. I'm choosing PAUSE and chucking FAST-FORWARD. Because I'm good at running and doing and delivering all
the things, for all the people, all the time, but sometimes, something has got to give.

Thus, I give you cold turkey.

Without going into terrible detail, I admit, you've caught me, I AM EXHAUSTED.
Like, "Whoa, I have 3 children under the age of 5" exhausted. You know it's bad when...

6:27A.M. I rolled over in bed to find my 3 year old standing next to me staring at my face.
Never ceases to freak me out. And do you want to know what he asks?

Judah: "Mom, do you want me to turn on Netflix so you can keep sleeping?"

P.S. That is a BALLOON taped to his face as a mustache.
This is exactly what I'm talking about.
Reasons why I can't blog right now. Ha.

Someday they are going to bring me breakfast in bed too! Ha! Just kidding. Maybe cold turkey?
It just flows out of me! My kids are going to luuu-uv me when they grow up.

Really though, I was hoping to tie in the cold turkey thing to walking away from my blog
here to give me some time to gather myself. Hopefully my blog's crisis won't last long.
But you never know with these things. I want to come back with new, bright, and shiny
things to share with you all!!! Because my heart is here. I think God is here.

I've seen Him work through The Lily Field in crazy ways. For that: *praise hands*.
No kidding. He is good. All the time. So I'm going to retreat for a little while with Him
and let Him do His thing with me. Always have Your way with me, and this field, Lord.

7:44PM. Checking out at Whole Foods.

Cashier: "Two kids, huh?!"
Me: "Believe it or not, there's a third in this stroller."
Cashier: "Got any big plans for after this?"
Me: ** laughing out loud ** "Yes. After we have a meltdown in the parking lot,
we are going home to have another meltdown, and then go to bed."

Cashier: "Gotcha!"

And Bella is all like, "WHO?! WHAT?! BRB, peeps."

I'm sure you all can relate, right?
Until we meet again.


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I Have to Earn My Husband's Love

Marriage is funny. It's like you think you know someone well enough to go and marry
them, vowing to spend the rest of your God-given life by their side, and then you wake up,
oh every other morning, like, "WHO ARE YOU?!"

Don't get me wrong. It's pretty fantastic. The quirkier the better, right?
Change, habits, old jokes that are getting reeeeally old, and the whole new level
of "I just farted under the covers and I don't care" comfort -- are gold.

Marriage is basically an Ivy League level education in EVERY department.
For example: after my husband successfully switched my old phone to a new one...

Nathan: "Did you get my texts?"
Me: "Yes."
Nathan: "Are you sure?"
Me: "Yea, you said, 'That will be $75. In kisses!'"
Nathan: "The next time you send me a flirtatious text I am go to read it back
to you like an Encyclopedia article."


They don't teach THAT in Marriage and Family where I went to school.
You got to learn those ropes in the trenches, people.

Mental note: respond better to flirtatious texts in the future.

This morning I woke up and found a very damp hand towel hanging by the shower in
our master bathroom. I felt bad as I chuckled at the thought of my husband drying
himself off with such meager material. And then I thought, "he didn't say a word."

We have TEN regular bath towels, all of which were dirty (which is saying a lot since we reuse towels) and he didn't mention it. Like he doesn't care that I'm not a laundry goddess or something. He also kissed my sleeping face goodbye around 7:30AM and didn't mention THAT either.
The whole I was sleeping, and he was going to work deal.

But in my defense, I didn't get to go to bed early like he did. It's like we have a 4 month
old and episodes of Fixer Upper to watch or something. Just sayin'. Ha.

I recently asked my husband to tell me all the ways that he felt loved by me.
I definitely was naïve in thinking that "all the ways" would be the same for "all the years".
Rookie wives. I tell ya.

After we both took some notes, Ivy League level notes, Nathan looked at me and asked if
I knew that I didn't have to earn his love.
That things like clean bath towels, dinner,
and an orderly home are nice, but not needed for him to love me.

I shot him the squinty eye and was like, "Um we should experiment with that. Pretty sure
you'd be fed up after a couple weeks of eating cereal for dinner and dousing yourself in
cologne to mask the dirty laundry fact."


Call me wounded I guess. My brain doesn't register that well, and it makes my heart hurt.
Work hard, get rewarded. Family of origin? Country of birth? Oldest child syndrome?
You just DO things and people are happy, right? Get it out of my head.

The other day my counselor asked me what I would say if my child came up to me and said,
"Mommy, I'm going to do everything I can to make you love me." WHOA.

"Stop," I sighed. I would say, "Stop. There's not ANYTHING you can do to add or take
away one ounce of my love for you."
It's complete. Whole. Unconditional.

And yes, I think that God maybe loves me like that; that my husband loves me like that.
It's mind blowing. A holy and humbling experience. Jesus' love is one thing, but to be
vulnerable to a human? To trust that I am enough and all the other things are nice,
but not needed? WHOA. Jesus, are you sure? Nathan, are you sure?

Whoever the Jesus, mother, father, child, husband, etc. figure is in your life...
are you sure?

Just rest in that.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary
and burdened, and I will give you rest."

- Matthew 11:28

Now I'm not saying things are perfect or anything, but it's nice to peel back another
layer, go one level deeper, take two steps forward and trust and feel and love in that
space of new vulnerability. All bath towels aside. It's warm and fuzzy until...

My husband walks in the door from work, still chatting away on that irritating little
earpiece I went and *rolls eyes* bought him for Christmas... "Who was that, hun?"

We'll call his pal, John.

Nathan: "Yea John set a wedding date with his fiancé. August 14th of this year!"
Me: "That's CRAZY!" I said, eyes lighting up with serendipity.
Me: "Do you know what August 14th is?"
Me: "Wow. Only took 5 years to forget our anniversary."
Nathan: "Well, what is August 9th then?"

Well, that must have been the day you married the other girl. I don't know! Are you
kidding me? I see a lot of drying off with hand towels in your near future, buddy.
Jk. Jk.

COME AS YOU ARE, oh forgetful one.
I love you.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blanqi Girl || answering FAQ

I would be lying if I told you that I feel so totally normal and content in my skin from pregnancy to postpartum. I think I'm like most gals out there. At least I hope I'm not alone! We know the incredible privilege and honor of carrying and bearing life, but also feel a little scared at times; unsure of ourselves, stretched, tired, given up for the tiny beautiful people who crown us:


I do love my body! And it has taken 3 pregnancies to arrive at that level of enthusiasm. All the weird aches and pains, stretch marks, and changes! Ricky Ricardo would say "ay-yi-yi." I kid you not, after Bella was born, I had 3 moles FALL OFF. Strange. But she is my third. Just another walk in the park. Nothing to see here. But I am more in love with the "new me" than I ever was with the "old me" because all the lines (and there are many under my one piece swimming suit) tell the greatest story of my life.
It's a trilogy called: Isaiah, Judah, and Bella.

In the ever-changing climate of motherhood, there has been one constant for me; a company that has delivered the one thing that I honestly feel like I can't do pregnancy or postpartum without: BLANQI.

If I was a tattoo kind of girl, I'd have (( BLANQI )) in ink over my heart.

I've raved about this company, the owners and designers, Valerie and Sabina, before.
And if you know me in real life, you know that I lose no opportunity to share the little
secret behind my maternity and postpartum clothing that is "holding it all together"!!!

// currently wearing this support tank

::: FAQ :::

can you wear it postpartum?
YES! I use the maternity underbust support tank postpartum the same way, and with as much frequency,
as I do when I am pregnant. I, unlike some lucky ducks I know, don't bounce back to pre-baby body very
quickly. The tank helps smooth everything out and hold up those pants that don't exactly fit just yet.
The fabric is tight enough that you can literally wear your pants unbuttoned and not worry about
anything showing. Makes me feel more like "me".

can you breastfeed in the tank?
Due to the underbust design, it truly is IDEAL for breastfeeding. The fabric keeps your tummy
and all covered; leaving momma and baby easy access to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
And the six other meals they need. Ha.

what is your favorite color?
I use the winter white, teal (limited edition) and deepest black. My favorite color is the
black because it works best with the colors in my wardrobe. I would buy the color that you most frequently prefer to wear in a camisole or layering tank top.

does it get stretched out?
I have gained 50-60 pounds with each pregnancy and I can testify that my BLANQI bodystylers
are as good today as they were the day I bought them. If you properly wash and care for your tanks,
you should never have a complaint. And NO - you do not have to dry it to make it shrink back to
preferred tightness/support. It's magical. Like a unicorn.

how does it compare to a belly band?
BLANQI offers ALL OVER support. This is not just about holding up your pants or taking some
pressure off your hips. The unique design literally helps spread out the weight, tension leaving
you in better posture and comfort. During my third trimester, I SLEEP in my BLANQI because it
helps THAT much. Also, unlike a belly band, the bodystyler helps smooth out EVERYTHING --
from your bust to your thighs. Can I get an "amen"?!

can you see it under your clothing?
You cannot see any funny lines. Not bulky. Not awkward looking.

is it worth the money?
Absolutely. You get what you pay for. Quality. Satisfaction. This is like the Cadillac of
bodystylers. Period. My sister and I have shared four different tanks (of various colors and
lengths) back and forth through SIX pregnancies (both gaining 50-60 pounds each time) over the
past 5 years and they are still functioning 100%. There you go.

what size do YOU wear?
I know the charting and all can be confusing. I am 5'7" - ranging from 130-190 pounds (pregnant
to postpartum.) I wear a MEDIUM. Hope that helps!

Want to try BLANQI?
Use my personal discount code: B117 at checkout to get 20% OFF your first purchase!!!
Feel free to ask me any questions if you need help! #blanqigirl #forever

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Yoga Pants and the Promised Land

Last weekend the husband and I were hashing out some details and dreams while
driving home from visiting my sister's family in Michigan. There was a lot of "YES!"
"TOTALLY!" and "DO IT!" thrown around. We were like a Nike commercial -
flying down the interstate. Put it on a list and shred it up, baby.

Speaking of babies, that reminds me...

When I DO have any "free" time - I tell you what! I am taking a shower, eating my
breakfast for lunch, and running a load of laundry for the sake of God bless clean underwear. Occasionally I'll get half my toenails painted and maybe run to the mailbox. It's like Christmas
came early on the days I make it to the grocery store with all three in tow.

Define "IN TOW": Always running in front of me, asking all the Costco employees if they
have gluten-free samples, and falling over, laughing hysterically in the check-out because
saying "desitin birthday" is basically the spoken form of a fart in their world.

I can't even wrap my mind around that. Boys.

And at night, when they all fall asleep, I am either penning love notes to my readers
here in the field or watching episode after episode of Property Brothers on Netflix.
Because my midnight snack is called "fried brain", my friends. Fried.

I wanted to be a nun at one point in my life. Cloistered sounded romantic.
And after all the marriage and babies, I woke up one morning to find that I actually took
a habit after all. It consists of black yoga pants and hoodies. *angelic choir sings*

My order allows me to wear make-up on special occasions, and take naps. But ONLY when
the entire community wants to take a nap. Which happens... um never. You don't even have
to think about fasting or feasting. It just happens! Starving, starving, feeding everyone
else --- and then PRAISE THE LORD you get to eat cake for lunch because it's way easier
than making a salad. Are you called?

It is the most silly, wonderful -- beautifully blessed - calling, my friends.
Yes, it busts and breaks me, but in the best ways. "How is having 3 kids?" people ask.
I'm not one to sugar coat reality, so I honestly admit that HAVING them is awesome!
Taking care of them now?! That's where it gets tricky. Wink.

But it is here in the cloister of my home that hearts and souls are being
loved, formed, raised to go out and meet the world some day. My quiver has three arrows.
Three arrows that can help pierce the darkness and make a difference for the Kingdom.

Call me Katniss Everdeen. For real. Do it. Ha.

"Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the Promised Land.
She prepares a world she will never see."
- Pope Paul VI

All those dreams and details? I'm living it. In my cloister. With my children.
Yes, I do not have all the time in the world to "shred it up", but I am given ENOUGH
time every day to take care of what GOD wants me to accomplish - and that's ok.

Yesterday I read a beautiful reflection over at Blessed Is She. All about Noah and his ark.
God's instructions, His plans, His desires for Noah and his family sounded ridiculous.
"Here, just build a ginormous ark in your front yard and gather animals and their mates -
load 'em up - bon voyage!"
Noah was called. He answered. He did ENOUGH with what time
was given to accomplish God's will -- and it SAVED THEM.

For me, motherhood is redeeming. It is my ark; complete with all the ridiculous
requests and adequate time to save them. To save me.

Diapers need to be changed, because we're going to the Promised Land.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bacon Sweet Potato Soup

I am interrupting the usually scheduled "heart-on-her-sleeve" post to bring you THIS.
Because I love you and want you to be happy in this life and the next.

Next week I am embarking on a 21 day allergen cleanse, and the very thought of having
all traces of dairy stripped from my gut makes me a tad weepy. But I know that the challenge
will shed more light on which foods are directly contributing to my issues. So carry on.

I've been experimenting in the kitchen with all the foods I CAN eat so that come next
week I don't break down and swing through the nearest drive-thru and order something,
anything, to eat my cares away. Because food is addicting. Withdrawal is no fun.

This recipe isn't technically paleo since it has kidney beans in it. But they are organic
and full of fiber -- so tone down, my cave people, tone down. I really find the whole term
"paleo" a bit funny myself. I feel like everyone acts like it's the diet from the dark ages,
but really, I think people were eating more "raw, fresh, gathered, unprocessed" just 3-4
generations ago. Like great-great grandma wasn't tempted by Twinkies, ya know?

I digress.

Please love this recipe tenderly as it is like a tropical island oasis to me here in Chiberia.
Also, please be patient. It is INVOLVED. But beginner chefs can totally apply. If you can
chop, follow a timer, and turn on a crockpot you're in business.

I should also mention that this soup is like a high-maintenance girlfriend. The kind that you
just don't want to quit. Because after all the crazy gets out, she's really a beautiful thing
in your life. Hold on to that. Hour 4 gets rough.

(Please note that bacon comes before sweet potato because I think more people
will want to eat this soup if it's worded that way. Am I right?!)

Use 5 qt. crockpot // turn heat on HIGH

2 large sweet potatoes, diced
4 C. of chopped cauliflower
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbls. of sea salt
Add enough water to cover and float veggies.
Let cook for about 2 hours or until veggies are soft, but not falling apart.


In separate skillet, fry 1/2 pd. of bacon - crumble when cooled + save grease (yea)
3 C. cooked + shredded pork roast (put leftovers to great use!)
6 C. of green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced
Add this, including bacon grease (channel your inner Pioneer Woman) to crockpot.
Pour in more water to cover everything if needed. Let cook for 1 more hour.

2 cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bag of frozen green beans
Add this to crockpot, stir, and continue to let cook for about another hour.

Taste and see the goodness of the crockpot. You will most likely need to add salt.
Add 1/2 tsp. at a time and see where you are at. It's tricky when using bacon and
pork roast -- so much saltiness there. Don't overdue or underdo. Be perfect. Like me.

Ha. That's a joke.

Get your bowls out, my friend!!! You just made bacon sweet potato soup and you
need to eat it. You could always leave it in the crockpot on "warm" for another
hour or two, but then we cannot be friends. And get this. DAY 2 of this stuff is
even BETTER. Because the longer those flavors mingle, the happier it all becomes!!!

Shut the front door.

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