Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Easter Morning Tradition

It's tradition around these parts to bake something that RISES on Easter morning!
How about you? Any special traditions for the Triduum?


It is really just a simple, but delicious, visual of what RISING to NEW LIFE
looks like for kids. Mix, pour, place in dark oven - which in the wild imagination is really
a tomb - and wait for it... the GLORY of risen baked goods!!!

If you're in the market for some gluten-free happiness coming out of your "tomb"
this Easter morning here are some of our favorite recipes that rise...

CINNAMON ROLLS

CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS

PUMPKIN SPICE BREAD


Don't miss the $50 GIVEAWAY to Matilda Jane Clothing!!!





















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Monday, April 14, 2014

Matilda Jane + $50 Giveaway


If I was a little girl, I would beg my mother to buy me all things Matilda Jane!!!
Seriously some the most whimsical, magical clothing I have ever seen!!!
Here are some of my favorites from their recent launch of IT'S A WONDERFUL PARADE!!!
Dare you not to wish you were 5 years old.


I was kind of thrilled to discover that they carry clothes for "big girls" too!!!
Their women's line is just as fun, free, and playful - cozy, comfortable...
I'm never taking this outfit off! Confession: I'm on day 3 with these pants.


I love that Matilda Jane has a heart for the DETAILS when it comes to their pieces.
The touch of some ruffle, the flair of buttoned arms, bright, but soft colors!!!
Perfect Spring/Summer wardrobe!!! Be sure to check out their latest collection!!!

Excited to be giving away a $50 gift card to one of my readers this week!
It can be used to make purchases via
TRUNK SHOWS, PHONE OR ONLINE at Matilda Jane Clothing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to U.S. & CANADA residents ONLY.
Enter to win between: Monday, April 14th, 2014 - Saturday, April 19th, 2014.
Winner will be notified via e-mail no later than Tuesday, April 22nd.
If winner fails to respond within 72 hours, the prize will be forfeited and
a new winner will be chosen. BEST OF LUCK!



_______________________________________________

Special THANKS to Matilda Jane Clothing for sharing this outfit
and giveaway with us!!! All opinions expressed are my own.










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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Making the Ordinary an Extraordinary Adventure


I was probably 10 years old - blindfolded with my sister and cousin, the best of friends,
in the back of my grandma's white Cadillac. It had to be around 10 o'clock at night. My grandma
was hooting and hollering from the driver's seat as all four of us bounced around - driving through
a freshly harvested corn field. We were only told to remove our blindfolds when we stopped and parked
in a deserted, dark parking lot. It was the back of Hardee's and we were getting milk shakes!
Just another one of grandma's famous "adventures."

She taught me the art of making the ordinary, every day "good" things,
an extraordinary adventure.


I still crave the thrill of it all. I find myself daydreaming and scheming about how I can bring the
littlest of things to a new level of ALIVE for my little ones, my husband. It's not about the money or
the fanciness of it all. It's all in the details, the anticipation, the cultivation of the imagination!!!

We celebrated my 27th birthday this past weekend...


My parents were so kind to take our little ones for a few days so that Nathan and I could spend
some quiet time together. I jokingly told Nathan that I feared I'd be falling all over my words -
not capable of carrying on a regular conversation - because I am so used to be interrupted 173x's before
I actually spit anything out. Luckily we were totally able to get in touch with our pre-children selves
and the weekend was W O N D E R F U L.

Sleeping in. Eating whenever we wanted. Not having to share bites off our plates.
Coming up with ideas and just doing them. Talking. Praying. Going to Mass without a bag
full of snacks. Holding hands. Sitting for hours at restaurants.

Ordinary life. Extraordinary adventure.


I know that I was drawn to Nathan many years ago because of his child-like-ness. Kindred spirits.
We speak often of remaining child-like, not to be confused with childish, so that we can see, feel,
touch the wonders available to the innocent at heart. This world spins fast. The sin and darkness
age us all more than the years going by, but I like to believe that when you attempt to step away
from it all, the ordinary, mundane, becomes closer to what God intended for us all.

We were born for extraordinary.

I'm thankful for 27 years of adventure. Here's to a lifetime.















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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Having Children Actually Enriched My Marriage

"You're going to wait to have a baby, right?"

"You're getting married, enjoy each other! There will be time for a family... down the road."

"I'm warning ya, kids change things."



Obviously such words had zero effect on me and my husband. In one ear and out the other,
ten months after we said "I DO" we were hauling home some very precious cargo: our first son.
We traded in spontaneous date nights for all-nighters with a tiny wide-eyed baby who wasn't even able
to "shoot the breeze" with us. Oh he'd shoot things out all right, but that usually landed us our 100th
diaper changing event of the day and a load of laundry. Sleeping-in on the weekends, taking our time to
eat meals, uninterrupted conversations became ghosts of the past.

We went through a withdrawal of sorts, for sure. Sometimes I still twitch just thinking about peeing
in silence with no creeping toddler to ask me all sorts of questions while I'm doing my duty.
It's the United States of America for crying out loud - I should be free to pee alone.

We now have two children- 2 and 3 years old. Yea, the whole "wait to have children" thing
was like water off a duck's back for us. Come again? The other day, after a long weekend, my husband
and I were dying to be alone, hear ourselves think, maybe even take a nap. We ran to our bedroom
and hid under the covers giggling and wondering how long it would take before our children
realized we had gone into hiding.

Sixty seconds later, our youngest burst into our bedroom, triumphantly shouting, "I FOUND THEM!"
He climbed right up in bed, pushed us apart, and wiggled his little body right smack between us.
We lovingly refer to him as "Wedge."

I'm not trying to sugar coat it for you here or anything, but
would you believe me if I said, crossed my heart and pinky swore, that having children
actually enriches my relationship with my spouse?


Yes, there are moments when it feels like we are in two separate boats sailing away from each other as we
run this marathon of parenthood, but that is precisely what keeps us re-grouping, coming back together,
stepping up our game, and falling more in love as the years go by.

Raising babies is not easy.
Faint of heart and those seriously opposed to all things "bodily fluid" need not apply.
But if one can get over those minor details and find oneself staring into the eyes of a little person
created from the love a husband and wife share, I promise that "things will change." Now, it will be the
biggest oxymoron of your life - you'll give up anything, a million sacrifices, but gain everything.

And it will be so worth it.

When I see my husband cradling our child in his arms, I am reminded of all the times he stole me away
into his arms and lavished his love on me. I look at my children and see reflections of "us" - traits of
him and me - our love blended together and poured out into two human beings.
Every day we lay down our lives, as a team, to bring life to this family we have created.
It is binding; unifying in the most mind-blowing of ways. The rush, day in and day out,
to survive and thrive reminds us that we need each other as husband and wife
- that we must take time to re-group, re-charge together in the
love that started it all.


Having children has truly enriched my marriage.
The family that many thought should be "down the road" for us is our current destination
that we wouldn't trade for the whole, wide world.

I do believe babies + parenting + marriage is what you make of it, but if you decide together that the
"Wedge" will not conquer and divide, I'd say good things are head

-even if you never pee behind a closed door again.



Want to keep up with all the crazy? Yea, me neither.

Follow on Bloglovin

INSTAGRAM is where it's at. Just sayin'.
Because I forget that Twitter exists.





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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Childrenisms

Last weekend we had some new friends and their little girl over for dinner.
Dinner was promptly followed by entertainment. Provided by my children of course.
They pull out all the stops. Be our guest.

So our friend asked their little girl, "Did you put things in their toilet?"
To which she responded, "No, it was the boys!"

From the dining room table, I see my 3 year old put his arm around our 2 year old -
both proudly beaming and nodding their heads: "Yea, we did it!"

I didn't even want to look. Just assess the damage and let me know. My husband kept sighing,
shaking his head, and saying, "It's a lot." What does that even mean?! A lot of what... Qtips?


We're talking:
Razors, travel-size shampoo and conditioner, pads, tampons, bobby pins, rubber bands,
blush, eye shadow, make-up brushes, a can of mace, a tube of lipstick, hair gel...


A couple flushes later and my husband was REMOVING the toilet to go "fishing."

Items FOUND:


A few days later I asked Isaiah: "Are you ever going to throw stuff in my toilet again?"
Isaiah, dead seriously: "Yes, I am."
Me: "I don't think you understood my question."
Isaiah: "I mean no?"
Maybe we should duct tape them shut, just in case?

Isaiah: "I'm going to marry Judah."
Judah: "Dude, you can't marry me. I'm a boy."
Isaiah: "Well, then I'm going to marry momma."
Judah: "She's already married, buddy."
Isaiah: "Well, if you turn into a girl, I'll marry you."
Judah:


Nathan: "It is good to confess our sins to God."
Isaiah: "Like saying 'damn it' - 'butt' and 'penis'???
Judah: "I'm sorry for saying 'bottom'.
My inner monologue: They totally used this opportunity to say all the "bad" words...
to punish or not to punish?!


Me: "Do you know what a cinnamon roll is?"
Isaiah: "Ummm... ummm... I bet the grocery store has one?"
Me: "Yea, but what is it?"
Isaiah: "I have NO. IDEA."
Me: "It's like a doughnut, but with cinnamon and frosting!"
Isaiah: "And I'm pretty sure I can't eat doughnuts, mom."

Me: "DO NOT lick the water out of your carseat cupholders!"
Judah: "Oh I'm licking it!"
Me (in a sing-song voice): "You're gooooooing to geeet siiiiick."
Judah (mocking sing-song voice): "Nooooo I'm nooooot."


Isaiah: "Mom you are big."
Me: "What does that mean?"
Isaiah: "Like. Um. Yea."
Me: "No really. I can handle it. What do you mean?"
Isaiah: "Liiiiike you're tall?"

Isaiah: "You're driving me nuts, kid."
Judah: "Yea, well I'm driving you nuts."
Isaiah:

Nathan: "You guys can do some jobs around the house to earn some money."
Isaiah: "Like color?"
Nathan: "Like no."



















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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This is for the birds.

No seriously, this is for the birds.

My precious sister sent my boys a "craft-in-a-box" care package last week.
This is such a fun idea on so many levels!!! She included all the tools necessary to do
TWO springtime crafts (glue sticks AND an instruction manual?!) -
it was like Kiwi Crate all over again, but with such a personal, loving touch!

Within minutes of opening the package, my kids were begging to put the bird feeders
together. For some reason they thought THEY were going to get to eat the peanut butter
and bird seed. They were disappointed when I told them, "no." Like I was trying to save
their lives our something. Mothers.

Had to share this idea though!
It would be fun to pack up and send to some little ones that you
love, or just make at home with your own...


SUPPLIES NEEDED:

Empty toilet paper rolls
Popsicle sticks
Paper hole punch
String
Peanut butter + a spreading tool
Bird seed + paper plate

BASICALLY:

Spread peanut butter all over toilet paper roll (that you have hole-punched in four places /
two lined up holes for the popsicle stick and two for the string). Roll in bird seed. Insert
popsicle stick. Tie on string for hanging in the tree. Go feed some birds! Or squirrels.








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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Catholics knock on doors too...


When I was 17 years old I went on a "Holy Week" mission trip down to Atlanta, GA.
I had recruited a bunch of people to go, but wasn't particularly thrilled to be going myself.
It honestly had been years since I spent Easter with my actual family, and the idea of waking
up on Sunday morning to a basket full of Reese's peanut butter eggs sounded more appealing than
sleeping on the floor and leading a group of girls in "door-to-door" missions.

Yes, believe it or not, Catholics are in to that kind of evangelization too.
"No we are not Jehovah's Witness. Nope, not Mormon either. Your local priest sent us out..."
I wish we could have recorded the looks on some of the faces!

I will never forget one house visit we made that year in particular. The Church we had been
working at all week had a list of "desperate cases" (could be anything from a homebound person
to someone who used to attend Mass, but hadn't been seen in months - maybe years). I chose a
"case" randomly and loaded my team in the van. We drove close to an hour for one visit...

for one man named Tom.

Before we approached the door, I felt this overwhelming urgency to stop and pray before we knocked.
There we were - standing shoulder to shoulder, in a circle of prayer - calling down the Spirit in
that driveway - when the front door rattled and a very irritated gentleman stormed out onto the lawn
demanding to know what we were doing.

I quickly introduced myself, my team, and told him we were there to invite him to come to Easter Mass.

Tears filled his big, round, grandpa eyes and he couldn't speak.

"Tom, can we pray for you right now?" I gently asked.

He just nodded his head, and I began talking to God about that day His Son died on the cross.
I remember talking to God in particular about the soldier that pierced His side - that soldier
who was covered by the "blood and water" in a very real, healing way.

When we were done, Tom finally was able to choke out that he hadn't been to church in years.
He told us that he left the Catholic Church thinking that no one cared. Not even God.

"You standing here on my driveway today - are my sign."

One year later the mission organization got a letter from that particular parish concerning
that man named Tom. It read that Tom had come back into the arms of Mother Church and had become
a regular, active member of the Body of Christ once again.

And I wanted to stay home and eat Reese's peanut butter eggs.

It is moments like these that have shaped my life so profoundly. Reminding me that we have NO IDEA
what God is working out behind the scenes or what role He has for us to play. This is one of the
many reasons why it is so important for me to bring to LIFE the ebb and flow of the Church, of
the liturgical year, in my home. I don't want my kids to ever doubt for one moment that nobody
cares about their hearts and souls. Or worse, that God doesn't care.

He loves us more than we know.


I went on my last Holy Week mission trip 7 years ago. I was 19 years old, and sang the joyful
hymns of Easter (in my poor, pathetic Spanish) with all my heart - standing in the great Basillica
of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico.

My Holy Weeks are not nearly as *exciting* these days. But even as I type that I feel
Jesus nudging my heart, reminding me that I have NO IDEA how GREAT is the MISSION of raising
His children in the faith.
Sigh. "Ok, Jesus... even if it's just "coloring" and not
actually "praying" the Stations of the Cross?!"


A Christian Seder Meal is one tradition that we've managed to pull off every Holy Thursday
without fail for the past 5 years. I'm in shock myself. I don't know what your "mission" looks
like this year, but if you are interested, HERE is where you can find all the details + script for a special night of remembrance.

You don't have to travel to Atlanta or Mexico City to make a difference.
You can begin right in your own home.







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Friday, March 21, 2014

So You Want to Normalize Breastfeeding?


I get it, I get it. I'm just as irritated by the double standard as the next lactating woman.
It's perfectly acceptable for the media to the local mall to throw images that glorify cleavage,
airbrushed skin and all, in our faces. Supposedly they're trying to sell a "pair of blue jeans",
but apparently jeans don't sell well without boobs. Who knew?

And this activity is seen as "normal". I'd say it's even "expected" and "applauded."
The shocking amount of skin, in public, in general, to be seen is blessed and forgiven.
People just smile, chat, maybe steal a glance or two, and move on. It sells.

But throw a breastfeeding woman on a public park bench and I can guarantee the smiles
will fade into quizzical eyebrows, the chatting will turn to gossiping, and suddenly everyone
forgets what their momma taught them about STARING.


Call me Feisty Pants, but if you're going to stare at me, I'm going to stare right back.
I breastfed my two babies, shamelessly. I'm not a woman of the "cape", but I know enough
to be discreet, modest.

And then you have the people posting pictures all over social media.

"NORMALIZE BREASTFEEDING."
(I don't even think that's the official name, but you catch my drift.)

I know you know what I'm talking about. Women with good intentions, showing more skin than
I think they honestly would if sitting in a public setting, demanding that the world look at them
and "ok" the situation... "because if you're cool with Victoria's Secret ads then you
better be cool with this, gosh darn it."


I grew up in a community where it was rare to NOT see a woman breastfeeding.
My mom breastfed me and my four siblings and bottles were basically "toys" for
baby dolls or completely taboo.

This isn't coming from a boob-o-phobe or anything (remember I don't use capes or duck
into a dressing room when breastfeeding), but I don't think I'm ok with the approach the NORMALIZE
BREASTFEEDING movement is taking. Honestly, I think they're coming at it all from the wrong angle.

Here's why:

The images and attitudes I see on social media typically (not always) come across as harsh,
offended, and "in your face." In most cases, I'm just shaking my head, sarcastically thanking
that woman in my head for shoving what is and should be "normal" into the face of the world -
MAKING IT NOT NORMAL, awkward, and uncomfortable for all.


Breastfeeding is NORMAL *cheer*.
I'd go as far as to say that I believe it's a SACRED EXCHANGE between a mother
and her child - one that brings life. It's a HOLY EXPERIENCE to nourish and be nourished through
the sacrifice of the body; a woman's body - doing what it was made to do.

And that's why I think they're coming at it all from the wrong angle.
We don't need the images in our Instagram feed to remind us that breastfeeding is normal -
keep that HOLY EXPERIENCE, that SACRED EXCHANGE, as your precious secret or memory.
Not to be all covered up and tucked away from the eyes of the world where you just
happen to be in that moment, but to be done, enjoyed, lived out... like breathing.

Breathe. And maybe then, people won't feel so guarded, but invited in to your normal.

It's a BIG BATTLE to undo what has been done in regards to the way people have been
programed, trained, invited to view breasts. I mean, because they are obviously there to
sexualize any situation and sell blue jeans. NOT to feed your baby.

It's more involved than just normalizing breastfeeding via social media.
It's about changing the hearts of a culture.






















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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Would You Take Your Child to Calvary?


A body beaten and bruised - stained and re-stained - with blood flowing forth
from a heart - beating, steady then failing, but winning the battle for YOUR soul.

How He Loves by David Crowder Band on Grooveshark

With every movement - He cries in pain under the weight of the cross He's bearing -
pressing, pushing deeper into the gaping wounds - those lashes. And that crown of thorns
driving further into His skull - as visions of YOU living in His great love come
before His tear-filled eyes. Wiping away the crimson sweat, blinking faster, breathing harder,
determined to accomplish the mystery - to beat death with death so that life with YOU,
with us all, could be so sweet in the bitterness of all the brokenness.
Even hell could not see it coming.

And I want to be there.

I want to collect every pebble, every stone, before His bare feet fall under the weight
of such sin. I want to be Simon of Cyrene - looking the Savior in the eye - incapable of fully
understanding, but still somehow sharing a glimpse into the crushing beauty of redeeming love.
I want to be there consoling Mama Mary - who knew she bore the Son of God so that He could die.
She knew. She knows. I fear I would have no words and she would be the one consoling me.
Roman crucifixion, a humiliating - suffocating death for criminals. I want to be
the "good thief" on the cross hearing saving words in the moment...


the moment He wins.

"Jesus answered him,
'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.'"
- Luke 23:43

I want to be there crying out that I do believe.
I love you, Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus.


And this Lent, with Good Friday approaching, I find myself yearning to be there at
the original Good Friday. To let Him know that I am here trying so desperately to
satiate His deep thirst for souls by giving my whole life... throwing it all in - as measly
as the widow's mite - as ugly and broken as the next sinner - as needy to be healed
as the hemorrhaging woman, the blind man, the centurion's servant...

I wonder, if I could go, would I take my children? Would I take them to Calvary
to be there as the God of all creation breathes His last breath - a painful, horrifying tragedy
of holiness - to save us all? Would Jesus want them there?

Like many Christian parents, I find myself wondering, praying through the heart of our faith -
discerning, waiting, pouring out the richness of such mystery into the tiny souls of my children...

in time. When it's time.


I just want them to know the magnitude of that sacrifice.
I want them to know, I want to know, how much He really does love us.
Because He does.


Would you take your child to Calvary?







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Friday, March 14, 2014

I'm Failing this Lent

If you opened this post expecting to find oodles and oodles of "super fun" Lenten ideas
and projects, links out the wazoo, or what-not for little ones and families...

you best just close this window now. Move on. Not much, not much at all, to see here.

Try the next "Catholic" mom blog and see what she's got cooking - because y'all it's pretty dry
and arid over here. Like "rice" every day. I mean we don't even have a "countdown to Easter" calendar,
one that you can print right off the Internet, anywhere in our house. Nada. Nil. None.


Bless me friends, for you won't believe this... Ash Wednesday rolled around and yes,
I drug my little Catholic family to mass for some traditional ash shmearing and remembering
of the "dust" we are, but I didn't even know what I wanted to "give up" - let alone
how I wanted to share the meaning, significance of Lent and Easter with my children
this year. I mean it's just the epitome of our faith... #Catholicparentfail

Truth is, my house still had a mixture of Christmas and Valentine's Day decorations looped and
strewn from room to room. I'm used to creating a barren space, a clean-surfaced "dessert", for
me and my family to prepare our hearts for Easter. But you know what? Instead of shades of "repentance"
purple around here, it's a little too cluttered for my liking and there are STILL blue Christmas lights
hanging on the window in the boys' room. Blue is symbolic for something, right? Like water. Baptism.
A sort of death into new life in Christ... which is pretty much Easter!?!?! I'm trying here!

The first week of Lent rolled by and I seriously wanted to throw in the towel. Facebook and all my
friends were reminding me, not on purpose of course, that since I didn't have a salt dough crown of
thorns and a plan of action for the Stations of the Cross I might as well give up and wait til next
Lent to redeem myself. I don't know. I get in weird funks. Like everyone else, right? You better get
in funks too or our friendship is OVER. I'm kidding. But really.

And then there was a rainbow in the middle of my "I'm failing Lent" storm and the angels broke
through the clouds holding the letters of my name sewn together perfectly on a chambray and leather
banner beckoning for me to "come and not give up"! ...as my two year old jumped in my lap
making me spill my Tension Tamer tea all over the place. Oh heaven! Oh reality!

That's when I decided to SEIZE LENT and just take it one week at a time...

for Jesus came for the "falling apart" right? He came and died on the cross for all of us who are
far from running the "perfect show." It seems silly now that I just wanted to forget it all and just
blitz through this season without at least trying to be mindful - all because I didn't have a "plan"
together right out of the gates. Oh you didn't know I'm an "all or nothing" kind of girl? It's a
blessing and a curse. There have been many a tragic outcome due to this fun fact.


LENTEN ACTIVITY + EASTER PREPARATION


I'm recycling my approach to Advent for Lent.
And that's to do one activity in remembrance of this season of preparation, repentance, and
longing for a Savior and one activity to prepare our home, hearts for Easter.


Salt dough crown of thorns // where we pull out "thorns" when we do acts of love, service, or
repentance to help "ease" the sufferings of our Lord. My boys are particularly thrilled with this
activity and on their own started whispering, "I love you, Jesus" every time they pull out a
toothpick. I am humbled to be their student.

Easter egg garland // we put up the Easter egg garland and talked about the joy we have each year
hunting for candy-filled eggs. I want to create this sense of excitement as this major holiday draws
near! There is much suffering - but there is also much celebrating!


I honestly don't have a plan for next week, but I'm trusting that those angels with the chambray,
leather banner are going to come back and hit me over the head with some powerful stuff! I do feel like
I'm failing, at least a little, this Lent...

but it's good for me.

It feels good to remember that Jesus doesn't want me to be "perfect" - even though I want myself to be
perfect. He just wants me to show up, ask for forgiveness, and pick up our relationship where we left off.

This year I'm going to Calvary in beautiful disarray.
I hope you're coming too.






















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