Tuesday, October 14, 2014


My wonderful husband keeps telling me every day, "You're doing great! You're an awesome
momma! So proud of you. Thanks for carrying our babies!"
And I just look at him and wonder
if I should tell him about the 3,242 times I lost my temper that day or the fact that I had
Jake and the Neverland Pirates babysit the kids while I took a shower, read a magazine,
"liked" all my friends' pictures on Instagram. Naaaah, right?

I am 41 weeks pregnant, but not an excuse. I just want to eat, sleep, and watch T.V. And by
"eat" I mean 3 or 4 Reese's snack cups and a bowl of ice cream. Oh my thighs are loving it and
my sinuses are all like, "Stop being stupid, woman!" Love and war. Love. And. War.

I feel like we're just "surviving" right now, and I'm trying to embrace that. I don't like
to have GRACE on myself. Makes me feel weak. Jesus is all like, "I forgive you!" and
I'm like, "NO DON'T!" Let me suuuuuuuffer. But it is moments like these - moments of
weariness, exhaustion, frustration, anxiety, and "oh hey you've gained 55 pounds in 9 months"
that I need it most... GRACE, MERCY, FORGIVENESS. Heal me, Jesus?

And I mean that with all my heart.

The other day I caught my hand in the van door and let out a whispery "damn it" that
I was sure my kids could not have possibly heard. I climbed in the driver's seat, in a
glorious fluster, and Isaiah pipes up,

"Did you say damn it?"

**deer in headlights**

Me: "Ummmm. Man. Yes, I did.
Judah: "Jeeeeesus doesn't like iiiiiit!"
Me: "I know, buddy. You are right. Momma's sorry."
Isaiah: "No, you need to tell JESUS you are sorry RIGHT NOW!"

So crushing. In the best way.
I think it's safe to say that it's a two-way street around here. My flaws, failings, short-comings
are obviously sharpening my children into little saints, and they are molding me, reminding me about
all the things I so desperately long for and need: GRACE, MERCY, FORGIVENESS...

aaaaaand language filters.

Judah: "Mom, there is a check cereal on the floor."
Me: "You mean a Chex?"
Judah: "No, I mean ONE check not TWO Chex!"

Me: "I'm going to go take a nap, do you want to come with me?"
Isaiah: "You taking a nap because your butt hurts?"
Me: "Um no - because I'm tired."
Isaiah: "Yea because your butt crack hurts!"

Judah: "Did you just flush the toilet?"
Me: "Yea, why?"
Judah: "That was MY poop. Not YOUR poop. Did you poop?! NO!"

Me: "Judah, please clean up the blocks."
Judah: "But I want to play!"
Me: "Look, it's time to take a bath."
Judah: "Look, you need to change your mind!"

Judah: "Hurry hurry hurry I have to peeeeeeeee!"
Me: "I'm coming to help you! Hang on."
Judah: "If you would have come sooner I wouldn't have peed a little in my pants!"
Me: "So this is my fault?"
Judah: "YES."

Me: "What do you want for breakfast?"
Judah: "Candy."
Me: "No."
Isaiah: "Chocolate."
Me: "No."
Judah: "Ok. A hot dog with French fries - NO BUN!"
Me: "Oatmeal it is."

Me: "When is the baby coming?"
Isaiah: "In fiiiiiiive minutes!"
Me: "If only."

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Confessions + Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

Dear Diary, I am still pregnant. 40 weeks and 2 days. If pregnancy isn't long enough
already?! I know I shouldn't complain. Even today's reading from "Jesus Calling" was eerily
relevant to my life. I felt like God was reaching down from heaven and giving me a little spanking.

That's what's up.

"You have been on a long (true that), uphill (YES!) journey, and your energy is almost spent (almost?!).
Though you have faltered at times (who me?), you have not let go of My hand. I am pleased with your
desire to stay close to Me
(well, good). There is one thing (great), however, that displeases Me:

your tendency to complain." - Jesus Calling 10/9/2014

I literally laughed out loud. The Big Man upstairs is funny and brutally honest!

Anyway. Some of my friends, earlier this week, were all like, "You are so calm and composed!"
And then my spiritual director texted me and said, "You seem so happy on FACEBOOK!"

Whoa. Red light. I swear I am not trying to live a façade, but apparently it is happening?
Of course I'm all smiley and happy - I'm a choleric/sanguine, extrovert that thrives on being with
people and keeping up my life as a party. But you guys, when this overdue momma goes home or is left
alone for any substantial amount of time -- it gets ugly.
I am an emotional train wreck that cries
out to Jesus, but then backs off because there are "bigger problems" in the world than being pregnant
forever. Like ebola?! The Middle East?! I'm snapping left and right, teaching my kids cuss words
they should never be exposed to until... never.

I've had a couple other mommas/women mention that I should just be so grateful that I even get
to "carry life" - and I am! But seriously, I AM HUMAN. And humans get tired. Even life
with my toddlers - love them to death - but sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom and just stay
there until I feel better about the day, situation, etc. Again, human. Broken. Selfish. Vain. Whiney.

Fill in the blank. And that's just being honest.

I serioulsy just intended to deliver these pictures from our apple picking adventure a couple
weekends ago + a recipe for gluten-free apple crisp, and look what you got?! I'm sorry, y'all.

Oh and that's the other thing. I can barely swallow veggies right now, but sugar and carbs?
All day, baby. All day. Thus - you get awesome recipes like this one and I gain 50 aaaand counting
pounds!!! You're welcome for being pregnant. But yea - I really love my baby and my kids and my
husband. Just in case anything got lost in translation. I'm good now.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: I had to share this "real life" moment. It was all "cute and fun" until
both brothers decided that they HAD TO HAVE the one and only apple picker. Whose kids are those?!


PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees //

5-6 cups sliced, peeled apples || toss in 2-4 tbls of sugar (or pure maple syrup)
and place in 2 quart baking dish. Set aside.

MIX TOGETHER in separate bowl //
1 C. rolled oats (I used Chex brand instant gluten-free oatmeal)
1/2 C. packed brown sugar (or pure maple syrup)
1/4 C. Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon

A splash of fresh lemon juice and vanilla is great too!

1/4 C. grassfed butter (or coconut oil)

Sprinkle oat mixture over sliced apples.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until fruit is tender and the topping is toasty golden.
Serve with massive amounts of ice-cream and a big cup of coffee!!!

Aaaaaaand bring some over to me. Ok, thanks.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

The Treasure is Right in Front of You

My husband texted me the other day and was all like, "Hey, I left this lecture on CD in the
van for you to listen to.
" "Acres of Diamonds" by Russell Conwell. Great. Thanks.

You gotta understand. I have been listening to "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder on CD
in the van for SIX weeks on repeat with my kids. I'd go and try to turn on the radio and
one kid or another would plead with such scholastic-like virtue, "Turn on Faaaarmer Boy!!!"
I mean, how can you say "no" to that and instead turn on "Drunk on a Plane" by Dierks Bentley?

You can't.

Not ANOTHER book on CD for the car, please?

But seriously, I was thinking, "Yea, I'm going to listen to this in the same way that I sit next
to you during as many World Cup games that my little heart can bear!"
Just to be close - to share
his passions, dreams, excitement for something that is so beyond my own world.

I love my husband. So I will love listening to this lecture. And as it turns out...

a little more than I thought I would.

Story after story of men seeking fortune and treasure only to later discover that it was literally
RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM as they sold millions away for pennies to chase after some dream.

Obviously I'm not sitting on an oil field (am I?) or have diamonds clogging up my creek bed (I wish!),
but it got me thinking about what is right in front me, right now, at this time in my life that
I do not want to miss - that I do not want to sell off for granted. What is my treasure?

I'm a mother, nurturer, educator. I stay home full time, a gift, a life, that my husband works so
hard to keep my reality. I'm not out climbing the corporate ladder or cashing in nice bonus checks
every couple of months. I DO, however, climb the bunk bed ladder every morning to tuck in blankets,
and the other day I found what I thought was a raisin on the floor... but no, that was a nice
bonus. Should have checked that BEFORE I picked it up. Live and learn.

I remember when Isaiah, my first son, was born. It was like I hit a brick wall. I had always had
a job, been in school, leading ministries - all of it to be replaced with the cries of a newborn
and endless rounds of breastfeeding while watching Food Network from my recliner in my air
conditioned apartment. It was a hard life.

I was used to being the star, the center of attention - the person everyone was going to for answers,
solutions, ideas for the next big event, ministry launch, retreat, etc. And now - I couldn't
even get the local nursing home to let me come in and do volunteer hours with my infant.
Seriously, that happened. Along with being denied to substitute/teach catechism class at
my parish. So upset. I AM OVER-QUALIFIED was ringing in my ears. God, use me!?

A year went by. Another year. Another baby. And finally one day I surrendered. I let go.
I was finally comfortable on what I imagined to be the "back burner" and understood that even
though I was "qualified" to do "all the things" that I thought I "should be doing" -
that God saw fit to call me into motherhood, to entrust me with these little lives
that truly need me MORE than the "next big ministry" at my church... at least for now.

I was used to leading Bible studies on the beach for throngs of college students, organizing
rides and details for homeless ministry, leading door-to-door missions downtown Chicago...

and now? Now I read "subject - verb" Bible stories to my children who act like they are
listening and then ask, "Mom, can I be a Ninja Turtle?" Jesus, baby... Jesus! Focus.
I love, hold, feed, clean, listen to these hearts, minds, faces, hands that have been given
to me and I no longer wonder. I no longer wonder if it is "enough".

I know it is.

Because as time goes on and I see my son break apart his last cookie to share with his brother
when he doesn't have to or my other son demands that I roll down his car window so that he can talk
to the homeless man on the street... I know that it is all sinking in. That there is fruit in this
labor. And honestly - as humbling as it is to admit - I preach it to them, but don't always LIVE
it - and when they decide to live it? Man, it gets me.

It's simple, but wondrously complex.

My treasure is right in front of me and its name is Isaiah + Judah + baby.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Identity Crisis

Last month I came home from one of our first, official homeschooling group events and told
my husband, "I don't think I fit in. I've got BLACK SHEEP written all over my forehead." He
laughed at my dramatic antics, but I just stared back at him - eyes open wide, mouth slightly agape...

"No, I'm not kidding."

I seriously sat in the Church that day, amidst a sea of seemingly well-seasoned homeschoolers -
all modestly dressed - thanking the good Lord that at least I was inspired to change out of my
tank top and into a t-shirt for the occasion. I looked down at my two children, who were "being
good" in the pew and knew everyone was probably judging me for letting them color in a
NON-RELIGIOUS coloring book during Mass. Holy cow. If they didn't see the beautifully colored
Lightning McQueen - there's NO WAY they could have missed my four year old's faux hawk.

Can I shape-shift into a fly on the wall right about now?! I have issues.

My mom said it is because I am pregnant.

Suddenly a student drop-off line at the local, public school was seeming more welcome.
I had to shake myself a little; mentally dump some cold water over my face. Deep breaths.
I was homeschooled. These are my people. We are homeschoolers. I can do this.

Wouldn't have been such a big deal if just a couple weeks before this incident I couldn't decide
if I wanted to live in the suburbs for the rest of my life or pack up for the country - something
a little more like what I grew up with. I love that Whole Foods is 5 minutes from my doorstep, ok?!
But I also love wide open spaces and miles of nothing but cornfields.

Back and forth for months now.

I used to eat Oreos for breakfast and Fruity Pebbles for dinner. Now I'm downing pro-biotics,
fermenting vegetables on my kitchen counter, and feeding my family unpasteurized eggs for crying
out loud. 4 years ago I couldn't have told you what a GMO is - now I go around preaching against
them like an annoying granola bar.


I was always so sure of myself and the decisions I made. Having a husband and children has definitely
changed that. It's not just ME anymore. More is involved and the rippling affects scare this anxious
soul. It startles me that I may have changed throughout the years - treading on territory so very
different from what I've known my whole life. Don't mess with a good thing, right? What if I'm doing
it all wrong now?

But change is good, right? Maybe I should take a note from my own sermon!

It must because I am pregnant. Because that scares me too. I can't see beyond our family of
four. Therefore that means I am obviously just going to die. You know, I swear I'm a good time in real
life! Please still be my friend?

I guess I just wanted to throw this confession out there. I don't "have it all together" -
and lately I'm not even sure exactly "who I am" - other than I am DEFINITELY "not another mommy
hair cut
!" HA. I know that for sure.

"Your identity is AWESOME Catholic! You are NOT a Pharisee. Outward appearances DO NOT
MATTER! God cares about the HEART."
That's what my mom said. At least I've got this
going for me! It's straight-up legit and encouraging.

Reading my Instagram "profile" aloud: "Brittany. Daughter of Heaven, wife, momma, blogger,
foodie, lover of all things natural, reader, rebel, and wearer of sassy pants."

I guess I'm still blooming. And things will come and go for the rest of my entire life.
It's exciting to think that we all get a chance at being "a lot of things" - and that's ok.

Maybe once this baby lands I'll go back to being semi-normal. Ok so I'm not ever normal,
but the idea is comforting! I remember hearing Shauna Niequist speak last fall and she shared
about not really "finding herself" til her mid-30's - knowing that she wanted to write, speak, etc.

So I've got time, right?

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The BEST Gluten-Free Donuts EVER

I could handle the season of FALL year round. Seriously, the first day that it dropped down
to 68 degrees I had to stop myself from busting out my scarves, wearing boots, lighting candles,
making pumpkin pie, and sipping apple cider all at the same time. Pace yourself, Brittany.
But last winter was seriously scarring. I have not forgotten the polar vortex or the irony of the
movie "Frozen" being released and played on REPEAT in every house, including ours, across America.

So we are taking full advantage of every day now to enjoy "all the fall things" to the fullest.
Apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and sugar - windows open, candlelight, warm drinks, fresh baked donuts...

I had to share the recipe. I've made several attempts at a gluten-free donut in the past couple
of years and it was all just "meh". But THESE babies. Hold me back. They can keep up with any
apple orchard or pumpkin patch fare out there. Yea, that's what I'm saying.

This recipe is not my own. I wish I had come up with this deliciousness, but no. I found this in
the "Simply Sugar and Gluten Free" cookbook / blog. This girl knows what's up.
Standing "O" going out to Amy!!! We LOVED the chocolate + apple-cider versions of this recipe!!!

Fall just feels better when donuts are involved, no?!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Spider-Man Birthday Party

I always felt like I was more of a "girly girl" and that all the femininity would just spill
over and produce a flock of baby girls for me. But no. I am mother to a small band of brothers
and I can't believe how PERFECT it feels. The whole "boy mom" gig is totally my thing.
Their wild, adventurous, fearless spirits absolutely have my awe and attention.

I love to make all their boyhood dreams come true. Even if it means letting them jump off the arms
of couch in their super hero capes or run around the house in their underwear, in the name of
"Tarzan". They bring dirt, sticks, rocks into our home -- seeing the potential for EVERYTHING to
be wielded as a weapon. They tell me to "calm down, momma" and it makes me smile...

their masculine hearts telling my own, so very different, that they've "got this".

It's really an experience beyond anything I could have ever imagined. My "girly girl" world
is beautifully tainted with all the wonders of "boy". There are flowers on the table and a candle
lit on the piano, but it wouldn't feel complete without their bucket of trucks, tools, action
figures strewn across the floor. It all compliments well.

This year, Judah wanted a "Spider-man" birthday party - and it was so much fun!!!
Thanks for letting me be part of your boy world, baby!!! We love you so much.

Spider-Man Theme (Junkie XL remix) by Michael Bublé on Grooveshark

We should go to parties together...
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Becoming a Party of Five

The other night I had to run out to pick up some groceries, and my husband had to pry our 3 year old
off my legs so that I could actually walk out the door minus the cute, but extra, accessory. Apparently
he cried for a long time - only to be mildly consoled by praying for me. He kept saying he wanted a
"family night" - for momma to come home. Heartbreaking, I know. I almost, almost, suffered a
bout of "momma guilt" - and then the gigantic, "I'm so pregnant", emotional wave passed and I was like,
"Dude, I went out to get FOOD!"

"He doesn't act like this. Ever." I told my husband.
He must know, he must sense, that his whole, little world is about to change.

I feel it too. Any day now. Our routine, our rhythm, is going to be gloriously interrupted,
rearranged, by a tiny newborn - that my kids still innocently believe is going to "pop out" of
my belly button. They actually tell people this - with a complete confidence and certainty
that would make you think they're actually midget OBGYNS.

Our hearts and home are full of anticipation.
I can't believe it was just this past January that I was about to throw away all our baby toys...

"With not being able to conceive a third child - and no promise of conception in the near
future - I was shouting 'FINE, God... You've let my body betray me! So I will stand
with my hands on my hips, eyes laser-focused with cheeks glazed in tears, jaw clenched -
and roar back at You
..' by throwing away all the baby toys?! Can we say hormonal?"

(read more)

In the midst of my confusion and frustration, God broke through, blessing me with tenderness and
one million tears. I took those toys and packed them away in a paper Trader Joe's bag not knowing
when, or if ever, I would unpack them again. But the word "LIFE" was resounding in my heart -
loud enough to give me hope.

That month we got pregnant.

I took out those baby toys the other day - just to see. It was humbling and beautiful all at the
same time. God gives in HIS time. A lesson that seems to be on REPEAT for this momma. I moved all
the small gadgets - the soft ones, the ones that light up, that sing, stack, and hold the imagination,
fascination, of such tiny minds - and put them into a soft bag with Christmas-like excitement...

Any day now.

I am looking forward to the moment we introduce the baby to the boys. Yes, this little one
will change their world - but I will pray away the anxiety and call down that radical joy
that comes from having siblings! Isaiah keeps telling me he is going to "hold the baby's head" -
aaaaand BODY... I remind him!!!

I am looking forward to feeling my heart EXPAND with love. It's crazy how a mother's love does
NOT divide among her children, as if she has a certain capacity, but multiplies, spills over,
becomes greater, deeper - more crushing, more fierce with each new child.

I am looking forward to recovery. Quiet, family time. We might be living in our pajamas, eating
peanut butter and jelly like it's going out of style, and watching WAY TOO MUCH Netflix...
but it'll be great.

I am looking forward to the scent of fresh baby. Enough said, right?

I am looking forward to sleeping on my stomach again. And my husband is looking forward to me
not begging, doe-eyes and all, for massages every night. I've loved being "host" - but it's time.
Eviction day is coming. Let's keep it quick and easy, baby!!!

I wish I could hug and thank each and every one of you who has prayed for and with us -
before we got pregnant and throughout this pregnancy. It means so much. I still think of and pray
for all who have shared their own struggle with infertility (secondary) with me. You are so loved.

Party of five? It's happening!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Judah || My Lion Turns 3

You are wild and wonderful!!! My lion-hearted baby - roaring and marching to the beat of your
own drum since the day you were born. There are not enough words in the English language to tell you
how greatly I love you. I'm glad God chose you for me - and me for you. (birth story)

I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy having you and your brother, Zay, so close together, but
God knew. Best surprise of our lives (miracle story). You two are inseparable. Mistaken for twins by
the public eye multiple times a week - you are the peanut butter to Isaiah's jam - so it makes sense.
I pray you always have each other.

You are strong-willed, determined, friendly, out-going - making friends wherever you go - smiling all
the while. You have a knack for memorization, a magnet for disaster, and the cutest, little "man" voice
that makes me laugh. But when you reeeeeeally want something you use this tiny, manipulative, baby
voice that none of us can resist. You'd think it would get old. But no.

Your name means "PRAISED - FIERY ONE"... and I think it's fitting.

I can't believe you are THREE today. You still seem so "baby" to me. But you like to remind me on
a daily basis that you are NOT the baby - and that the REAL baby is inside my belly button. I'm glad
God gave us all this time with you as our "little one" - it is ALWAYS a JOY to be with you, learn
from you, watch you grow!!!

I love you so much.
Happy Birthday, J-baby XO

- momma

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