September 19, 2016

Shopping for Clothes Doesn't Have to Be Depressing (especially for curvy girls)

A true fact: 
I have a black, knee-length, tube skirt that my college room mate gave me from her closet. In college I was a size 8-10-12 (depending, you know) but it had an elastic waist. It fit me perfectly and I loved it. I still have it. I am now a 16-18-XXL in yoga pants but the skirt still fits me and I still wear it. Why? Because the elastic gave way but my girth holds it up. Sad, but true.

Another true fact: 
There are so many perks to losing all this baby fat but in the meantime it just sorta sucks to dress my body. It is probably true that no matter your size there is something you dislike about your body (even if you look fabulous) and clothes shopping can be hard for most, if not all, women. I have a barrel of a mid-section and other XL sized things. Let's just say it was a lot easier to buy clothes and then look and feel cute when I was a 10.

Which leads us to this:

A woman I know with a similar build to mine mentioned she owned a couple of dresses from something called LuLaRoe. I did not know what she was talking about but I really loved her dress *and* I loved that it fit her curvy body.

So then:
When my friend Megan told me she was selling LuLaRoe clothing I reached out to her to see if she'd want to partner with me and my blog because shopping for clothes is depressing but not when you *know* that the clothes will fit and look good. I had seen Megan look great in the clothes, but I had also seen the items on my curvy friend, the models of all shapes and sizes on the website, and other friends and acquaintances. I felt really confident that, unlike the weekly offers for sponsored posts I turn down, this one would benefit my readers (especially those built like me!) and stay true to what I'm trying to do in this space. 

Megan + me

So with no further ado, here's my shopping experience:
I made plans to get together with Megan. She explained her inventory, sizing, and showed me where I could change. And then I went for it. Everything I tried on I photographed. There were Nopes:

 and Maybes:
The one on the Left could actually be titled "Regret" because I wish I would have bought it. It looks like a cool 1950's kitchen counter, doesn't it? I might have to go back and get it. I love it. 

In the end I left with four pieces I absolutely love. You'll have to excuse my 8 year old photographer, but I thought some "here I am, in real life, really wearing these clothes" pictures would be appreciated.

This is the Irma tunic (totally covers my butt!) and some LuLaRoe leggings. The Irma is a size XL.

Here I am trying it on during my shopping trip. Please note I am wearing the aforementioned black tube skirt.

Another shot of the super comfy, super pretty leggings. These are the "Tall and Curvy" size.

The Randy shirt. I love this one - it is so totally my style. This is an XXL.

The Carly dress. This is a L and I love the way it fits me. 

If you've never shopped with LuLaRoe before here's what you should know:
The patterns are crazy. Like some of them are cray-cray, pretty much ugly. And some of them are absolutely beautiful. And what I think is ugly you will think is beautiful and so on, but the catch is the company buys the fabric, cuts it into a variety of items and sizes and then that's it. The inventory is always changing.

You can't order online - you have to find a consultant. You can get a feel for what LuLaRoe might have, and you can definitely see the pieces in the collection (like the Carly dress, for example) but you will never know what your consultant will have until you get to her online or in-person sale.

Many of these clothes will easily transition with a woman before, during, and after pregnancy. There are so many creative ways people wear these clothes. I commented to Megan about a couple of items that weren't very nursing friendly and she then explained ways people style the clothes so they are compatible with breastfeeding. I was impressed.

At least for me, shopping the inventory racks was a lot of fun. Megan had a good selection of size L, XL, XXL in all her shirts, skirts, leggings, and dresses. She was honest with me in her feedback, just as quick to tell me what didn't look good as to tell me what did. I was able to try on a lot of items, trying out patterns for the fun of it, and getting the chance to figure out sizing on my body.

The leggings are worth the hype. Really. They are so, so, so soft - it was an experience putting them on for the first time. (ha! ... but true!) Can you buy cheaper leggings? Yes. Yes, you can. Will the quality and comfort be as good? Not that I have found. Put them on your Christmas wish list. Buy some for your daughter / niece / best friend. They are amazing.

I said this before but it bears repeating: These clothes are styled in a way that I can wear them and feel pretty while I parent my kids and live life but none of my cracks show! Or as my high school dean said at the all school assembly the first day of the year, "No boobs, no butts, no bellies."

So, my honest opinion: the buzz that surrounds LuLaRoe is legit. If you can make it to a Pop-Up Sale, do it! And better yet, if you want to get a new piece, my friend Megan is offering 15% off your entire purchase when you order from her. She's got brand new inventory on her FB page right now. Head on over and claim your item on her Google Form. When you do be sure to use the coupon code aknottedlife15 to get your 15% off. Also, because the inventory is always changing Megan wants to be sure you can get something you really love so the coupon code is good through October 31st.

Megan's LuLaRoe Facebook Page
Megan's LuLaRoe Instagram

Happy Shopping!

September 13, 2016

Back to School for 2016

This year we've got kids at the public school, parochial school, and a little homeschool.

While my kids in the brick and mortar schools went back in August, Resa Rie didn't begin her PreK4 Homeschool until just last week.

L, Ben, and JF love their school(s). Resa was not impressed. Oh well. Here's the First Day of School pictures.

L is a third grader and still wants to be a mom when she grows up. She loves coloring, being outside, and spaghetti. Ben is in first grade and wants to be a train driver, pilot, taxi driver, and farmer when he grows up.  He'll be busy.

And yes, he's taller than L, but don't talk about it with her.

JF is in Kindergarten and is dual-enrolled at the public and parochial schools. So far it is working really well for him. As you can see he wants to be a pirate when he grows up.

Resa was excited about "all the things" associated with school, which perhaps explains her disappointment. She wants to be a mom when she grows up and she loves coloring, jumping, sliding, and writing her name. :)

Wishing all of you a happy back to school time of year, too.

September 11, 2016

One More Novena for Sheen

September 20th is the 97th anniversary of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's ordination.

It is also the day when a New York judge will make a decision regarding the court case between Sheen's next of kin and the Archdiocese of New York. We are hopeful but we are also incredibly sad that it has all come to this.

The Sheen Foundation has invited everyone to join them in praying a novena beginning Monday, September 12 and ending on Tuesday, September 20. Any novena prayers are appreciated. My family will be joining the Sheen Foundation in the Archbishop Sheen novena, which is copied in whole below. I will also share each prayer each day on the A Knotted Life Facebook page.

Day 1
“How God will judge my life I know not, but I trust he will see me with mercy and compassion. I am only certain there will be three surprises in Heaven. First of all, I will see some people whom I never expected to see. Second, there will be a number whom I expected who will not be there. And - even relying on God’s mercy - the biggest surprise of all may be that I will be there. When the record of any human life is set down, there are three pairs of eyes who see it in a different light. 1. As I see it. 2. As others see it. 3. As God sees it.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, help us to focus on You as Fulton Sheen did so that we may be humble when looking upon ourselves, so that others will see You when they look upon us, and so we can see our lives as You see it.

Prayer of Canonization: Father, source of all holiness, You raise up within the Church in every age men and women who serve with heroic love and dedication. You have blessed Your Church through the life and ministry of Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He has written and spoken well of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and was a true instrument of the Holy Spirit in touching the hearts of countless people. If it be according to your Will, for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint. We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen, 

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be

Day 2
“Protestants, Jews and Catholics have God, morality, and religion in common. In the name of God, let us - Jews, Protestants, and Catholics - do two things: 1. Realize that an attack upon one is an attack upon all, since we are all one in God; it is not tolerance we need, but charity; not forbearance but love. 2. Begin doing something about religion, and the least we can do is say our prayers; to implore God’s blessings upon the world and our country; to thank Him for his blessings; and to become illumined in the fullness of His truth. There is entirely too much talk about religion and not enough action.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, Fulton Sheen reached out to people of every religion. Help us to see others as You see them and to focus on what we have in common instead of our differences.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be

Day 3
“In every friendship hearts grow and entwine themselves together, so that the two hearts seem to make only one heart with only a common thought. That is why separation is so painful; it is not so much two hearts separating, but one being torn asunder.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, help me to see you in others like Fulton Sheen did so I can become one with them as we will all be one in heaven. Help me to realize that separation from You means an empty heart for me.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be

Day 4
“The great tragedy of life is not so much what men have suffered, but what they have missed. And what greater tragedy is there than to miss the peace of sin forgiven? There is not a man living who, if he willed it, could not enjoy the spiritual food and drink which God serves to all who ask.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, Fulton Sheen led so many to peace of soul by introducing them to your forgiveness. Help us to share your gift of peace to others by introducing them to Your true loving forgiveness and gift of confession.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be 

Day 5
“All love on this earth involves choice. When, for example, a young man expresses his love to a young woman and asks her to become his wife, he is not just making an affirmation of love; he is also negating his love for anyone else. In that one act by which he chooses her, he rejects all that is not her. There is no other real way in which to prove we love a thing than by choosing it in preference to something else. Word and signs of love may be, and often are, expressions of egotism or passion; but deeds are proofs of love. We can prove we love our Lord only by choosing Him in preference to anything else.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, Fulton Sheen loved you above all things. Help us to choose to put you first in our lives so that we may learn what true love is.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be

Day 6
“Burning the candle at both ends for God’s sake may be foolishness to the world, but it is a profitable Christian exercise for so much better the light! Only one thing in life matters: Being found worthy of the Light of the World in the hour of His visitation. We need have no undue fear for our health if we work hard for the Kingdom of God; God will take care of our health if we take care of His cause. In any case, it is better to burn out than to rust out.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, even when tired and sick, Fulton Sheen worked unceasingly for your cause. Help us to learn how to tirelessly work for You through Fulton Sheen. Help us to know that there is no rest unless it is in You.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be

Day 7
“Mary is not only mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but she is also our mother, and this is not by a title of courtesy, not by legal fiction, not by a mere figure of speech, but by the right of bringing us forth in sorrow at the foot of the cross....Mary, by sacrifice and obedience, regained for us the title, Mother of the living. What a destiny to have the Mother of God as my Mother and Jesus as my brother.” Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Lord, Fulton Sheen learned obedience at the school of Mary. He had such a great relationship with her; he knew that when he went before the judgment seat of Christ You would say ‘I heard my Mother speak of you.’ Help us to better know Mary so we may gain insight into such great obedience, love, faith and hope.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be

Day 8
“If we followed the same rules for health that we do about religion, we would all be bedridden. It is not enough to talk about the necessity of health; we must do something practical about it - for example, eat, exercise, and rest. So it is with religion. We must nourish ourselves with the truths of God, exercise our spiritual muscles in prayer, mortify ourselves of those things which are harmful to the soul, and be just as scrupulous in avoiding moral evil as we are in avoiding physical evil.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, Fulton Sheen did not ask others to go to confession or visit our Lord an hour a day without doing it himself. He practiced what he preached. Guard us from hypocrisy and help us to lead others to you through our actions.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be 

Day 9
“The better we become, the less conscious we are of our goodness. If anyone admits to being a saint, he is close to being a devil. Jean Jacques Rousseau believed that of all men, he was the most perfect, but he had so many cracks in his soul that he abandoned his children after their birth. The more saintly we become, the less conscious we are of being holy. A child is cute so long as he does not know that he is cute. As soon as he thinks he is, he turns into a brat. True goodness is unconscious.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Lord, Fulton Sheen always thought of himself as an unworthy servant and never thought himself a saint. Help us to be humble in our service and to realize as Fulton Sheen realized that all good works come from You.

Prayer of Canonization, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be

September 9, 2016

A Day in My Life (yesterday, to be precise)

Here's a good ole fashioned Day in the Life post, complete with photos, some unedited to really throw it back to old school blogging. This is from yesterday and I did a mix of typing in chunks - so some of the time is 'ish' (like 9:15-ish) - and typing as I went - so some of the time is accurate. Some of it is summary and some of it is commentary but please note that this was both an ordinary day and a not so ordinary day. Usually I stay in bed until 6:30 and my kids do not get fresh, warm coffee cake for breakfast. Also, Mondays - Wednesdays we have morning activities but I'm thinking of keeping Thursdays to myself. It is so nice to have a long day at home (even if that means the mid-day transfer).

Okay, here goes!

4:23 - Thomas wakes up. Nurse him in the living room, like always. Listen to the downpour and feel bad for the garbage man who will have stinky, soggy trash to deal with.

4:37 - Lay back down in bed, super thirsty but don't drink anything and try to will myself back to sleep so I can sorta take a sorta accurate temp at 5am for my nfp charting. Dose off at some point.

5:00 - Alarm goes off, I take temp and wonder if I should go back to sleep or stay up.

5:30 - Stay up. I head to the kitchen and immediately start mixing up a double batch of coffee cake.

5:35 - Remember to turn on Mother Assumpta praying the rosary. (This is a tip I just learned on Instagram - a woman named Becky shared it on one of my pictures and I LOVED it! I pray along with the nuns when I can but I let them pray for me when the kids or life interrupt. Plus, as Becky stated, it creates an incredibly calm and beautiful atmosphere in our home and hopefully for the rest of their lives the rosary will remind my kids of peaceful times at home. Hopefully.)

5:38 - Travis comes out, ready for work. I stop the coffee cake and turn on the coffee for him. We discuss his work day, a bill, what time he'll be home, and dinner plans (pizza party for Mary's birthday!)

5:40 - Travis leaves, travel cup filled with coffee. (Because it's the little things, right? And in our marriage, me making him hot coffee for his morning commute is a way I can communicate my love to him... when he's not communicating his love to me by letting me sleep in.)

5:50 - Coffee cake goes in the oven. I check Facebook and then turn off the kitchen light, but leave the light on over the sink, and then walk around the house lighting candles, knowing the kids will love it as much as I do. Tidy up a bit as I go.

6:00 - I pour myself some coffee, put on a classical music playlist, and sit down with my Bible, opening it to the end of Mark, which I finished yesterday. Think about if I should read Mark again, choose another Gospel, or do an epistle. Say a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit and then...

6:10 - James calls out for his dad; I see him at the end of the hall so I turn on the light and invite him to come to me. We sit on the sofa together, snuggling in the dark, candlelit room.

6:15 - I wonder about getting up Bennet and Lydia, whose bus will come in 45 minutes but just then Ben comes into the living room, fully dressed and checking out the candles.

6:18 - L comes out and sits on the sofa, commenting on the candles. Ben asks if he can light up the jack-o-lantern which I currently have displayed as just a pumpkin because it's only September 8th. I tell him yes, because why not?, and then we go to the basement to find another votive candle, me carrying a folding chair and laundry basket with me.

6:20 - I put the chair away, fill the laundry basket with the kids' whites from the dryer, and walk back upstairs with Ben, who grabs and the matches and happily sets up his jack-o-lantern. I pull the coffee cake out of the oven.

6:25 - I begin to pack the kids' lunches and discuss which fruit option they all want. (Applesauce, apple slices, or grapes? And you better eat it, too!) Jofis comes down the hall and into the kitchen with his blankie over his head "wooooooo"ing and for the one thousandth time we all cry out, "There's a ghost in the house!" He pulls the blankie off, showing a huge grin and we all say, "Oh it's just Jofis!"

6:35 - I slice up and serve the coffee cake to JF, Ben, Jofish, and L. We pray the Morning Offering and Grace. I pick up a few things in the living room and grab a brush, ponytail holder, and bow. While L eats I do her hair.

6:45 - I go back to making the kids' lunches. Fill the water bottles, put everything in the bookbags, ask Ben if his homework is in his bag, thank the kids for bringing their plates to the sink and then send them to the bathroom to wash their hands and brush their teeth.

6:55 - Step outside to check how hard it's raining. Hear the kids' bus and call them out. Watch them run down the drive as I yell, like every day, "I love you. Have fun and make good choices." Watch the bus drive away and feel really content because they love school and I love our life. That sounds really cheesy and chipper but it's true and I'm grateful.

7:00 - Take a picture of the cake mix box and blue frosting to share on social media as a reminder that today's the Blessed Mother's birthday. PBS Kids gets turned on.

7:05 - Make breakfast for myself - eggs + bacon, wrapped in a tortilla. Freshen my coffee and sit down with my breakfast, planner, and Bible. Look over the day, my prayer intentions, my to-do's. Decide to go with an epistle and open my Bible to Titus. See that it's super short and dive in, reading the intro and first chapter. Sit with a couple of verses, thinking them over and praying about them, looking at my own life in comparison.

7:38 - Get Thomas out of his crib. Take him to the living room to nurse. Resa wakes up and comes out in the meantime.

7:40 - Change diapers, wash hands, get breakfast for Resa.

7:55 - Wash breakfast dishes. Decide to start this blog post, despite the fact that it has so far been an unusual and not at all typical day.

8:20 - JF gets on bus. I turn on PBS Kids.

8:25 - Play with Tee on the floor, watch the rain, freshen coffee.

8:45 - Put Tee in highchair for breakfast. Work on blog post while he eats.

8:50 - Draw bath for Jofis and Resa, divvy out bath toys and make a firm warning of "no shampoo or conditioner!"

9:00 - Facebook, blogging, read the article about the 10 kids just like everyone else.

9:15 - Tee is done with breakfast. Wipe him off and dump all crumbs on floor. Vacuum floor. Decide to cut his super long hair. Cut too much, giving him a "Caesar" haircut straight outta 1996.

9:30 - Kids are done with bath. While Tee plays in living room, go to bathroom to wash Jofis and Resa's hair. Tidy bathroom, note ring in tub that needs to be cleaned, turn off light.

9:40 - Put lotion and clothes on kids; brush their hair. Tell them to play while I work on blogging.

10:00 - Pull Tee out from under the table and lay him down for a nap. Try putting a pretty Cinderella dress on Resa only to have her take it off because it's itchy. Put on Halloween music at Jofis' request, pass out bananas, refill water, work on editing pictures for a blog post.

10:23 - Realize that I have to pick James up in 50 minutes and dash off to the shower, updating this blog post first - of course.

10:25 - Plug in computer to recharge, make bed, attend to personal hygene, try blow-drying hair to control frizz and fail.

10:55 - Exit room looking absolutely fabulous! (in yoga pants and a shirt I've already worn once this week.) Round up the kids and send them to the van. Wake a sleeping baby and notice how bad his hair looks. Shoot.

11:02 - Everyone is buckled in. I put Sara Groves in the cd player and we are rolling.

11:05 - Arrive at the public school. Sign JF out, chat with his aid, allow JF to carry the huge rainbow umbrella which means I walk in the rain. Whatevs.

11:15 - JF is buckled in and eating his lunch, we head over to the parochial school.

11:23 - Arrive at parochial school. JF and Resa need to use the bathroom. Jofis requests "Train Song" so I put in Johnny Cash cd and play "Orange Blossom Special." Take the two in for the bathroom and check in at the office. Go back to van so JF can finish his lunch. Just as I'm about to record a *brilliant* Instagram Story JF tells me he's done with his lunch and ready to go in.

11:40 - Take JF down to his classroom. (As an aside, JF *really* likes routine and he really likes me. He dislikes change and being on his own. We had just gotten to a point where he was comfortable doing drop off when there was outdoor recess. I would park by the sidewalk to the playground, his friends and siblings would help him out of the van, and I could drive away with him happy. But indoor recess is different and we're working on what to do. If you could say a prayer for us that would be great. I don't feel bad for him - I feel bad for the staff having to deal with my crying kid.)

11:50 - Chat with the principal and Spanish teacher about how I should best get James in school on indoor recess days.

11:55 - Back in the van, driving home.

12:05 - Put Tee in the high chair, cut up a banana and give him some Ritz crackers. Make salami and butter sandwiches for Resa, Jofis, and me while I watch the latest season of Once Upon a Time on Netflix. Call kids to the table, catch up this blog post, eat sandwich.

12:25 - Wipe down Tee, dump crackers on floor. Nurse Tee in family room and try to ignore the curtains that Jofis has arranged. Put him down so he can play,  watch him do the worm across the floor. (Seriously, that's how he crawls. It's amazing.) Scroll through FB and IG.

12:40 - Begin to work on scouting stuff. Almost cry. Want to quit. Record an Instagram Story about it. Literally put head on counter. Sigh a bunch. Send a bunch of texts to Travis. Put Tee down for a nap. Email people. Continue to want to cry. Wonder how in the world other people do it. Resist the urge to drink or eat a bunch of chocolate.

1:24 - Bake Mary's birthday cake while watching Once Upon a Time so I can forget how dumb I feel for not understanding what the hell I'm supposed to be doing so my kids can have a wonderful time in Scouts. Okay, bake the cake.

1:41 - Cake in oven. Update calendar with all sorts of stuff. Text Travis about a sitter and camp and all kinds of stuff.

2:05 - Decorate family altar (aka the buffet) with all things Mary for her birthday. Tell kids it's time to turn off My Little Ponies and play.

2:27 - Tidy kitchen. Again. Get distracted and tidy living room. While taking dirty bib to laundry shoot remember ring in tub. Clean tub, sink, and toilet - praying for Steve Husband as I always do. Refill handsoap, clean master bath. Use term "master" loosely. Daydream of having more money so we can re-do the bathroom - at least the vanity!- and then the carpets... and then the windows... and then tell Jofis that he shouldn't play with the light saber in the bathroom. On the way back to kitchen notice the curtains in the family room and tidy family room, like 50%.

2:53 - Get back to kitchen. Unload and load dishwasher.

3:05 - Get Tee out of the crib. Nurse him and miss a phone call. Tell kids to get their shoes on. Change a poopy diaper. Tell kids to get their shoes on. Put Tee in carseat. Yell at kids for not having their shoes on; send shoeless kids to van.

3:15 - Head to parochial school to get kids, forgetting that we're done with the heat schedule so *errbody* (read: all public and private schools) is getting out at the same time and the drive is a bit slower.

3:30 - Arrive at school, unload three kids, walk over to where the kids are let out, count to six over and over and over again as I keep track of my kids. Load six kids (all mine) into van and head home. Tear up a little bit listening to this Sara Groves song:

3:55 - Daddy's home!!!!!! Unload. Yell at one kid who is pouting. Remind two kids to bring in their bookbags. Carry in baby Tee, noticing his haircut. geesh. Tell the kids they can only watch PBS Kids - no Netflix. Chat with Travis. Look through mail. Ask Trav to make pizza dough so it can rise while he runs to bank.

4:10 - Begin frosting cake. Drop the knife repeatedly. Clean up blue frosting from floor, kitchen cabinets, and my clothes. Praise Ben for his A+ spelling test. Praise L for seeing her brother in need and helping him without asking.

4:23 - Finish icing cake. Check out FB and IG. Yell at kids about after-school stuff. Look over L's homework. Put Tee in crib for nap. Take multiple phone calls reminding me about stuff.

4:38 - Go outside to pick oregano and begin sauce for pizza. Travis comes home and we have talk, argue, talk, hug, laugh, talk. He goes to living room with kids and I stay in kitchen  a l o n e !  

The rest of the evening went something like this: make dairy free pizza, burn my finger on the pizza pan, eat dinner with my finger in a glass of ice water, listen to four kids praise the pizza - one kid state she does not like the dairy free cheese - and Travis say nothing which means he also does not like the DF cheese but is kind enough to eat it for the sake of the rest of us, clear the table, quiz kids on spelling words,  work on sight words, sing happy birthday to Mary, eat white cake with blue frosting, clean kitchen while slopping water all over the place (my finger is still in ice water) sorta oversee pj's and brushed teeth and clean diapers (were applicable), nurse baby Tee and put him down for bed - all still with my finger in the glass of ice water. Kids in bed by 8. Kitchen clean by 8:25. Finger still throbbing at 8:30 so some pain meds and then off to bed.

9:00 - Put down The Princess and the Goblin and fall asleep.

PS - Not a sponsored post, but my super cute leggings in the title pic are from LulaRoe and you can get a pair from my friend Megan here.

September 6, 2016

The (new) patron saint of my parenthood

In between hanging up Travis' work shirts, feeding the kids an after-school snack, and dinner prep I want to squeeze in a note to share something that struck me last week while reading the Gospel of Mark.

The passage was Mark 15:21. They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

That's it. One sentence in one little section in the larger story of Christ's passion. But for the first time ever I noticed that Alexander and Rufus are named in a way that seems, at least to me, that the readers of Mark's Gospel would know who they are. "Alexander and Rufus - you know the brothers who are a part of our congregation? It was their dad - their dad! - who helped Jesus carry His cross!" And then all the people hearing the Gospel proclaimed would look at Alexander and Rufus and say, "Wow. I didn't know. Our Rufus and Alexander!"

This realization struck my mother's heart deep and instantly I said, "Simon of Cyrene, pray for me. Pray for me to share the Gospel with my kids. Be the patron of my parenthood. Help me to share the story of my personal encounter with Christ to my children so that their lives will be changed. Pray that I will lead my children so they have their own encounters with Jesus. Pray that our home and their hearts will be filled with the grace that they will grow up knowing, believing, and loving God as your own sons did."

That's it. That's all I've got. But if you, like me, are looking for every help Heaven can offer as you raise your kids to love God then maybe this will speak to your heart, too.

St. Simon of Cyrene, pray for us.+

September 1, 2016

Boom! Fall!

September first, baby!

Autumn, I am SO ready for you! Bring on the apples! The falling leaves! The pumpkin spice everyfreakingthing! I am READY for fires in our fireplace, and pumpkins, and having our house be super chilly in the morning because it got down to 50 overnight and I left the windows open so wear your flannel footie pajamas, kids who can't stay under blankets!


I feel like there should be some fall memes here.

That's better, isn't it?

What was I saying? Oh yeah:

Summer 2016, don't let the door hit cha where the good Lord split cha, and in the words of Tom Petty, "Don't come around here no more."

Why the animosity? Well, let me break it down for you with a summary of my least favorite summer in remembered history. It started out with Travis having sciatica problems in May. He missed the last weeks of school, slept a lot from the muscle relaxers, and ate dinner on the floor. Then he went out of town for work. He was gone for most of June doing work for family while I was solo parenting. Then, while he started a (paying!) job building a garage, still out of town, Tee began teething. Four teeth came in at once and there was a lot of crying and not a lot of sleeping at night - for Tee or me. There was more solo parenting and in the end the exhaustion and stress caught up with me and I started to spiral. Thankfully my mom and Travis were able to step in and help before things were too late.

Then, for my 35th birthday my body decided to send a sudden burst of wiry grey hairs. : /

Travis was still working, and still an hour away from home, when one by one everyone but he and baby Tee came down with Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease. I was the hardest hit and tried to navigate back-to school everything (registration, bus info, supply purchases, doctor visits, unpack-your-bag, etc) while Lysoling the crap out of my house, keeping everyone quarantined, and trying to nap. It all came to an end with party planning, meeting with people about JF's food allergies and dual enrollment, finding out that Ben needs glasses, and L breaking her elbow.

There were a few highlights: like some really wonderful quality time with my in-laws, a fun day at the zoo, and lots of fishing while Travis was still recovering from the sciatic problems. And one day I took a three hour nap - that was amazing. But overall, we've had a rough go of things for awhile and I'm looking forward to things calming down a bit more. (Please, Jesus.+)

So good-bye Summer, and "Come to Mama, Autumn!"

August 30, 2016

Stranger Things Party

So after binge watching the first episodes of the new Netflix show Stranger Things I haven't been able to sleep. In my sleepless nights I have been planning a themed party based on the show. Part Halloween party, part '80's party. It will be awesome.

Costumes are called for, of course. Fortunately huge glasses were hip two years ago so it shouldn't be too hard to do that. Then just feather your bangs, wear stirrups on your leggings, and find a jean jacket. You'll look great.

Decorate with lots of Christmas lights and lamps. Maybe pin up the alphabet on your wall, too. Rotary phones, trucker hats, a "flying" Millennium Falcon, Dungeons and Dragons pieces, maybe a hatchet - those would all be great little touches, too.

Your 80's playlist should include The Clash, especially "Should I Stay or Should I Go." And that one needs to pop up multiple times, obviously.

Serve cans of Cola and beer, Nutty Bars, Bazooka, Pez, Smarties, Pringles, Nilla Wafers, apples, bananas, and trail mix - that way everyone has plenty of energy for their travels. ;)

Boom. Party plans: done. You're welcome.