{JEI} New Year or resolutions that don’t involve dieting.

1.  What is one small thing, if you accomplish it in 2017, that will make you feel successful?

A small success would be following through on my 2017 resolutions, which are 1) learn how to bake layer cakes by making one a month 2) making my own bread again and 3) completing the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.  I have reached the conclusion that New Year’s Resolutions like “lose weight” and “eat healthy” or even “pray more,” just set you up for discouragement.  These things are lifelong struggles that we all continually work at.  And depending on our circumstances and season of life, we’ll have varying rates of success at improving our mastery of these things.  So my New Year goals have become fun little challenges to improve or enjoy a small area of life.


Just to briefly outline the goals, in an effort to hold myself accountable!

1) Baking layer cakes.  I love to bake, and I’m proficient in a number of recipes.  But layer cakes intimidate me.  The only kinds I’ve made with moderate success are carrot cake and German chocolate cake.  So I’m choosing a special day each month and a different cake to try!  For January, I’ll be making a double chocolate cake for my birthday!

2) Baking bread.  Two years ago, Bobby gave me this book.  I really enjoyed trying the recipes and making bread more regularly.  But then I got pregnant and stopped having the energy.  This winter, I’m opening the book again and I’ve already made two batches!  Hoping to keep fresh bread around.  I hope it will make a good snack for my ever-hungry two year old.


3) This will be the third year I attempt to complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge!  I’m going to do the “fun” list, and my first book this month, the one I choose for the cover, is The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

2.  Have you picked a “word of the year” or patron saint of the year?

On to the spiritual resolutions for the year!  The word I chose this year is “trust,” with verses from Isaiah 12 and 26: “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid… You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you…Trust in the Lord forever.”  With so many potential changes in our life this year, my need to trust the Lord is very great indeed.  We need to move, a need another job, my husband may start a second masters program, and our daughter will be starting school.  The words “dawn” and “light” have also been recurring for me, and I’m trying to wait and listen to what the Lord is saying to me with those words.

St. Joseph and St. Teresa of Calcutta are my saints for 2017.  St. Joseph because who better to intercede when you’re looking for jobs and houses?   It has been on my heart to read more of the words of Mother Teresa ever since August, when I was reading 33 Days to Morning Glory for my Marian reconsecration on September 8.  The words of Mother Teresa really resounded with me then, and I’ve borrowed a book of her private writings to mediate on.


3.  What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Having a place of our own!  God willing, things will come together so we can purchase a house of our own.  But even if we end up renting for another year, come June we should no longer be renting my parents’ house!  My parents are retiring and moving into our current home this summer (which they bought five years ago in anticipation of retirement).  I’m grateful we’ve had this large house and yard to enjoy for four years, but it has put a strain on our relationship with my parents, and we are very eager to have place of our own.  We also plan to move closer to my husband’s job, hopefully reducing his commute time by at least half (so 40 minutes each way instead of 75 minutes each way!)  But I know I will miss this view.


{JEI} Thanksgiving…or pass the pumpkin pie! 

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!  Checking in for Just Enough Info. Head on over to http://www.sweepingupjoy.com/jei-13-happy-day-of-gluttony/ to see other holiday posts! I hope everyone had a day with plenty of food, those you love and minimal drama!

1. Do you have to cook for Thanksgiving? If yes, what’s on the menu? If no, high five! 

See above. Pumpkin bread, sweet potato casserole and pecan pie were all I had to bake! High five! And we were at my in-laws, so didn’t need to clean the house, either. Win, win. 

Watching the parade.

2. What famous person would you like to invite to your family Thanksgiving?

St. John Paul the Great. What an amazing man, and I bet he was great when there was lots of food and kids! 

3. Excluding family, health and basic needs met – what are 3 things that you are thankful for?

Serious blessings: 1) so amazed and thankful for the outcome of the presidential election. 2) a year filled with many trials that are teaching me humility and strength inch my relationship with my husband. 3) wonderful girlfriends. Last fall I begged God to send me more friends, and online and in person I have been blessed with getting to know many, many lovely ladies. 

Just for fun blessings: 1) my no-boil-over pot lid from Pampered Chef. Seriously, I use it every day and it’s awesome. 2) the view from my rocking chair. Mountains, valley, trees, ever changing light and clouds. 3) sleep. Especially the once a month night when get 6-8 straight hours. Otherwise, this is a blessing I’m still hoping for more of.  

Our Thanksgiving dinner, which I made for Grace’s birthday on Monday.

{JEI} The Year of Mercy….or Lord, help me forgive. 

It’s been a few weeks since I published, mostly because the baby’s sleep patterns changed again and I lost my time to blog. Anyway, jumping in for the Just Enough Info linkup, hosted over at Sweeping Up Joy. 
1. What did you do (or can in these last few weeks!) to mark the year?

We prayed and went through the Holy Door at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Since it’s the month of the Holy Souls, it’s easy to finish off the Year of Mercy with prayers for the dead. 

2. What Work of Mercy is easiest or most challenging for you?

Easiest are definitely the ones I can do for my family. Feed the hungry, cloth the naked (even when they resist!), instruct the ignorant (we homeschool). And also making meals, donating clothes, praying for sinners and the dead, these are fairly easy.

But I struggle with some. Forgiveness, that’s a hard one, especially for those things that annoy me every. single. day. Extending mercy to those closest to me, especially through forgiveness and patience, is very challenging.

Also, a quick note on “sheltering the homeless.”  Most lists of the corporal works of mercy look like this:

  1. To feed the hungry.
  2. To give drink to the thirsty.
  3. To clothe the naked.
  4. To shelter the homeless.
  5. To visit the sick.
  6. To visit the imprisoned.
  7. To bury the dead.

The corporal works of mercy are basically taken from Matthew 25:34-26,  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'” 

“Shelter the homeless” is the one work not found in this passage.  A little research reveals that traditionally, the fourth work was “welcome the stranger.”  I think welcoming the stranger much better captures the spirit and intention of this work of mercy.  It can encompass providing shelter for the homeless, but its scope is much more broad.  If we start to reflect on ways to welcome the stranger, we can begin to recapture the virtue of hospitality, which was once a prominent virtue in the ancient and medieval world, but which has been largely lost in the modern day.  Welcoming the stranger includes many things, from talking to a new family at church, to bringing a meal to a young mom, to inviting over friends even when your house isn’t perfectly clean, or talking to someone new at the park or library.

Maybe *one day* I’ll write a post on this, but I just wanted to mention it, in case you’ve wondered about or struggled with this work of mercy too.
3. Do you have a story of mercy in your own life to share? Or do you have a favourite saint/quote/resource about mercy to pass along?

Going to Confession is, I believe, the most important way we come face to face with God’s mercy. I often struggle to go every month, and more often just doesn’t happen. But I am blessed with a husband who is very devoted to this sacrament, and he encourages me, even when I don’t feel like going.  His example of frequent, devotional confession really inspires me, and apparently inspires others too.  He is a Catholic high school teacher, and the chaplain says that when confession is offered for religion classes (not required, of course, but the opportunity is given during class time), his class has the highest percentage of students who go.

I will close with this quote from St. Therese, coloring page courtesy of Do Small Things with Love. 

{JEI} Angels…or my special name patrons 

Blessings on the Feast of the Archangels! And let’s not forget our special Guardian Angels, whose memorial is bumped this year by Sunday. You can check out the weekly Zelie Group angel posts at Sweeping Up Joy.  There is also a hilarious post about St. Michael, patron of fabulous leggings here. (Seriously, go read it then pull out your craziest leggings!) 

I have always had a special devotion to Angels because of my name. So without further eloquence, a few questions on the pure-spirit beings with whom we will praise God for all eternity.

1. Naming your Guardian Angel: yea or nay?

Nay. Check out Alicia’s post for the catechism explanation. Basically, it’s not recommended by Church tradition. Particularly because naming implies authority over someone, and we have no authority over our angels. 

2. Have you had any angel experiences? 

Yes.  When I was a kid, we prayed outside the abortion facility on Saturdays. Once, a man was cursing and heckling the priest who regularly prayed there. Then, this other man and a boy walked up. They were dressed like “bikers” and looked a bit rough. We thought they had come to heckle too. Instead, they quietly spoke to the offensive man, who appeared terrified of them, and immediately left. Then, these two people walked off and wee quickly gone too. No one had ever seen them before or since, and people had prayed at this spot for many years. The priest declared they were angels, and so I’ve always considered it my angel encounter. 
3. How have you shared about angels with your kids?

We say the Angel of God prayer every night, and talked about them at the beginning of the year with the letter A. 

And recently, when my daughter said she wanted to be an angel, I needed to explain that that is ontologically impossible, as humans cannot change their natures. 

JEI: Mom Self-Care…or Wait, I’m suppose to take care of myself?

1. What is your mom beverage of choice?

I love cocktails. Rum and coke, Irish cream or coffee liquor and Scarlett O’Hares (Southern Comfort and cranberry juice) are my favorites. 

But for everyday, I’ve become a coffe drinker from necessity, although I love tea in winter. And I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. 

I use mason jars outside because they are safer!

2. What do you do to relax?

Ummm.  Honestly, it doesn’t happen often. But I like to read, I’ve been coloring more, (LOVE the free coloring pages from Nancy at Do Small Things with Love!), baking (relaxing for me but bad for my waistline), and scrolling Instagram (I find it much better than Facebook, because my feed is filled with babies and beautiful pictures, instead of political memes.)  
3. When was the last time you got away with girlfriends or alone (and the grocery store does NOT count)?

Last Thursday! Drinks and dessert with a girlfriend. My baby is six months now, so I can get out by myself again. 

JEI: Chores…or Things that don’t really get done around here. 

1. What chore should you be doing now instead of answering this question?

I’m currently nursing the baby, so technically I shouldn’t be doing a chore anyway. But once I lay her down, I should be doing laundry and dishes. 

Who needs to do chores when there’s cute babies to play with?!

2. Do your kids have chores? If yes, what’s your chore system?

Nothing regular enough for a system, although I’d like to create a chore chart this fall. Right now, they pick up toys under my supervision, they love to “sweep” zand my almost five years old pits her dirty dishes in the sink. 

My Cinderella

3. If someone gifted you a housekeeping service, would you use it?

Absolutely!  I might save it for pregnancy, but I would LOVE a housekeeping service, especially for the bathrooms and dusting.