Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Cheer Exchange

This year, I decided to participate in the Christmas Cheer Exchange with a few other Mommy bloggers. Of course, since our move, I've been super behind on getting things posted & actually surprised myself that I was able to get the box out in time. Not surprisingly, I completely forgot to include any personal info when I sent it, so poor Rose had no idea the box was from me. Sorry about that!

Anyway, I have been looking forward to getting my little box in the mail. All I've received since we moved have been bills (including a fancy payment booklet for our monthly mortgage...can't wait to start paying that!) & offers of "Welcome to the neighborhood, please join our club..." So to get something other than that was a welcomed change!

So, when my box arrived, here's what it contained:

I loved the red nail polish & decided to use it right away! I don't paint my nails often enough, but always love how feminine & put-together I feel when I do. So, I'm having a hard time typing because I keep looking at how fancy my hands look!

I may or may not have eaten some of the dark chocolate & sea salt pretzels for breakfast this morning. Can I just say yum?! I'm also looking forward to trying out the gloves. They have special tips on the pointer & thumb to make them smart phone friendly. I have always wanted to try out this type of glove because I'm always on my phones (one for work, one for personal) & hate having to take off a glove to use them.

Special thanks Olivia at Snyders Tell All for all the goodies!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Planner to End All Planners!

Last month, I attended a mom's night event at the girls' school where the topic was, "Time Management: How to Find the 25th Hour." We watched a really great time management instructional video. The techniques were great, incorporating your long-term goals with a daily agenda & your to-do list. The strategy was to think of organizing time in the same manner that you would organize a closet. Pretty insightful, I think.

I am a tactile learner, so although I've tried my best to use my phone, tablet, email or other software to manage all these things, it never stuck. I would use it for a little bit, but then found it too cumbersome & quickly lost interest. To combat this, I decided to embrace my love of writing down to-do lists & bought a simple composition notebook. I filled in three days on each page & added enough dates to get to the end of November.

Overall, I've been pleased with using this method. I benefit from the ability to write things down & keep to-do items in the same locale as bigger picture goals. I knew I wanted to get a true-blue planner for 2015. Although I liked the one offered by the time management expert from the video, it was a bit pricey & I wasn't sure if I totally loved it (and would use it). So, I decided to start looking at planners when I go to Target, WalMart, etc.

Then, last week, a friend of mine posted a Kickstarter video for the Passion Planner. I couldn't help but fall in love with the simplicity & beauty of it! It encompasses everything I want in my new planner, the option to combine personal & professional goals with a daily agenda. This is exactly the type of planner I would design if I had to build one from scratch for myself. I have already supported the Kickstarter for their compact version & will be getting two compact versions in their next shipment (I ordered Jesse one since I want him to get organized in the new year).

If you are in the market for a new planner or are looking for a better way to accomplish your personal goals, consider getting a Passion Planner. If you don't have the financial means to buy the planner, you can download the pdf of the weekly layout. Also, between now & December 3rd, if you share their Kickstarter video, they will send you the pdf of the 2015 layout for free! I can't wait to get my planner & start using it. I'll be sure to post a review of my Passion Planner in 2015 once I've been routinely using it for a while. Happy planning!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Small Success Thursday: Little Engine That Could

Lately, I've been reminding myself of the Little Engine that could. You know...the one who keeps repeating, "I think I can, I think I can." It's a mantra I keep saying over & over this week. But, despite all of the hectic things going on, I have quite a few things to celebrate...

This week, I blogged every single day! That's more than I had in the last three months. I've realized that even if no one reads this, it gives me a place to jot down my thoughts. Someday, I might even be able to show it to my kids so they get a glimpse of what life was like when they were little.

My husband & I wrote a really awesome bulletin article for our parish. I wish we were able to do more of that. I'm praying God will allow us further opportunities to work in ministry together.

We are four weeks strong on our Tuesday night family nights! It draws us closer as a couple & gives us time to teach our children about the gospel. Tuesdays have become the highlight of my week! Be prepared for an entire post (or several) about it!

I found the planner of my dreams. I recently watched an excellent video about time management & began implementing some of the strategies. After our move, I really think this is going to be a huge lifesaver for me. Out of blue, I saw a planner that fits exactly what I need. Tune in tomorrow for details on the planner & how you can try it out for free.

The coming week brings a lot of craziness, but I'm hoping to not only survive it, but feel accomplished. I'll just keep praying & reminding myself, "I think I can, I think I can!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

House Hunting

Over the spring/summer, I really didn't blog as much as I intended. One of the obvious reasons was Francis' arrival. However, we were spending a significant amount of time looking at houses. One of my goals for 2014 was to begin house hunting. And what a hunt it has been. Since the beginning of the year, we've probably visited more than 50 homes. We put offers in on three of them, which for one reason or another did not pan out. So, to say it's been a bit stressful & time consuming is an understatement!

But, the search came to a halt when we laid our eyes on this beautiful brick home.

 Although it was a bit cluttered & had way too much furniture, it was obvious that this house had ample space & storage for our large family. By this point (this being our fourth offer on a home), I was not allowing my heart to get invested in any further properties. There were three homes before this that I really liked & had started getting excited about when negotiations ended. So, it was hard for me to judge if I really loved this home at all because I was not emotionally hanging on to it, in case this one also fell through. After praying & considering our options, we put an offer in on this home.

We ultimately came to an agreeable contract & set a date for closing. But even then, I would not allow myself to get my hopes up...just in case. Each time I visited the house or flipped through the pictures I took, I could feel myself getting more & more excited. It was hard to believe the entire thing was actually happening. Then, the closing date came & everything actually happened as planned. We signed on the dotted line (actually lots & lots of signing), agreed to a mortgage & became homeowners!

As part of the agreement, we agreed to wait two weeks after the close to take possession, allowing the previous owners time to move into their new home. That's the time period we're in now...waiting (anxiously!) until next week when we finally get keys! We've been packing like squirrels readying for winter & trying to get as much done ahead of the big move. But, as the days count down, I still can't believe it's really happening. We actually own this beautiful home! Looking back now, I realize we are exactly where God wanted us to be, but in order to get here, we had to go through the process of all those other homes & offers.

I will try to blog about the move as much as I can, but we're getting ready to head into a couple of crazy weeks, so I'm not sure how much free time I'll have. But, rest assured, I have some great posts planned & also want to try sharing some decorating posts as we get settled in our new digs.

As for me & my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Putting Family First!

This week, Jesse & I were asked to write the bulletin article since our priest is out of town. Here's what we came up with. I'm thinking we should figure out a way to make a living doing this!!

“We have to keep our kids busy with many activities so they stay out of trouble.”
“Let’s get through this month and we will take that family vacation…I promise.”
“Where did this week go?! I ran everywhere for everyone and I am exhausted.”

                 Life is zooming past us at such a hurried pace.  Time is our most precious asset, yet where & who are we spending it with? This week, we decided to show you some techniques that have worked for our family. Don’t think this means that we have it all together! Like many families, we struggle with all of the above scenarios, but wanted to share things that help us overcome it. We believe our culture has taken the family model & shattered its purpose. Society places a high value on entertainment & a fast-paced lifestyle. We are tricked into believing that if you aren’t busy, if you aren’t doing something, you aren’t creating value. Our value should be found in our relationship with God, not in how much we produce. God has led us out of slavery, yet often times we enslave ourselves to our work & other misguided priorities. Today, allow God to free you from those burdens! We need to reestablish the importance of our relationships & grow in faith as a family.

                Communication is essential!  We have to force ourselves to stop & reflect on what we did each day & share it with our families. Otherwise, we’ll just forget & just keep moving at 100mph. Part of prayer is reflection - it’s how we grow into better versions of ourselves. “What was your high today? What was your low today?” These are the two questions that each member of our family answers at the dinner table every evening. It’s a fun conversation starter & allows each person to tell us what they like & dislike about their day. As simple as this strategy is, it helps us to connect as a family. We believe that if we are able to talk about the small stuff every day, then it will make it easier for us to discuss the more challenging situations as they arise.

                Another key component of communication is honesty. Our children need to see us succeed in life, but they also need to see us fail…and learn from our failures. By being examples for our children & being honest with them, we are giving them a realistic example of what it means to be an adult, to be a parent. We need to forget about trying to be the “perfect” family & give thanks for our real family. Life is not perfect, in fact sometimes it is downright messy! But we need to embrace all of it, & show our children that loving each other through all of these situations is more important than how we look to others & is a key component in obtaining grace.

                Communication takes time. Right now you might not be able to fathom how you’re going to find quality time in your busy schedules, but trust us to say that you must make family time a priority! It has taken us many years with Jesse’s chaotic schedule to find this balance. But, with our children now in school, we knew family time had to take place. So, we began our Tuesday night family night. Every Tuesday, after school & work, we come home, prepare & eat dinner together & then spend our evening with the TV/phone turned off, spending quality time together. We’ve also begun to incorporate a weekly gospel reflection with questions & a video that lead us into discussion. This allows us to share our love for our faith with our children & teach them how they can learn from & interpret the weekly readings in their own lives. As parents & a married couple, this tool has also been beneficial as we now take time to read & reflect on the gospel & come to Mass prepared & engaged. If you are interested in joining us & doing the reflections as a family, go to

                When God called Elijah up the mountain, God was calling him to be present on the mountain. God understood that when Elijah climbed to the top, he was going to be thinking ahead to climbing down. The literal translation of what God said to Elijah means, “Be on the mountain.” Isn’t it human nature to be thinking ahead to the next thing, the next plans? When it comes to family & faith, we need to be present, be family. Don’t spend all your energy moving so fast, thinking forward to the next thing. Just be. Stop. Breathe. Enjoy the view of the mountains. Enjoy being together. Enjoy being a family.

                Please keep our family in your prayers, we are keeping you in ours as well. Let’s do this together! God bless, Jesse & Jessica

Monday, November 10, 2014

To the lady sitting behind me at Mass yesterday...

- Yes, I am aware of the stares I receive when I bring four children under age seven to Mass by myself.

- I did notice the not-so-nice glances you were directing towards my two-year old. What can I say, she's a wonderful little spirit! I don't tolerate highly disruptive behavior during Mass, but she was being a two-year old & doing the normal things they do. This includes babbling about people & things she sees, walking up & down the pew, etc. I won't force her to sit in complete silence, stuffing her with Cheerios or playing games on my phone because I use those chatty moments to teach her about Jesus & help her fall in love with the Mass.

- I am aware of our church's cry room, however I really only use it in emergencies. I prefer my kids sit where they are able to focus on the Mass & watch what is happening.

-Every time I was frustrated by your dirty glances, I repeated to myself what the lady at the grocery store said to me on Saturday. She was walking past me & my "push one cart, pull one cart" method of shopping with all the kids by myself & said in sweet & understanding way, "You have my undying admiration." It made my heart smile.

P.S. I offered up my frustrations for you & whatever is going on in your life. I hope the next time you see a mom with a bunch of kids in Mass, you are able to give them a kind eye...or at least look away & not stare.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Small Success Thursday: School & Home

The last two weeks have been so incredibly busy. I'm still trying to get my hands around it so we can settle in to a normal pattern. I'm looking forward to spending the next three days at home with the kids, getting the house in order & planning for the future. With that in mind, here are my successes of the past week.

- We had open house at the school last night. Sophie & Bella were very excited to take us into their classrooms & show us all the things they've been working on in school. We are very fortunate that both girls have fantastic teachers & their classrooms reflect that. I even got to meet one of Bella's classmates & exchange phone numbers with her mom. I am excited for my shy Bella to start having playdates & making friends.

- I don't want to celebrate yet, but all signs are pointing towards a successful house purchase! This has been a long process, several houses fell through at various steps in the process. Because of our past experiences, I'm not getting overly excited. I'll start that process after we get the keys & officially begin to move in. Right now, there are still too many hurdles to overcome before we are at that point. In the meantime, I will say that the house is amazing & would provide about twice the amount of space we are currently living in. If/when this house comes to fruition, you'll be hearing about it & I'll share lots more!

- My third grade religious ed class is off to a great start. This is the first time I'm teaching the same grade, as I've bounced around the last couple of years. So I'm looking forward to taking my curriculum & making a few adjustments based on my experience last year. The kids are attentive & excited. I also have a high school senior & recent Confirmand as my class helper. She's very excited to take a role in helping prepare these kids for their First Communion in the spring.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I'm looking forward to finishing up a couple of blog posts I've been working on. Jesse is working at a retreat tomorrow & Sunday is religious ed, so we've blocked off Saturday as a family day. Yay!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Small Success Thursday: In the Chaos

This week has been incredibly hectic! I left the house at 7:30am & didn't get home until 9pm last night. After putting the kids down for bed, it was all I could do to stay awake to crawl into bed. So, Small Success Thursday is being posted on Friday.

Last week, when I looked ahead to this week's agenda, I knew it would be hectic & I would need lots of patience & prayers to get through it. My maternity leave ended (all too soon) & I returned to work on Monday. Our oldest started first grade & Jesse resumed teaching 8th grade theology. We have been working all week to get back into a routine & it hasn't been easy. But, I think we'll eventually work out the kinks & get back to some semblance of normal.

1) I found myself saying over & over, "We'll try again tomorrow." It's very handy & calming when circumstances changed & obstacles came up. Just imagine the possibilities...

"Mommy, I was tardy on my second day of school."
"We'll try again tomorrow."

"The baby fussed & cried for an hour until you got here."
"We'll try again tomorrow."

"The diaper bag doesn't have any burp clothes or a change of clothes for the toddler."
"We'll try again tomorrow."

2) I've always wanted to teach higher education. My dad was a college professor until he got sick & I always loved the college environment. I have been offered the opportunity to teach a freshman business course beginning in the spring 2015 semester at Gannon University (our alma mater!). I am shadowing the current professor of the course this fall & attended the first class yesterday. I had a lot of butterflies, but the longer I spent in the classroom, the better I felt about being able to teach this material. It was also very nostalgic to walk around the campus where Jesse & I met & fell in love. I have so many wonderful memories of my college years & I can't wait to be back more often!

3) The baby slept from 9pm-4am the other night. I woke up at 2am in a minor panic because he hadn't stirred yet. But when I reached my hand into the co-sleeper & felt his little chest going up & down, I quickly retreated back to dreamland. I'm thankful to the little guy for letting me get a few additional hours of uninterrupted sleep...goodness knows I need it this week!

4) This one hasn't happened yet, but I'm counting down the hours because for the first time in I don't know how long, neither Jesse or I have any commitments this weekend, so we are actually going to enjoy a full, three-day weekend as just the six of us. I can't wait!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Small Success Thursday: Renewed Faith

I really enjoyed doing the Small Success Thursday (SST) link up with & so as part of my renewed plan to begin blogging again, I'm going to use SST as a way to journal the everyday happenings that get lost in the chaos as well as forcing me to blog at least once a week!

This past week has been very hectic, full of highs & lows. But the greatest outcome of all the craziness is a feeling that I need to stop focusing on everything around me & spend more time in prayer...

1) We attended the FEST a couple weeks ago & I stopped by the Mom's Relaxation Station to pick up a bag full of goodies. In the bag, I discovered a pamphlet for Mary Undoer of Knots. I had never heard of it, but as I read about its meaning, I feel compelled to pray the novena & begin this devotion. Wish me luck...I'm starting tonight!

2) Jesse had an amazingly successful Young Disciples retreat in my hometown this past weekend. As part of the takeaway, he asked everyone to share what they were most thankful for during the trip. When it was his turn, my sweetheart said he was most thankful for a supportive & loving wife because without me, none of his work would be possible. I'm so fortunate to have such a great man of God to call my husband.

3) When I got home from the retreat weekend, Jesse had cleaned up the house & grilled an amazing dinner, complete with a warm fire in the outdoor pit & candles on the patio. It makes me feel so special & loved as a wife when he does these types of things for me.

Smiling with JPII at the FEST!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

STOP - in the name of Love!

I had a lot of things I wanted to get done yesterday. School supply shopping, returning library books, baking a few sweets, exchanging some baby clothes for bigger sizes, going to the bank, writing baby shower thank you notes, sending a few emails...the list could be endless. Since this is my last week home on maternity leave, I started the morning out with lots of motivation & determination. Jesse was on a confirmation retreat all day, Sophie & Bella are camping with my parents, so I only had two kiddos to drag around on all these errands.

I figured the best way to tackle all of the running around errands would be to take two trips; one in the morning & then one after nap time. Very doable, right? I couldn't have been more wrong!

The morning started out fine & we successfully made it to the bank, library & Target. Maddie fell asleep on the way home & was incredibly grumpy when we got home. Francis wet through his outfit & onto my shorts (outfit change #1). Then, I tried compiling a school supply list while Maddie played quietly for a few minutes before nap time. This is where it all went downhill. Maddie was overly tired & so I spent the next two hours putting her in bed, hearing her get up & come down the stairs, then picking her up & placing her back in her bed. Repeat. For two hours. Finally, I gave up & decided if she just stayed awake that she would go to bed earlier.

Francis woke up a couple times during this nap time fiasco & after feeding him, he showed his appreciation by spitting up all over me (outfit change #2). Since we were going stir crazy in the house by this point, I took them outside for a walk. On our way back, Francis wet through his diaper & since I was carrying him in a front pack, he tinkled all down my leg (outfit change #3). Maddie was throwing a big fit that we had to go back in the house so I could change.  It was at this point that I recited my favorite, albeit simple, prayer.  "Mary, Mother of God, please give me patience."

Once in the house with everyone melting down, I realized that I needed to give up on my wish list of items to accomplish & just stop. Stop & pay attention. Stop in the name of love & do what my kids needed. So, I took both kids upstairs & sat with them in the rocking chair. I hummed a few tunes & within a couple of minutes, Maddie, the child who had been fighting nap time for hours, suddenly gave up the battle & cuddled on my lap, sleeping soundly.

As I sat rocking my babies, part of me wanted to just lay them down & resume my to do list projects. But then another part of me realized I was accomplishing things...they just weren't items on my list. And, I was exactly where I needed to be in that moment. This might not seem earth-shattering, but it really was an eye opening moment for me. How often in our lives do we just do what we need to do for ourselves, but never stop to just listen to God's whisper in our ear? Are we truly doing God's work if we don't stop to listen to our Father? Or if we are listening, do we not give Him our full time & attention but rather try to rush through it to get on to other things? My personal goal for the week is to take time out, not only for my kids, but my husband & my God. Can you do the same?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Showered" with Love

For each of our pregnancies after Sophia (our oldest), Jesse & I have debated the etiquette of what is known as a "Baby Sprinkle."  For those of you not hip to this term, a baby sprinkle is basically a baby shower, except the expectant family already has a child or children.  Usually it happens when you are expecting a child of a different gender than your previous one(s).  So, in our case, as we had more daughters, Jesse would inform me that if/when we had a boy, that he would be throwing me a shower so we could get a few boy clothes to bulk up his closet.

After Francis was born, I didn't really think about our previous discussions, but Jesse had been.  A couple weeks ago, he asked me if I would give the talk at youth group.  He wanted the kids to hear about sacrifice, told from the perspective of a mother.  All day, I thought about what I would say to the kids, but I didn't really write too much down.  I have found in the past that my youth group talks are better when I jot down a few notes, rather than write out an entire speech.  At 6:30pm, Jesse came & picked us up to head to the church.  I was feeling alright about my topic, but still unsure if the kids would find it relevant.

Upon our arrival, I was surprised to walk into a superhero-themed baby shower (or baby sprinkle!).  I was shocked that Jesse was able to pull off the entire thing & catch me completely off-guard.  The room was so beautifully decorated, a delicious spread of food & many thoughtful gifts.

Then, as I walked around & greeted everyone, I was touched that so many people thought of us & were there to share in the joy of our new arrival.  I couldn't help but thank God for putting so many wonderful people in our lives.  Most of these people came into our lives through Jesse's ministry & it was very touching that they were so invested in our little Francis Oliver.  Even though ministry work can be very exhausting, moments like these make me so thankful.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm baaaaack!!

Confession time: I have not put any effort into blogging for the past couple of months.  Actually, that's probably not much of a shock if you've been kind enough to visit this blog during that time, hoping to see any new updates.

Good news: I've spent some time thinking about where I want this blog to go & I'm super excited to begin blogging again.  Hopefully it will blossom into the blog I envisioned when I first started writing.

Best news: The most exciting thing to happen during my time away was the arrival of the new addition to our family.  Allow me to introduce Francis Oliver...

He is a wonderful baby & such a blessing to our family.  We were not complete without him!  I will be sharing much more about him & our family as we go forward.

So, allow me to welcome you, either for the first time or returning, to the life lessons of a Catholic youth minister's wife!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The "Grass is Always Greener" Effect: Why I Can't Read Other Mommy Blogs

I decided to start a blog last year because I was hoping to find a community.  Perhaps some other working moms, youth ministers' wives, whatever it was.  I spend my time either at work or with my kids & hubby.  I don't go out much.  I can count on one hand since I've had kids how many times I leave everybody at home & just go out by myself to do something I enjoy.  So, the fact that this blog has been completely unsuccessful in that one goal is very disheartening & is often the reason I sit at my computer wondering whether I should even post the various draft blogs I have written.

Lately, I've really been feeling the panic that sometimes comes along with losing yourself to all the job titles that we as mothers have.  I am Jesse's wife; Sophie, Bella & Maddie's mom; I am someone's employee; I am the caregiver, housekeeper, dishwasher, laundry do-er, bill payer, kisser of boo-boos, planner of family events...the list is never ending.  But somewhere in that list, I've forgotten to include myself or anything that I enjoy doing for me.  I realize it is a big part of my unhappiness, but I can't seem to find anything that I'm passionate about just for me.  My parents love the movie, "The Bridges of Madison County."  It's not one of my personal favorites, but there is a quote from that movie that keeps playing in my mind...

"When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children, in one way her life begins but in another way it stops.  You build a life of details.  You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move.  And when they leave they take your life of details with them.  And then you're expected to move again only you don't remember what moves you because no one has asked in so long.  Not even yourself."

I can't speak to the part about children moving away yet, but I can certainly relate to not remembering what moves me because I have become so identifiable with my family & their needs.  This feeling is only perpetuated when I read other people's blogs.  In particular, I find myself angry when I read about the stay at home mom who takes online courses or the posts about cute, simple recipes or adorable house decorations.  I suppose I should be encouraged, inspired or at the very least, indifferent to the happenings in the lives of other mommies.  However, most of the time the only thing I feel is frustration in being unable to live up to those standards & wishing I had the circumstances they have.  I find myself comparing myself to these other moms & feeling constantly inadequate.  It's not a personal thing against any of the moms writing these blogs, it's more in finding fault with my lack of motivation or ability to take on such things in my own life.

It's getting to the point where I'm not sure I should read those blogs at all anymore.  And, it is forcing me to take a long hard look at myself, the things that are most important to me in raising our kids, and what things in my life cause my unhappiness/lack of motivation.  The frustration lies in knowing what things I want to change, but having circumstances beyond my control keeping me from changing them.  Jesse has long said that I have to find things to do for myself so I have something to look forward to.  Although I agree with him, I'm not sure where to start.  I think turning to prayer needs to be more prominent so I can find some answers or at least peace with where I'm at.  After that, who knows.  But hopefully there will be some revelations in my life.

Monday, February 10, 2014

You know you're a YM Wife when...

I started this blog with the hope of finding other youth ministers' wives.  It is a unique situation that we spouses find ourselves in & I think there is a lot to be gained from sharing our experiences.  In seven years of being a youth minister's wife, I have made some observations of the ways that ministry work is more unusual than your typical 9 to 5 job.  This is not to say that other occupations don't have their own nuances, but I am speaking specifically to my situation here.  So, without further ado, here are (some of) my reflections on what it means to be a youth minister's wife...

- When your small children know all the top 40 songs, not because of your radio station selection, but because of the influence of the youth group.

- Most students at the parish school know your kids because they spend so much time there, even though they aren't old enough to be students yet!

- When you have a serious conversation with your husband about buying the 12 passenger church van when the priest sells it & surprise yourself by realizing how practical it actually would be to own that vehicle...

- When your husband misses your daughter's 1st & 2nd birthdays because he's at Creation for the week with the youth group.

- You rarely go to mass together & if it weren't for being known as the youth minister's wife, you worry people would think you are a single mother.

- When you do go to mass together, you rarely go in the same vehicle.

- Your kids refer to your church as "Daddy's office."

- You end up driving the 12 passenger church van to work a couple days a week because your husband was too tired after taking kids home to go back to church & pick up your vehicle.

- You have eaten more leftover pizza then you care to think about.

- You find it totally normal to drive the 12 passenger van (sometimes with the trailer attached) even though you are the only person in the vehicle.

- Your husband's laundry consists of t-shirts from youth events, funny quips & sweatpants.  Are you living with a college student?

- Date night consists of going to his guest speaking arrangements.

- Lots of kids call you "Mom" that aren't your biological kids & you're ok with that.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chicken Soup Visit

So, the illness that has been making me miserable for nearly three weeks seems to finally be loosening its grip on my sinuses, though I do still get an annoying cough & some congestion from time to time.  Though I love being pregnant, there is nothing worse than feeling terrible & being able to take nothing but Tylenol...which basically does nothing to help.  So, I had to tough it out & try my best with the homeopathic treatments as well as lots & lots of rest!

Knowing how under the weather I've been, my mom planned a visit for this past weekend.  It was originally intended as a trip to make me chicken soup & let me lay in bed all weekend resting.  But, because I was (finally!) starting to feel better, it turned into a restful but also very productive weekend.  I was able to sleep in...words can't describe how wonderful that felt!  But more than that, I love having my mom come for visits like this because she has the ability to kick me into gear on some projects I might otherwise be finding excuses not to complete.

For starters, we took down all the Christmas decorations.  I had already taken down the tree, but all the other signs of Christmas still remained.  And with the arctic cold temperatures that we've been experiencing this winter, I didn't really appreciate the reminder of how long winter is likely to remain.  So, I packed everything up & we did a quick clean of every room.  Then, I brought up what few Valentine's Day decorations I have & put them up.  The girls enjoyed helping put up the window clings, but I also got a little crafty & made a couple really simple decorations.  I'm so proud of them & think they look super cute!

One of the unexpected things that I finished (and that gets me on track with the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year) was to complete our pre-approval application so we can finally start house shopping.  It is painfully obvious that we are outgrowing our current rental house.  In addition to needing more space, I am greatly looking forward to getting a dishwasher.  I can't even describe how exciting that will be!

Overall, I owe my mom a huge thank you for helping me feel better, making me chicken soup, letting me sleep in & kicking me into gear on a few projects to start off the new year right!  I've been trying to continue this attitude & move forward with some other things that need done around the house.  So far I've been fairly successful, but it's only been a couple of days, so we'll see what happens over time!  I'm very blessed to have her as a close friend who always has a willing ear & open heart to help me out.  I hope someday to be able to provide the same loving care for my daughters as adults as my mom does for me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From my sick bed...

I have been home sick for a week now.  I got this lovely respiratory flu that seems to be going around.  Between  the aches, sinus pressure & coughing, it's all I can do to get from room to room.  Perhaps the worst part is that because of my pregnancy, I can't take anything but Tylenol & Sudafed.  I'm getting close to surrendering & just going to the doctor, but I don't think they'll be able to give me anything either.

I don't get sick very often.  In fact, I'm rarely ever sick.  If I do get a little cold, I'm always able to push through it.  Jesse said to me last night that this was really the first time he could remember seeing me this sick & miserable.  And I have to agree with him.  I've felt just awful, but it goes beyond the physical pain because I haven't been able to be the mommy that the girls are used to.  They've watched me lay on the couch, not being able to play or color with them.  I feel terrible about that, but I keep trying to remind myself that I need the rest in order to get better.  I just wish it would start happening already.

I've had to spend a couple of days home with the girls while Jesse works.  Those days have been the hardest because all I want to do is lay in my bed & sleep, but when you are in charge of two little ones, you have to be a bit more attentive.  So, we've been watching lots of cartoons & reading books.  And I absolutely relish their nap time!

And now I have to stop this post because I have a three year old that wants to cuddle.  It's enjoyable for both of us since that's about all I'm able to do with them.  Until next time...hopefully I'm feeling better.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bank Account Fears

I have a confession to make...I hate logging in to check our bank account balances.  It's a stress-filled event and (unfortunately) I usually put it off until I have to pay bills.

"But Jessica, you have an accounting degree, an MBA & work with finances all day at work?"

I know, I know, but it's a different beast to deal with your own finances!  Goodness knows, no one ever gets financially rich working for the Church.  Add to that some debt from Jesse's college days, rent & other adds up.  Not to mention, we've recently started the process of looking for a house & although we've never done it before, I guarantee that won't be cheap!

I've tried several different formats for managing our finances, most of which I copied from others.  But I was never able to stick with it.  So, I think it's time for me to come up with my own system.  Something simple, that doesn't require a lot of fiddling.  Jesse has given me control of managing our accounts, which I appreciate, but it's also intimidating to try & manage, so it's up to me to figure out what works.

My short-term goal is to get to a point where I don't cringe every time I log in to our online banking.  Long-term, I'd like to get more tucked away into savings & pay off some debts.

I'm posting about this not because I want pity for our financial state.  It's more like an accountability thing for myself.  If I post about it, I feel that I need to follow-through & even provide updates along the way of our successes!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome to a New Year!

Welcome to 2014!  I've spent the last two weeks relaxing with my family, enjoying the holiday, spending all day in my pjs, taking time away from work & all other nuisance distractions to just slow down & take in all the wonderful people around me.  I even read a book from cover to cover...shocking!  Having this down time reminded me that I'd like to enjoy a better balance in my life once the chaos of work/school/religious ed/etc resumes next week.  So although I'm not usually one to make resolutions, I'd like to post some of my goals/things I'm looking forward to in the coming year...

- The arrival of Baby #4!  This pregnancy has been slightly different from the other three, so I'm not sure if I should interpret that in any way, but I am anxious to meet the new little son/daughter that God has placed in our lives & hearts.

- Finding more time for reflection/prayer.  I have a wonderful book that provides daily reflections/activities & a weekly saint specific to Catholic Moms.  Plus, Jesse bought me a Chartres labyrinth for meditation & I always feel more calm when I routinely use it.

- Prenatal yoga.  This is the one form of routine exercise that I (try to) follow.  I'm sure it's shocking that I don't spend hours at the gym, but seriously, chasing three children is more than enough of a workout!  Plus, it's fun when Sophie & Bella get out their mats & mimic the poses!  And during pregnancy, I always appreciate the benefits of stretching my muscles & joints.

- House hunting - Ok, this isn't exactly something I'm totally looking forward to.  I know we need the space & I like the idea of going to look at houses to see if they would fit our needs.  What scares me is the immense amount of debt that we will be in once we have a mortgage.

That's a pretty ambitious list & is about all I think I can handle right now.  I'm always trying to be the best wife/mother I can be, but that's a daily task.  So, here's to the new year & all of the possibilities that it holds!