Our guardian angels are truly amazing. Every night before bed, my kids and I try to pray the Angel of God prayer for protection and a good night’s sleep. I’m convinced it is the reason they have never been seriously injured. There have been so many occasions where I have almost seen my children’s guardian angels pulling them back up when about to fall down a stair, pushing them away from the corner of the table, making me feel like a ninja when my hand suddenly flies out and catches someone mid-fall. I’m a total klutz, and my kids obviously inherited that lovely gene as well.
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Photo credit: pexels.com
Morning Routines: Hopes vs Reality
If you're anything like me, you know that mornings just aren't meant for, well, being awake. I mean, you have the whole day to be awake... so what's the point in waking up in the morning? Why not around 10 am instead? I think I could function much better if the day didn't have to start until 10 am.
Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it, because life is truly a blessing), there are too many responsibilities to tend to before 10 am. I have to get my kids up and dressed for the day, make and serve breakfast, take a 5 minute shower, brush everyone's teeth and hair, pack lunch and snacks for school, make sure nothing is missing from the backpack, get myself looking somewhat presentable, walk down to the bus stop, walk back home, make myself breakfast, get the girls a snack, eat my breakfast - and that is all by 8:30 am.
Notice that I didn't mention prayer time, or journaling, or reading the bible at all. THAT is the flaw in my morning routine.
Ideally, I'd wake up an hour before the kids so that I could make myself a cup of coffee, take a relaxing shower, sit down with whatever journal I'm working through (right now it's Consider the Lilies) and a bible, and just spend time reading and doodling and praying. Then after I've had time to pray and read in quiet, I'd wake the kids up and begin my usual routine.
Unfortunately, I just haven't found a way to make that a possibility yet. For one, every time I set an alarm for an hour earlier than their usual wakeup time (or ANY amount of time before their normal wakeup time), they sense it and wake up even earlier than the alarm. Another problem is that I work late into the night because I can't get enough done during the day, and at least one child wakes up at least once a night, so I'm already not sleeping enough. And, I can't drink caffeine because it affects my anxiety, so I can't just run on 4 hours of sleep and a pot of coffee anymore. I used to... before this year, that's what I did. Apparently my body had enough though, because I can't even drink 1/2 decaf, 1/2 regular without feeling shaky and anxious anymore. I do drink 100% decaf on occasion for the taste, but it does nothing for energy.
So, I'm still trying to figure out how to make time in the morning for praying and journaling, while still getting everything else done. I could probably carve some time out in the afternoon, but I'd really love to start the day with prayer and journaling. Especially in the Fall, when the weather is gorgeous outside and I can grab a blanket and hot drink and sit in a quiet corner of the yard, I really want to start the day outside praying and reading.
Below I'll post links for some of my favorite products for prayer and bible journaling. I started earlier this year during Blessed Is She's Lenten journal, and I fell in love immediately.
What does your morning routine look like? How do you make time to start your day with prayer?
Prayer/Bible Journaling Supplies
Consider the Lilies- Amazing bible study journal by Elizabeth Foss, Mary Lenaburg, Colleen Mitchell, and several other incredible writers. (btw, Take Up And Read is coming out with a new study in September!)
Heart of Mary Women's Fellowship Archived studies - These are free online bible studies on a large variety of topics. I'll be one of the writers for this year's Advent study. They have daily studies as well, but this is the link for the archived studies. We're currently finishing up this month's study on the Cardinal Virtues, and in September we'll be studying Angels.
Catholic Study Bible - This was recommended on another blog for bible journaling, because you can paint over the sections of notes if you'd like. I really love this bible because it is hardbound (you can also get paperback if you prefer). There are prettier bibles that you can get specifically for bible journaling, but this one is a good price and does the job.
I'll add the links for these in a little bit, but I have a Catholic bullet journal from a friend on Etsy, and gorgeous notebook from another friend on Etsy that I use as well. The names are slipping my mind at the moment, but once I get their sites, I'll link them.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens - These are my favorite for doodling, highlighting, drawing, practicing hand-lettering, etc. I always use these in my journals and bibles. I have this set and a second with different shades .
Fine Tip Micro Line Pens - These are great for note-taking, especially in the margins of my bible. I have several different kinds, because I love colorful pens so much.
Washi Tape - I only recently started using washi tape but it is so fun! I love decorating the pages with it, especially marking corners for pages that I want to come back to. There are so many different kinds of washi tape, but this one is thin and nice to use in books. I use thicker washi tape for packaging my orders.
Koi Watercolors - I love painting in my journals and in the bible. I don't know why, but painting has always been relaxing for me. It does wrinkle the pages a little bit, but I don't mind.
Water Brushes - I prefer water brushes to regular paint brushes, especially for watercolors.
I’ve been doing a Temperance challenge this summer via Facebook with a wonderful group of encouraging women, and what I’ve learned is that I struggle more with frivolous spending than anything else. As a single mom I don’t really have a ton of extra money to spend to begin with, but I’ve noticed that I go through periods of no spending, and then justifying extra spending by saying that I rarely buy stuff for myself. That part is true – I don’t often spend money on myself, but when I do… I spend a lot. Now, I don’t spend hundreds of dollars, but even an extra $20 that isn’t in the budget can be considered a lot. This month has been hard because since today is my birthday (the day you are reading/hearing this, not the day I am writing this), I’ve been telling myself it’s ok to spend some extra money because it’s a birthday gift to myself. I’ve told myself that three times this month so far. That is not practicing Temperance.
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As a single mother who suffers from anxiety and depression, this verse from Joshua is pretty much the exact opposite of how I feel some days. However, I do know that despite how I feel, I am in fact being strong and courageous every single day that I continue to fight for my life and be the mom that my kids need me to be, no matter how badly I want to hide under a rock eating chocolate and drinking wine. I know that God has a plan for my life that involves more than simply staying at home, avoiding situations that require me to be brave.
To read more, click here.
Prudence means exercising good judgment or common sense. It means knowing the right thing to do. It means not saying everything that comes to mind. In this age of technology, it is so common to vent on social media, or engage in arguments, or hide behind the keyboard and say things that normally wouldn’t be said in face-to- face conversation, or to gossip about others.
Fr. Mike Schmitz of Ascension Press cautions against this and calls it “everyday betrayal.” Sometimes we need to process things and talk about it with someone, and this is where prudence comes in. Prudence helps to only “talk to the right people about the right thing to accomplish the right end.” It requires discretion – not bringing anyone else and his or her flaws or problems into what you need help with.
To read more, click here.
When I was engaged at 21 years old, I had no idea what NFP was. In our diocese we were required to take an NFP class as part of our marriage prep, and I decided to order a home study course because I was too embarrassed at the idea of talking about it with strangers. I started charting and reading everything I could about it.
We were married in the middle of July and by the end of August, I was expecting our first child. He was completely unplanned... during our two weeks of travel for our honeymoon, I had misplaced my chart and miscalculated peek day. I had just started my last year of college, but had to drop out because of the severe nausea I experienced.
To my dismay, my cycle came back 5 weeks postpartum. I had some complications with the pregnancy and delivery, and despite pumping for 7 weeks, my milk never came in. I was only pumping an ounce a day. I was committed to using NFP to avoid pregnancy because a) I had a c-section, b) my husband was in the Army and there was a chance we'd be moving within the next few months, c) I developed postpartum depression.
No one had ever talked to me about postpartum depression before. I didn't know that it was even a thing. Between a husband who always worked and a baby who never slept or stopped crying, I turned into a complete mess. Not knowing what it was, I just assumed I was just beyond exhausted and I'd get over it. I never talked to anyone about it except my husband, who responded by hanging out with his friends more to avoid my screaming and crying. I can't totally blame him.... I would spend the day laying in bed with our son, just crying, begging God to make him sleep because I was just so tired. I started having dark thoughts that scared me, but I had no one to talk to. I didn't know there was medication I could take, or supplements that would help.
Because my husband worked so much (frequently in the field for weeks at a time, or in other states training for a couple of months), our son and I spent quite a bit of time at my parents' house. I would pack a few bags and spend a few weeks a time at their house, only seeing my husband one week a month, if that. When he finally got on a schedule where he worked on post close to our house, he mostly worked nights - roughly 4 pm til 7 am. We barely saw each other.
I remember one night that we were finally home together after several weeks apart. Our son was 11 months old. I felt some cramping that usually indicated ovulation, but I wasn't due to ovulate for a week. I had been on a very specific schedule for as long as I had remembered. Three and a half weeks, almost to the day. That's how long my cycles were. I decided to ignore the cramping, because we only had a couple of days together before we'd be apart again for a few weeks.
Our middle daughter was born 9 months later.
By that time, we had moved 1000 miles across the country (read: away from my family), my husband had gotten out of the Army (officially: the day before we left the hospital with our new daughter, which meant insurance didn't cover that last day. We had to pay $5000 for that ONE day), his mother/my mother-in-law had passed away from brain tumors just three weeks prior.
Things were really rough, and we started fighting a lot. NFP was always a huge problem in our marriage because he didn't believe it worked. To him, it kept failing us because I kept getting pregnant. To me, I KNEW it worked BECAUSE I kept getting pregnant and knew exactly when it happened, even though both times were an accident. He would rather abstain for the rest of our marriage than trust NFP to work. He started withholding any signs of affection, even saying "I love you." He'd purposely get up earlier than me and leave the room so that he wouldn't have to talk to me in the morning.... leaving me in bed, recovering from a c-section, with my newborn and 20 month old son.
After a crying fight one night, things got a bit better for awhile. My cycle returned at 5 weeks postpartum again, but this time the depression didn't. We were happy for the first time in awhile, or so I thought.
Several months later, things got rough again, and my husband asked for a separation. I was four days into a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots to save our marriage. He had no idea I was praying it... he just knew that he was no longer happy and wanted a break. Ultimately I agreed to take the kids and move back in with my family, but in the meantime I had hopes that he would change his mind. We spent the month before I left enjoying each other's company, if you know what I mean. I thought maybe it would save our marriage. However, despite warning a week before ovulation was due that we should be careful, we weren't that one day.... and I ended up pregnant.
I denied it at first.... I thought my cycle was late due to the stress I was undergoing. With my first two pregnancies, I tested positive almost a week early. I just KNEW I was pregnant both times. This time, I KNEW I couldn't be... because why would God do that to me?
Two days before my family picked up the kids and I and drove 1000 miles back across the country in a completely full minivan with our belongings crammed into every possible corner, I tested positive. I couldn't believe it. I mean, I could.... I was just in denial. Our son had just turned two a few months prior, and our middle child was only six months old. I was about to become a single mother of three kids under three.
Fast forward an incredibly difficult three years, and here I am, writing a blog post about NFP.
I can't really say that I wish I had known more about NFP to begin with, because then I might not have the kids that I have, and I love them to death. As difficult as life has been these last six years (but especially the last three years), I can't imagine life without them.
Since I've been single for three years, I've been studying more about NFP, tracking my cycle (not doing anything fancy, just marking certain days and for sure my period on my iPhone and MAC calendars), and just preparing myself for the future in case I ever remarry. I don't know if it's in God's plan to ever have more children, but it is incredibly heartbreaking to hear my son ask why I don't have a baby in my belly, and tell me that he really wants a brother.
We've had our fair share of difficulties.... my car died six weeks after my first child was born, and I wasn't able to get a new one until three years later, after I had been living with my family for 7 months. We had to wean our son from formula almost a month early because we couldn't afford to buy even one more generic can (ps: don't join the military strictly for the money... they don't actually pay that well.) Everything we wear is a hand-me-down, from Goodwill, or from the clearance rack at Walmart. Some weeks we have lived on generic mac n cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or bowls of cereal with watered-down milk. I have had to ask for help from complete strangers on multiple occasions, and I got a credit card for groceries and toiletries for when things are particularly tough (thank God for Amazon prime and grocery delivery).
But we have also been blessed in more ways than I can count. Between a friend's fundraiser and a gofundme page, my van was entirely paid off. My uncles gave me a tv and dvd player for Christmas a few years ago. Friends from church have given us furniture, clothing, toys for the kids, delivered meals. We've had people come clean the house a few times, visit me at the hospital during various stays for myself or my kids. My business has grown beyond my dreams, and my customers and followers have been so incredibly generous and understanding during periods of difficulty.
My kids are happy, healthy, and thriving.
That's all that matters.
I am not a gentle person. I try so hard to be…. I study books and blogs on gentle parenting. I try to be calm and patient with everyone. I try to let go of my own ideas of how my life should be and just follow along with God’s plan, but I am truly awful at all of those things. I frequently complain and question why God allows certain things to happen. I try to take charge and then get frustrated when things don’t go according to plan.
To read more, click here.
I admit I haven’t spent much time studying Job, but from what I know about his story, I often feel like I can relate. It seems like no matter how hard I try to do the right thing, everything just gets worse and worse. A quote from Aragorn in The Two Towers sums up my feelings well – “Alas! An ill fate is on me this day and all that I do goes amiss.”Yesterday was the first day since Easter that I have been able to leave the house and go to Mass.
To read more, click here.
Three years ago, my marriage was in trouble. We had only been married for just under three years and already had two kids, moved four times, lost his mother/my mother-in-law to cancer, and dealt with lots of military drama. We had been dealt a very difficult hand, and things were just getting worse.
I had heard amazing things about the Undoer of Knots novena and figured if anything would save us… that would. Between fights, crying babies, fixing up an apartment that should’ve just been condemned, and missing my family 1000 miles away, I prayed the novena–without my husband knowing. I had hope that things were about to get better.
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I don't know about you, but I absolutely LOVE Amazon Prime! The convenience of having things delivered for free two days later, not having to leave my house for diapers, watching things that aren't available on Netflix, and Audible... oh how I love Audible.
Our house is FULL of things we have purchased from Amazon. From the mattresses in our bedrooms to the toilet paper in our bathroom to the trampoline in the kitchen (Yes, you read that right!), there isn't a room in the house that doesn't have at least 3 things that were purchased from Amazon.
Tomorrow (July 11) is the third annual Prime Day, a day full of incredible deals just for Prime members. It is supposedly bigger than Black Friday, so it is kind of a big deal. First, if you don't have a Prime membership yet, you can sign up for a 30 day free trial here.
One of my absolutely favorite deals is for Audible. New-to-Audible Prime members can listen to audio books for only $8.95 per month for the first 6 months, a savings of 40% or $36. Plus, as an Audible member, you also get 30% off all audiobooks. They have been having amazing sales this summer, and I've gotten a variety of books for myself and the kids for under $5! Sign up here!
If you enjoy reading books on the Kindle (app or device), this deal is for you! Through July 11, 2017, enjoy unlimited reading from over one million titles on any device. Prime Members get 25% off a 6-month Kindle Unlimited membership, get 33% off a 12-month Kindle Unlimited membership, and get 40% off a 24-month Kindle Unlimited membership.
You can even purchase Amazon gift cards to give as gifts.
Some of our favorite Amazon items are listed below (not all are Prime Day deals - though that might change as deals are revealed tomorrow - but they are highly recommended regardless):
Instant Pot 7-in-1, 6 qt. - My family has two, and they are used daily. We use them to make rice, meat and potatoes, hardboiled eggs, stew, even yogurt! We usually have one going with the main dish and one with a side dish. For Christmas, I had both of them cooking a breakfast casserole with hashbrowns, sausage, cheese, and eggs. It was absolute perfection, if I do say so myself ;) **EDIT: The 8 qt Instant Pot is on sale right now!
Viva Naturals Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser - I currently have two diffusers in the house and hope to get two more. I diffuse in the kids' room every night and in my room frequently. I'd like to get one for the bathroom and one for the living room. **This is on sale**
Planet Earth Giftset - My kids actually really enjoy watching Planet Earth. I put it on in the background while they play on the floor during quiet time, and they ask lots of questions about the images shown. **This is on sale**
Erin Condren Hardbound LifePlanner - If you've had your eye on an Erin Condren planner for awhile, it's one of the Prime Day deals! Isn't it gorgeous??
Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet - We have two of these kid's tablets and I love them. They come with a no-questions-asked 2 year warranty and one year of FreeTime Unlimited which gives your kids access to 15,000 popular apps and games, videos, books, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more. You can have different profiles for each child (up to 4, I believe?), and set a time limit so that the tablet automatically locks when their time is up. **This is on sale**
Regular Kindle Fire 7 with Alexa - This is on sale for only $29.99! I've used it before and it is great. Especially for older kids or teens.
Osmo Genius Kit - My mom has this for my 9 year old sister, and my kids love to use it as well.
Skywalker Trampolines Round Bouncer Trampoline with Enclosure - Remember how you read that we have a trampoline in our kitchen? This is the one, and it is used daily. All three kids can jump on it safely because there is an enclosure with a bar that they hold onto. We've had it for almost 3 years and it is still in great condition.
Portable CD Player with AM/FM Radio - The kids have this cd player in their room and listen to audiobooks every night while they get ready for bed and fall asleep. It is simple enough that the two older kids can start and stop the cd on their own, or skip to their favorite stories. I need to get a second one for the living room. Right now we just use the dvd player for cd's, but I don't like having to keep the tv and dvd player on instead of just a cd player. Waste of electricity, I think.
Regalo 192-Inch Super Wide Gate and Play Yard - We have this around our wood stove and it keeps the kids away from the hearth, wood, stove, and also trash and recycling (which are next to the hearth). I love it because I was always so worried that the kids would fall and hit their heads on the brick hearth, or touch the hot stove and burn themselves. My parents also have one across their living room to keep the kids out of the kitchen (like my newly-crawling nephew).
My computer is about to die and I need to get the kids to bed, but check back here throughout the day tomorrow as I plan to update the list with deals and more favorites!