Thinking, Playing, Reading

Today I had to go to the pet store-I asked a question about the product I was buying and the cashier said into her microphone to the manager, "I have a pet parent here asking how long meal worms last?" She called me a pet parent!!!  Has this world gone crazy?  Because I, for God's sake, do not consider two geckos my children, nor I am sure, do they consider me (do geckos consider?) their mother or anything even close to a parent.  Because that is impossible people.  Impossible!  It's just weird, really really weird, I'll leave it at that.  


I had the lucky chance of having some little guys over the other day - this was a favorite of Patrick's and I was so happy it was being played with again. (Though Janey has had it out in the past few years also.)


The new "Who Is" book!!!  Patrick was so excited about this book, and read it in a day.

I am reading Pope Joan for book club next month.  So far, excellent.


Encouragement For The Week


Thinking, Playing, Reading


I found this old list on Pinterest the other day and printed it out for us and did a little checklist when applicable with each kid.  It was fun!  Everyone has a few things to work towards the rest of this year.  Andrew made a pie for his Grampy and he did a darn good job.

Boy's Version:
Football Season!
Wilson NFL Super Grip Football 

Girl's Version:
Janey rides this wiggle scooter up and down the driveway to burn energy after school.  We've had this for upteenth years, and it's been a favorite.


The instant New York Times bestseller!Entertainment Weekly’s #1 Must-Read Book for Fall • Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club...

I read this book very quickly-one of those "you can't put down" books about lives entwined within families and a community.  So much to think about.  I thought her character development of the teenagers in this book were excellent-how they see and feel things differently than adults was spot on.


Sugar Cookie Bars

I made this for a quick dessert one evening when we had friends over and it was delicious and it's now a requested item here.  The bars taste just like a sugar cookie but is so much easier (and less messy) to make.  It could also be served with a small side of berries to garnish the top, or sprinkles.

Sugar Cookie Bars


1 box white cake mix, dry, not prepared
8 TBS melted butter
1 egg


8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
16 oz powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine cake mix, butter and egg in a bowl and beat until smooth.
3. Press dough down evenly into a 13x9 greased baking pan.
4. In a separate bowl combine cream cheese, eggs and powdered sugar and beat well.
5. Pour over crust and spread to corners.
6. Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 350.  It will look slightly under-baked-you don't want to overbake it.  The top will still have the consistency of frosting.
7. Remove and let cool and garnish as desire.


Encouragement For The Week


Thinking, Playing, Reading

There is nothing that has helped me more this last year than keeping a gratitude journal.  Yes, you hear it suggested a million times over, but I will admit it's absolutely true.  On days when I forget or don't make time, I can tell my spirit pays a price.  One thing that helped me is reading that it does not matter if you write the same thing every single day, just start, it will get easier because you will start seeing things differently-appreciation grows.

Janey has been loving having her own "homework" (funny how different kids are-her brother is horrified that she might like doing school work outside of school!)

She is using this book right now and thankfully I have a few more on hand, because she goes through them quickly.

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell: A Novel by [Dugoni, Robert]

Just finished this. A great book, easy read, loved the mother in this book and her attitude towards her son's difference and how that impacted him for life.

My list of books to read keeps getting longer and longer-winter will be for catching up!


What I Know Now

(These are two trees that used to stand in a farm field by the house I grew up in-I used to call them  "the perfect and imperfect trees" - maybe I love Anne of Green Gables so much because she would name things in nature also.:)

I am going to be very transparent in this post, which is brave, so I am taking a deep breath to hit publish.

My quote this week was on perfectionism, something I realized about a year ago that I really, really struggled with, and have worked hard to improve upon.  I always thought perfectionism could be explained as paying way too much attention to detail-having to have that cupcake look Martha Stewart perfect, or my hair and makeup just so.  That wasn't me, so I never gave it much thought.  I learned with help that it is typical to think that is what perfectionism is-but it's not at all what it is at the core.  I would have never ever described myself as a perfectionist before I knew the real definition.

I can explain it best like this:
Until this and that and the other is exactly right in my life-the situation, my weight, the projects in my home, the amount in our savings account, and the children fulfilled happy adults-I should not feel truly settled, content and happy or worthy of love.  The number on the scale will be ___, and then I can be happy.  Every room in the house will look finished and organized, and on and on and on and then I can truly feel those things and enjoy life.

The thing is-as a mother, a wife, a woman, a human-nothing will EVER be finished, because none of those things are attainable all the time-it's the personal spiritual "invention" of these goals, these circumstances that CAN never be complete that is really the problem.  Because the truth is, if all these un-attainables lined up just so, I'd quickly invent the next in line.  I felt I didn't deserve happiness (I didn't know I felt this way until I dug really deep with a professional's help) if everything in my life wasn't completely the way I imagined it should be.  It is really at the core of it all "the refusal to love and accept oneself in a state of imperfection*."

I think more than ever, so many of us women fall into this today.  For me it was a habit I remember cultivating as a teen-I loved to look at magazines, to study the way the models looked, the homes perfect, the stories with happy happy endings where everything worked out just so.  Today the opportunity to compare these illusions of perfection is a thousand fold what they used to be, and the expectations are almost laughable.

So if you are doing this, STOP.  As my favorite priest says, "If you are waiting for it to be perfect, it's over."  Yes, you'll be dead when it's perfect.  If I could go back so many years I can't even count I'd tell myself this:

Get help. 
Take baby steps of self-love.  Pray for it.
Sit with, right in the middle of the mess and feel content and relaxed in your whole being, shut down the racing mind of what needs to be done and cultivate that spirit constantly.  
Be naked (in daylight:)! in front of your husband and know that he thinks you are gorgeous no matter what you weigh or how fit you are.  Know it yourself.
Say "oh well" about all the little things that don't matter.
Leave the house with the kitchen a mess and truly not care.  
Give the baby a bottle or two of formula so you can sleep more than 90 minutes consecutively and you can feel alive again, the baby will be fine.  There is no perfect way to raise a baby.
Love that your furniture doesn't match and your house will never look like a magazine feature because who the heck cares except Instagram.  (Get off Instagram, or anything that makes you compare or feel less than-protect yourself!)  
Serve Stouffers mac n cheese and hotdogs at your next gathering, no one cares and if they do, they have the problem not you. 
It's ok to do one thing well, and feel that joy of "I've done well", but know then, that everything else has to give, so lower your expectations everywhere else.  
Tell yourself you love yourself every single day and take time to do something, anything, for yourself so you feel good-you are worthy of time to care for your being while you are spending so much of your time serving others.
Recognize when you are overwhelmed and get help, don't beat yourself up for not accomplishing it all. 
Spend most of your time on your relationships (your relationship with God first), everything else deserves to be second place.  

LIFE WILL NEVER EVER BE PERFECT.  It will never just all fall into place, that's called heaven and we are earthlings.  True joy comes from being kind, and loving and understanding and welcoming towards our husbands and children and families and friends and most of all ourselves.

*I read a lot of books on perfectionism but this book is the one that really really helped me:
Letters To A Perfectionist by Tad Frizzell


Encouragement For The Week


Thinking, Playing, Reading

It has been 10 months since I was diagnosed and since that time I have protected myself even more from the outside world of news and social media and everything else-and I missed nothing and felt more connected to those around me than ever before.  My faith has grown tremendously, and I have little or no time or energy or interest in unnecessary distractions.  I would absolutely take a pass on the "gift" of cancer, but one thing I've noticed is that one is forced to see worldly things differently.  I try so much more than I ever did before to not waste time on things that distract me from what really counts.  (I think a short daily prayer reminder helps because we are inundated with distractions!)  And what really counts is faith, family and neighbors-"bloom where you are planted".  Relationships.  The gifts that God gave us that He wants us to make good on.  Guarding our hearts and our minds so that if we find something that leads us in the direction of greed, or anger, or vanity or self pity, we avoid it.  Those deplete us of life, not fill us up and lead us to real joy and gratitude.


These are the cutest (well-played with as you can tell) little dolls!  Very un-Barbie-like, thank the Lord.

Also my version of playing-I love baking and bought these things on Amazon to make baking for others more fun.  Wrapping up cookies or brownies or anything else in these little packages makes me happy!

Baker's Twine-a set of multi-colored string
Baker's Boxes with Scalloped Edges
Small Baker's Bags (fits a personal amount of treats ie a few cookies)
Personalized Stamp (mine is very old but this is a similar stamp)
I bought the round tags at Michaels.

We have been taking turns reading this book to Patrick and we ALL love it.  If you have a boy into sports it's such a great message and not done in a hokey preachy way, but by great story-telling.

Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother by [Nazario, Sonia]

An incredible, unforgettable book.  I wanted to know more about the hardships, desires and struggles of immigrants and this is quite eye-opening and heart-breaking.  (There is also a young adult version that I want my high school age son to read.) . How lucky we are to live in this country.


Jenny's Eggy Casserole

My friend Jenny made this for us when I was sick and it was gobbled up so quickly I had to ask for the recipe.  I've made it many times since then and it is always a hit.  It refrigerates well after baked, so the kids can have a piece before they go to school in the morning (high school growing boy breakfast for sure) if there are any leftovers.

Jenny's Eggy Casserole

Grease a 9 x 12 pan (I use cooking spray).

Whip 8 eggs.
Add 3 cups of milk.
Add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Tear up 8 cups of bread-I've always used 5-6 English Muffins, but any bread would do.
Add 8 oz of ground cooked sausage (I only use 1/2 the 16 oz. package and save the rest so it's not too heavy on meat.)
Pour into the pan.
Top with 2 cups of shredded cheese (I've used provolone or cheddar.)

Chill overnight.
Bake for 40 minutes, at 350 degrees.

All my recipes here.


Encouragement For The Week