Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In a place I didn't know was there.

So I'm sure everyone has already heard this song, but a friend of mine just posted When I'm With You by JJ Heller on facebook and I just think it's so sweet.

A voice as smooth as butter and lyrics as sweet as pie makes for a delicious little snack of a song. :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Wait, it's Friday?

Oh my gosh, it's Friday again? Someone explain how this happened. Maybe if I rehash what happened this week, I'll remember how we got here.

Shall we?

Monday was a rough, rough day. I think I'd like to forget it happened at all and just pretend it was a normal, nothing new kinda day. Although I feel more patient for it and think I needed to go through a few good hours of ear-piercing baby noises to increase my tolerance. or something.

Tuesday, however, was pretty fantastical (what kind of day wouldn't be in comparison to it's predecessor?) Got to hang out with my Park Mamas, aka a lovely group of women who all also have babies under 2 and totally understand shrill screaming and teething and sleeping intermittently. C.S. Lewis got it right when he said: 

It's incredible how quickly i came to trust in them and benefit from their friendship. We are all way more than knee-deep, probably neck-deep, in going through and overcoming similar situations with our littles and it is wonderful to be part of this lovely little community.

This was the week of satin and chiffon and lace. I, along with my fashion coach, went to three different bridal boutiques this week. The fashion coach in question happens to be 9 months old and very into mirrors and all things sparkly, so basically he was thoroughly entertained. Who knew that boutiques provided the perfect setting for sensory play? We were accompanied by my lovely friend and bride-to-be and the hunt was on for a bridesmaid dress for yours truly and a wedding dress for the bride. By yesterday afternoon we had found success on all fronts! Her dress is absolutely stunning and if she was aiming to remind her fiance that he's the luckiest guy in the world as she floats down the aisle, she'll definitely achieve it. 
The bride-to-be at hand is kind enough to let her bridesmaids choose any dress from a particular line, as long as it's in this beautiful, rich purple color. This means we each get to pick something that fits our style and our body type, and we happen to get to order it in my favorite color. Well then, don't mind if I do! ;)

I got bit by a bug over the weekend...the crafty bug. At least it wasn't the travel bug because we really can't go anywhere right now. And so I looked around our house and decided to fulfill our need of coasters. I had made them in the past for a Secret Santa gift and so was excited to make some for myself.

Does anyone else have a stash of craft stuff that is completely unorganized? I have a whole big box of supplies left over from past projects such as buckets of buttons, extra yarn, lots of scrapbook paper, beads, glue, stamps, paint, etc., etc. Much of it still lives in it's original Hobby Lobby bag, accidentally organized into materials needed for specific projects. My husband actually calls this stash my "crap" box instead of craft box. pfft. 

While I know where everything is in the craft box, it isn't the most neat way to keep things. Anyone have suggestions for organizing such miscellany?

Baby boy took quite the tumble today and it made me feel like a horrible mom. The vision of him falling is running on repeat in my brain and I can't seem to make it go away. He's okay and happy and just has a little bump on his head to show for it but it could have been real bad...Geez, this mom stuff comes with baggage.
Yes, it's a blurry iPhone photo but it's proof that he's happy.                  
Well, that was a nice way to remembered what I did this week. And it only took oooh, 6 hours ago to actually write this post. Life with a small child!

Oh, and you should probably know that the 2014 Sheenazing Awards are being hosted by Bonnie over at a Knotted Life right now. She's probably the best emcee for an awards show, ever (watch out, Tina Fey!) If you want to meet a ton of amazing bloggers and maybe quadruple the length of your Bloglovin'/feedly following list, you probably need to check them out. And right now you can even vote!

Have a great weekend and check out other quick takers for more fun, fun, fun.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Screams of Grace

Today was such a Monday, ifyouknowwhatImean.

It was a day where everything felt

It started off normally as ever. Hubs was nice enough to take our little man downstairs at 5:30 when he woke up so that I could sleep a little longer. This, my friends is proof of true love and my personal piece of heaven is sleeping until 6am. After "sleeping in," I showered in anticipation of a meeting later this morning and dried off in time to kiss my love goodbye and scoop up the child as he pulled folded shirts out of the laundry basket.

Around 7:30 all of baby's signs pointed towards "I'm extremely tired": Rubbing of eyes, yawwwns, slowed movement. But what I had on my hands was a nap striker, with wailing and gnashing of teeth when I set him in the crib. After an hour of nursing and rocking and sound machine and bouncing and shhsh-ing and laying in crib and tip-toeing out and screaming and patting and soothing and repeat...I was done and so was he.

So downstairs we came. Lo and behold it's 8:30am. I recalled a time when I would sleep this late, sometimes on weekdays, and today I wished that I was still in bed...that this was some sort of eardrum-ringing dream.

That meeting I was supposed to attend at 9 got changed to a phone call. I just knew that eating and changing and bundling and driving were just not going to happen quickly. Especially because the little boy in my life continued to scream like a pterodactyl every 30 seconds.

What an understanding co-worker I have. I hurry over to the computer to glance at the plans we're discussing and set my sweet little man next to me with some toys. His favorite toys aren't toys at all, though, and as I sprung towards him to redirect his attention, he pulled a plug from the wall. The plug that runs to the computer. I strap him in his swing, hoping that maybe this exhausted child will take a quick cat nap. He screams, little pterodactyl, you. But I get the computer booted back up hold him and bounce him throughout the call and he's grabby-grabby at all things we come within two feet of, but also happy-happy.

The next two hours are grueling for me, emotionally. Because this screaming of his isn't pleasant and isn't stopping and each one seems to linger on my nerves, each one makes my jaw clench a little bit tighter, like a wrench around a screw, and my patience slips away little by little. I feel my neck and shoulders becoming tense and my empathy for this helpless screamer lessens. And then I wonder what sort of mom I am anyway, allowing myself to become angry at this precious child who needs me. My mind is racing from "Please stop crying" to "Be more patient" to "Just calm down" to "Why don't I know what he needs?"

I realize it's time to change the environment, it's time to get out of this cell of screams and go somewhere else. He's always calm in the car and I need human contact, I need to see other people and remember they exist and recenter myself. Because this whole "Monday" business, this whole "bad day" vibe...that's all on me. I can choose my reactions, I have the ability to change my thoughts. And I know that when I can't do it alone, I have the power to make choices which will lead to the desired outcome of feeling sane. In this case patience with, and for, a little man who needs me. He needs my care and my patience and my love and he can only have those things if I give them to myself first. 

I lost sight of the big picture and got stuck in a moment that took a lot of emotional energy, letting myself feel overwhelmed and angry at what I had to deal with. As I drove around and did errands, talked it through with my mom, and hubs, and especially as I sat in the Target parking lot for 20 minutes, letting my sweet boy sleep, I was reminded how patient the Lord is with me. Even when I am ignoring it, God's grace is available if I am only willing to accept. God is there when this baby's scream scratches at my eardrums and it is in accepting His graces that I can find patience, that I can find holiness in this vocation of motherhood. Because, as St. Therese so beautifully shows us in her autobiography, God is found in both the beauty of life and also in it's problems and irritations. We can grow in grace by choosing to turn our irritations into prayers.

It continued to be a Monday. I walked right out of Target, put my now-smiling baby boy into the car, pushed the cart to the corral and...left the box of diapers I bought on the bottom of the cart. Drove all the way home, and then noticed, so back we went! Baby boy didn't nap more than twenty minutes this afternoon. I wasn't able to read my devotion today. I put in the labor of making scones and received tasteless, unrecoverable "fruit". And now it's ten o'clock and my To-Do list for today remains untouched.

But, I have to say, today wasn't a lost cause: I experienced God's grace--and don't we everyday? Upon returning from our outing of errands, frustration dissipated and calm returned. The combination of praying and reflecting and seeing the sunlight (and maybe that mini cookie dough Blizzard from DQ) really had the power to turn around a day.

Little man and I spent this afternoon on the living room floor. I watched as he explored, discovering that the fireplace door opens and giggling as he swung it back and forth. I learned something today I couldn't have learned any other way: when irritations present themselves, as they surely will, I can't make them go away with anger or try to face them alone. Instead I canA use them as a way to become more patient and grow in faithfulness to our Lord.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quick Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

You've probably already heard about this widely popular Young Adult novel which is the basis for the movie of the same name coming out this spring. The hype around it is exactly why I decided to put it on my To Be Read in 2014 list.

I understand why it's a YA Bestseller: it's a page-turner with a poignant plot, just the right amount of love story woven throughout, and is definitely thought-provoking. While I didn't want to put it down unless I knew that I'd be able to pick it up again rather quickly, rooting for the characters on one page and questioning their motives on the next, I found myself wishing it delved a little bit deeper, that the writing was a little bit more descriptive and reflective, that the character development was just a little bit stronger. There were also a few scenes of intense violence that left me feeling conflicted, hoping that it would be justified later, but never finding that satisfaction.

Overall I'd say I enjoyed this book and am glad I read it, as it was challenging to my own belief structure and made me question what'd I would do in a society such as this. I'd recommend Divergent, especially with it coming out in theaters in the near future and something so many people are reading, but don't expect it to be as good as some of the other YA dystopian novels out there right now.

Friday, January 17, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Redecorating, reading, other randoms

Joining Jen and all of the others who are quick takin' this week.

We have a little man on the brink of moving! He can crawl about a yard at a time before he retreats back to his booty or attempts to stand up, which really means he gets up in a downward dog-esque position before plopping back down to the floor. It's really fun to watch him explore and interact with the world around him. I see things in a little bit different way, through his eyes. I also realize the baby-proofing which needs to be done, stat.

Oh, and please excuse the grainy, snapchat downloaded photo and focus on the cute smile. kthanks.

Taking down Christmas decor proved to be the perfect time to get our living room Silas-ready. As we got our "normal" decorations back out, we also installed a few shelves on the wall to hold some of them. The great shelf debate commenced, a friendly yet time-consuming discussion regarding the placement of said shelves. We even had our brother-in-law and Brandon's sister weigh in, which proved quite helpful. Anyways, here they are in all of their holding things and making the room a bit cozier glory.

During Advent and Christmas we have an window that I painted "O come let us adore Him" on our mantel.

While putting it away about two weeks ago, we decided we wanted another window to go in it's place for the rest of the year and off we went to this really neat Antiques and Salvage store--only to find out that it had moved from downtown in the city we live to another city about 30 minutes away! So what did we do last weekend? Out for a little bit of a Saturday adventure!

I've bought a wooden letter "K" which I'm going to paint grey and hang from our new-old window with red ribbon. Because what's cuter than infusing little personal touches like the first letter of your last name around the house? Or something.

I really love reading and want to foster a love for books in Silas, so we read together quite often. On a typical day we go through 10-12 books, about half of our total stash, and he will look at the pages and mimic my pointing and remain pretty happy doing so for a good 15 minutes at a time.
Pretty sure we need some new books, though, because I find myself laying in bed with lines from them replaying over and over and over in my brain.

"It's time to sleep little bee, little bee. Yes, I love you and you love me."
"The sun has set not long ago, now everybody goes below."
"Quack says the duck. The horse says neigh. It's quiet now, what do you say?"
"Try out the jump rope. Slide down the slide."

All the good vibes in the world to the person who can name the titles of the books above from memory. I'm sure they go to fellow moms of little ones out there. Are there any specific board books or children's authors you suggest as I look to increase our library?

When your husbands suggests that you should get a manicure, pedicure, and massage, you take his advice and you don't ask questions.

I wonder what I'll remember when I look back upon these first months of being a mom. We really hope that we're blessed with (many) more children and so (hopefully) many more years of being a mom to little ones. I've been realizing how precious this time I have with just one baby is and also how simple. If you would have asked me what I thought would be the lasting memories from high school or college would, the ones that come to mind over and over again, I don't think I would have predicted correctly. And so I just have to wonder what I'll remember from these "early" days. Hopefully it's his little giggle, how excited he is to hold onto our hands and walk around, how much I love when he rests his cheek on mine and falls asleep in my arms.

I've been starting most days with a chapter from "Saintly Solutions to Life's Common Problems" written by Fr. Esper (as seen on my instagram) and it has been SO fruitful. I must thank Lindsay for the suggestion. The little insights the saints provide us on how to approach loving the Lord and using struggles and difficulties to become closer to God is inspirational. I'm definitely reaping the benefits in my life, emotionally and spiritually.

Good mom/bad mom time: Is a bad mom move to set Silas on my lap and let him eat puffs while I'm typing so that he doesn't reach for the keys and try to share his own post? hmm. It sure doesn't work for long, that's for sure. Time to hang out with the little man and run some errands on this sunny Friday afternoon.

Join Jen for more quick takes!

Happy weekend,

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quick Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

A novel about attempting to find love using scientific deduction, The Rosie Project was a page-turner told from the vantage point of professor Don Tillman, an extremely intelligent man with many Type-A, socially awkward, Autism-spectrum characteristics. Peeking into the brain of this character as he searches for a life partner and interacts with the world of relationships and dating was a great mix of interesting and downright hilarious. The character development of Don, as well as those he interacts with most, is skillfully woven throughout and readers find out pertinent details from the past in the midst of conversations and revelations. 

I recommend this book if you're looking for a quick piece of fiction where you will feel connected to the characters and invested in the outcome. There were quite a few times where I found myself laughing out loud and reading quotes from the book to my husband--a fun read!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Christian Community: Part 1

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines community as "a unified group of individuals." When Brandon and I were asked to write and present a talk on Christian community for a Catholic retreat for college students, the first thing I did was search good ol' Google for the definition.

Community is a word I use rather frequently, especially during the time I worked in Student Activities and was tasked with "building community among students" right on my job description. "A unified group of individuals" is just about as broad as you can get. There's probably no personal trait or belief that I don't share with many someone-elses in this world. So what is Christian community and why does it matter? Over the next few posts I'll be sharing with you our reflections on community, the impact they've had on our lives, and how we attempt to treat our marriage as one of the most important examples of Christian community.

First of all, God put us together on this earth for a reason. Think about it—He could have put us each on our very own planet if He wanted, filled with plenty of resources, feeling constantly showered with love, with the purpose to serve and praise and love Him for our entire lives. But He didn't. Instead we are here on this earth, born out of love between two other humans into a family, and even though this community is far from perfect, a community of people is exactly what it is. We are surrounded by other human beings pretty much anywhere we choose to wander. 

God put us here together for a reason. Humans, and especially Christians, are called to life in community. We are to transform society through our vocations and the way we live our daily lives. How do we know? Well, in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he extrapolates on the definition of community:

For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12: 4-18)

Paul reminds us that we are all given gifts by the Holy Spirit and deems these gifts useless if we don’t share them with others: the purpose of community. Think of some of the groups of people you’ve been involved with throughout your life. Whether they are your family, the school you attended, or a parish you were a member of, you might say that you’ve been shaped and perhaps even defined by them. Whether good or bad, you are constantly influenced by those around you.  Think about the gifts and talents you have both shared and received with the other members of those groups. These reciprocities are both a way of loving your neighbor and also the basis of Christian community.

In each of our lives, we have had people within our own families and friends model what it looks like to use their gifts within a community. My mom always stressed how important the gift of family is and modeled this to us frequently. I can remember numerous occasions when my sister and I were reprimanded for not looking out for one another more. We’re only 2 years apart and therefore found it easy to have mutual friends who would come over and we’d all play together, especially between the ages of 6-10. There was one friend who would instigate arguments between my sister and I, at times telling us that she liked one of us better than the other. When my mom found out about it, she’d always respond that as sisters we had no choice but to be one another’s BFF. “Other friends will come and go,” she said, “but your sister will be in your life forever.” Although eyes were rolled in response at the time, I totally get it now. Relationships are important, but especially those with family who just aren’t going anywhere!

My family was intentional about using the gifts each of us was given to also build and maintain our relationships. There were many things that we did as a family. For example, both of my parents coached my sisters and I in volleyball, with more than 15 years between them. We’d all go to games together, joined by my grandparents who rarely missed any sporting event, sacrament, or theatre production. They both fostered our interests and shared their gifts of generosity and encouragement with us.

We were shown that not only is it important to use your own God-given talents, but also to encourage others in their callings. My dad is a talented singer and actor and I can remember many, many rehearsals I attended with him—not because I was in the show, but because I wanted to watch! It is an amazing feeling to be truly proud of your dad and I was lucky enough to experience it at young age. Also, my mom was willing to sacrifice time with him at home so that he could pursue his passion. These experiences shaped how I view relationships in community and taught me how important and necessary it is to both foster and cherish the people in our lives.

Now, before you think that I’m being completely Susie Sunshine and ignoring the fact that living in community with others is so hard, I have to say—living community can be so hard! While I cherish these relationships, they have sometimes been difficult to maintain. If only you asked my dad how tense our relationship was in high school...

By asking for God’s grace, however, we are able to face the challenges daily living in community presents. It is only through this grace that we can find mercy, forgiveness, and patience, all of which are necessary when interacting closely with others. It is then that we are also able to enjoy the rewards.

I dug way back in the archives for this gem...
Brandon’s family experienced the gift of generosity and the rewards of community when he was a senior in high school. One morning he was called out of class over the PA system and then told that he should go home immediately—it was an emergency. When he pulled up to the farm his family lived on, the barn was on fire. The same barn that held all of their cows, the cows from which they made a living milking. They lost many of their cows, had to sell the others because there was no place to house the ones who had been saved, and had a huge, burned down mess in their yard. It was devastating, to say the least. Afterwards many members of the community approached Brandon’s dad saying, “Let us help you. People really want to help you right now.” And so they had help cleaning up their farm, selling their cows, meals brought to them, etc.

When Brandon has told this story, he always recalls seeing a genuine spirit of generosity and selfless giving in the people who came to help, just wanting to show his dad that they were there for him in a time of great need.  How incredible is it that when one member of a community is suffering, many other members can, and will, do whatever they can to help out!

But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. (1 Corinth 12)

            The friends and neighbors that helped his family not only showed their concern, but took action to help ease their suffering. God uses each part of His body of Christ to aid and balance out the other parts. Showing Christian love to others, because we were loved by Him first, gives God honor and glory and raises these communities to a higher calling.

What does vocation have to do with community and how do we try to infuse this into our marriage? Click on over to read Christian Community:Part 2.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

There's something about a sleeping baby that causes my heart to explode and my soul to calm, all at the same time. No matter how long it took too get him there, when his little hand goes limp and long eyelashes lightly touch the space above those chubby cheeks as his breathing changes to a more audible, almost rhythmic inhale-to-exhale, suddenly all is well in the world. All is perfect in our little world.

This Christmas, I was struck by the lyrics to Away in a Manger in a way that only a new parent could be. Because if lowing cattle had woken up my babe, I'm not sure the outcome would've been the same. "No crying He makes...?" Yup, that teeny little human is definitely also fully God.

Sleeping or awake, what a gift it is to have this little human, who has been entrusted to my care by Jesus himself. A challenging, draining, delightful and life-changing gift. 


Monday, January 6, 2014

My 2014 Reading List

I have a few goals in mind for 2014 and one of them is to read more books. I could compile a list of books I've said I wanted to read or that have been recommended recently, but it would be nearly the size of Alabama. And we all know that just ain't going to happen in one year, especially when I only got through eight in 2013.

So here is a list of 14 titles I hope to read during 2014.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Reviewed 01/04)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (Reviewed 01/18)
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) (Reviewed 05/12)

Saintly Solutions to Life's Common Problems by Fr. Joseph Esper
Feast! by Daniel and Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas
The Handbook for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey

Pope Awesome and Other Stories by Cari Donaldson
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The Powerful Self by Steven Stosny

Books about writing:
2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron
Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively by Rebecca McClanahan

I'm going to use pinterest as a place to keep track of what I've read, as well as to add books to my TBR list. Let me know if there's one you highly recommend!


Update: As I finish each book, I will post a review and link to it from this page so you know what I thought!

To see more reading goal lists for 2014, check out Haley's link-up.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

What I Read (and loved) in 2013

One of my goals for 2013 was to read a little bit before bed every night instead of being on my phone. Brandon and I actually did this together and we were really good at it. And then we weren't. Having a baby somehow has a way of changing absolutely everything. Especially bedtime routines.

I read a lot of blog posts and articles on the internet. I'm absolutely positive this number is > 1,000 and this is definitely where a large bulk of my free time/reading time was spent. The number of books I read this year, however, was lower than I thought it'd be and I'm really hoping to change it dramatically for 2014. More on that later.

I'm linking up with Haley for "What I Read in 2013" and Anne for "My favorite books of 2013." 

What I Read in 2013

Below is a list of the books I read in 2013 with ** preceding my favorites. I should note that if I don't get into a book it's pretty much abandoned. Call me impatient or picky but I don't like to waste time reading something I'm not really enjoying. Also, after compiling the list below I realized how many Young Adult titles are present.

**A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism by Sarah A. Reinhard
I truly cherished this book and highly recommend it to any woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant. I sent a copy to a friend about a week after she got married...just in case. *wink* There is a section to read for each week of pregnancy and so it is nice to have as soon as you find our you're expecting. There are also helpful sections on labor, delivery,and baptism. Each time I closed this book I walked away with a deeper sense of purpose, tying what my body was going through physically to a more spiritual experience and understanding. I'd give it three thumbs up if I had more hands.

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
This book was read during my first weeks postpartum, typically with the babe nursing or on my lap. I could literally read a chapter an implement what it said that very day. Technically I didn't read every last page because I thought it got a bit redundant, but I'm grateful it was recommended and loaned to me.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
This apocalyptic story is set in my little corner of the world. You can imagine it was pretty neat to have stood in the very places being described, but think of them as on fire or under many feet of ashes. Ashfall was a page-turner for me, but not one that settled well with me after I was finished reading it. Perhaps it's because I'm just not a fan of "end of the world"-esque stories, or maybe it was because I read it during the last month of my pregnancy, but I finished the book and was haunted/disturbed by it for weeks. It was read with a book club and I even won the second title in this trilogy...and still haven't brought myself to read it!

**Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux
There is nothing I could write to explain how eye-opening and fruitful reading this book was to my own faith journey. So I will just remind you that it was literally written by a saint.

The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coehlo 
I read The Alchemist during my freshman year of college and loved it, prompting me to buy a few more of Coehlo's titles. This summer I recommended it to a friend and remembered that I still had an unread The Devil and Miss Prym on my bookcase. I decided to pick it and am glad that I did. It's a neat mix of philosophical, faith-questioning, and soul-searching while still reading like a novel. While I didn't find it quite as mind-blowing as I remember feeling after reading The Alchemist, I still enjoyed it overall.

Mission of the Family by Jon Leonetti
Led a book study through church on this book. Overall I think he has pratical, easy to implement tips for infusing the faith into everyday life as well as thought-provoking information and reflections on being Catholic today and I really enjoyed it. There are a few things that I (and the church) would disagree with, but it's definitely worth the read.

**The Giver by Lois Lowry
Since reading this in 6th grade, I've always touted this as one of my favorite books. Ask me what it was about, though, and all I would have remembered was that it was Utopian...or something. I am so glad I decided to reread this gem. After reading it in just one day I recalled the qualities that made me like it so much the first time.

**Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This fabulous page-turner wasn't at all what I expected it to be, and that's exactly why I loved it. We hear from both teens point of view throughout and I really enjoyed the dichotomy of the characters and their backgrounds. Highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a little YA Fiction and a good coming of age love story.

Books I started and look forward to finishing in 2014:
Diary of St. Faustina
This is long and dense and absolutely amazing, infused with so much truth and wisdom. I really hope I can find the dedication and discipline to read this book, although it may take me longer than just this year.
Feast! by Daniel and Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas
This is an incredible book/cookbook that discusses the seasons of the liturgical year and gives practical tips on how to live liturgically in your own home. I'm still in the first third of the book but really look forward to reading it in it's entirety!
Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI
It was my goal to read this during Advent and while I started and really enjoyed what I read, the number of DIY Christmas presents I took on hindered my ability to complete it.
The Handbook for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey
This book is meant to be read slowly, as it's in little sections on various topics. So far I've really enjoyed the wisdom and peek into the future it brings, being written by moms who have "been there, done that." It's also been encouraging to me as embark on this journey of being a momma.

Books I started but didn't finish and probably won't:
Emma by Jane Austen
Why did I get bored so quickly? I read Pride and Prejudice in high school and loved why couldn't I get into this one?
Cider House Rules by John Irving
Again, loved A Prayer for Owen Meany in high school so decided to try another one of Irving's books. I liked what I read but wasn't inspired to go back. At this point I'd have to start over. I should probably be diagnosed with book ADD.
The Shack by William P. Young
This book has been recommended over and over to me and I did get about halfway through before baby came. I'd really like to try to reread this again in the future, but just haven't picked it back up since about May.
Anything by Jennie Allen
This was part of a book club which I obviously failed at participating in to my full potential. I liked the topic and what she was writing about, but found that there were many blanket statements made that I just couldn't buy into. I'd walk away feeling confused instead of inspired, so I never took the time to finish.

Early next week I plan on posting my "To Be Read" list for 2014! Any suggestions?


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