Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5 + 4 Birthday Favorites

I mentioned a few weeks ago about how I felt I had the best birthday ever. Ever. EVER! this year. And, I definitely stand by it. The weekend was filled with sweetness starting from the day prior to my birthday and ending the night after my birthday, making for a full weekend of goodness.

At the end of my actual birthday, my husband told me he thought it'd be a fun idea to write down on paper what I was thinking during various events on my birthday. I nodded and thought it a sweet gesture, but then come Sunday he became a bit more persistent.

At the end of it, we ended up taking the pictures. It took me awhile to get it down on writing. For one, it's hard to capture everything I was feeling because of me being me - wordy, can't find the words, spaghetti thought process, etc. etc. etc. But, I did it! Messy handwriting and funny strange pictures and all. For the sake of remembering, I'm really glad we did it. For the sake of organizing this post, I'm really really glad we did it. And, for the sake of the amazing surprise he had planned out for me that included me taking these pictures, I'm definitely glad we did them!

Onward to the birthday fun that started on Friday and continued on to Sunday!

Family and Friends. Sweetness & Love.

I was so blessed in this department throughout the weekend. For one, my parents and in-laws were so generous in gifting me with gift cards and some shopping fun along with really sweet cards. They love me and I couldn't be more grateful for all the different ways they share that love with me.

And, not only am I blessed with some amazing family, I am blessed to know some of the sweetest and most thoughtful people. For example, a dear friend sent me these cookies from Tiff's Treats on Friday in hopes to kick-start my birthday weekend. Her gesture was such a gift and blessing that definitely contributed to my birthday weight gain (If you've never heard of Tiff's Treats, they deliver cookies fresh from the oven! Yes, fresh! Delicious! And, still warm!!!)

See, last year, my birthday was spent mourning the loss of a cousin who I loved very much. So having my friend send these cookies to help the fun begin was just what I needed this year (Something I know she was aware of.). It's things like this that make my heart swell with goodness.

Also, I'm happy to report all cookies were devoured by myself, my husband, and the boys by Sunday night. Yes, all two dozen of the 4 glorious types of cookies. All. of. them.
Onto Birthday morning!

Cronuts and Time
I had cronuts for the first time ever and they were a happy dance in my mouth! Amazing! Exciting! Nutella! Strawberries! Maple Bacon and sprinkled sugaaaa! Yes, Happy Birthday to moi.

And, tack on some more birthday pounds. Worth every bite!
I am always saying the way to my heart is food. It's true. It is very true. And, for the most part, I have no shame.
These sweet friends found their way over to enjoy the amazing taste bud dance party. They thought all was pretty fantastic too.

Funny story: The sweet ladies that were incredibly sweet. Yes, double sweet they were! The kind you want to take home with you so that maybe their sweetness will rub off on you...or something like that. Anyhow, they made the awesome Happy Birthday donut below for the birthday person. The reason the story is funny is because I'm 85% sure they thought we were celebrating a little person's birthday and not my 31 year-old person. The birthday was for this donut (now, cronut.) loving adult.

Ha, they then asked if they could take a picture to post to Facebook since this was the first time someone had a "birthday party" at their place. I'll take that for my 10-seconds of fame.
If you are in the Dallas area get thyself to Jaram's Donuts! You won't regret it!

The time that my friends shared with me was special. I'm grateful they came out. I felt very loved, again, and hope they know that I love them a whole ton too!

That love goes to all the ones that spent time with me and the ones that couldn't but called or wished me a happy birthday. There was so much love had throughout the day! Love tank was FULL!

Pretty sure my face says it all. Who are we kidding. Napping, for me, is tough! I used to be a champion napper, but then came the little ones and life. Now, I nap with one eye open awaiting to hear a cry or "Mamaaaa, I awakkkee nowww!!!....I neeed to go potteeeee!!!"

Birthday nap did not happen. But play time with my beautiful family did!

Play & a Flower
My oldest has gotten into picking flowers for me every time we go outside (which is daily). My heart overflows! I love receiving flowers and his gesture is just the sweetest. I hope he never stops loving me in these little ways. 
Playtime was filled with smiles. slides, and fun.
Just look at that face!!!

My oldest is getting so big! I can't believe he'll be 3 in a couple months!
I loved having some play time with my boys. They were happy. Their happiness makes me happy. It fills me too. In ways I never knew possible. The weather was perfect and being outside makes me happy. Plus, I got to swing on the huge bench swing outside our patio. Bench swings also have a special place in my heart.

Girl Time & Uninterrupted Conversation
You read that right. I had uninterrupted conversation on my birthday. My husband was amazing and watched the boys while I met up with two friends to get our nails did. It was fun. Nourishing. And, relaxing.

If you know anything about me, relaxation and down time are key for me. I love it. I can sit and read all day long inside and out if I have a cozy corner and tea or coffee with me. Doing nothing is productive for me. If that makes any sense to anyone. 

Point being, it was nice to sit and talk while drinking a warm cup o' joe.

That's right, more food! And, not just any food, SUSHI! I love sushi and we found our new go-to place. Everything was wonderful. Delicious! Amazing! And, Happy!
The boys loved the chopsticks, potstickers, cucumber salad, and teriyaki chicken.  I take that as a major win.
Sushi, not so much. Just couldn't get past the seaweed.
But, that's okay, because that just means more for mama.

Sake is another major favorite of mine and it was yummmm!

Unfortunately, after dinner I ended up with a migraine. The legit kind that leaves you in the dark only being able to get a whisper out of your mouth. It was tough! 

It had been pretty windy that day and I had had a small headache throughout the day that I kept ignoring forcing myself to be present and happy. Little headaches. No biggie. Big migraine. No bueno. 

However, we ended up talking to my parents that evening (whisper tone for me, volume on low) and my mom suggested taking a zyrtec. I did, after I had taken two tylenol which did nothing for me. Within an hour after taking the zyrtec my migraine had passed and I was feeling alright. That was my Saturday birthday miracle.

Onto Sunday!

Champagne & Relaxation.
Sunday was filled with relaxing, family time, and Mass. It was a good day. It always is a good day. But a day with Mass and a massage are extra good days!
My amazing brother got me a gift card to a nearby spa for a massage over Christmas (He's amazing, huh?). So, because life happens and we are now in April, I was able to use it for my birthday!
I say it was perfect timing. Give me a massage on my birthday for the rest of my life and I will be quite the happy woman. Massages are my friend and I hope we keep it in the lifelong category.

Ladybug kisses and Blessings.
After the massage a little ladybug decided to land on my arm. As I was walking out of the spa all I was thinking about was how wonderful God is to have loved me so abundantly throughout this weekend.
I took the ladybug kiss as a sweet kiss from Above giving me a, "Yes, I do Love you more than you will ever know."

Okay, so you would think that the birhtday awesomeness would have ended at 8. I sure did. I was happy. I mean the kind of happy where you start doing random happy sighs often because you keep getting lost in the I'm-so-happy-thoughts. But, there's more!

Remember when  I said the amazing guy below had an additional surprise that shocked me into tears and absolutely zzzzzzzzero words? Yes, the incredibly handsome one below. 
Well he had one more picture for me to see on Sunday evening when he wanted us to go through all my birthday pictures taken throughout the weekend. He was insistant that it'd be a nice way to finish off my birthday weekend. He wanted us to look through all of them, even the ridiculous pictures of me holding up silly thought signage.

See, while I was putting Linus to sleep, the wonderful man I am married to was busy editing a photo. He wanted to surprise me. He wanted it to be the last piece of birthday goodness I saw because he knew it'd be the ultimate cherry on top my already amazing birthday.

It's the surprise I've been dying to share! So, without furthado...
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT????? I couldn't either. At first. At. All. I was choked up and teary and huffy and all kinds of I-don't-believe-this contorted face. Sitting there, with him, playing back all the conversations we had back when the conference was first announced by Jen and Hallie. Thinking back to the conversations we had leading up to the ticket sales. Remembering all the conversations we had sprinkled throughout the mere 24-hours of ticket sale. All. That. Time. He had a plan. A plan to love me. A plan to surprise me!

Surprised I was! I had so many emotions happening at once, but I immediately started to feel slightly guilty because of the cost and we just bought a house and...and...and...

I started thinking that I didn't deserve to go. I mean, little old me. I just stay home. I don't even "work". How have I earned such a treat? All these society-derived mean thoughts started flooding me. Then my husband just looked at me, after I had been crying, quiet, and obviously processing and said, "You deserve this." Open tear flood gates, uh-gain.

I told him what I was thinking and he told me how much he valued me. How glad he was that I get to go to this conference to be with other women who are striving to live out their vocations of motherhood and marriage according to His Will the best they all can. He's excited for me to meet and mingle with so many wonderful women of faith that I've met over the web through blogging and that I get a chance to be nourished through all the wonderful speakers and amazing fellowship. 

He's right. And, I'm grateful. Grateful for all of it. And so much more!

And, I'M SO STINKIN' EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Linking up with Hallie over at Moxie Wife today for Five Favorites. Hallie, I know I stretched it but I've been dying to share and there were just so many favorites! PS Can't wait to meet you and everyone else going! Yay!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WIWS: Answers & Easter!

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen, Indeed!!!

Joining two link-ups today. One is new and the other I am trying to be better about consistently joining! The new link-up is Answer Me This over at Catholic All Year with Kendra. I've been wanting to join, so glad I'm here now! Also, will be linking up with What I Wore Sunday over at Fine Linen and Purple because I ended up wearing something other than the same dress I was considering making happen two Sundays in a row.

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?
Here we are! This was the best out of many photos we took after Easter Mass. The wind wasn't friendly with my oldest's hair, but I love how we are all smiling!
 The boys were super cute this Easter! My mother-in-law did another great job of picking out their attire. She is so great about getting the boys some cute outfits and we love her for it!
 The hats were especially cute! We put them on for pictures and were surprised that they both took to them fairly well.
 Pictures with Bigfoot wouldn't be complete without sticks. Love these two together though.

Onto Fine Linen and Purple link-up goodness. Here I am - full length version!
I picked out a random outfit since my more Easter-ish dress was worn the week prior at Palm Sunday Mass
For some reason this photo keeps flipping. Oh well.
Skirt: Banana Republic Outlet (Probably a good 7 years ago. Thank goodness high-waisted things are somewhat in style because this skirt would not have worked around my mama mid-drift otherwise!)
Shirt: Victoria Secret Online (A good 4 years ago.)
Cardigan: (Victoria Secret Online (Also, a good 4 years ago. Seeing a trend here, ladies?)
Shoes: Forgot the brand, and they were purchased in sometime in '05.
Okay, back to the cuteness. The photo above is pretty much how Bigfoot feels after any family photo session that happens. Over. It. Although, he was fairly happy with sticks in hand.
Meanwhile, my little ham was eating it all up. He loved walking around with his little hat. Mind you, it came off a couple of times, only for him to start trying to put it back on himself. After a while, he just left it which made for some sweet photo moments.

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?
Don't have much of an opinion on the bunny but am a fan of the eggs as those make the most sense to me in celebration of the Risen Christ. I need to read up on my Easter bunny history to figure out what I think about the little hare but till then, I'm all about the eggs, confetti, decorating, and candy treats to serve as teaching tools and celebration for our Lord and His Gift to us.

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else's house?
Prior to this Spring we were living in an apartment. As much as I love hosting, our little place would always get cramped real quick-like! Now that we're in our new home-sweet-home, and after having some family visit, I would love to host every and all holidays at our home. I know that won't happen only because I also think it's important for us to travel to the grandparents for holidays, especially so the kids can spend time with any great aunts, uncles, cousins that we don't get to see often as well as spend time in the homes their parents grew up in and were loved for a lifetime in. With all that said, I have a feeling my little homemaking heart is going to absolutely love having family over for holidays now that we are in this home.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?
Candy in my mouth. Does that count? Any and all work for me. In terms of chocolate or sweet, I think it depends on my mood and what language my sweet tooth is talking.

5. Do you like video games?
My brother and I had a super nintendo growing up. I played a little but never really cared for it. I would rather be reading or spending time with my friends. My husband on the other hand could easily get whisked away in a game, and being the geeky-tech man that he is, is pretty good at them. And, him being the perfectionist he is, could easily want to play the game (each one with a perfect score) till the ultimate conquer. This is my husband and a quality I love about him when applied in other realms of our life, but not the video game one. Therefore, we currently don't have one, and we'll see what we decide once the boys get interested.

6. Do you speak another language?
I do. I'm fluent in American Sign Language. In fact, I went to graduate school at Gallaudet University which is an all-Deaf university in Washington, DC. I went there to get my Master's in Mental Health Counseling and had an absolutely amazing experience. My classes we're all taught in sign and I could not be more grateful for the education I received there. Upon graduation I worked in mental health as a therapist for a number of years for the Deaf community and went on to work as an ASL interpreter in my last few years leading up to motherhood.

I also speak Spanglish. I'm very fluent in my receptive ability, but spoken is a bit broken. My conjugations are lacking but I can manage pretty well. I do better when I'm speaking it on a daily basis as I did when I was working in the mental health field.

That was fun, Kendra! Thanks for the link-up and looking forward to joining again next week! And, head over FLAP for more fun and beautiful Easter outfits!

Also, stay tuned for birthday posts and some fun news this week!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Week Encouragment, Recipes, and a Song

I had full intention of carrying on with my last post. Sharing Linus' birthday party so that I could continue and share my sweet birthday weekend is something I still fully intend on doing, but after some thought, I'm going to hold off.

If I were to continue on the blog-track I set up for myself, then I'd be posting about birthdays for the next three or four posts. Understanding that that in itself isn't terrible, I feel better putting it off so I can focus on my family, myself, and my Lord the rest of Holy Week.

So, with that, I hope you stick with me! I fully intend on sharing my exciting news in the following week. It will be my little Easter celebratory session as I'm sure by then I'll not only have our birthdays to share but also some wonderful and beautiful moments that I hope to capture these next few days with family in town.

Till then, I'm going to share some sweet photos I took earlier this week, posts that I found beautiful and encouraging, and a song.
Fun chalk times.
I'm Not Afraid of the Crucifix Anymore. This post from Micaela over at California to Korea is beautiful. It's what my mama heart needed to read today as we enter into the Holy Tridduum. She wrote about the beauty of the hard truths and reality of the Love of our Savior and she shared her beautiful mama heart and love for her baby. Thank you for this post, Micaela!
So serious and so precious!
Restore Workshop: Lessons Learned (Vol. 3): Self Care & Prayer and a Day in the Life. Bobbi over at Revolutions of Love Blog has shared a Day in the Life that was so encouraging and beautiful. Her efforts are real and practical. Little things done with great love. They definitely have encouraged me to further explore the Liturgy of the Hours in my life and to try to schedule my prayer a little by using my trusty sidekick (*ahem* my phone). Bobbi, I love what you're doing and look forward to all else you share about your Restore Workshop! 
Smile! Love this sweet face!
Lent: Did you Bring it or Blow it? This post by Kathryn over at Team Whitaker is timely. A fellow Aggie posted this on her Facebook page recently, and I am grateful (since I've been terrible about keeping up with my blog feed since the move). Either way, this post is present to me. I feel like this Lent has been different than previous ones. Somehow, even though we entered Lent right when we were moving into our new home (In other words, entering into a whirlwind of crazy!) this Lent has had a sweet pace. Slow. It's been gentle and lovely. He has been present at every turn and it's been good. I guess when there's a whirlwind of crazy there's a whirlwind of lots of little things. And, like Kathryn said, it's the little things that make way for the bigger. The Little Way is such a good way. Bless, sweet St. Therese!

(Prayers for the rest of your pregnancy, Kathryn!)
Quack! Quack!
Martha, Martha. It's been you all along. This post by Lauren at The Loveliest Hour put into words what my heart has been trying to wrap itself around while reading the gospel this Lent. Beautiful, lovely, and filled with goodness, love, honesty, and humor. Loved it!
Suffering Love. This Lenten reflection by Father Robert Baron was beautiful. It touched my heart. Put some of my little day-to-day life in perspective. And, I'm grateful for it. 
Love these little feet!
Prayers for Beginners (the Book). This post by Britt over at The Fisk Files was a gift! Prayer is something that I am always needing a good swift kick in the rear about. I pray. I talk to Christ throughout the day, but typically on a need basis. I love how Britt shared some of her favorite quotes from such a seemingly wonderful read. The quotes are powerful, encouraging, and challenging. Thank you, Britt, for sharing this book! And, prayers for you and baby Sophie, too!

Marshmallow Lamb Cookies. I love Catholic Cuisine! Food is always great for storytelling, crafts, and family tradition. I've enjoyed celebrating the saints by making little feasts and this Easter should be no different. I've been looking through their archives for Easter goodness and I will definitely be making these with the boys and I'm excited!
Resurection Rolls Recipe and Story. Speaking of lovely food fun blogs, I also heart Catholic Icing! These fun rolls are also on the to-do list for us. As well as pretzels. If you haven't read the story of the pretzel, please read this. It's kind of wonderful. I'll be trying to make these Super Soft Beer-Infused Garlic Butter Pretzels my husband found.
My pensive baby, growing and learning every day. 
Last, I'll leave with a song that has been on repeat in our home. In the mornings, before Mass, and any other time there is need for a beautiful prayer.

It's Matt Mahar and Audrey Assad singing Lord, I Need You. It's amazing. It's beautiful. And a prayer that I pray my heart sings all. day. long. Forever.
That's all, friends and family.We are onward to this beautiful time in our Church - the Holy Triduum. A time when our Lord meets us. He calls us to Him. To know Him more in suffering and love.

Pray these posts bless you as much as they have blessed me! And, prayers for a beautiful and blessed Holy Triduum!
“…Standing by the cross’ (Jn. 19:25), Mary shares in the gift which the Son makes of himself: she offers Jesus, gives him over, and begets him to the end for our sake. The ‘yes’ spoken on the day of the Annunciation reaches full maturity on the day of the cross, when the time comes for Mary to receive the beget as her children all those who become disciples, pouring out upon them the saving love of her Son: ‘When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple who he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold you son!’ (Jn 19:26). – Blessed John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 103

Mary, Mother of our Lord, pray for us.

Also, please share any encouraging Holy Week posts you've found!

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