One of my Catholic mom blog heros, Haley Stewart at Carrots for Michaelmas, came up with an awesome reading challenge for 2019! She has 19 categories of Catholic books to read (as well as some great book suggestions for said categories). Here’s what I’m aiming to read for #CathLit2019!:

A Spiritual Memoir

My Sisters, the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell

A Classic Spiritual Work

This Tremendous Lover by DOM Eugene Boylan, O.C.R.

A Book about Mary

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary by Brant Pitre

Book by a Catholic Novelist 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book by a Pope

Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis

Book by a Catholic Woman

Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life by Kendra Tierney

A Book about the Liturgy

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre

Book by an Early Church Father

The Faith of the Early Fathers Vol 1 selected and translated by WIlliam A. Jurgens

A Conversion Story

Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler (I listened to 3/4 of this book on my annual retreat last spring, but it was SO good that it definitely deserves a complete read (or maybe 2 or three)).

A Book about Apologetics

Why I Am Catholic by Brandon Vogt

A Book by an Orthodox Christian

1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp – Okay not Orthodox, but I’ve really been wanting to read this so I’m sneaking it under this category.

A Hagiography

The Mother of the Little Flower by Celine Martin

A LONG Catholic Book

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

A Book by a Catholic Philosopher

Aquinas’s Shorter Summa by St. Thomas Aquinas

A Catholic Classic

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Book by a Saint

Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux

A Book by a Non-Catholic that All the Catholics are Reading

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book about a Catholic Monarch

Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser

A Recently Published Catholic Book

The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture by Haley Stewart (This is the book I’m starting off with!).

Here’s to some mind-nourishing books in 2019!

2019 Word of the Year

I’ve never had a “Word of the Year” before, but I received PowerSheets for my birthday and creating said word is part of the process of preparing for the new year.

And I think it’s a brilliant idea for anyone who wants to grow meaningfully in the new year (and especially for those of us who are easily distracted or tend to veer off course).

Having a word to follow through the year is like Colin O’Brady navigating an Antarctic white-out blizzard with no visibility or sense of direction, but but still being able to find his way to the Amundson-Scott Station with just his compass. No matter how limited your view of the weeks ahead, at least you have a point of reference; you know the direction in which you are traveling.

So for 2019, after a serious PowerSheets discernment process, my Word of the Year is FAMILY.

This is going to be my focus, the “north” on my compass if you will, specifically the FAMILY who live under the same roof as me (hubby and kids). I have a few “subtexts” to my word of the year as well, specifically RELATIONSHIPS (which was almost my Word, until I realized that the relationships I most need to cultivate are with my hubby and kids) and LIFE-GIVING HOME (making our home a haven for our FAMILY).

So cheers to 2019 being a year of joyful, life-giving growth for our FAMILY!

Do you have a Word of the Year? If so, what is it??

Vacation with babies and toddlers

VacationWe made the 9 hour (turned 13 hour) drive to the OBX with our 3 y/o, 2y/o and 6 month old with only 2 Chick-Fil-a stops, only 3 Starbucks stops, and only 2 hours of crying. I’d call that a success. We are now currently enjoying a semi-relaxing week at the beach.

I had a rough transition to baby-inclusive vacations at first: I found myself desperately longing for the days when I could sit and do nothing or browse the beach knick-knack shops at my leisure. But with three kiddos in tow, vacation is different these days. Here are a few tricks to making vacation more enjoyable for everyone that I’ve picked up along the way:

1. Set your expectations: it’s going to be messy. Like day one of vacation, we woke up to this: Yes, that is EXACTLY what you think it is 💩. One of my offspring decided it would be a fun art project to paint his bed with his poop. When we went out to dinner, two children knocked over full glasses of ice water (the baby pulled one over on my white pants, a slightly different variation of the wet t-shirt competition). And then DS proceeded to over indulge in ice cream and vomited all over his bed (and the rental houses comforter)…TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW.

2. Bring the comforts of home. We literally brought the kids cribs (DH broke them down and put them back together when we got there). Praise God for pick-up trucks! They sleep MUCH better in their own bed, and they can’t get up in the morning before we’re ready for them (read: quiet coffee time for mom and dad). We also brought black out curtains that we draped gently over the windows.

3. Screen time is okay. Especially in the car on your 7 hour drive…its better to hear Daniel Tiger on repeat than it is to hear screaming tantrums for hours on end. This is EVERYONES vacation, so let the kids indulge in a show while you indulge in some quiet rest.

4. Be prepared for a non-stop party. Vacation with littles is not some relaxing beach stay where you doze in the sun all day drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade and reading your favorite book. It’s a PARTY. Remember when you were a kid? How cool was it to go to the pool or beach?! Or go out for ice cream, doughnuts and pizza?! Or even stay up past your bed time?! Prepare yourself to let go of YOUR expectations of vacation; prepare yourself to go with the kid flow and every second can be a party (while still caging the wild party beasts in their cribs so you can build in a few hours of adult vacationing for yourself in the morning and evening).

Cultivate JOY in the little things, so that even in the chaos that is life with small children you can build a vacation to remember (and even enjoy in the moment).