Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Goals for 2016

WELP, we've already finished another year. It seems like life as a family of four is still so new, yet at the same time it feels like we've been at this forever. I finished my #12in12bookchallenge, bought a house, and learned that I can survive on a lot less sleep than I thought I needed.

Instagram year in review, AKA babies r us.
With this being New Years Eve, I'm finally taking the time to sit down and think about how I want to approach this year. I have lofty goals, but I know that making little changes will help me at least get closer, even if I don't get to where I want to go. In 2016 I want to be happier, healthier, and more loving than I am today.

I realize that these aren't concrete goals like the ones on my bucket list (now that I come to think of it, I didn't cross anything off of that this year... unless you count the #12in12bookchallenge as a book club?). But here's the official breakdown of how I intend to accomplish this by this time next year:

1. More face time - IT is so, so, shamefully easy to spend time in front of screens instead of having a conversation. I am not afraid to admit anytime I need to wait for something for more than a minute or two, I'm pulling out my phone. Maybe it's for solitaire, maybe it's for blog reading, maybe its texting someone I haven't talked to in a while. But would it really kill me to keep it in my pocket for 15 minutes and make eye contact with someone else? We're losing something valuable with the increase in technology and phone apps, and I don't want to be the reason face time contact fades away.

2. Read more books - I was so proud of myself to finish my book challenge. As anyone who knows me well can attest, I am terrible at reading books and 9 times out of 10 I'll watch anything on TV instead. But reading books this year has taught me a lot about self control and stories outside of the boob tube... so I'm doing it again. Still sticking to a book a month though... I'm not Superman.

3. Embrace a new hobby - My five-star husband gave me the Christmas gift that keeps on giving: a sewing machine. I haven't used one since middle school, but back in the day I could hold my own. There are a billion Pinterest crafts I've wanted to attempt but couldn't because of my lack of this gem, but finally, I will be sewing all the things!! ...or at least attempting. I'm giving myself some slack for being rusty.

4. Make time to take care of myself a priority - This is along the same lines as most of my other resolutions, but it needs to be said. It's common knowledge that a lot of moms quickly lose themselves in devoting their lives to their children. Feeding, diapering, driving to and from soccer practice, etc. But I can't be a great mother if I'm not together myself. I need to remember that it's ok to put them in the high chair or Bumbo seat with Netflix on and take a fast shower. It's ok to hand off the kiddos to Daddy so I can have a night out with the ladies. It's ok to tell them sometimes, "No, you need to play by yourself for a bit so mommy can put on some lipgloss and feel like a human again." I shouldn't wait until I'm at a breaking point to give myself time to breathe... when I do, everyone around me suffers. And that's no bueno.

5. Pray every day - I am terrible at praying. I go through phases when I am SO GOOD and then times when I realize I haven't had words with the Big Guy in a week of two. I have plenty of opportunities to schedule a few minutes for prayer, and in 2016, that is getting written on the calendar in pen, not pencil. Some of my favorite time-friendly (but still awe-inspiring!) devotionals are as follows... you should check them all out. Or just one. Or all of them.

By women, for women, these daily devotionals (readings included!) are sent right to my email every morning. The best is reading them before mass so I can somewhat follow along with tots in tow. Rock star community included.
I just received this as a Christmas gift and I already love it. Remember my rant in #1 about trying now to use my phone in waiting rooms and such? This has a designated spot in my diaper bag for those very occasions.
Mass appeal, and the only man-friendly option I've listed here. Beautiful devotions designated for each day of the year, so it's great accountability if you lose your spot.
6. Get into a workout regimen (for real this time) - This is everyone's favorite resolution and usually the first one to go. I'm working very hard to remind myself that I am a steward of this temple, and vegging out on the couch all day is not helping me out. When I am more active I have more energy, I am happier, and I am more willing to get off my butt and take my kids to the park (...or to get ice cream. But we can walk there!). Every little bit counts, and there is no time like the present. If I want to be the best wife, mother, and daughter of the King I can be, I need to act like I want to stay alive long enough to enjoy it.

7. Cut the crap: use portion control! - Hand in hand with #6, getting healthy means not eating a salad with chicken and bacon and ranch that's the size of my head. Even healthy food needs potion control, and I really have a hard time stopping when it tastes oh. so. good. Potato chips, I'm looking at you. This will be yet another way to practice self-control and teach me to put what is best on top of my carnal desire for more steak. More delicious, juicy steak.

Obviously these are not in order of importance, but they are at least a start to get me there. I'm already halfway through my January book AND I plan to shower today. Great practice for this coming year.

What goals have you set for 2016? Let me know in the comments below!

Talk to you next year! ;)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Monica Jane: 3 Months

Dear little Harmonica:

You are one of the happiest little babies ever. You love attention, and anytime someone makes eye contact with you you light up and start chatting away and sharing your flirty little coy smile. I can't believe how much you like to talk... you definitely get that from me. You sound like you are working so hard to communicate with us... I only wish I could understand you!

I'm starting to figure out your cues and the differences in your cries, which has made life at home run a whole lot smoother than before. Sometimes it still takes Daddy and me a while to figure out what you want/need, but we'll get there. You just need to trust us! Celine is doing her part to help out when you are upset by offering you her baby bottle or reading you books. It might not always seem like it, but she really does love you a lot.

You always want to be looking around and checking everything out. It's tricky to hold you up, especially when we try to do it with only one arm, because you wiggle and throw your head around so much you might just jump out of our arms one of these days. Even when your diaper is being changed you try to use your head to sit up. It is hilarious.

You don't take a pacifier or a bottle at all, which might get difficult when I have to be away from you for any extended period of time, but that's ok. You found your thumb already, and you'd much rather gnaw on that and your knuckles than whatever we give you. Whatever though... less for me to carry around in the diaper bag (and eventually lose, inevitably when we are in desperate need).

You have been hitting all of your marks (which is surprisingly a lot for a 3 month old) and we couldn't be more proud. You are, according to the nurse, "developmentally spectacular." High praise, little lady! You don't look it, but you are also at the top of the charts with your height and weight... you've been wearing clothes 3-6 month size for a month and now even those are too snug. Pretty soon you and Celine will be roughly the same size, and when that happens, no matter what, I will dress you like TWINS! :D

More and more of your features are coming through and its fun to see you start to look more and more like yourself. Your hair is pretty thin in the back (hello, growing bald spots), but don't worry: I'm sure it'll grow back full and luscious after your first haircut... which is coming up. Fast.

Daddy and I love you so much Monica Jane!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Seven Quick Takes

Hey all! Linking up with Annabelle for SQT... Here's what's happening in our neck of the woods:

1. I finally have my momentum back to finish my #12in12bookchallenge! I was on or ahead of schedule all year... and then this July/August we bought and renovated our house, and then in September Monica was born, so... no time for reading. Now she's mostly sleeping though the night, so that leaves nap times for me to actually do stuff! Yay! You can check my Instagram for more updates as they come... hopefully in January I'll remember enough to review some of the books :)

2. Speaking of doing stuff, I found my new favorite chore chart and I have no recollection of where. Joel and I have tried different systems, but it always seems to add up and pile together on one day OR leaves out monthly/yearly chores that end up falling through the cracks. I'm not nearly organized enough to write my own (I wish i was though... you'd think it'd be easy!) so I was overjoyed to find this one (somewhere):

I love that it breaks down pretty much every chore into a few small ones to tackle each day and then one more. That is SO not overwhelming. I'm almost ready to crown myself a domestic diva... although my homemade pie crust skills can use a little help.

3. A nasty cold has been working its way through our house. Celine has the worst of it now (currently hacking up phlegm in her crib) and we're praying Monica doesn't catch it too... nothing breaks my heart quite like a sick baby who is too little for any home remedies or medicines to help her out.

4. I'll be surprised if Monica doesn't catch it though, given how much of a liking Celine has taken to her. We can now daily find Celine sneaking over to pet her head, rock her in the Rock N' Play, high five her (just hitting Monica's hand whether she's sleeping or awake), or giving baby sister her hat and a blanket. It warms my heart to see them making each other smile. Best friends forever!

5. Celine is heading back to PT once a week to help her make progress with walking. She's pretty stubborn, but she also has low muscle tone especially in her bottom half, which makes things a little more challenging for her. It's hard to tell the difference between what she is can't do yet or what she doesn't want to do yet, but given that she hasn't really progressed since she stopped going to PT in June, we're doing our best to make sure she's still moving forward (pun intended). She did great her first two visits back, so if you remember please say a prayer for her patience and strength (and ours too)! :)

6. It's finally Advent, my most favorite liturgical season. We've been prepping for weeks on what/how we will make our family traditions and keep Christ at the center of our focus. The advent candles are on the table (soon-to-be a DIY wreath centerpiece), the tree is up, and we started reading our ADORABLE Advent calendar. Yay!!

7. I brushed off my baking and went back to baking earlier this week (hence above reference to pie crust) and although I'm rusty, I'm determined to impress Joel with something delicious to make the house smell amazing and hopefully not clog our arteries from the lard and sugar content. Any suggestions??

Until next time!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Home Office / Command Center Distress Call!

SOOOO... I would love to be a super organized person. I really would. I love the thought of being organized. But the thing is, when it actually comes to making a system and having everything in a clean, minimalist, chic space, I fall way short. 

When I look at this I just hear the "Psycho" music.
I am looking for any and all suggestions on making over this space. Right now it is a dumping ground for the "I'll-deal-with-it-laters" and the "I'm-not-sure-where-that's-going-to-permantly-go-yets" and the ever popular, "keep-that-out-of-the-toddler's-reach" area. 

I have big hopes for this little spot in the kitchen. I'm dreaming of having our calendar visible (the only solid system we have for organizing at the moment), our to-do-list accessible, and plenty of space for inspiration and motivational quotes. Right now the quotes are on the pantry closet door on my DIY magnet chalkboard... right now donning an incomplete (and possibly misquoted?) Bible verse. Catholics for the win.

The desk itself used to be bigger. I used an Ikea desktop and legs for a great price, but we are using the legs for another desk in the house and the short black desktop I formally used is too small and deep for the space I have now. To tide me over until the perfect desk is discovered (one that's reasonably priced of course), I'm using a folding table. Because YOLO.

I tried to dress up the drawer of desk knickknacks with washi tape, but unfortunately the tape I chose is semi-transparent (are they all that way? I'm new to this...) and it has been peeling off pretty much since I put it on. The former in/out boxes were a good idea when my desk was bigger, but for now they're just adding more square footage to the dumping ground.

In an effort to clear some of the clutter off of the desk, I hung our "needs attention" and "to file" folders, now containing who knows what. I probably should just label the whole desk "needs attention." I dressed up the translucent file folders with cute cards, but now I'm thinking it's making the whole thing look sloppier.

I am in love with this clock though. SO cute.
The pop-up containers are meant for food (I think? At least that's what was pictured on the box) and they do look cute on the shelf (pictured above), but I should probably put something in them if I'm going to keep them there... yep, that would help. The washi tape strikes again on the mason jar pencil holder.

Even the tissues look flat. They just can't even.
Future paint color preview on the wall though!
I think the bulletin board looks all right... I used a free printable calendar I found on Pinterest and a chore calendar I found (somewhere?), with a couple of extra notes... and Jesus.

So to all of you artists, designers, and organizing aficionados... any suggestions?? I'll post a brand-spanking new "after" picture once the disaster zone gets cleared and it's HGTV worthy (fingers crossed). What inspires you? What does your workspace look like? I love reading your comments and messages. :)

Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monica Jane: 2 Months

Dear Monica,

You are the cutest, happiest little baby ever. It already feels like you have been with us forever, yet at the same time everything with you is so fresh and new. Two months with you has flown by!

You are growing like a weed! The 0-3 months clothes we have for you are already getting pretty snug, so I get to be more creative with getting good use out of your little outfits. You're hitting all of your marks... If we had gold stars to hand out, you'd get a billion. We're so proud of you! It helps that you're now sleeping 6+ uninterrupted hours at night (for three nights in a row! Yay!!

I love seeing your face light up when people lean in to talk to you. You smile the most for me (I selfishly hope you do forever) and you're more than eager to chat up a storm to anyone who will listen. You study your dad's face like you want to remember every detail of him until the next time you look at him. Celine provides good entertainment for you, and you do a pretty good job tolerating you as she points out the parts of your face. She's working on being gentle though... that's why she softly pets your head and tummy all of the time.

Your full head of hair is starting to thin a bit, but don't worry: if you start to look like a goon we'll trim it up nice for you so it can grow in even again. Right now you're sleeping on the floor... tummy time doesn't make you too mad, but after you hold up your head for a few seconds you're kinda over it and you just sleep. I like to lay next to you when I can so we can have a little quiet time. We'd better soak it up now... Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it might be a little overwhelming for you.

I love you so much, my Monica mouse. You're the best little mini-me I could ask for. You mean more to me than words could possibly express. Enjoy your fresh-out-of-the-bath nap... big sister will be waking up soon to play with you.


Just for fun, here's Celine at 2 months :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

4 Steps to a Decluttered Home

Joel and I have both moved around quite a bit. Less than a year stints in different apartments, renting with friends, and even for me a month living out of my car (long story). Over time, our keepsakes and boxes of unsorted stuff has accumulated (mostly at our parents' houses) and has finally made it back to us. Combine that with the things that we have held on to (much of it unnecessarily), and here we are with a tower in our basement of mystery boxes full of stuff we don't want or need.

Clearly the "just put it here and we'll sort it later" room
Before the move, I set out to clear the crap, sort what was left, and move into our new home with a fresh new system and neatly organized boxes, clearly labeled with their necessary contents. I started watching Hoarders to motivate myself, and then got to work. ...And then I remembered I was VERY pregnant, tired, hot, and couldn't lift anything for the life of me. As I feared, at least 75% (I did make some progress!) of what was originally there got shoveled into the new basement, as haphazard as ever.

At least we have the tubs and cupboards for future sorting.. they're mostly empty at this point.
We're getting into a little of the colder weather seasons now (Christmas in less than two months?!), the girls and I are juuuust starting to get into a little bit of a rhythm, and I have most of my energy back, so I'm getting on the horse and finishing what I started.

It's a work in progress for sure, but here's a snapshot of our system for clearing out:

1. Designate 5 workspace areas: trash/recycle, sell, give, keep, and an open area to go through one box at a time.

2. Ask yourself the following questions when going through the stuff (list I borrowed from Popsugar):

3. Sort it back. When you decide to keep something, give it a clearly designated spot. Home decor goes together by season, small craft supplies get separated by baggies, bathroom toiletries get put into a few smaller boxes rather than one huge drawer, etc. My labelmazer became my best friend, which made it so much more fun to give everything little matching name tags on where they should go. It honestly reminds me of organization in a preschool room...

I am 100% going to do this with our kids' toys... once I make it out of cleaning the basement.
Source: Small Potatoes

4. Ask for help. I found a lot of great tips from Nadine, Haley, and a myriad of other Pinterest suggestions. I also, very realistically, needed assistance from my super-strong hubby, to move heavy things for me (especially up and down the stairs) so I could stay on a roll sorting. I've heard of the Konmari method, but I'm not quite familiar yet (if it's tried and true in your home, let me know; I'm up for anything!)

"Spring cleaning" is a thing, but I'm determined to make this fall/winter cleaning (Let's be realistic, with 2 under 14 months it'll probably take me that long). Hopefully I can chip away at the mountains downstairs and eventually I'll have an amazing reveal post for you later on (dream big!). :D

How do you declutter when the time comes? Do you have any tricks of the trade to share? Feel free to message me or comment below!

Monday, November 2, 2015

How I Survived My First Two Years of Marriage

In honor of our second wedding anniversary today... 

They say the first two years of marriage are the hardest (so they say). I won't say these have been the hardest two years of my life or anything, but if they're the hardest two years of marriage, I'd say we're looking pretty good from here on out.

Joel and I joke that we have been living in fast forward. We fell in love fast... so quickly, in fact, we had not even met yet. We knew we were going to get married within the first month of dating (again, before we met in person), and even considered engagement months before we actually did (long story). We dated for 7 months, were engaged for 6, and about a month after our wedding we found out we were expecting Rauch baby #1. Then I quit my job to be a stay-at-home-mom. About 4 months after Celine was born, we found out baby #2 was coming. Sometime around here Joel switched jobs. And then we bought a house right before baby #2 got here. Phew!

Needless to say, these two years have been eventful. They've been full of sleepless nights, dirty dishes, stressful days at work, and our fair share of miscommunications. We've also taken countless road trips, had plenty of family bonding moments, and lots and lots of silliness. We love being in a home of our own and the girls fill our hearts with SO. MUCH. JOY.

Joel and I do our best, but we still have our off days (sometimes longer). It takes a lot to remember that marriage is a union of two imperfect people trying to make it work. We are constantly changing and learning more about each other, and with that comes more changes in how we interact, show love, and deal with everyday life.

I don't by any means claim to be an expert on marriage, but here's some of the ways we managed to pull it off...

1. Talk about everything. - "Communication is key." (Joel's input for this post.) We made it a point right off the bat to talk about anything and everything. We figured out fast it's better to over communicate than to guess. If we're not communicating well, everything else will be off. There's no way a 2-part unit can function properly if the two parts are not working together.

2. Fight fair. - It doesn't happen very often, but we do argue. We learned the hard way that when things get heated, it's really hard not to get caught up in the moment and say things we don't really mean, or say things just to push buttons. Once we had a chance to wind down, we made ourselves a couple of guidelines for heated battles:

  1. Abolish absolutes: No using "always," "never," "every time," etc.
  2. If you're going to assume, assume it's a misunderstanding. A lack of clarity and understanding on either side makes a world of difference. Talk it out in different words and see what happens.
  3. Listen before you speak. There are 2 sides to every story and you won't make any headway if you can only hear your own.
  4. Try and stick to the facts and "feeling" language. "When xyz happens, I feel like..." Conflict resolution 101.
  5. If things get heated, take a breather. We both tend to tidy when we get frustrated and hit a wall (figuratively), so we each passive aggressively clean until we've had a chance to calm down. We've spared a lot of hurt feeling slaying dust bunnies instead.

3. Make time to be married. - Of course we're always married, but 97% of the time we're also wearing the hats of parent, volunteer, employee, counselor, babysitter, parishioner, secretary, maid, and so on. If we didn't take time to step back from the crazy and give each other undivided attention, we'd be ships passing in the night. Let me break this down a little better:
  • Flirt! Always and often.
  • Ask get to know you questionsBecause we're constantly changing (and forgetting!), there may be some things you'd ask your boyfriend/girlfriend of a few weeks that you might have forgotten about already (Since when can my husband juggle??). 
  • Date like you're still dating. Ask yourself over that candlelit dinner: would I talk about my kid's popping habit change on a first/second/third date? Probably not. Let's save the parent talk for later. Need date ideas? Pinterest has a billion-ish. Here are some ideas of mine if you're stuck. ;)

4. It's ok to be separate. - We each have our own sets of friends, along with the ones we share. We have separate hobbies, different ways to wind down, and different things we do to work towards our respective dreams. And that's ok. If we shared every waking moment together, I'm pretty sure we'd get sick of each other--fast. We're different people, and embracing that helps keep us as individuals that compliment each other instead of some creepy dumbed down combo person... you get what I'm saying (hopefully).

5. God comes first. - Pray without ceasing. Frequent the sacraments. It's powerful stuff and without Christ at the center, relationships crumble. Don't neglect your duties to your spouse and family, but a real relationship with Christ should always be a priority.

BONUS: Our "marriage handbook" has been By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand. It's helped in our prayer life, conflict resolution, and understanding of each other's differences as man & woman. I highly recommend everyone ever should check it out.

P.S. Joel: I love you. You are awesome. Thanks for being the best person ever. I am all yours.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Monica Jane: One Month

Dear baby Monica,

Oh, how time flies when you are snuggling! I know this is cliche, but I can't believe you've already been in our lives for one whole month. It's already getting hard to remember what it was like before you were here! We cannot get enough of your beautiful blue eyes, your fluffy brown hair, and your tight kung fu death grip on our fingers.

You love to be snuggled, which of course is no burden for me. I relish the time your soft little baby head is up against my cheek. I know that you won't snuggle with me like this forever, or even fit into my arms so perfectly like you do, so I'm soaking this all up while I can.

You love a good warm soak in the tub, just like Daddy. You also love to sleep and eat, much like me. Every day you are becoming more awake and alert, with your big eyes taking everything in. You are a pretty light sleeper... sometimes. We sometimes have to battle you to get you to sleep at night, yet other times your big sister will push on your blankets, grab your feet, and (once in a while when I'm not looking for 0.48538 seconds) shake your Rock N' Play... and you snooze right through it! Let's start working on that after the sun goes down, ok?

Kisses for sister
Be patient with Celine, too... she adores you
You're having a little trouble with your tummy, which is easily evidenced by our laundry (that has increased 500%ish) and your baby prescription bottle in the fridge. We are hoping and praying for all of our sakes that it is just a phase and you will get some relief soon.

We keep hearing little coos and squeaks from you, but I haven't quite figured out what you mean by them yet. You've even giggled once in your sleep, but I've only managed to catch some sleep smiles on my camera. I can't wait to see your beautiful smile for real!

Monica mouse, Daddy and I love you oh so very much. We can't wait to know you better as you get bigger. I'm sorry for our lack of understanding sometimes. Please be patient with us as we figure things out together. Every one of your tiny tears breaks our hearts and we hope our kisses will help to heal each one. I love you, I love you, I love you!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Man of Steel: The Most Pro-life Non-pro-life Movie I Have Ever Seen.

WARNING: This post contains spoilers. If you haven't seen Man of Steel yet, go watch it and then come back and read this. And then watch it again.

Another disclaimer: I have never read the comic books; my judgement is based solely off of this movie, with no prior knowledge of comic book plots, characters, movie adaptations, etc.

Commonly known fact about me: I love movies and TV. I love great writing, character development, plot twists, and especially when mainstream entertainment teaches us something important in a way that is sneaky.

But I mean sneaky in a good way... Many Christian and pro-life or "positive" movies, while they are made with the best intentions, sometimes are not made very well. The writing and acting are poor and the message is so in-your-face, it comes off pretty preachy. Don't get me wrong, some of them are very enjoyable and probably touch a lot of hearts, but I consider myself a tough critic. I stand by my theory that a positive message doesn't have to be in-your-face to make a difference or make a story great.

...or make a character great. Like the Man of Steel portrayal of Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman.

So here's some main points that are relevant to my love for this movie...

The movie begins on Krypton as a sort of civil war is beginning to break. The planet is unstable and about to explode, yet the General (played by Michael Shannon) is ready to begin a "new Krypton" with only certain bloodlines surviving. The planet had adapted to the "Genesis chamber" model of reproduction, growing babies on an underwater plant-like structure and genetically modifying the DNA of the babies to predestine their specific task/role in life (General Zod = protect the people of Krypton). However, Kal-El's father, Jor-El (the illustrious Russell Crowe), believed that people should be free, able to choose their own path, and follow their dreams. Heck yes, daddy Superman. Long story short, this disagreement led to his death, just after baby Kal was shipped off to earth for his survival. Fast forward into the future.

Jor-El, doing the right thing.
Because Kal-El (now Clark, played by Henry Cavill) was not actually human, his extraordinary abilities began to grow and develop as he did... X-ray vision, laser beam eyes, super strength, flying, etc. He was afraid of the changes, but his parents (take note here) taught him to use self-control, to master his impulses, and focus on the matter at hand. Emphasis on the self-control here... very "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." His parents taught him to stand up for what is good and right and true, which Clark worked hard to do, even when it meant getting up and leaving wherever he was to start over somewhere else.

OK, so, here comes General Zod, back from banishment, to destroy Clark and turn earth into New Krypton, killing all the humans in the process. Bad stuff. So Clark (now Superman), turns himself in to the government to work as a team to save his adoptive home. He allows himself to be handcuffed, even though he can easily dominate everyone there, but to make his new allies feel safe. He meets them where they are, on their ground (without freaking them the flip out with all of his super skills) so they can build a trusting relationship. Now they're partners.

So much anger, Zod. Calm down, man.
General Zod comes, guns blazing, and is ready to kill everyone. Superman battles it out with him in a pretty even match. During the fight, General Zod declares, "There's only one way this ends, Kal: either you die, or I do." Still, Superman does everything he can to subdue him, stop terrorizing the humans, and move on. However, Zod doesn't have this option...

"We could have built a new Krypton in this squalor, but you chose the humans over us. I exist only to protect Krypton. That is the sole purpose for which I was born. And every action I take, no matter how violent or how cruel, is for the greater good of my people. And now... I have no people. My soul, that is what you have taken from me!"

And then they fight some more. They crash into a museum-esque building, Superman holding Zod in a headlock. In the emotional climactic scene, Zod yells, "If you love these people so much, you can mourn for them!" and starts to shoot lasers at people. Superman pleads for him to stop, but when Zod refuses, Superman reluctantly kills him.

One of the most important parts of the movie to me is right here: Superman is devastated. Here is a guy who is clearly the villian, who wanted to protect a dead people at all costs, including taking the lives of billions of innocents. And yet, as we see in Superman's cry of anguish, he is still torn apart at the fact that he had to kill.

And here's why I love this movie so dang much:

1. Superman is a good man. He has worked hard his whole life to protect the innocent and the weak, to do the right thing even when it is hard, to control his passions/emotions/instincts, and to preserve freedom and life. He's an ideal hero, and his likable personality and ridiculously square jaw are just the icing on the cake.

Seriously, though, look at his chin. He looks like a cartoon. In a good way.
2. Krypton fell for a reason. They turned to artificial population control, stripping freedoms/hopes/dreams from their citizens, and attempted genocide. And look where they ended up. The couple of survivors had no identity outside of their given task, they blindly followed society's crazy rules to a fault, and were willing to take countless innocent lives to reach an unreachable (and immoral) ideal. Does this make anyone else think of Nazi Germany??

3. I love the theme of protection here, but there is an important element missing to General Zod. What are you protecting? Is it good? And then we have Jor-El telling his son:
"The people of Earth are different from us, it's true, but ultimately I believe that is a good thing. They won't necessarily make the same mistakes we did, but if you guide them, Kal, if you give them hope, that's what this symbol means. The symbol of the House of El means hope. Embodied within that hope is the fundamental belief the potential of every person to be a force for good. That's what you can bring them."
4. Life is sacred. Jor-El stood up to his own leaders when he saw the planet was being destroyed and all of their lives were at risk. He stood up to General Zod when he proposed "cleansing the people" by choosing which bloodlines survived. The villains killed recklessly and without thought, but Superman, even to the very end, fought not to have to take a life. And when he had to, he was distraught. Even though Zod was a disturbed character (to say the least), it still tore Superman apart to have to kill him. There's something to that!!

5. Good leadership is good. Especially with all of the drama and tension with our government right now, with politics becoming polarized and confusing and what have you, I've been hearing a lot of animosity towards powerful leaders. True, we should not blindly follow anyone who steps up to a podium, but there is nothing wrong about following an intrinsically good leader (Jesus much??). I am not equating Superman to Jesus, but he acts as a supernatural leader who defends the defenseless, preserves life, and stands up for freedom and truth. Not a bad choice for Metropolis. I mean, come on...
"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders." -Jor-El
Join you in the sun, being in the light of Christ... just something to think about.

All in all... good job, Hollywood. You managed to pull of an action/drama with big name actors, crazy special effects, intense action scenes, talented writing, and profoundly Christian themes. I'm betting that last one wasn't intended, but I'm running with it anyways.

Yes, I know that they're also making "Batman vs. Superman" and judging by the trailer, Superman is the bad guy (tears!!) but we'll see how it turns out then.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

For the days making the bed is a big deal

Let's get one thing straight: you can't always do it all. As much as you might want to, you can't. Just because life is hard, as we need to deal.

And delegate. And let some things go. And suck some other things up and just do it.

But not everything. And not by ourselves.

Sometimes, all that matters is, you're working on it. And that's ok.

I have listed above that I am an "underachieving perfectionist." It's a term I've coined myself (copyright pending) that basically means I can't do things to the incredibly high standard I have set for myself, so with the mindset that I'll inevitably be disappointed, I don't even start said task. Combined with ADD, this is pretty detrimental. Good news? Some of you out there are underachieving perfectionists too. And we can do this.

It's super awesome to have days where we get on a roll, knock off a billion things from the to-do list, and top it all off with a 5 course dinner, a shower, and some productive and educational quality time with the littles. For you 30 Rock fans out there, this is called "Reaganing."

But most days aren't like this. So let's make a game plan:

1. Cut down the to-do list (also known as "Lower your standards") - Didn't get enough sleep? Out of coffee? You get handicaps for that. Put some things off until tomorrow... otherwise you might not have anything left to do tomorrow. Rome wasn't built in a day. You're welcome.

2. Break down what's left into easier tasks - Clean bedroom → Make the bed, fold laundry, vacuum, dust, put jewelry away, empty the trash, etc.

3. Do at least one of those tasks - Look! I made the bed today. Cross that off the list. Making progress!

4. Give yourself a pat on the back - Great job, self. That took initiative. Remember that when you go to your next job interview. "I take initiative." Good job getting something done today.

BONUS: Do more things on the list. Then take a break. 

This is not by any means something to live by every day. This is for the Mondays, the feels-like-Mondays, the coming-home-from-vacation-and-everything-is-crazy days, and the like. You can tackle the big stuff those other days. For now, put your feet up, sip some coffee or tea, and check back in after an hour or two (or 5 minutes, which is sometimes all the break we can afford). You've got this!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Recent goings on around here...

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for Link-toberfest! I can't believe this is only my 4th 7QT posts to actually get published... I need to get on that!

Things have been a little different here since the arrival of our sweet Monica, and we are slowly but surely working into what we're calling our "new normal." Here's a few little tidbits and updates from our neck of the woods...

1. Celine adores her baby sister. We catch her crawling up the Rock n' Play to napping Monica, where she watches her and squeals with delight, and then starts putting toys in there with her. I'm not quite sure yet if she's trying to share (a skill we've been practicing) or it's just another fun spot to take things in/out of (her current favorite game). Jury's still out.

2. Monica is a master of breastfeeding... ish. She knows just what to do, as long as she can stay awake long enough to eat. She snacks, refuses to burp in her sleep, we lay her down, she immediately wakes up hungry (or at least within 45 minutes), eats again, and spits up all over me. It's especially fun at night. Let's nip this game in the bud, huh little kid?

3. We recently welcomed Monica into the church (YAY!!!) during a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Rauch. Joel's dad is a deacon (and he also baptized Celine), so it was only right that during their visit to help us transition, we wash the original sin off of her. She tolerated it pretty well, given she was asleep and acted like the chrism was a very nice massage. I love her.

They don't look at the camera too well but they still make pictures way better <3
4. My little brother was also in town for probably his last visit before he moves to Cali to be near his new fiancĂ©e. We were so glad to steal him long enough to make him Monica's godfather and spend some time playing Exploding Kittens before he takes off. We will miss him. Lots.

5. I'm trying to branch out a little bit with my taste in music. I listen almost exclusively to Needtobreathe, Ben Rector, and Maroon 5, especially after my computer crashed and wiped my 8 days of nonstop playing music. It left me with some, but very little. Oh, and I also have a few Top 40 songs that are my favorites periodically. Recently, it's "Bright" by Echosmith. I bought their album "Talking Dreams" and so far, it's not so bad. Maybe I should try new music more often.

6. I'm finally getting some more things on the walls and it definitely makes this house feel like a home. I'm starting to feel more rooted here, and it helps to have our own personal (and Pinterest inspired!) pieces on the wall. None of the rooms are quite done yet, but here's a preview of the girls' room:

We're going for French street inspired.. did we succeed so far?
7. It's finally fall and I could not be more excited. Our local grocery store just got a Starbucks and I'm all like "Just in time for pumpkin spice lattes!!" I'm not WAY gung ho about them, but they sure taste like fall should. Best season of the year. Sweet Lord, thank you for the autumn leaves. They're my fave, but you already know that.

BONUS! 8. I'm a little behind on my #12in12bookchallenge, but I'm giving myself a handicap for having a baby. Speaking of my challenge though, I'm thisclose to finishing Story of a Soul and both of the girls are sleeping... so I'd better get on that. Here are a few little moments to tide you over until the next family update...

Night before leaving the hospital
Daddy and his two girls
First bath at home... super chill the whole time :)
Love this picture, love this girl <3
Have a great weekend!