Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How we met: part 3

If you're jumping in now, you can read part 1 and part 2 by clicking the links. If you want to skip ahead to the end, read on. For the short version, read this. ;)

FALL 2012

That September was one of the longest months of my life.

Joel and I had a blast chatting as much as we could on and off throughout the day. We'd break for driving home and dinner, then jump on the phone and talk for another few hours. I was completely smitten. I wanted to know anything and everything about this dear friend who was rapidly making himself a permanent placeholder in my heart.

But it was still a tad embarrassing that we'd still never seen each other's faces outside of pictures posted online.

Within a week of becoming official, we scheduled our first Skype call. It was all I could think about all day. I did my hair, kept my makeup minimal, and wore a loose pink pinstripe button up. About an hour before Joel was scheduled to call, my nerves began to get the best of me. What are we doing? What am I doing? What if he is nothing like I picture? What if his voice doesn't match his face? What if he doesn't like me anymore? I started sweating, and up went the curled hair. I needed to relax. I poured myself a glass of White Zinfandel in my favorite glass (and oversized stem wine glass that I still have in the cupboard) and tried to act casual.

Here's the thing though: when I'm nervous, I mess with whatever is in my hands, in this case, the wine glass. The giant wine glass, That I overfilled. And all of a sudden there was only a sip left. And we're about a minute and a half out from the call. And I'm all loosey goosey. And blushing... from the wine and the nerves. Great idea, Justine.

I answered the call and we talked for a good 3 1/2 ish minutes without a hitch.

I looked away from the screen for a few seconds and heard a sudden noise come from the other end and all of a sudden, Joel was gone. I heard movement, I could still see his apartment, but no Joel. Then his head popped up from behind the desk. The folding chair he was using spontaneously fell to pieces. He only had a desktop computer and no back up chairs in his little studio apartment. So, this is it, I thought. That was fun while it lasted. But Joel, just as excited about this opportunity as me, made the chivalrous sacrifice and offered to kneel in front of his computer long enough for us to finish the conversation. I couldn't believe he would offer to do that for me, instead of just easily ending the call and using the phone.

We talked for four more hours before I remembered he was KNEELING. He made no complaint, was still fully invested in our talk, told stories, asked questions, and was the same incredible man I was falling for over the phone. And then I saw him shift his weight a little and subtly rub his knee. I had totally forgotten and he finally agreed to switch to the phone because OF COURSE we weren't done talking yet. We talked for another hour or so before finally calling it a night.

Skype calls became our new regular. We had them on constantly, sometimes even when we were working on other things. I vividly remember drinking champagne after a work success of mine and Joel wanted some too... so he stretched the camera as far as it could reach (to the floor) and left me to hang out with his "free range" rabbit while he went down the block on a champagne run.

It wasn't long before he bought his ticket to visit me.

We still had a couple of weeks to wait, so I spent my free time planning our itinerary and freaking out. It was a risk, inviting this man to come for the weekend, especially if it didn't go well. But how could it not go well? I still couldn't shake the feeling that he had a big role to play in my life, whether it be for this season or for the long term.

I'll never forget the night we first exchanged "I love you"'s, but I'll save just that little bit for just the two of us.

I'm not sure at what point exactly we knew, but it was definitely before Joel arrived. We hadn't talked at length about the long term, but I had an unmistakable peace in my prayer and in my heart that this was the man I was made to spend the rest of my life with. I was almost  too good to be true... but not quite. ;)

On September 21st, I packed up my mix tape (well CD, but it was a thing) and some Kung Pao beef for Joel's dinner and drove an hour to the airport to meet Joel, officially, in person, for the very first time.

I was going to wait in the parking lot, but I was too excited and looked for him at the outside pickup. He called me, and I saw a tall dark blonde man with a suitcase on the phone near me. I was about to go up to him when Joel said he was walking and looking for me... so clearly not that guy. I panicked. How do I greet him? Do I hug him? Reach out for a handshake? A handshake? Why would I do that? To be funny maybe? Not funny. Don't do that. What if he's far away? Do I run to him? Walk? Wait for him to come to me? I'd better play it safe. Thinking on my feet, I played the super cool move of staying on the phone with him to lead him to me, at the same time ducking behind a pillar at the end of the pickup line to wait for him.

Just before I could hear his voice in person, I stepped out from behind the pillar and there he was, only a few yards away, walking towards me. Joel dropped his bags, enveloped me in a hug, and all I could think was, This is the first time I am hugging the man who will be my husband.

I never wanted that weekend to end. We toured my work, sipped pumpkin spice lattes and strolled around my neighborhood, built a blanket fort, watched HGTV, ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant. On his last day with me, we stopped at the mall (90's style) and took photo booth pictures. That was the first of what would unintentionally become one of our date traditions. 

Before Joel made it back home I bought my ticket to go out and visit him... and the rest is history.

So there you have it: the long story of how we met on Twitter. We're almost 5 years together, 3 kids later, and I could not be happier. I'm so thankful you made it through reading this far... if you're interested in hearing more of our love story, let me know!

And to Joel:

Falling in love with you has been the greatest adventure of my life and it continues to be every day. Thank you for everything. I love you.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How we met: part 2

In case you missed part 1 of how Joel and I met, you can catch up right here. For spoilers in the cliff notes version, read here. ;)


As the months passed, I started to feel more homesick and restless about where I was (figuratively and literally). As much as I tried to connect in my physical community, it became more and more of a struggle. With summer beginning, the school year was ending, and the local university Newman Center was cleared out and the last of my close friends had finally graduated and moved on and out. I was giving less presentations to youth groups and instead working more behind the scenes, which was hard on my little extrovert heart.

I ended up spending more time watching TV, Skyping my family, and browsing social media on my computer. And with that came more conversations with Joel. We added each other on Google Plus, Facebook, and Skype, joking that we were reaching higher levels of a "social media friendship." Tweets graduated to Facebook chat. The more we went back and forth, the easier it was to talk to him. It was hard to find something we didn't have in common. I started to catch myself leaving my computer open so I'd be able to see if he was online and wanted to chat, just in case I'd miss it. It wasn't a romantic interest, he was just slowly becoming a dear friend. He made me laugh (a lot) and I looked forward to hearing about his day. Our conversations came with ease and never seemed to end.

However, I was still trying to make it work in the relationship I was already a part of. We had different ways of communicating, and I remember thinking that it shouldn't be that hard. Although it took a couple of months to finally call it, I think there was a part of me that knew it wasn't supposed to be. We officially parted ways. In a very roundabout way, I think it was because of Joel. I told one of my girlfriends, "Even if nothing ever happened with my Twitter friend, or if we never even met in person, I feel like he just has some role to play in my life. Maybe it's just to show me how easy communication can be. I'd want to end up with someone I shared that with."

The August visit to Colorado was to see my college roommate and household sister... and also to visit the Denver Broncos training camp. Joel was heading back to Ohio for a wedding one of the same days I was flying, so even though we had never met, I kept an eye out for him at the airport just in case fate would let us meet. It didn't end up that way, but I still looked. And it turned out, he was looking for me too.

Can you find Joel in the stands? Me neither. He was in Ohio. I did see someone who I thought looked like him though... well, form what I could tell from his Twitter picture.

After a visit back home, it really hit me how much we had been talking. We were Facebook chatting for hours every night. My family was still really concerned that we hadn't met in person, and I don't blame them. I've heard plenty of stories (ok so mostly on the news) about people getting tricked or catfished or whatever the kids are calling it nowadays. I called Jackie, because as the only person we knew in common (and who knew and cared about both of us), I trusted her input. Once I reassured my family with her approval, they were a little more at ease.

This is Jackie. This picture was taken much later in the story. 

As Joel & my friendship slowly progressed and feelings began to develop, it began to seem unnatural not to talk one degree of separation closer. I felt like we had almost hit a wall where our friendship couldn't progress any more without stepping up our method of communication. Joel had asked for my mailing address to send me a friendly letter, but I found myself feeling almost frustrated that i had to take the time to type everything out and we were missing important elements like voice inflection and tone. Because it was still pretty friendly, I finally put myself out there in a way that I thought wouldn't be TOO forward, but still conversational...

I was clearly very smooth about it. And I was at no point thinking about ice cream.


Putting myself out there like that was terrifying. I imagined myself as a turtle throwing a love note out of it's shell and then quickly retreating back inside while waiting to be rejected. I was preparing myself to hear that this was strictly Platonic, or that I totally had the wrong idea, or that he was married or something horrible and heartbreaking. Waiting for his response felt like for-flipping-ever. I could see the little bubble showing that he typed something, then deleted it, typed something, then deleted it. 

But it turns out, he had thought about it. A lot.

On August 25th, at 12:06 AM, Joel called me.

We talked for 4 1/2 hours that night. My face hurt from smiling and my stomach hurt from laughing. We talked again the next night for 6 hours, despite the two hour time difference. And it still seemed like we'd never have nothing to talk about.


Within a few days we were officially dating. And I had never been happier... well, at that point. 

More joy in part 3!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How we met: part 1

I love love love reading other bloggers' stores about how they met their spouse. I'm a romantic through and through: I love LOVE! True, authentic, self-sacrificing, painful, beautiful, real love sets my  soul on fire. Around the time I started Justine In Pearls, I posted the "abridged" version of our story that we co-wrote for our wedding website. However, I want to lock down all the details of our story while everything is relatively fresh in my head so we'll have it to look back on years to come.

So without further ado, this is how we met...

The Prequel: Fall 2010

It was Thanksgiving. I was taking a break from writing some papers for one of my last college classes to share a recent blog post on my Twitter. I had just recently started blogging and had no idea what I was into yet, but I was having fun settling in to my little place on the internet. I hardly had any readers, and the ones that I did have were pretty much just my family members. I had recently gotten out of a relationship and I was starting to get a little frustrated with God. I remember asking to meet my future spouse that year, and hoping that when I did, I would recognize him. Or something. Then I used to end up just wondering if we had already met, so I'd go through most of the single guys I knew and rule them out one by one... you know, like in the old chick flicks where she likes the popular guy who ends up being not right for her and then she ends up with the one who was her best friend all along... actually, that's not too far off from what happened. But we'll get to that!

Anyways, one of my household sisters (household = a sort of Catholic sorority I joined in college) gave me a shout out on Twitter for whatever particular post I had written at the time. Her cousin happened to find it, actually read it, and sent me a direct message on Twitter. The message is gone now, but it was something along the lines of "Hey, I'm Jackie's cousin and I just wanted to say I read your blog and I think it's really good. Keep up the good work!" Then he started following my feed.

Me: A fan!! Someone I had never met before read my blog and liked it. I must be dreaming. Who is this pioneer of fandom? Hmm... joelarbear87. Joelar Bear. His name is probably Joel. Or some weird variation of it? I'm assuming it's pronounced like "polar?" He's kinda cute, but the picture is super tiny. *clicks link* Dayton, OH. I go to school in Ohio! How far is that from me? Oh, too far. We'd never meet. I'm going to follow him back. And I should tell Jackie.

I texted her and she thought it was funny and said he's cool. That's about it. I made sure whenever I wrote another post, I linked it in my Twitter account, just in case he was still paying attention. A few weeks later I got the impression from his feed that he had a girlfriend, so I dropped it.


Part 1: Spring 2012

I ended up being in college for longer than I anticipated. I had graduated a couple months before and I was ready to pursue my passions and start a career: traveling around the country and teaching about healthy relationships, maybe writing a book in between stops. I was a hopeless romantic (still, but in my defense I had been since I was 5, so I didn't really expect that to change) and somehow managed to graduate late and still without the "ring by spring." I wanted to someday end up living in Denver or Colorado springs. I had visited friends there a few times and it was the only place I had ever visited that made me think "yeah, I could definitely see myself living here." However, I had trouble setting up a living situation and finding a job, so I had to put that dream on the back burner. Another opportunity presented itself in Pennsylvania, so I followed the job there.

It was thrilling to venture off on my own and start my career as a chastity speaker, but I was 6 hours from the closest family member, which was a big change for me. I was starting to panic a little, especially after trying unsuccessfully to make friends with people in my neighborhood close to my age. I frequently visited my friends who were still in school, only about an hour and a half from where I had moved. I ached to feel connected and part of a community. I started to go back through my list of good guy friends and look for the love of my life... because, well, maybe I had overlooked him or something (like in the movies... he was probably there all along!). I ended up in a relationship with a nice guy, but it wasn't a good fit. I kept trying to make it work, but I just had this feeling that it just wasn't supposed to be.

But, I stuck it out anyways, because I was scared. Scared that maybe this is just what relationships were like, that they needed a lot of work to mesh, and that it's ok that you have less and less in common, or you disagree on a lot of things, etc. Scared that maybe this was my last chance to find someone because I had so much trouble meeting anyone in my area, let alone anyone dateable.

I kept a giant framed poster of Pikes Peak in my kitchen. I used it to remind me of where I wanted to go, to remind me of the awesome beauty I found in the Colorado landscape, and to remind me that life was bigger than my little lonely apartment. I remember sitting on my kitchen counter, drinking coffee, looking at that poster, and posting this:

My username and picture have changed since then, but this is THE tweet.

And then I remember jumping off the counter to tackle my pile of work, when I received a response from JoelarBear87. I had completely forgotten that we were still following each other. He had recently moved to Denver himself, and was curious if I was still around.

This is more like what he would have seen of me. He has since deleted his twitter, so his info is gone.
Me: Who is this? OMG IT'S MY FAN! I forgot about him! He lives in CO? Figures. I want to go to there. I should probably respond.

We tweeted back and forth on occasion, but we were only friends on Twitter. Looking back, I used Twitter more that spring and summer than I had ever used it before or ever would since. Our interaction was predominantly quoting movies, but it was becoming more and more frequent. I started to refer to him as "my Twitter friend." And that's all it was... for the spring at least.

Part 2 coming soon!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

What we're listening to (and it's not music)...

That's right. When music is out and we still want some background (or foreground?) noise, we're taking it to the podcasts.

Apparently this is what all the kids are doing nowadays. And by kids, I don't mean actual children. I mean the cool, hip people. Because podcasts are the thing, and I want to be down with the latest trend, yo. Hashtag on fleek and everything (I know I'm using that wrong).

But it makes sense, I mean, who doesn't love just hanging out with friends and talking about subjects you're interested in? Or listening to a storyteller share an edge-of-your seat epic? Or meticulously taking notes during a theology or philosophy class lecture? Ok, that last one may be a smaller percentage of us. But we're out there! And we will not be forgotten! Students who love intellectual lectures UNITE!! I'm getting off track...

Over the past couple of months and years, I've slowly worked up a list of our favorite podcasts. I've got a couple go-to's in different categories, depending on my mood or what I'm working on.

Some of these overlap quite a bit with topics, Fr. Barron touching on movies and TV, Christy and Haley talk quite a bit about matters of faith and family life, Jennifer talks to Dave Ramsey, etc.

On womanhood: 

On faith:

On bookishness:

On home decor:

On marriage & family:
Marriage More Podcast
Messy Parenting

On life, business, and interviews with a myriad of guests:
Hallie Weekly
The Jennifer Fulfiller Show
The Chalene Show
Build Your Tribe

Podcasts (and audiobooks for that matter) are just so easy. I'm learning so much and I don't even have to stop doing the dishes (like it was that hard for me to quit doing the dishes anyways, but still). When it's only the kiddos and me around for most of the day, it's nice to feel like I'm still in on some adult conversation. Best part: if anyone starts screaming or crying or what have you, I can just pause, rewind, or come back to it later. Winning!

I know there are other hugely popular podcasts out there, like Serial (haven't listened to it) and S-Town (not what I expected but sparked some interesting conversation), but the ones I've linked to are the ones that by far get the most air time in our house. Topping the charts are probably Fountains of CarrotsMessy Parenting, and Young House Love Has a Podcast. I just wanted to give ou the whole list (full disclosure and all) so you have a little bit of variety to choose from.

Are you a fellow podcast subscriber? What are you listening to?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Clive Anthony: 3 Months

It was around the three month mark that each of our children seemed to really come into their own and look like themselves as we know them. So here's a little taste of what our little man will look like, according to his three month picture:

He is still the happiest and chattiest little boy I have ever met. He LOVES to be around people and he will talk and talk and talk when anyone is making eye contact with him. Apparently there's a lot going on in his life that he thinks is worth discussing. That's fine by me. ;) He won't hesitate to share his smiles with unfamiliar faces, but I still seem to get the most (mom win!).

The girls make great entertainment for him, so it's nice to be able to just lay him on the floor as we play around him and have him be totally content. He just wants to be involved. We've started having the girls come and kiss him good morning and good night every day, and each time they come close to him, he coos and smiles and squeals and his arms and legs start flapping. I can only hope they'll always love each other this month!

We're finally starting to get a little out of the newborn fog. Clive is sleeping through the night for the most part, so as long as his sleep schedule matches ours, everyone is a little more rested and in much better moods. He is growing fast, so we've bumped him out of the Rock N' Play he was using next to my bed at night and graduated him to the Pack N Play in the corner of our room. I always feel so guilty laying him down all the way over there when he's awake because he just wants to hang out and be around us, and compared to where he was he seems so far away. I will say, though, it's pretty fun to see his little smiling face when he sees me appear over him in the morning.

His hair is starting to fall out in patches, but it's mostly in the back and on the sides, so from the front it's hard to tell. I feel like I should cut his hair at some point so it'll grow in more even, but I just can't bring myself to do it yet.

He's getting so strong, and he constantly surprises me at how quickly he can do things. I don't know if I've already forgotten what each stage should look like or if he's just loving being able to constantly amaze me... let's go with the latter ;)

We're so close to getting him to giggle... Joel can get a chuckle out of him here or there, so I'll keep my camera at the ready so I can share it on Facebook or Instagram when it finally happens ;)

Dear Clive,

You are the best. Thank you for your patience, your smiles, and your cuddles. I love love love watching you grow. I'm having so much fun watching your personality unfold and you are an absolute joy. You are so precious to us. 


If you love following along with our family, make sure you're connected on Facebook and Instagram... I'd love to connect with you!

For a little more baby-ness, here"s Celine at 3 months and Monica at 3 months ;)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What is this work / life balance that you speak of...?

I'm not a working mom. And by that I mean I don't work outside the home or have a full time job outside of raising my monkeys. But to those mamas who do... WOW. You. Are. Amazing.

People seem to always be talking about how busy they are, even the stay-at-home moms. Play dates, meal prepping, workouts, date nights (when we're lucky), mom groups, church and church events, time for self care, kids' sports and extra curriculars, etc, etc, etc. It's so hard not to look at the mom bloggers on Instagram and Pinterest and think, "Whoa. My life sure has a lot more sticky than that lady's life. And more day-old makeup. And some clothes with kids' mystery stains on them (marker? blueberry? who knows anymore)." 

But we can't all do it all. Not everything can be 100% all of the time. I might need to sacrifice a nap or a clean floor to get a workout in. I might need to pass on a social function to watch a movie with the hubs. I might need to push the kids' bath another night because I need to bathe myself (with smelly candles, podcasts, and bath salts). And that's just fine. Life doesn't always look like Pinterest. You just need to pick, at each hour of the day, "what is my #1 priority right now?"

I've found myself checking in as the clock tick-tick-ticks along (tick-tick-tick? My clock is weird. What clocks say 'tick-tick?'). I write my to-do list for the day every morning on my white board. Yes, I do need to actually write "shower" and "make bed" on there. The more specific you can get, the better. But as the day goes on, sometimes the order of importance changes.

For example: I started today thinking I need to 1. find time to work on the blog 2. get the defrosted meat cooked, and 3. end up with a mostly tidy house. When the girls were occupied, I snuck away to make the bed, prep a sausage egg bake (thank you Mom for the idea to pre-cook the sausage before freezing). When I had a REALLY quiet moment (aka, nap time), I had time to sit at the computer and chip away at that list.

But, in the afternoon, as much as I had made some progress, I was dying for some fun time with the kiddos. The dishwasher, broom, and phone calls were moved to the bottom of the list so we could get some belly laughs in. And it was so worth it.

I'm still pooped at the end of the day. I still want to plant myself on the couch downstairs with some cheesy TV (Felicity reruns, anyone?) and not make my brain work. And guess what? That's totally fine. My kitchen isn't totally spotless, I still haven't showered, and I still have a massive pile of clothes in my room. But... it's more important to take care of me. There's always going to be one more thing to do, one more thing to clean, and one more thing to cross off the list. But there won't always be nights I can sit down on the couch with my computer and a glass of wine and watch my baby boy sleep.

And also I need to feed him. Currently moving that to priority 1. 

I just want to wrap up with this little diddy: Balance isn't something that's going to happen overnight. Our lives are constantly going to be shifting and changing, so we might not ever get to a place where things seem finally balanced. But there can be joy in the process, by just taking each season day by day, even hour by hour. We're all going to get there, but you will be happiest if you give yourself the freedom to move things around a bit to get you all through the day. You do you.

And here's a smiling baby. :)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Master Bedroom Reveal!

Our bedroom has gone through quite the transformation, and I don't mean just in this house. When Joel first moved into the apartment we eventually shared after our honeymoon, he slept on a mattress on the floor. He had one dresser and a rabbit in the room with him. Oh, and a lamp (also on the floor). Since then, we have slowly accumulated hand-me-down or free furniture. It was great at the time, given we were spending the little money we had on more important things. However, we definitely kept the college dorm vibe alive. Now that we are in our own home, with kids and all, we decided it might be time for our taste to graduate. We started to become a little bit more picky about what we decided to take in, and what we did accept we made to fit our own style and space.

It has been so fun to watch our tastes evolve over the last couple of years and form into our "couple taste" versus something each of us would have picked on our own. Joel gave me free reign upstairs if he could have all of the say downstairs (fine by me), but of course I wasn't going to decorate a room that he would hate. Our bedroom has been my favorite part of our ideas coming together.

Here are a few pictures of the room when we got it, painted it, and added the carpet...

Seriously, this carpet is SO SOFT.
We made do with what we had around for nightstands, given the fact that until the move, we had been using outdoor end tables. I'm not sure if these are an upgrade or not. But at least they matched!

I was also too lazy to get more tissues, hence the TP on my "nightstand." I'll blame the summer pregnancy.
It worked, but it didn't necessarily say "master bedroom" to me.



green blanket (handed down) / comforter / gold pillow 
geometric pillow covers / headboard (DIY) / frames / mirror (thrifted)

lamps (garage sale) / flower / milk bottle (Frappacino!) / end tables / knobs

The curtains are a little hard to see, but those were a DIY from this fabric. I made them when we moved into our first apartment together, but they're obviously too long now. Hemming them is... well, somewhere on the to do list.

We were inspired by a couple Pinterest makeovers of the Ikea Rast dressers, so we took a chance and made over a couple to use as end tables for a date night at home. We painted the outside with Sherwin Williams "Alabaster" white, then used a dark stain on the front of the drawers (I can't remember specifically what we used and I can't find it in all of Joel's things... oh well. There's pictures.). We upgraded the knobs to these Hobby Lobby finds (50% off!) and I love the way they turned out. Our bed has an extra 4" of foam on top, so we needed something higher than the standard end table and these were an affordable answer AND a date night activity, so big smiles all around.

This is also the space the Rock N' Play usually goes at night so I have easy access to baby for nursing. It makes the space a little snug, but his smiles make it more tolerable until he graduates to a bigger bed :)

We have so many wedding pictures that are frame-worthy, but I always felt weird hanging up a billion pictures of us all over the house, so this set of three was a great solution. I can always switch them out for different ones without feeling too narcissistic. ;) The frames are just snap-in ones from Walmart but I love the clean lines without making it too dark. 

Tote bag / pillow (similar) / framed dates (wedding gift) / sheepskin (handed down) / quilt (DIY with this and this fabric / changing table (thrifted)
We actually found this changing table at a thrift store at a steal. In the past we just used command strips to attach the changing pad to the top of a dresser, but we've since re-purposed said dresser (see below). I made the quilt that is covering it for Clive to use as he gets older. I was going for a kind of subtle woodland theme, which was hard to pull off when I was trying to stick to black, white, and gold. The pillow adds a lot though ;) 

This bag has been my catchall when I'm not using it out and a lifesaver when I have to grab extra non-diaper bag items for the girls when we're out and about (extra burp cloths, water bottles, toys, spare clothes, books, etc). Joel calls it my "Mom-mom-mom" bag. I love making other parents smile when they read it. ;) It's out of stock now, but the shop is here!

shadow box (TJMaxx) / dresser (thrifted) / birch tree art

We're finally using this antique store dresser as a dresser! When it doesn't have lots of random laundry on it or Joel's clothes for the next day, I keep the shadow box of our wedding invitation and program, a dish for emptying pockets, St. Thérèse statue, and a little frame with a Winnie the Pooh friendship quote (you know, for the baby... or something). The box is actually a cigar box made over into a valet box. It's so cool! He received it as a Christmas gift but I think they have similar ones on Etsy.

Don't mind the pack n' play in the corner... the girls can't nap in the same room, so Monica still sleeps in here during the day. Clive will eventually move over there overnight once he starts consistently sleeping through. C'mon, little buddy!

Stay tuned for more room reveals (and partial room reveals) as we slowly make this house into our home!


Monday, April 17, 2017

Alleluia is our song

Happy Easter Monday!! I hope everyone had a blessed Holy Week leading up to a joyful beginning to this beautiful Easter season!

This holiday was a little different for us. Normally, we'd take whatever extended weekend or vacation time we had to get together with as much family as possible, have a massive brunch, hang out all day, snack for lunch, enjoy a massive dinner, put the kids to bed, and play games and talk until past our bedtimes. However, with Joel's new work schedule and most of the family being too far of a drive away for the weekend, we celebrated solo.

And I'm so incredibly thankful for a wonderful Lord's day.

Saturday I spent the day making sandwiches and baking for our tea party brunch. I filled my evening with decorating, laying our mass clothes, and repeating our plan for the next day to Joel and myself. Everyone was bathed, menu and schedule was set, and we were good to go to 8:00 AM Easter mass with three little kids (we're ambitious like that). Usually our Sunday mass is at 9:00 and we're booking it to get out the door and still miss half of the opening song. This was not going to be that day.

And then we overslept (face palm). It was a mad dash morning, but with very few tears and every one's correct clothes on and hair done, we made it 20 minutes early! The timing worked out perfect, because we sat right up front with a great view of all of the flowers and the bell choir, and the girls ate it up. We'd been prepping them as much as we could with the meaning of Easter (still not sure how to teach that to a 2 year old, but I tried), so randomly through mass Celine would hear the music and excitedly tell us, "Look! Alleluia!" Heart melting.

Not our best effort, but everyone peaced out of these fast so we had to get ourselves photo ready fast. I think it worked out in the end ;)
The girls behaved mostly well, so we came home and feasted on our surprisingly filling tea party sandwiches, scones, and eggs.

The girls provided Clive with some brunch too. He was apparently unimpressed.
Brief intermission of the Easter festivities for some free play time and naps so Joel and I could tidy up the basement and set up our next event:

Us: trying to explain how an Easter egg hunt works.
Them: having no idea what's going on; just excited to use the stairs.

I'm super good at hiding. So is Clive.

Enter phase 3: dinner. 

We busted out some indie folk revival on Pandora, a rainbow quilt (so Biblical of us, with God fulfilling his promises and all), had some wine (just me... also a Biblical move), and savored the gorgeous, non-humid, bug free day we were blessed with. 

Our sweet friends and neighbors hooked us up with this baby bubble thing and it is the BOMB.



We found a jet. They were excited.

I promise that wasn't my actual ratio of meat to veggies.
We wrapped everything up with some wind-down inside time, adding "Alleluia" to our prayers, and Joel and I got to celebrate the end of Lent with the screen time we gave up. We still found some time to dream about our plans for the house, our family, and some other projects. All in all, it was an awesome holiday. We missed having the family nearby, but sometimes quality time with our tribe is just what the doctor ordered. 

I hope everyone had an awesome weekend and I'll be back with more photo dumps and recaps soon!

We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song! -St. John Paul II