yarn along

I’m linking up with my friend Ginny at her Yarn Along where every week she posts what she’s knitting and reading. She’s always reading amazing things and knitting even more amazing things. Don’t look for those knitting skillz here, friends. But the quality books? YES!

The very first is my other friend Kelly’s wonderful retreat based on Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ. It’s called A Worthy Reception and I really enjoyed doing it. It was intense for this spiritual wuss but I’m going to do it again before the baby comes–really good to go deep and old school with a private retreat! If you have wanted to do some interior work but really can’t get away from your family or work obligations long enough to go on an actual retreat, this is the book for you.

The next is a book a dear friend gave me I’m still working through called The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander. Talk about beautiful meditations about the Blessed Virgin Mary! It’s mystical but accessible. A must read for your fall.

And what would a Nell reading list be without some pop psych book? I read Incognito: the secret lives of the brain by David Eagleman a while back and then lent it to my sister. I snagged it back when I was on the East Coast last month and hopped back into it. Eagleman is a neuroscientist who goes into the subconscious brain and so many factors that go into how our brains are developed and function. Fascinating and readable for mama-mush brains like me.

yarn along

Knitting this blanket in a simple basketweave stitch with beautiful yarn my sister gave me for my birthday as a gift for her baby arriving next month. She doesn’t know if it’s a boy or a girl so the half-pink, half-purple is the best I can do for gender neutral!

What are you reading & crafting?

amazon links mean i get $0.003 if you buy after clicking through the link. Kelly provided me with a copy of the book after I got to do some minor edits on it. Allll opinions my own, as always.


It’s another hot humid muggy soily (as in, my children will soil their clothing) Sunday morning. I am up early with the tot, then play pass off to my marathon-training husband who ran 26 miles this morning (!?!?! because he’s amazing), and doze a little.

I dream of the perfect donut and sleeping forever.

Did you know you could dream about sleep? You can.

I haul my jiggly sore belly out of bed and semi-get ready for church. Throw on a dress and hoop earrings. Kinda brush my teeth and hair. As I pick up a hustle down the backstairs to the tunes of it’s mine and why does she always get it cascading as plaintive cries to the heavens, I think what if we didn’t have to get to church?

We swap parenting again. This time for him to shower and put his legs up and for me to soothe the irrationally irate tot who wants blue mac & cheese for breakfast and insists on using a sharp kitchen scissors to trim the bushes in the driveway. They don’t need a cut. We all settle into reading about Little Bear and I sorta start a chai tea, iced.

Like usual, I forget about it until the ice has watered it so down, no one would count it as mildly caffeinated anymore.

We struggle the kids into their church clothes, we struggle them into their car seats, and I’m already ready to call it a day. It’s 9:56am.

Mass is the center point of our spiritual week. It’s a glorious, gorgeous affair at our simply wonderful church. We spy JESUS! {as all three pointed out loudly at different times throughout}, our friends, and that couple who dress like it’s the 18th century {thankfully she also fans herself or she’d be needing serious smelling salts on these dog days of summer}.

We only make one bathroom trip. I also wanted to stay in the cool bathroom forever and had to be dragged out by my youngest two.

We only go to the back three times! The last time was to satiate the tot’s insatiable desire to rip apart all the blue baptismal books in the baptismal area. He settled for stacking and counting them while I settled for sitting on the cold floor dreaming about watermelon and sleep.

But honestly, I love going to Mass. I really do. I love receiving the Holy Eucharist. I love hearing the chants and smelling the incense. I love my 3.5 seconds of quiet prayer before someone asks me 1) why the little girl behind us has earrings and 2) when she can get them and 3) what it feels like and 4) how long the scaffolding will be up and 5) who has died falling down from it and 6) why does she have to be quiet right now?

It’s a toss-up. Either my husband and I attend different Masses, alone, and bask in the glory of silent prayer (taking just the eldest with one of us) or we all hoof it together and struggle through, modeling that families pray // go to the back together and God loves seeing us in our diligent attempts even when the ushers don’t really.

I thought about it on the way home as I clutched the side-bar next to the window (it’s a reach. why couldn’t mini-van designers appoint sick pregnant women to their design team? put the bar above the door where I can lean into it, dingdongs). Why go to church on Sundays? Why not enjoy the farmer’s market or laying down in the air conditioning and watch my children out the windows wrestling my husband to the dry browned grass in our yard? Why go through the agony and inconvenience of public prayer when I could just say a few ditties in my head in thanksgiving for a great life?

The answer is simple: the Eucharist. I can light candles at home and look at beautiful art and read all the readings and say all the prayers. But I can’t partake in receiving Holy Communion from the comfort of my cool perch with pregnancy pillows. I can’t teach my kids that inconvenience leads to great things, like God present in the form of bread, and being together as a community to experience them is what makes community strong.

I also can’t develop my own tolerance for discomfort staying mildly uncomfortable in my bed. Pushing myself is a good thing so long as it’s not too long or too unhealthy. A little suffering is a great thing to offer up for those who endure true suffering.

Maybe that makes no sense to you and you’re off to get that perfect donut on Sunday morning. I get it. I get you. I hope you do have your “reach” thing, too, though, just for your own character development. It’s good to suffer a little.


sweaty, stinky, smelly mom from the back of church with a grainy selfie from this morning



My tot never ever loses the delight that a only stack of wooden blocks tumbling can provide. He’ll go again and again. When these Anthony’s Blocks arrived from Timberlocked, a small family run business of husband/wife woodsmithing talents, he has been in loooooooove with them.


Karen contacted me about their desire to share their story of loss and love through these beautiful, hand-cut blocks made from untreated pin, coffee, olive oil, & beeswax. So they shipped a box to us as a treat! The family lost their baby Anthony Joseph to miscarriage on February 1, 2014. They donate 10% of every sale to their local crisis pregnancy center in his honor. You can read a little more about his story here.

My heart pumps a little extra for those parents who have lost a child to miscarriage. The reality of a baby growing within you only to have that baby’s life stop? It makes this pregnant woman weepy just thinking about losing that joyful presence. I love the work they’re doing to promote love and healing through blocks specially devoted to their little one.


And these blocks! Beautifully hand-crafted, sturdy, with nice bold lettering–a really great item for your little loves and certainly one for every gift list from birthdays to holidays. Oftentimes the actually alphabetical figure on the blocks is small or obscured in wooden blocks. Not these! My four year old spent a whole evening going through the alphabet song, the alphabet letters, and pointing out each to Mr. Builder here.

Fun & function & beauty. All great things!

They’re kind enough to give you guys a discount for the week! Good til next Saturday. Use code “WholeFam” for your $5 off code. Shop over here and take a look at their other beautiful offerings while you’re there.


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