Last weekend, Ben and I took a trip to Pittsburgh for a friend’s wedding.
We stayed with Ben’s older brother who lives in the same
town as the college we went to… Franciscan University in Steubenville Ohio.
Fall is the prettiest time of year to make that drive from Charlotte to Ohio! It was so beautiful.
Sophia was so interested in hearing how mommy and dad fell in love! It was the sweetest.
So one day we took our crew to our old campus and gave them the tour.
Sophia…..” Soo.. were you like staring at each other and then walked to each other??
Then she did a real life emoji face with heart eyes. She loves love.
Sophia has also been asking about college a lot lately. It’s cute how excited she is about it. excited nervous. But I told her she has plenty of years before college. Although ben just reminded me last night that she is one third of the way. gahhh!
On the drive over she asked me if there was a play ground at our college. and when I said no, she responded with “then what do you do during outside time?!” haha.
Ben and I first saw each other in the library on campus.
On the drive up I had told ben we need to try and get a good photo of all of us in there…
it’ll be so good for memories……epic fail.
Libraries and silence and micah do not mix.
We were in there a hot second before we turned right back around haha.
(There it is in the top right photo’s background. close enough.)
We went around and saw one of ben’s old teachers… then let the kids run in the leaves. Randomly this student who was talking with some girls near us came up and asked if we wanted some family photos. He snapped a few right there while the kids played…two posed ones… and then he e-mailed them to us a few hours later….AMAZING!! It was like we hit the jackpot. Christmas card worthy. This mysterious (doesn’t want to be plugged) photographer was so cool. Photos were used in my previous post. (A Letter to my Children)
It was fun and kinda odd walking around campus with our kids.
Hard to believe how much has changed in 7 years!
I don’t know if I’ve shared this on my blog before.. but in college I kinda partied it up there for a while. But then I was realizing I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled and being where I wanted to be. My mom told me when my friends would go party to go to the gym. Which is kind of silly because I’m not very good at basketball. It was the second time I did that… that I had my first real conversation with ben. He was in the gym shooting hoops! The first time we talked was also in the gym..but it was a quick moment where he came up to me, standing with my friend Ian, and said “I see you all over campus I gotta know your name”
Lesson of the story. listen to your mother ;)
Micah only knows one speed. fast. only slows down to wave, find rocks, water fountains
and look at fire hydrants. He walked into FUS like he owned the place…it was hilarious.
Loved making these memories with the kids. Life is moving in super speed.
Trying to slow down and soak it all up! Hope you are having a great weekend!
(all the photos in the post were taken with my phone.
If you want to check out how I edit my phone photos, watch my video tutorial!)
Dear Sophia, Sienna and Micah,
You are 6, 4 and almost 2. All of you..small feisty funny and shy. Beautiful brave and curious.
You are my world and have made my heart grow in ways I didn’t think were possible.
You make me laugh and smile and cry and for the most part not sleep.
I love every bit of you and the day you came into my life it was made even more amazing.
You rocked my world and I love being your mommy. I want you to know how special you are.
That you are beautiful and smart and important.
I love you so much I don’t even know how to describe it.
But most importantly I want you to know you are a child of God…
and HE is so incredibly in love with you.
He gave you to me as my most treasured gift.
The day you were each born I was in awe of you. Every little detail about you.
As you grow up you will learn things
and have new experiences. You’ll have hard days and amazing days.
I hope you always see the good in people.
I hope that you find friendships and love like I have.
I hope you can surround yourself with people who
lift you up and are there for you when you need them.
I hope that you never hurt. but if you do, I hope that you realize your strength.
and that you can get through any sadness or struggle.
It’s ok to fail and to be messy and mess up. You don’t have to burden
yourself to be perfect and to build perfection around you.
I hope that you don’t focus on the negative. People may try to break you down but
remember where your strength lies. In Him. I hope that if someone does hurt you, you remember that they have their own sufferings and struggles.
I hope you forgive.
I hope you see the true nothingness in their words and actions.
I hope that you build others up.
Be the good this world needs. You are strong and kind. I’ve seen it even as such little children. You can get through hard times. You can do amazing things.
Never forget that you are here for a reason. God wants you to be his Apostles.
He wants you to tell others about His love for them.
There is a lot of sadness in our world.
and a lot of times people are hurtful to others because they don’t
feel loved or have been hurt themselves.
Once you get that, it’s a lot easier to forgive people.
You can see the bigger picture.
I want you to be happy. and to spread happiness.
I want you to be a lot like your dad. Because he is amazing. You get a lot of your silliness from him.
And your fiesty sides too.
I hope that you laugh a lot. and plenty of those times, have it be at yourself.
I want you to know it’s ok to be sad sometimes.
But don’t waste a single tear. Offer it up for someone who is suffering too.
We all need to help each other, and our sacrifices are powerful.
I’m so proud of the children you are. and I know you are going to do
amazing things wherever you end up. I love you so much.
ps. micah man is wild. he didn’t even cry after he rolled back and crashed into leaves.
he just kept on trucking. haha. that photo captures those three perfectly.
We have recently chosen to home school Sophia for first grade.
You can read about our decision in THIS POST.
It has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. I was home schooled, so I had something to compare it too. It’s not for everyone, and I don’t know if we will always do this.. but right now I’m so thankful and happy with how and where she is spending her days. We are taking homeschooling year by year! That’s how my parents did it with us and that’s how I plan on doing it with sophia and my younger ones. There are definitely hard days.. and choosing to home school has made my hours of available work time less, but it’s worth it. And it’s doable. My mom is a rockstar and offered to help if we wanted to do this. I wasn’t sure at first. I really didn’t think homeschooling was for us at the start of this past school year. But God worked in my heart and led us to where we are. And every other day sophia says, “thank you!” for home schooling her. she is loving it. First grade is a great year to homeschool! Sienna is going to pre-K right now and we love where she is at.. but I can see us possibly homeschooling her for first grade. (unless another situation comes by and seems better!) We usually do art or some sort of craft when they both get home from their lesson time outside of the home.
My mom and I break up the lessons. (The subjects I cover with Sophia are usually done in the morning before “Grandma school” or we leave one to do after dinner when micah goes to bed.) My mom teaches both my sophia and my sister’s second grader. They have a whole little classroom at grandma’s house!! It’s pretty awesome.
I already told my mom we need to do a sit down and video her talking about these books because she is the PRO. She homeschooled all of my siblings— (me 2nd grade through high school) She has learned a system. She has found books that really help kids learn the right stuff at the right pace and in a very approachable way! I’m so so thankful that she is here to guide me. I would have been clueless. So take this from grandma…… these are great books.
These are the ones I use at our house in the morning.
One of my favorite parts of this whole crazy journey is being able to help Sophia learn to read..seeing it happen is incredible! A huge parenting moment. So proud of her and love seeing how excited and proud of herself she gets when she reads it fast!
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS
MY VERY FIRST CATHOLIC SPELLER
HANDWRITING FOR YOUNG CATHOLICS
These are the books my mom uses at “grandma school!”
The abacus is a great tool when doing math homework!
My mom kept raving about this geography book (Explore our Continents) and I’m so glad I ordered it because it’s awesome!! Sienna even was getting into it.
Since Sophia and her cousin are doing lessons together, sophia ends up doing
some Second grade books like some of the ones below.
MCP MATHEMATICS LEVAL A
EXPLORE OUR CONTINENTS
BEHOLD AND SEE SCIENCE 2
RELIGION 2 FOR YOUNG CATHOLICS
READING 3 FOR YOUNG CATHOLICS
HEALTH 3 FOR YOUNG CATHOLICS
THIS IS OUR TOWN
This is another book my mom loves. as you can see.. it’s been well used. :)
Sophia reads from this book. And it’s pretty much the cutest thing.
My mom and I love listening to her say church with this new jersey accent I have no clue where she picked up. (only that word. haha.) It’s the sweetest book though.
MY JESUS AND I
This past month Sopha and her cousin (classmates at “grandma school” ;)
put on a presentation for the family and neighbor kids. It was so cute!
The whole presentation was on North America. They worked so hard preparing!
They explained their maps of North America. Sophia read her three papers she wrote on Polar Bears, St. Kateri Tekakwitha and the Story of Juan Diego. Then she did a recitation and we ate the North America cookie they baked. It was like my childhood played out in front of me. Made my heart happy..and Sophia was so proud of herself and excited to share what she learned!
I love the lessons she does with my mom…
(pictures below are not from the presentation..but a few of her favorites!)
Her little recitation below was about the rain..and of course they had props ;)
I seriously did not see this homeschooling happening… but I’m loving where we are at in life.
My sister and I took the kids to the aquarium as a fun cousin field trip.
“BEST DAY EVER.” ;)
I love seeing my girls have more time to play together and learn together.
It also gives them more time to fight together. but let’s focus on the happy. haha.
It’s cute how micah joins in now too. He thinks he is a big kid.
There are some other books we use off and on as well…
but these are some of the basic ones we love. :)
I’ll be sharing more details on our daily home school routine and activities!
I wanted to at least share the books we use for people who have been requesting to see!
I’m thankful for my mom and her wisdom and happy to share it with all of you.
This past weekend I was away at The Influence Conference. It’s my second year going and I am already counting down the days till next year’s date! It’s incredible..I’m not even exaggerating. It’s a conference put on by the girls of The Influence Network.
It’s for women who want to use their influence to build HIS Kingdom… not our own.
It’s for women who seek community with women who get God and get the internet.
It’s for women who want to feel encouraged and uplifted and refocused. I always gain wisdom to take into my blogging and business life…but even more, I always gain wisdom as as woman of God.. as a mother and wife. I can’t speak higher about this conference.
If you are on the fence about going. e-mail me…check out the influence network..
and download the audio from this year. You won’t want to miss next year!
I love the community at the Conference. Loved hearing the hearts of these women.
the authentic deep conversations and the silly laugh so hard you are crying conversations.
I love the silent moments when we all sat and listened together to speakers…
all wanting to grow and learn. There is something very authentic about the conference..
the girls of course pull out their best outfits and trendy tops but they all have this
“I am not perfect I am flawed but I am perfect in his eyes and I want to work for Him….vibe.
They all totally jumped on board when Meg and I would be running
around doing silly videos and asking them to dance! haha.
Mandy and I haven’t seen each other since april so I was so excited to actually be in the same city! She’s one of my best friends and I love having her as my business partner for HAPPY MOMMY BOX but even more I just love doing life with her! Since moving to charlotte and becoming friends with Meg, I was so excited to have these two girls in the same room! So fun!! It was even more fun that Cheri, Mandy’s neighbor, came and roomed with us! Loved having this girls’ time…Our hubbies are rockstars doing kid duty all weekend!
Friday night was a talk by Lara Casey. I loved hearing her share her story and it was pretty incredible how God was able to move the crowd through her. It was seriously amazing seeing this room full of women… just rocked.. sharing their hurts and their desires. their brokenness and their dreams. I was sitting in the back of her talk and just taking it all in…. I was listening to her…but I got distracted by just seeing this room full of women so fiercely in love with the Lord and totally ready to stand up and be vulnerable and how they had this heart to be completely His. I started to cry and trust me..it was an ugly cry I could not stop. It wasn’t a moment where everyone was tearing up.. It felt like I was just randomly..crying… and I had to leave the room and try to get it together. I just couldn’t even focus on the talk because every time I looked ahead and saw these women around me..I just kept thinking how I wished that Shannon could be here experiencing this with me. She would have loved this. she would have so been right there in the middle of these women… these were her kind of people. It made me sad…but it also was nice just letting her come to my mind. I had pushed her off more times than not these past few months. Ever since the final court date of her murderer. I had heard details in that court room that really wrecked me. And made my mind go places that I just didn’t feel strong enough these past months to go. But I felt stronger here. and I felt like I was surrounded by lots of shannons. lots of women who want to love the lord in all they do.. who mess up.. who get back up.. who have hearts for Him. It’s so important to surround yourself with women like that! I’m excited and hopeful for the things these women are going to do in our world! And love being able to tap into this community through The Influence Network.
During Lara’s session, she had us write down answers to different questions. That felt like the hardest thing for me. It seriously hurt my brain and burdened my heart because for the life of me I did not feel eloquent in my thoughts..or even definitive in what I was feeling and thinking. But I just tried to keep myself open and focus. She asked us what we were most afraid of….It took me a while to write my answer down. She had already moved on to other questions… But I finally wrote… I’m afraid of being so busy striving but still not
doing enough to make a difference or to matter, before I leave this world.
I realized that I had been so consumed lately with feeling like I had to take charge..like I had to tell God, trust me..I got this. When in fact God wanted to say Natalie…trust ME. I got this. Jessie really hit that home to me during her session. Lately the lines of communication with God haven’t been as open as they should be. Back when I was in the hospital I felt God and the power of prayer so closely, it was easy to connect then… it felt so much harder now. I realized that I was trying so hard to do it all…comparing myself to others..and wanting to be loved by everyone but not thinking I deserved that love to begin with. When you are so consumed with doing things yourself, you can feel the pressure of doing it wrong or what others will think of you… you put that burden on yourself instead of letting that go and letting God carry that. He wants you to do things for Him.. but when you are REALLY doing it FOR Him… you can let go of that burden to be perfect. I’m saying no to comparison and being filled with striving and instead saying YES to His desires for me His hopes for me. I’m choosing purpose over perfect. And letting Him take that burden that I put on myself to be everything. He gives us grace and He wants us to rest in Him. I need to rest in Him more. I’m putting my bible on my desk. I’m not just going to pray when I’m sad or at night.
I really want to do things for Him…but WITH Him.
Saturday was really fun! Mandy and I were on the Strategy Panel. I was on it last year, but this year was even more fun having Mandy up there with me..and rocking our HAPPY MOMMY SHIRTS! :) Some super wise women next to me, honored to be in their company!
Spending time with these ladies was a good recharge!
So fun seeing what all of them are doing both professionally and personally!
While Mandy and I were in the same city, we snapped some photos for content and for our new HAPPY MOMMY shirts! We had fun goofing off and glamming it up with Christine!
Loved seeing some Blanqi love throughout the conference! My sister and Sabina started BLANQI and it’s pretty cool seeing my friends wearing their items
and also randomly coming across girls wearing blanqi!
It was SOO FUN bumping into HAPPY MOMMY BOX subscribers and followers!
So thankful for their support and excitement about our dream!
We also were able to connect with one of our Brand Outreach
Team Members, Kristi! (shown in bottom left!)
I’m still processing everything from the weekend, and I can’t wait to read all of the recap posts… but I can’t invite you enough! come next year! Huge thank you to the amazing team behind the conference… For their yes to working hard for this mission.
God is doing incredible things through it!