A Weekend in Williams Arizona


Back in November Andrew was approached by some friends to host a multi-parish retreat for the Diocese of Phoenix. If you’ve ever been to a Steubenville West conference, it was kinda like a mini version of one of those. At first he was hesitant to commit because leaving us for a whole weekend would be tough. Then they explained where the retreat was and how he could bring the whole family. Done and done! So last Friday we loaded up the car and headed to Williams, Arizona where the Lost Canyon, Young Life Camp is located.

Looking at the forecast we knew there was going to be a pretty good chance of snow. Thankfully my parents kept all our snow gear from our time in Indiana so we were able to borrow snow boots and such. Then I scored 3 winter jackets for the kids at a resale store for under $20 total. We were pretty much set. We also borrowed my sister Gabi for the weekend to help us with the kids. She was pretty excited to be coming along too.

When we arrived there was already a little snow on the ground and that alone was exciting. So we made sure the kids were good and bundled and the retreat got underway. Andrew did a fantastic job hosting the whole weekend. I was/am so so incredibly proud of him. It is so easy to see how much he loves youth ministry. Though it is tough on our family at times, seeing the impact he makes on the lives of these teens, makes it worth it. But I won’t always readily admit that piece of information.

When Andrew was first asked to host, they told him they still needed a few more speakers. Call me crazy but I volunteered. I love youth ministry as well but being a mom comes first now and it leaves me with little time to do much else. Nonetheless I still miss speaking to teens so I asked if I could jump in on the retreat. The whole retreat focused on Mary the Mother of God and how she brings us closer to her son Jesus. At the beginning of the retreat all the classic misconceptions were debunked. The teens were reminded that we as Catholics to do not worship or “pray to” Mary, we simply honor her has the Mother of God and ask for her intercession. My session focused on how Mary brings us out of the shadows into the light of her Son. We started out with a two minute dance party (Shake it off) and the rest went smoothly from there. It felt really wonderful to give a proclaim about something that means so much to me.

On Sunday we woke up to 4 inches of fresh snow and it was still coming down. The camp had suddenly turned into this magical snow globe. It was breathtaking. I know that most of the country is sick and tired of snow but to all of us AZ natives this was incredible. There were snowmen being built, snowballs being thrown, and everywhere you turned someone (aka me) was singing “Do you want to build a snowman?”. For a while there we were unsure if we’d be able to make the trip back home. Thankfully by the early afternoon the roads were cleared and we made our way back to the heat. I was happy to be headed home but a little sad to be leaving our winter wonderland.

It was such a wonderful weekend. I know Peter and James probably won’t remember much (or any) of it but I’m so thankful for the memories that I have in my heart.

Here are some of my favorite images from the weekend!

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Breakfast Toast//Two Ways


I’m a foodie. When I was little I used to do a happy dance in my highchair when I knew my food was coming. I used to own Easter brunch every year by putting down at least three plates of food. Sometimes four. Part of that was probably because I was swimming year round but still. I would dream about that brunch all through lent every single year. Today, I love finding new little restaurants to try and explore. Bonus points if it’s good AND I want Instagram it. Funny enough though, as a mom I often find myself forgetting to eat. I know, stunning. I had never missed a meal in my life until I became a mother. You just get so caught up in the whirlwind of making sure your kids are fed and they’re not killing each other, that you forget to feed yourself! Then at like 2:00 my stomach is like “What the HECK?! RAGE!”. And at that point I usually grab a handful of trail mix or Wheat Thins and call it even. Of course, this is no way to take care of myself. If I want to keep up with my kids I obviously have to have the energy for it. So with that said, I’ve been trying to get creative with some quick and easy meal options for myself that don’t take a ton of prep.

First things first. Breakfast. Starting with the first meal of the day, here are two different ways to do toast.

1) Ricotta cheese, strawberries, and honey.



Spread about a spoonful of ricotta cheese on a slice of toast, add sliced strawberries, and then drizzle some honey. Done!

2) Ricotta cheese, sea-salt, rosemary, and tomatoes.


Mix the rosemary and sea-salt into the ricotta cheese. I did about a teaspoon of salt and lots of rosemary because I love it.


Then spread onto toast and add sliced tomatoes!


And these toast combinations aren’t just for breakfast either! I will occasionally eat them for lunch too. Enjoy!


Lipstick Of The Week//Petal


Hey friends! We are getting ready to head out the door for our trip but before we do, I wanted to get the LOTW up here! This week is one of my top five favorite lip products/colors. It is such a soft pink and works really well as a neutral. This lipstick is actually a “Lip Treatment” by Fresh. It both exfoliates (with a gentle sugar scrub) and moisturizes at the same time. Not only do you get a great look but you get some healthy lips as well. This product is a little more on the pricey side but I think it’s worth it. The color I have here is “Petal”.



Wore this color with my outfit for our date night last night!



Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


You Know You Come From A Large Family When….

Mommy and babies.

Instax Mini 8 photos

As the oldest of seven I’ve seen a lot of crazy things in my day. I have also heard a lot of crazy things and said a lot of crazy things. Having a large family means that there is hardly ever a dull moment. When I was little I never thought twice about our growing family. New baby on the way? Fantastic. I was always pretty stoked when my mom had a new baby. Except for the time after Thomas was born. I was in preschool a few weeks later and we were talking about family sizes. The teacher asked all the “only children” to stand up. So I stood up. My teacher looked at me with a confused expression and said, “But Susana, you have a new baby brother!” In which I replied, “Well I WAS an only child until then.”

Aside from that little incident, adding another brother and sister was always an amazing time. As I got older I would try and guess if my mom was pregnant. I knew all her little signs and could usually tell she was expecting before the announcement was made. When I went off to college though I got a little rusty. During Christmas break my parents announced that they were once again expecting. Shocked. I tell you I was shocked. Partly because for the past few months my mom thought she was going through early menopause. But she was like “Just kidding I’m actually pregnant!” Yeah that was a good laugh. Then in August of my sophomore year baby Luke was born. It was awesome getting to tell my friends that I had to go see my brother at the hospital and they were like “Oh my gosh why, what happened?!” And I was like “Uh….he was born.” Followed by some quality awkward silence.

Mommy and babies.

I love that I come from a big family and wouldn’t have it any other way. It was sad though when I was old enough to realize that people tried to make my parents feel bad about it, or as time went on, make me feel bad about it. One time I was simply saying hello to the mother of a friend when the first thing out of her mouth was “Don’t tell me your mother is pregnant again?!” In my head I was like “What the heck lady?!” But I pulled myself together and managed to say that she wasn’t but it would be really awesome if she was. That mom stormed off in a huff for reasons I’ll never know but can only speculate on.

I am so thankful that my parents gave me the gift of siblings. I’m not saying small families are bad. I’m just putting it out there that the size of all families should be respected. Small or big, it doesn’t matter. You don’t know the whole story so don’t pretend to. ANYWAY without any further ado….

You know you’re from a large family when:

~You have to strategically plan showers over a period of a day and half just to make sure everyone is clean for church.

~All Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, and Halloween candy must be placed in clear ziploc bags with the owners name written CLEARLY on the front with sharpie otherwise WWIII will break out over the last bag of M&M’s.

~Absolute chaos ensues when one sibling decides to drink their soda from a can instead of glass like the other siblings.

~When siblings are fighting over the last of dessert and you have to choose who will “divide” it into two pieces and who gets to pick which piece is theirs.

~When you have a younger sibling starting kindergarden on your first day of high school.

~When you’re parents get the family together for an announcement and you are secretly hoping that it’s a trip to Disneyland. And when it’s actually that you’re getting another sibling your still just as excited.

~When you go to the hospital to see your new sibling and the check in lady is losing her mind because everyone needs a name tag and she can’t keep everyone straight.

~On road trips you have just as many bags of snacks as you do luggage.

~Packing for a vacation takes you a week and the laundry aftermath is just disastrous.

~When you’re looking for socks and they only clean ones in your drawer are a pair that actually belong to a sibling and you just bite the bullet and throw them on.

~You either have to take two vehicles everywhere or you basically own a bus.

~When milk shooting out your nose from laughing so hard is a regular dinner event.

~When you don’t even know that something other than hand me downs is an option.

~When the concept of strangers or non-family is a completely foreign concept to the younger siblings.

~The people at Costco or Sams Club know your mom by name.

~When holiday leftovers are hotly contested & plots are hatched & alliances formed to make sure you get some of the last of Gramma’s stuffing or Aunt Janie’s marble brownies.

~When a quiet house creeps you out to the point you need the TV or music on if you’re home alone.

~When- because of your experience watching your parents with your younger siblings- your parenting style for your first child is so laissez faire that it terrifies your in-laws.

~When you find yourself saying “I think they only have 5 kids…”

~When laundry is a constant, ongoing process & the dryer never stops.

~When you become so adept at loading the dishwasher to maximum capacity that you are a Tetris savant.

~When being prepared for every possible scenario is so much a part of your mindset that packing lightly is beyond impossible.

~When it takes serious effort to remember that cooking for you & your spouse involves a lot less food than cooking for your family, & the first few weeks/months of marriage involve a LOT of leftovers.
(All your memorized recipes feed 12 minimum & you learned fractions by learning to double recipes in your head.)

~When out shopping you calculate price per unit to determine best value without even thinking about it.

~All food is communal food & you suspect people who don’t share their fries are secretly terrorists.

~You were adept at car seat installation years before you ever got pregnant.

~Quality of vehicle is determined by capacity first & foremost.

~You’re not as much anxious about parenting as you are about finding a name that’s not taken.

~Your classmates are baffled by the fact that you have nieces & nephews close to your own age – if older it actually breaks their brain.

~Your mom has perfected a patient smile & witty response to the question “Are they ALL YOURS?”
Examples include “No, there are still three at home.”
Or “Well gosh, I hope so! Kids, did we pick up any extras?”

~When you’re at Costco and people ask if you’re buying food for homeless shelter.

~When people think your little siblings are your kids. Even though you’re covered in zits and have braces on your teeth and you’re like “Ummm hellooooo?!”

~When you’re parents go out on a date and you and your siblings entertain yourselves by making music videos to the soundtrack of Annie.

~Trying to figure out who sits where at a restaurant takes 20 mins at a minimum.

~When your mom hasn’t had a new kid in a while and you go up to random strangers and ask to hold their baby.

~When you never get to use the bathroom. Ever.

~When you mess up people’s first names and finish with “You know who you are!”

~When you have dents in your feet from stepping on Legos all day.

~When you triple the batch and there’s STILL not enough food.

~When listing your siblings in one breath is a near Olympic feat.

~When you have to buy scapulars (and many other things) in bulk because everyone is always losing theirs and just grabbing whichever one they can get their hands on.

~You have to do actual math to figure out how old your siblings are. “Well if Mary is 17 and she was 13 when David was born then therefore Stephen must be 8″…… What.

So. “You Know You Come From A Large family When”… Did we miss any others? And a special thanks to Kate Eichelberger, Patrick Copeland, Hannah Ethridge, and Marisa and Gabi Helms for your input!


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