Saturday, May 4, 2019

Hot Ticket Item.

Oh my gosh.

So you know how when one of your kids has something and the other one wants it sooooo-oo badly and they just havetohaveitrightnow and you're like jeepers, ½ the reason you want it because is because your sibling has it right now!

But you're actually wrong.


I gave the kids one of my old flip phones that they really don't even understand how to use. Which is so sad and funny. But now the kids just take turns coveting it and FIGHTING over it and throwing the fits.

The funniest part of it all to me is that this phone doesn't have a battery and doesn't turn on. But they have one of our old iPhones that DOES turn on that they play games. Crosby has the iPhone and Molly has the flip phone. Crosby sees Molly has the flip phone and flips out. He is willing to trade her the real phone that works for the phone that doesn't actually work. She won't trade him because it's the hot ticket item right now.

Just a quick, funny glance into being a parent today. May your patience be plentiful today.

Thursday, May 2, 2019


Today's point of praise: "For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power." (1 Cor. 4:20) Day #11

I've been so intimidated on this topic, so I've just been putting it off. I even have a half-finished blog post from about a year ago on the exact topic. The hardest part of it for the longest time was grappling at what did I believe?

I had stepped away from the church in the last few years for several reasons that I'd love to delve into at some point - but probably not this post. One of the surface-level reasons was because going to church with little kids made me stressed and anxious. I felt like if my kids were being noisy and disruptive then I would be taking away from the people near me at mass. I didn't want to catch any grief from anyone else. And like I indicated before, for a few other reasons we just became a family who didn't go to church. I'm a cradle Catholic -- meaning I was born into it -- and I can't remember a time in my childhood when we didn't go to mass every Sunday. It really started to upset me that I wasn't instilling the same in my kids and making the same traditions in my family.

Another surface-level reason? We loved our church community in Illinois so much that when it came time to pick a new church here in Memphis... well let's just say I was beyond picky. The first two churches we visited didn't feel right and to be fair it was more me than them. After trying those few churches, I gave up. Thankfully my oldest daughter, Presley, really started asking if we could start going to church together. At the same time my big sister had been talking to me about getting our kids involved in PRE (Parish Religious Education aka Sunday school) so that they would be on track to make their first communion in 2nd grade. (Presley's questions about God and her desire to go to church increased tenfold when she started PRE this year. Again, thank God!) So my sister and I looked up mass times and PRE times and distances from our houses to various churches to try to find THE ONE church that would be the best fit and thankfully, we kinda did. Funnily enough one of the priests we grew up with at our childhood parish was now the pastor at the church that fit all our criteria... it just seemed like serendipity... which was probably God's hand. When it came time to sign the kids up for PRE we were so broke that it was easier to volunteer to teach every Sunday at church to have the fees waived for my kids.

All this long narrative to say: slowly but surely I dipped my toes back into the Church which became dipping my toes back into the faith. I feel grateful that our God is one that waits and prays that we come back. One that rejoices each time we open our hearts to Him and live for Him. Praise God for that. For His patience and relentlessness. For God not giving up on us. He worked through my bank account and my sister and my daughter and our childhood pastor and countless other ways to wake me back up. And he did it relatively slowly because this dude knows I am slow to wake up. Just ask my sisters. Waking me up for school every day was such a chore. God knows. 😄

It's super cool that one of the bible verses mentioned in today's devotional was the subject of Father Ernie's homily at church last Sunday:
Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.' Thomas answered, and said to him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.'                                                                    John 20:27-29 

Father Ernie said it best when he said we all have doubt from time to time like Thomas. It sure made me feel better for having doubts over the years in various ways. But he said don't let it keep you down. Don't lose your faith because of the doubts. We're not all as fortunate as Thomas was to be able to put our hands on Jesus' hands. We are the blessed who believe and yet have not yet seen.

Also fitting from the devotional today was this quote from Kim Boyce: "As parents, we must be convinced of our beliefs. We must know where we stand, so that our children will know where they stand." Hopefully my kids won't be able to remember a time when we didn't go to mass together every weekend. If our beliefs shape our values and our values shape our lives - am I living in a way that speaks that? Am I doing God's work for others in my life? That's the dream. Living what I believe so that my actions speak for me and ultimately give glory to God.

What God asks of us is both simpler and more profound than adherence to a system of beliefs or following a set of rules. He asks us to walk with him through the blood and guts of our real experience in an honest pilgrimage where we let him show us what real strength, and real love, are all about.                                                                      Paula Rinehart 
I'll be praying for you this week, bloggies, that you can find a way to embrace the things you believe in more fully. That God can do the work on your heart that you might be putting off. If you have any prayer intentions for me please feel free to leave them in the comments below or get ahold of me some other way and I'll be happy to add those into my prayer journal as well. PEACE.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame.

Yesterday a fire raged through Notre Dame -- the breathtaking cathedral in Paris, France.

Photos: Benoit Tessier, Philippe Wojazer and Charles Paliau/Reuters @ Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

I feel so heartbroken for the people of Paris... for our Catholic brothers & sisters who look to this gorgeous church as a symbol of fortitude... and for people around the world who feel the loss of an irreplaceable piece of history. Like many of you I was able to see photos and videos being shared of the events that took place today as well as hear the reactions of my friends, family, and others on social media. It eventually lead me to dig deeper into my feelings as I watched.

I chose to take French in high school and was blown away by the beauty of the language and culture and history and the people thanks to my amazing teacher, Mrs. Westbrook at Germantown High School. The class genuinely brought me joy at a time when my life wasn't very joyful. I was also at a place in my life that I didn't yet see learning as an opportunity to grow. I saw it as an obligation I had no choice but to fulfill. So for any high school subject to excite me was rare. During my first year of French I had plans to continue the subject for all four years - even though that intimidated me - and that I would take the class trip to France that the upperclassmen got the chance to take part in. But of course, things change. I got a different teacher in my second year of French class and the subject ended up bringing more dread than joy. After I completed the first two years of our high school's foreign language requirement I decided not to continue. So getting to Paris before leaving high school didn't work out for me.

Even still, I knew I'd make it to France and see all the beauty with my own two eyes eventually. At 31, I'm now well out of high school and while I still haven't made it there, the feeling of wanting to visit has never gone away. And as a Catholic, the cathedral is among the places I'd go visit. It breaks my heart that such a wonderful, holy space filled with so much love and history that has been around for over 800 years could burn and crumble in hours. That no matter what type of rebuilding that could take place, we cannot make these new pieces old again.

It reminds me of the saying that trust is built in drips and lost in buckets. It took nearly 300 years to build this beautiful church and it took less than a day for so much of it to be burned away.

I have no doubt that Notre Dame will be rebuilt. And it will continue to be a symbol of resilience for Parisians and so many around the world. And that gives me hope. But so many people, myself included, will not get to experience the wonder and awe of standing before this beautiful cathedral -- that took so many hands and years and plans and triumphs and failures to become a reality -- as it once was. From this moment forward it will be forever changed. While that makes so many of us sad for good reason, we cannot get stuck there. God asks us to walk by faith and not by sight. We aren't able to understand why these things happen and we certainly can't control them. But what we can do is make the situation new. We can give thanks for what we once had, for the things we still have, and look forward to the beauty in what is to come.

Thank you God for the relics and artwork that were rescued from the flames. Thank you for reminding us once again that the story doesn't end here. Thank you for this opportunity to come together and make things new again. Thank you for the people of Paris.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Monday Mealtime Motivation: Easy-Peasy Chicken Spinach Stew

If you're anything like me then you are always looking for a really good, simple meal to add into your line-up of usual meals. This is one of my favorites! And sometimes all we need in life is a little extra motivation... either to step out of our comfort zone or to be convinced we can make a simple meal at home instead of picking up something from the drive-thru. So here is a little Monday Mealtime Motivation for you! I hope you enjoy this stew as much as I do!

Easy-Peasy Chicken Spinach Stew

  • 12 oz. Beef Smoked Sausage 
  • Cooked shredded chicken (either taken from a store bought rotessiere chicken OR a portion I've made ahead in the crock pot & grabbed from the freezer. I can totally share that recipe another Monday if anybody is interested!)
  • 1 (10 oz.) bag of baby spinach 
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
Canned Goods
  • 1 box of chicken broth
  • 2 cans of petite diced tomatoes
Baking & Spices
  • salt, pepper, and whatever seasoning you like, to taste 

1. Grab your sweet potatoes and onion -- peel, cut, chop, dice them to your preference.  For the potatoes I usually do somewhere between a quarter or a dice when I chop them and I cut the onion into julienne strips... really just up to your preference.
2. Place the sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and whatever seasoning you'd like in a 4-to 6-quart slow cooker. (Note on seasoning: I use what I have on hand. In the past some of the seasoning blends I've used and liked is either the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joes, McCormick's Montreal Chicken blend, or Herbs de Provence. Use what you have and like!)
3. Cut the sausage to your preference. (This time I'm using Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage.)
4.Add the chicken and sausage over produce; toss in tomatoes and broth.
5. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
6. Stir in spinach and let it sit a few minutes before serving. You don't have to use every bit of the 10 oz. of spinach... again just put in as much or as little as you prefer.

This is just what I use and how I make it. You can adapt it as you need or as you'd like. For example, if you'd like to adapt this to a stovetop recipe - you could easily do that! If you'd like to add different ingredients or take any away - you go Glen Coco! (Mean Girls reference for anyone wondering what the hell I'm talking about.)

We love Aidells sausage and have used several different kinds of their chicken sausage in place of the beef smoked sausage before. I've added canned green beans (drained and rinsed) many times in the past, too. I almost never make recipes the same twice. Mostly because I'm the type of person who eyeballs everything and just make things up as I go along.

 Here are photos of some of the things I referenced in this post and what they look like just for frame of reference:

Let me know if you make it and how you liked it or modified it!! This concludes our first Monday Mealtime Motivation... thanks for visiting! 

If you have any tried-and-true favorite recipes to submit or would be interested in guest blogging or sponsoring in the future shoot me an e-mail at

Saturday, January 5, 2019

New Year.

Anybody else feel like life has been moving super fast lately? I really can't believe 2019 is already here. There are lots of joyful things happening this year for us. Tony and I are going to see Justin Timberlake when he comes back to Memphis this month and later in the year Amanda and I are going to see the Backstreet Boys! Both concerts we'll be sitting nosebleeds but I'm honestly just so excited to be there that it doesn't even matter to me. In between those shows we'll be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary and I'll be in my happy place all year while planning our first family vacation in FOREVER for Walt Disney World for this Fall!!!!

Every year at this time I love reflecting in attempt to learn something from the last year about myself and potentially how I can make healthier decisions in the coming year. I haven't done as much journaling and reflecting as I'd like to, but the little bit that I finished so far I wanted to share here on my blog. Here is the list of prompts I followed. I picked them up from my sister who got them from somewhere else on the interwebs so here is a recreated version of the original list and then my answers below that.

This year...

A bad habit I'm going to break:
Being so quick to lose my patience. I know I can try a lot harder in this arena. I'd also like to make it to mass this year. I was originally going to say "make it to mass more this year" but to be honest, if I went to mass two times in 2019 that'd technically be more than I did in 2018. So. Saying more wouldn't exactly be clear enough. I'd like to make it to mass as a family this year. I'm hoping to break the bad habit of being complacent in not going.

A new skill I'd like to learn:
To live minimally.

A person I hope to be more like:
The "Girl Wash Your Face" girl (Rachel Hollis) and Glennon Doyle. Rachel seems to have refocused her energies on the things (as a wife and mom) that really, actually matter. She seems to have switched from being unforgiving of herself to loving and being kind to herself. That's the biggest shift within myself I could make this new year. I always want to be a bit more like Glennon but especially getting up and doing good for other people is what I wish I did more of like she does.

A good deed I'm going to do:
Donate blood. No excuses.

A place I'd like to visit:
Dallas. I'm not sure it'll happen this year but it's always on my list of places to visit someday.

A book I'd like to read:
A ton of books. I want to read this year. Last year I kinda fell off the reading wagon and it's something I miss so much. But the first book that came to mind for this was "Girl Wash Your Face" since I was just thinking about Rachel Hollis.

A letter I'm going to write:
Goodbye letters to Gramma Myers and Granny. The things I would have liked to tell them or talk to them about before they passed.

A new food I'm going to try:
I really can't think of one! So I'm going to go with a turkey leg from Walt Disney World. And macaroons. I've never had them and would like to try them. AND. I'd like to try sake. I know that's a drink but it's something I've always wanted to try.

I'm going to do better at:
Homeschool stuff for BOTH girls. Getting out of the house a bit more. Cleaning out and organizing the house to potentially move. Drink more water. Be more physically active.

Which leads me to my word of the year... BREATHE. I'd like to take a deep breathe and clear my head more often before responding this year. If I allow myself a moment to breathe before doing or responding or reacting then I'm hoping it'll give me a moment to grasp onto my reserve of kindness and patience. To respond more often with love instead of bitterness or anger or cynicism. To wait a minute and hear someone out completely instead of assuming the worst and jumping right in. Breathe. This is the first time for me to choose a word to focus on for the year and I'm loving the idea and the motivation. I'm looking for the perfect accessory so I can carry the word with me throughout the year.

Let me know how you spend the new year this year - did you reflect or make resolutions or did you choose a word? If so, what were they? I'd love to know! I hope it's a year for growth and reaching our potential.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

So long, 2018.

Before moving forward it's nice to take a look back at how far you've come. 2018 was a true rollercoaster of a year for the Duggan clan. We had some tough hits this year and we had so many good days. It was a full year.

January is when we began our homeschool journey with Presley and the month she also had her tonsillectomy. Molly got her first haircut and thanks to my wonderful husband I saw Finding Neverland with Selena.

In February we had lots of days at home, at the zoo, at Shelby Farms, and at the Children's Museum.

March brought Betsy's bachelorette weekend in Wilmington, NC! My first trip away from my family and a chance to see some far away friends and act like we were teens again. And I got to see so many of the One Tree Hill spots around town plus Betsy spotted one of the actors from the show, too!

Presley had her first cavity and filling in April and it was my first time mowing the lawn.

May was a super fun month as we all traveled to the Quad Cities for Betsy's wedding! It was Crosby's first time to Illinois. We had a fun afternoon in St. Louis while we were on the road, saw lots of family (including my cousin Breanne) for the first time in nearly three years, Betsy got married, and Crosby was baptized! We celebrated seven years of marriage which lined up perfectly with TJ & Barb getting married. We also ran our first 5k of the season at the zoo.

In June we ran our favorite 5k ever - the Harbortown 5k! We went to Dairy Queen to remember my dad on his birthday. We went to the splash pad at the Children's Museum. A lot. And we ran the Orion 5k in beautiful downtown Memphis.

I went back to the Quad Cities in July to see Jess marry Will! It also marked the 3rd time of seeing most of these far away friends in one year!!! Molly had a big month: she stopped sucking her thumb and became potty trained! We had an "underwear party" at IKEA since now she gets to go into the big kid playroom now that she's potty trained. Oh, and is it really July if you don't get matching Old Navy flag tees?!

August is a blur that I really don't remember much about other than I started teaching PRE (Parish Religious Education) with Amanda! Our first grade class is the sweetest bunch of kids.

The first day of September is 901 day which is the perfect time to reflect on how much I love the city of Memphis! I also went on one of the best, funnest dates ever when Tony surprised me for a ride around our beautiful city on Bird scooters!

 I also went to the beach... say goodbye to someone who was already gone.

But I got to take a trip with my big sister. And I got my favorite sandwich. 

Then I had to say another impossible goodbye to someone who meant so much to me.

And afterward we celebrated her big, vibrant life with friends and family.

In October we did Fall stuff. Like my first ever pig race. And Crosby turned two! And we did Halloween stuff.

Next came November where we celebrated the Day of the Dead and had a feast at our house. I turned 31. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Amanda & John's and then had Selena over to our house for our first ever Thanksgiving meal at home!

In December we did Christmas stuff like seeing Santa and the Grinch. We celebrated Peyton becoming a fiancé. We saw so much family which is the absolute best part of the holidays.

Like I said: 2018 was a very full year. I'm ready to carry what remains from the last year along with me into 2019. The heartaches, the lessons learned, the promises kept, the loved ones both here on earth with us and those locked up tight in our hearts. So long, 2018. I hope to have learned something from you.