Monday, April 20, 2015

April Days {Spring Daybook}

Outside my window... the perennials are uncovered and the flowerbeds show promise of a blooming season ahead. Now if we could just get more rain, that would help the buds pop out on the trees as well.

Thinking about... summer plans. With baby due to arrive just as we've finished summer and started school up again, I'm trying to figure out how much we can pack into the summer months. I don't want to overdue it, but I do want to make some plans for small special day trips/projects/fun things together and separately with the kids. I'd like to get in a little retreat/getaway for myself, perhaps a day or two away with Reed, some time with Lily (she'll turn 13 later in September, just after baby arrives), plus Jonah time (being he's the only boy stuck with all the girls), in addition to the other family outings and little things with the little girls too. With half a pregnancy left to fit it in and the usual summer busyness, I'll really need to be intentional about my planning and start getting things penciled in on the calendar.

I am hearing... Reed in the kitchen making pizza for supper (I'm writing this Sunday evening) and the little girls skittering about gathering up items to head outside.

Praying for...  moms and their families who need prayers: Annie and her family; Ann Coakley and her new baby Blaze; the Rogan Family; healthy baby and pregnancy; those who have asked for my prayers.

What I'm reading... following Sarah's recommendation and review, I picked up this book heading into Holy Week. I haven't had near enough time to pick it up and read, but I'm nearing the end. I wasn't sure if I'd be a good candidate for the Biblical historical fiction, but thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did. I'm really enjoying the author's writing and look forward to checking into the other books in the series.

From the kitchen... I'll be winging it again this week since I neglected to menu plan. The pantry and cupboards are well stocked, so I should be able to pull together a few meals. The crock pot may be my best ally again this week with a heavier schedule and cooler outdoor weather temps.

From the schoolroom...we're heading into the homestretch and our last six weeks of the school year. We'll be doing the CAT testing mid-May and I'm hoping that will help us best assess how to proceed with curricula for Lily as she heads to seventh grade in the fall.

Around the house... the windows were open last week to send out the winter air and bring in the springtime freshness. In a fit of crazy, nesting pregnant frenzy, I cleaned out/sorted and organized some of the girls' toys. I may need to do some more in the coming months, but at least for now I feel like there's less 'stuff' where I don't need so much stuff. Reed is working hard and plugging away at that basement bathroom each weekend he can. With the help of the resident interior designers, a paint color was chosen and we should be able to get it on the walls soon. The next tough part for Reed will be tiling the shower and putting down the faux tile linoleum squares. We're hopeful that the project won't hit a complete standstill once the weather turns really nice and outdoor work demands more of our time.

Baby belly... we've made it to Week 19. I'm able to feel more baby movements now and the little girls are eager to feel baby move too. Margaret seems to be most fascinated by my growing belly and pokes at it while asking me baby related questions. Gianna is also full of questions, but mostly wide eyed at the size of my belly, especially after suppertime. Jonah just keeps on mentioning that he really hopes baby is a boy and Lily is mostly concerned with logistics like arrival date, baby names, Godparents, etc.

Coming up this week... Lily and Jonah are in a short historical spring play/musical with our homeschool group which means another three days with two hour long rehearsals. Jonah turns double digits (10 already!!) on Tuesday and we'll have my older two nephews overnight on the weekend. Play performance is on Friday evening, so that will kick off our weekend.

Photo to share... My brother's family welcomed another little boy just before Easter. We were happy to join them and share in little Lewis John's Baptism last weekend.

Have a wonderful Spring week!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spare A Few Prayers? {Prayer Request}

I know everyone's prayer lists are long if they are anything like mine. I just couldn't neglect to ask even more moms to pray for another mama who could use some extra prayer warriors.

We are a community of faithful, prayerful friends whom may never meet, but we are always bound in prayer. Last year, many of us prayed for Sarah and were drawn to help her family after her passing. Back when everyone was praying for Paul, he and his wife touched my heart and I couldn't stop praying. I didn't even know Paul, but it didn't matter. He and his family needed us and we rose to the occasion.

On Palm Sunday, I was alerted by an old NET teammate via Facebook that another teammate's wife needed our prayers. She was diagnosed with large B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma. More tests found out it was a more aggressive "triple hit" lymphomia, isolated in her abdominal area, consisting of a few tumors, with one of them being almost 10 cm.

Again, my heart is heavy and praying continually as Annie begins the long road ahead. She will need many treatments in the coming months that will include 6-8 days in the hospital every few weeks. She just began her first round of treatment last Friday. While Annie and Curt are not a part of my daily inner circle of friends and we mostly keep in touch at Christmas time, my heart will always be bound to my NET team. My heart cannot help but ache when one of them is in need and I must respond.

Curt and Annie are a wonderful couple with a young family of five children. They need their mom and Curt needs his wife. They are a beautiful faith-filled family who are bound to stay positive and will need to lean on the prayers of many to get them through this.

Will you please pray with me for Annie and her family? I'd appreciate it.

If you feel called to financially help out Annie's family, you can go to her GoFundMe site. If you'd like to follow Annie's journey, you can do so over at her Caring Bridge site.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Seven Churches Visitation {Holy Thursday}

Remember when I talked about our perhaps overly ambitious  humble Holy Week plans? Well, we did most of that. Minus the feet washing. We ran out of time before Holy Thursday Mass and I was ex.hau.sted. from the church visitations that afternoon.

Would you like to see a few quick photos I put together? Excuse the collages where I mixed the churches together. It seemed like it caught their beauty a bit better than individual photos.

First, we successfully did Spy Wednesday, which the kids got into and seemed to enjoy. Some of them may or may not have been in it totally for the coins. 
We're all Judas in disguise sometimes, aren't we?

We headed out of the house promptly after an early lunch on Holy Thursday to visit our Seven Churches. Which, started off a bit rough as we found two locked churches. 

We pressed on to the next town knowing that their two churches would certainly be unlocked. 

Our Lady of the Angels, Sauk Centre 

St. Paul's, Sauk Centre

We then headed down the road and met up with my dad who joined us in the next four churches.

St. Rose of Lima, St. Rosa 

(click the collages for closer viewing)

A few more miles down the road we drove to the next small town.

Sacred Heart, Freeport

Again, several more country miles led us to a Catholic church that I don't think I've ever been inside. 

Immaculate Conception, New Munich

Last, but not least, probably one of the largest old time churches in our diocese. 

St. Mary's, Melrose

The last church we hit was our own parish. Conveniently, due to our rush at that point, I neglected to take photos. 

Aren't those some beautiful churches? I am blessed to have grown up near many of those old, spacious, altar filled churches that we visited so often in my childhood. I was happy to share them with my children, especially a couple that they'd never set foot in until last week.

In the end, our afternoon amounted to:

: Stopping at nine churches

: Praying the Stations of the Cross (2 stations at each open church)

: Ran into one priest friend and visited

: Drove in gusty 40 mph wind x at least 75 miles

: Climbed in and out of the van nine times x 5 people 

: Returned home 5 hours later

We arrived home with just enough time to have a simple Lord's Supper meal. I had prepared homegrown herb chicken in the crock pot along with herb roasted potatoes in the oven. We rounded out the meal with a loaf of sourdough bread and sparkling red grape juice to complete the simplicity. 

I have a few more photos to share from our other Triduum and Easter days, 
but those will have to wait. 

I hope that your Easter season has been a blessed and joyful one this week. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Beginning Of The End Has Come


It's Here! We're coming on the Triduum, those holiest days of the liturgical calendar. 
Based on how my Monday was going, I was pretty sure this was not the holiest week of the year or maybe it was and that's why it was so stinkin' *blah*.

But then, the sun came out and the weather turned beautiful.

What a foreshadowing of the upcoming days, right? 
The gloom, the dark, before the sunshine, the celebration.

I'm trying to add an atmosphere of prayerfulness and meaning to our Holy Week. The kids are older and even some of it the little girls will be able to remember as well. Making traditions and significance is so meaningful, however simple they are. Like on Palm Sunday, we go out for brunch as a family. We recently started that one and it's a treat being that we rarely eat out.

Thanks to Kendra's helpful post last week, I was able to actually do some planning in advance. Don't worry if you haven't or it's not elaborate, but do what you can, if you can, in your domestic church.

Today we're taking Kendra's suggestion and doing Spy Wednesday, but the kids don't know it yet. I'll hide 30 pieces of silver (quarters) for the kids to find and play the part of little Judases. They'll totally get into the money part, but I'll be sure to throw in the significance of Judas' betrayal. 

For tomorrow, Holy Thursday, we'll still continue on with school in the morning. After lunch I plan to take the kids on a 'field trip' and follow the tradition of The Seven Churches Visitation. Living in rural central Minnesota means there are many beautiful Catholic churches within (relatively) close driving distance. We'll pray two stations of the cross at each and you better bet I'll take photos to post next week.

Prior to heading to Mass that evening, we're planning a small scale, realistic, seder type meal with our family. I found this in my online searching so as to find real foods that my family will still eat, but hold significance. 

Reed and I are also planning on washing the kids' feet before Mass. It should help hold a bit more meaning and I think even the girls will catch on when they again see it being done later at Mass. 

Good Friday we try to keep simple and Reed takes the day off from work. We'll make pretzels together for lunch and later in the afternoon attend Good Friday service at our parish.

Holy Saturday will be busy with Easter preparations both at home (we're hosting this year) and decorating at church as well.  Again, I'm sure there will be photos to post next week. 

May the coming days be blessed and fruitful for you and your family.

I'll see you on the other side. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What We Did Wednesday

There's nothing quite like scrambling to make a feast day special only to find that God had already laid the groundwork far in advance. 

Like when you wake up on the Annunciation, which also happens to be your husband's birthday.

I scrounge in the freezer and come across a box of frozen pastries we purchased from a school fundraiser.

Heck, sure, let's celebrate with those! Wait, what's that? These happen to be BLUEberry flavor. How preordained, since we always declare a BLUE day at our house when it's a Marian feast day. 

Let's be productive and grab a toddler to help whip up a cake this morning. Daddy's choice was a (boxed) Angel Food Cake. What's that? The ANGEL Gabriel appeared to Mary and it's called the Annunciation. 

TODAY's feast day. Interesting. 

Daddy decided to stay home with us today and take a vacation day from work. Which, if you are around here ever, you'd know that actually going to work is more of a vacation. None the less, he accomplished some more work in the basement bathroom. We tried to leave him alone as much as possible. Some of us doing better than others. I think he's like a magnet for the little girls when they know he's around. I don't blame them.

School time found the girls coloring Annunciation coloring pages. Gianna is suddenly a superstar colorist or whatever you call someone who colors. 

We also took the time to play a game and put together some puzzles.

Someone showing off her rather brightly colored Annunciation. 

Before lunch we got the cake frosted. Take about 8 oz Cool Whip and some thawed strawberry juice and mix together. Frost the Angel Food cake with the fluffy 'frosting' and put it in the freezer. 

Serve later with the thawed (and slightly sweetened) strawberries on top. A nice spring time cake and light enough to celebrate, but also remain Lenten. 

For lunch, God again inspired me when I read it was Waffle Day in Sweden today for "Our Lady's Day." Serve with BLUEberries and again, how can you go wrong?

Smile along with your kiddos who are looking especially ANGELic for your birthday shot. 

Lastly, grab a photo shoot with your lovely and the baby belly. 

We totally had this feast day and birthday down.

Even if I didn't have them all perfectly planned at 5:30 this morning. By this evening, we looked back with fondness on a great day to celebrate both Mary and our favorite Man of the House. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring! {And A Sneak Peek At My Latest Project}

It's finally here! We made it! 


Did you hear me squeal? Did you too?

If you're like me, there were some days I thought I wouldn't make it. 

Long, cold winter days made it tough, but we survived. 

I feel like I let out a huge sigh of relief when we finally make it through the winter days. 

Spring also brings a newness, fresh air and new perspective.

New life also happens in the spring, which makes it such a beautiful time of year.

Sometimes spring also brings new vision and you see how far you've come.

That would be a mug shot of my latest project. It's also another reason why the second part of winter felt long and *blah*.  But now, now, the days are brighter and I feel better.

And we're pretty excited to see how this project turns out and to behold the final product.

Our newest addition, coming mid-September!

Remember my little mention the other day of God stretching me this Lent?
Well, there's more to that story.

I hope to post it soon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Marching Toward Spring And A Little Lenten Thought

The days keep ticking and another week begins before I'm even aware of it. I guess this is March and we keep marching along. 

A few things from around home, just to catch up with randomness.

Here's the new printable I have in the kitchen window for this month. I'm finding that this simple monthly act changes up things at the sink, but also keeps me enjoying the seasons/holidays. 
It's a creative and yet inexpensive way to decorate.

After smelling nearly 50 scents at the local Walmart, I decided this one was springy fresh 
and bought it. Thankfully, it was just as lovely when it melted in my plug in warmer. 

The month started out with this view outside my window.

 It made me eager to do some cleaning and I began by taking down a bunch of curtains to launder. 

I also started the task of washing the inside of the windows and the wood work, etc around them. Mission complete! 

This week we've had a couple days off of school for a little break. It's allowed me to catch up on a few things, but also work on a little spring cleaning. 

We're hosting Easter this year, so I better keep on cleaning!

Earlier in the month we were pretty cold outside, so the kids all kept busy indoors.

Which led to more disasters messes than I'd care to count.

A few projects have gotten checked off the list and a couple are getting started. The major project is the basement bathroom.  
No photos just yet. 
The basement has slowly been getting finished, but now with two bedrooms and a school area down there we wanted the bathroom finished. 
It will be a slow work in progress since Reed will be doing a good portion of the work (aside from the plumbing which is not his favorite thing).  Not that he's slow, the time is just limited to focus on it. 

Last weekend was a busy one at church, but after basking in the glorious sun I did get another indoor project complete.

I repainted our main upstairs bathroom back in January a gray color. I wanted to change the sheer curtain that had been in there, but was undecided on fabric. 

Last week I scoured the local JoAnns and found a fabric I liked for 40% off. 
With such a small window I only needed to grab one yard and spent maybe $5 on it.

Less than an hour worth of work and I had my new half curtain. I only wanted enough of the window covered for privacy (even if it is just facing the backyard and is on the second floor), but allowing plenty of light in. 

We also celebrated Pi Day last Saturday because I actually remembered the day before and made a note of it. That happens nearly never. 
Reed took the time to whip up an apple pie for us to enjoy. Yum.

Lastly, we come to the latest project on my to-do list that came to fruition on Sunday. 

Our diocesan newspaper has a Lenten Pay It Forward project that provides 'seed money' to three projects each Lent. They ask for submissions for worthwhile projects that anyone across the diocese can participate in. 
Thanks to a little nudging, a friend of mine at the diocese suggested in January that we submit a project. Feeling like I was quite inadequate to take on a charitable project, I almost passed it up. 
Upon further thought and prayer, along with conversation with my husband we decided to go for it.

I felt so out of my league. This really wasn't a 'normal' thing I'd do and put myself out there in front of other people like this. Well, God's hand was in it and our submission was chosen as one of the three projects for Lent.

I had decided to submit the idea of a Baby Shower that would benefit the local crisis pregnancy center. There they do pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and pregnancy counseling. Moms and dads can go through an educational program and clients can get the help, support, and baby/toddler items their children need.

With the help of a few other women, we began planning the baby shower and moving forward.

We had just under 20 women join us on Sunday for a baby shower complete with food, games and prizes. It was so fun! 

The outcome was this:

THAT adds up to just over $1000 worth of gifts!!

In addition, we also received cash donations. Our parish hosts an annual Lenten Fish Dinner with a freewill offering. It was decided beforehand that half those proceeds would also go toward our project. Those donations ended up being around $1000 in cash that the pregnancy resource center can use for their needs!

I share this not to toot my own horn. I share it because this project became a hidden Lenten lesson for me. All the preparations and work from our handful of ladies turned into several handfuls of generous ladies. That generosity turned into a mountain of tangible gifts.

The faith of a mustard seed. 

Something small that turned into a really big thing.

That kind of seems like what this Lent is about. Maybe not the big successes or triumphs, but the small ways that I have been stretched. The ways that God still proves how amazingly He provides for me and helps me to grow in a liturgical season that lasts just six weeks.

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