Friday, July 31, 2009

Hi Lo: July 31st

Inspired by Colleen who shares her Highs and Lows every week too!


1) After neglecting my home for the last two weeks due to our trip and camp, I got back into the swing of things and have a cleaner home. My kitchen floor is thanking me.

2) A niece of ours turned 21 this week and we celebrated at a restaurant. I enjoyed a frozen drink called Banana Cream Pie. Yummy. (And yes, how pathetic am I that a frozen alcoholic drink gets me so enthused that it makes my 'highs' for the week? Ha.)

3) The kids and I enjoyed Story Hour at the library and a picnic with friends at the park/playground. How we love summer!

4) We celebrated Jonah's name day on Saturday. We celebrate his Patron Saint, St. James, because that is his middle name. He was so excited to celebrate his name day with Papa Jim (James) too! We went to Mass with Papa and Grams and enjoyed pizza at the park afterward. Of course, treats were necessary, so we hit the DQ before heading home. I realized the other day that I forgot to post about Lily's name day in July (oops), so I'll mention it here. We spent the afternoon with friends and daddy surprised Lily by bringing a cake home! We celebrate Lily's name day on the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (Lily of the Mohawks). Although other obligations kept us from a full day of celebrating, both Lily & Jonah were thrilled with their name day! We try and make mention of it as many times as possible throughout the day and also tell them their Patron Saint's story. This year we even had the Glory Stories CD to listen to for Lily!


1) Lily's been in a pattern of night-owl behavior that I'm hoping doesn't persist. She's been having a hard time falling asleep, so she stays in her bed and reads..and reads. Which isn't a problem, except that she stays up until at least 10:00pm and then either insists on coming into our room to sleep or makes it near impossible for us to go to sleep because she is asking us to come into her room because she can't sleep! She claims that she isn't tired at bedtime, but I also can't believe that a 6 year old shouldn't go to bed until 10:00! Heck, that's when I go to bed! And I'm exhausted by then most nights!

Veteran moms, any ideas??

2) After a couple of weeks of being 'too busy', I still haven't gotten back into my exercising routine. I've been active enough, but thankfully I'm at a point of 'maintenance' and I've been doing okay. Hope next week is better.

What were your Highs and Lows this week? Hope you had a wonderful week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cool Groovin'

While dancing in the living room:

Jonah: Lily you can't dance cool like me. Only I can dance cool.

Mommy: I think Lily can dance cool like a girl and you can dance cool like a boy.

Jonah: Okay. Lily you dance cool, I dance cool, Daddy dances cool and Mommy dances cool. Mommy, you dance pretty cool sometimes in the kitchen. You know, when we have the music on in the CD player. You have some good moves, sometimes.

Mommy: Oh really? I'm glad you think so.

Jonah: Only kids can have cool moves and mommies and daddies. Old people can't have cool moves because they are just old.

So, I'm wondering when we reverted back to the 80's in our house and dancing was rated as 'cool'?

And perhaps I better do a little teaching on the value of ALL human life and that even (excuse me) 'old' people can in fact dance 'cool' if they want to!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I am officially addicted. I know, I shouldn't have let it happen to me. How could I let myself get so entranced by something as simple as Tacos In A Bag??!!

Who knew how good these were?? Not me! I've heard about them for the last few years, but didn't get what all the hub-bub was about. Until last week when I served them at Vocations Camp! I had no idea how much I was missing out. I have been eating at least one (some days TWO) bags of these each day at lunch. It probably helps that I have leftover taco meat from camp that is straight-from-the-farm that a family donated. (Trust me, there again, unless you've had the chance to experience that kind of home grown meat you do not know what you are missing!)

So, what is the attraction to this bag full of crushed Doritos and taco fixings? I'm still trying to figure that out. Is it the bag? the carefree spirit in which I can eat out of the little bag? the easy preparation? the fact that it's summertime and I'm looking for easy & light meals to feast on?

Honestly, I have no idea. But if I don't watch out I'm gonna have a few extra pounds showing up somewhere on my person.

And yes, I need to get out more if I've just caught on to the craze that hit the nation several years ago.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pilgrimage: Part II

Click here to read Part I

We planned on finding the Children's Museum upon our arrival in La Crosse. I wouldn't have even known about the museum, had I not read an article earlier this year in Faith & Family magazine where they listed 'Must See' Shrines along with family friendly nearby attractions.(Sorry, I can't get the direct link to that exact article for you) We were able to locate the museum with ease, but our time there was limited due to our later-than-planned arrival. It was fine though since we still had well over an hour to explore. It ended up being the ideal place for the kids to run around after the long van ride and since we were that late in the afternoon, there were less than 10 other children there at the time. At only $5 a person for admission, it was well worth the fun. We enjoyed the Shadow Room in particular. And yes, by 'we' I mean mostly us adults! It was a hoot!

While in La Crosse, our accommodations were at Best Western Midway. It was on the opposite side of town from the Shrine, but still convenient with lots of places to obtain food when needed. We chose this hotel due to their rates (we could get discounted rates with my parents' AARP card) and that they had a kiddie pool. Nothing was extraordinary about our stay, but everything was sufficient and the rooms all have refrigerators and it provided us a nice place to sleep and that was about all we were looking for.

Friday, we spent the day at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We were blessed with ideal weather; overcast, but still warm enough and just a light rain shower in the afternoon. I'm glad I had my walking shoes on, as we did a lot of walking and it is a journey from the Pilgrim Center to the Shrine Church. The trek makes you feel like you really are on pilgrimage as you meander through the leafy woods with periodic grotto's along the way and your stop at the Votive Candle Chapel. To say that the entire scene is beautiful and breath-taking is barely enough. Such sweet peace and serenity we felt at that holy place. We planned our arrival so that we would be sure to make it to the eleven o'clock daily Mass there at the church. It was precious to be able to participate at Mass with such inspiring surroundings. Everywhere you looked there were sacred paintings and statues, faux marble and gold, simplicity and yet grandeur at every turn. So much for the eye to behold.

After Mass we meandered throughout the area upon the hill by the church and walked the Rosary Walk and Stations of the Cross, before returning to the Pilgrim Center once again. After a little shopping at Flores Mariae Gift Shop, we went for a late lunch break to the on-site restaurant, Culina Mariana. Lily & Jonah shared a kids portion of spaghetti and meat sauce and it tasted like authentic Italian family food. I devoured my Chicken Pesto sandwich and was so disappointed when it was all gone!

Lastly, just before leaving the Shrine for the day, we had this encounter with St. Gianna.

That evening, we opted to try Rudy's Drive-In for supper. It was so much fun! The girls there still deliver your food on roller skates and we sat in our van and enjoyed some REALLY good food that was most economical for all six of us! Highly recommended it!

Was this trip well worth it? OH YES! There wasn't any part of it that I would have done differently, everything went so smoothly. With all of the little things we did and saw, combined with the main reason for this trip, the Shrine, it was so worth it. A treasured family vacation memory. Will we do it again? OH YES!

(How was that for a post full of Linky's? Sorry. I just wanted you to be able to click on over with ease. Hope this helps in the event that any of you are close enough to the area and planning a little pilgrimage.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pilgrimage: Part I

I'm finally getting around to posting about our pilgrimage trip last week. Most of the post will be in the form of photos, because some of the beauty can only be described by them. And yet, it cannot be completely expressed in the photos since you'd just have to see it in person to marvel at its grandeur!

We headed toward La Crosse, WI via Highway 61 along the eastern edge of Minnesota. It had been years since I had been down that way, but it was the route to go by, for sure. The scenery was exquisite and each town along the way was filled with plenty of interesting sights as we passed thru.

Picnic lunch was at a rest area along the banks of Lake Pepin near Lake City. The windy day kept the usual sailboats docked, but the landscape with the bluffs all the way along the horizon made up for it. As we travelled along, I couldn't help but be in awe as I surveyed the beauty of those bluffs. I also couldn't believe that we still hadn't crossed state-lines and we were still travelling my home state. The difference a couple hundred miles makes is mind-boggling. Where we live it is relatively flat land, with various hills and a fair amount is small lakes and vast farmland. What a wonderful opportunity to see the richness and beauty of our fair state.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Unexpected Saintly Encounter

We've returned home from our quick trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the next few days will be hectic as I prepare meals for our local Vocations Camp and that may leave me with little time to share about our trip. Of course, I'm assuming you'd want to hear about it. I think it will have to be shared in installments, so please bear with me.

The trip was SO WORTH IT! And even that, is an understatement my friends. I was hoping for a bit of a spiritual renewal and this pilgrimage delivered that and so much more. The whole trip was really a lot of fun and had so many great aspects about it that were just perfect(okay, maybe the longer-than-expected drive had it's ups and downs). With that said, I must say that there was one thing that happened that was a unique and rare moment that was the highlight of the trip for all of us. Well, maybe not so much for Lily and Jonah since they didn't grasp how blessed of an opportunity it truly was. I tell this story all for the greater glory of God and as witness to His marvelous deeds.

We arrived at the Shrine shortly after it opened on Friday morning and stayed just about until closing time in the late afternoon. I will share more of what we did, but for now I will just jump ahead to the late afternoon shortly before we departed. We were doing some shopping in their gift shop (you know, we had to fulfill our Catholic duty and ring up enough purchases to put a pretty good dent on our Discover card) and my mom was busy having a conversation with one of the ladies (Patricia) working in the shop. Shortly after, my mom came to notify me that the Shrine had obtained a Second-Class relic of St. Gianna's, a pair of her gloves. These are kept in a special safe in a reliquary at the Shrine, but only one man knows how to get into it and he was out of town. She also informed me that another lady worker was on the phone trying to get in touch with him to see if he would allow them to bring the gloves out and walk her through getting the safe unlocked. They were getting the gloves out for ME!

My mom had shared with the ladies 'our story' and our struggle to conceive again and bear more children and that I have a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Gianna. She told them how we had even debated about changing the date of our visit and postpone two weeks in order to be present at the Shrine's First Anniversary celebration where Gianna's son will speak and be present. Upon hearing that we drove some distance and would not be returning in two weeks, these dear ladies were willing to move Heaven and earth so that I could in some way be in contact with St. Gianna!

We patiently waited and while we did, Patricia encouraged us to gather up items that we would like to lay on Gianna's gloves in order that they become Third-Class Relics. I asked for a St. Gianna medal, but unfortunately they had not yet arrived since they were scheduled to be available at the anniversary celebration. She then led me to a medal that had been specifically created for the Shrine, the Medal of Motherhood. It is a 4-way cross and in the center is Our Lady of Guadalupe, the top is St. Gianna, the right side is Guardian Angel (since a child is given one at the moment of conception), the left side is St. Gerard and the bottom of the cross is St. Anne. My eyes filled with tears and Reed agreed that it would be perfect. We were informed that we would be allowed to go in a back room to sit and pray while in the presence of Gianna's gloves. Patricia reminded us that if it is God's holy will that we be blessed again with children, Gianna would intercede on our behalf and it would happen very quickly. She has had so many miracles that have already been attributed to her and many a 'Gianna baby' that has been brought into this world through her intercession.

Minutes later, the relic had been obtained and we were led to the quiet room. The ladies gathered chairs around the reliquary and we were given instructions. They allowed us as much time as we needed and asked us to just let them know when we were finished. Take all the time we wanted. We were told that we could touch the gloves and lay our articles on them and lift the glass cover open to do so, but we couldn't take them out or put them on. I must say that at that time I was so utterly speechless and in awe that I was just honored enough to be touching them and could scarcely believe that I was allowed to do that much!

I cannot completely remember all that followed. I don't know how long we were in that simple solitude. I do know that we prayed from the depths of our hearts, mostly in silence and I recall the sweet peace and serenity that filled my mind and body. It may just have been one of the most blessed moments of my life and definitely one of the most surrendered ones during this long journey through subfertility. I lay my hands upon those gloves and prayed intently for a speedy answer to our heartfelt prayers, if that is the will of God. And I prayed a prayer for each of you who follow me or read here on this blog, that your prayers would also be answered.

I am still unable to grasp the opportunity that we were given that day. It wasn't a small piece of clothing of St. Gianna's that we touched, but two WHOLE pieces of her clothing. A simple pair of gloves that any of us would wear. White, precious gloves. I may never get the chance to lay my eyes upon such holy relics again. I cannot begin to relay to you the sweetness in the very air I breathed as I touched those gloves. I now wear the medal I received there and I will treasure it and the significance it has to me. It was in that moment that my hopeful heart was again renewed and brought back to life. A simple instant that will be a treasured memory.

And if it is God's will that our prayers be answered, St. Gianna will be there running to our aid to fulfill it. And if that happens, we will gladly be returning to that blessed Shrine with our 'Gianna baby' next year.

O Holy St. Gianna, Pray For Us!

The reliquary with my items placed on the gloves:
(Sorry for the clarity issue, this is my best photo due to the low-light in the room and no flash allowed. This one turned out better than the ones with the glass cover open)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

At The Feet of Mary

My family is leaving this morning for a short pilgrimage until Saturday. We'll be visiting the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It is long overdue and I am so glad we are finally making the trek. Our original plan had been to visit last summer, but that never happened and the shrine was not officially dedicated until late July of last year. I am anxious to visit the beautiful grounds and church to offer my prayers of petition. I will be praying for each of you and will lay your petitions at the feet of Mary on your behalf. I'll be sure to post all about the trip when I arrive back home.

And yes, there are sure to be plenty of photos too!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Candy Bliss

2 parades in 2 weekends + 2 children = over 6 lbs. of candy (and A LOT of fun!)

These are the lazy days of summer and that means parades in every little town that you can imagine. I'm serious, EVERY little town! Our town of 200 and my hometown of 700 put together some pretty good size parades the last two weekends. And if there's a small town parade, you better bet there's gonna be a lot of candy and kids everywhere!

There's nothing quite like watching local businesses put together their unique floats and to see what some people consider a 'float'. You see it all in the local parades: tractors, semi's, horses, lawn mowers, boats, classic cars, bands and MORE tractors. Can you tell I'm from rural Minnesota?

The adults sit in their chairs and watch it all go by and the kids spend their time filling their bags full of candy. And the mama's? Well, we keep one eye on the floats going by and the other on our kids, while warning them continuously not to go too far into the street in front of parade 'traffic'. But we all still have a good time. These are the days of summer, that's for sure.

I do think I could do without any more Tootsie Rolls flying toward my head any more this summer.

By the way, no one speak a word of this to our family Dentist, okay?

Patiently waiting for the parade to start:

(Don't even ask why Jonah is wearing his sister's PINK sunglasses!)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Keeper of the Garden

I'm happy to report that despite the invasion of worms we had last month, our vegetable garden was spared and is doing well. I think it will begin producing our green beans soon and we've already had a good harvest of spinach and lettuce.

There's just something about gardening that feels so rewarding. I think it helps that I grew up in a family that forever had a large garden. We had plenty of peas, green beans, carrots, beets and other veggies every year. We either canned or froze them for off-season enjoyment. As a child, I remember helping harvest in the garden as well as with the weeding. In my teen years I did a fair amount of the same and took on whatever responsibilities I could in gardening.

It's only fitting then that I was blessed to meet and marry Reed who enjoys gardening and the labor it entails. His dad even calls him 'Mr. Green Jeans' and quite often he is the expert who answers all of the family gardening/farming related questions! Over the years since we've been married, I've also become the go-to gal of horticulture questions and have finally earned the label 'Mrs. GreenJeans'.

Of course, you can be a Mr. or Mrs. Green Thumb and still be left without the perfect garden if you live 'in the country' like we do and have certain animals that keep you from attaining your glorious goals! Our biggest competition:DEER! Yes, those beautiful, graceful animals..that's what I used to think..until they decided to start messing with my vegetables and flowers!

Through trial and error, thankfully we've discovered what works for us in our yard here in central Minnesota:

#1) LOTS and LOTS of Liquid Fence Deer and Rabbit Repellent! We've only used it on our shrubs and flowers, but it has been SO worth it.

#2) FENCE! In our first year or two here we witnessed our garden being almost completely mowed off in a night by deer and decided that we needed to do something. We had neighbors that witnessed to the effectiveness of plastic snow fence, but then it's all about how high up you put it. Unbelievably (to me any way), deer can jump really high. The snow fence had to be put a foot or two off the ground in order to reach the correct height and then it just made more room for rabbits to get in. We tried that and it was successful, until the middle of the fence would start to sag from length, weight and just being in the sun. So, a couple of years ago we spent the extra money and put up a more sturdy fencing around the entire garden, complete with latching gate. It's worked great for us and there have been no more deer mishaps for a few years.

And when there's a pest-free garden, there's a productive garden. And a productive garden is so fulfilling, not to mention enjoyable for the whole family as we feast on its bounty throughout the winter.

Friday, July 10, 2009

At-Home Project

A couple of months ago I saw that Alexandra at Happy Hearts At, I'm not able to post the link. Computer won't let me today.) had a post that included photos of recycled, old wood pallets being turned into patio furniture.

It was just too cute to pass up, so I tagged it for later viewing. I showed the post to Reed and he agreed that these pieces were certainly rustic and would add a nice touch on our ever-bare backyard deck. It was just a matter of finding pallets somewhere and finding the time to make the furniture.

A few weeks ago, Reed passed by a business on the way home from work that had a load of pallets for FREE sitting outside their building. Of course, we couldn't pass them up, so we went back with a truck and picked up as many of them as we thought were 'usable' enough for converting (and we even found one that would make an outdoor table for the set as well).

The project was much easier than anticipated and made for a fun family activity. The time was broken up over a couple of weekends, but really it took no time at all to reach a finished product. We still have one more bench we'd like to make yet to add to the set, but I just had to share the photos!

And yes, I realize that I am quite fortunate that my husband is so handy with power tools and VERY capable when it comes to projects like this that I come up with for him to take on! I'm so grateful that he is and usually very willing to try any silly little project I ask him to attempt!

Best part of this recycled idea is that I now have cute, rustic, unique seating on my deck that was A LOT cheaper than buying a set at the store. The only thing that did cost a bit more than expected were the cushions for all of the furniture (I chose not to sew my own due to time and the cost of the supplies).

At least now we are able to use the back deck and have room for company too!



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

If Only He Had A Parachute

While Sister read aloud the story of Zacchaeus, the little tax collector man from the Bible:

Brother: I wonder if we could invite Jesus to our house? I guess not because He's already up in the sky. He couldn't get down here. Only if He had wings or a parachute. Then He could.

That's an interesting picture...Jesus in a parachute. Hmm..that's got me thinking. What WOULD that look like?...

...And then I did a Google image search and found this:

I guess Jesus has been seen with a parachute! And incidentally, saving this guy's life!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hi Lo: July 3rd


1) I was able to spend time with my extended family on Sunday as we celebrated my grandparents 65th anniversary. Good food and conversation, always a hit!

2) The local strawberry patch opened on Tuesday evening and we were one of the first customers to arrive. I've already canned several pints of strawberry-rhubarb jam, eaten lots of fresh berries and have plans for a pie this weekend. Oh I love my strawberries! It was so much fun to go pick the berries as a family this year too! Lily was a great picker and Jonah started off picking, but eventually just starting eating them instead. That's my boy.

3) I had a consult visit with a local NFP-only physician and he's on board with my treatment plan from my current physician (Dr. K who is two hours away) and will help in any way he can. This will be especially handy since there are several things that may lead me to need accurate, timely care and the twenty minute drive would be more convenient than the two hour one. (This physician is also a Dr. K, so I've got a female Dr. K and a male Dr. K now!!)

4) I won something! I NEVER win anything. I won Making Music Praying Twice from Margaret. I received the Easter-Pentecost CD the other day and have only had the chance to listen to a couple of songs, but I'm intrigued with the whole program. Worth looking into. (If you'd like to request a FREE CD, click here)


1) The weather has been cooler here and the winds have geared up again. Unfortunately, I think this is leading to some possible allergy issues for Miss Lily. Nothing too awful yet, but sneezing, runny nose and a swollen eye on Wednesday.

How was your week? What were your family's High's and Low's?

Have a wonderful weekend! Happy 4th of July!

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