Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas....A Little Late

From Our Home To Yours....

May you have a very blessed Christmas Season.

The Christmas Morning Pj's Shot:

The After Christmas Morning Mass Shot:

Yup, this is as good as we get people. But for this year, it's just perfect and just right.

Now we're off school for Christmas break and I'm looking forward to just a little less routine for a few days. 

Lily is busy playing with her new American Girl doll (score!!) and Jonah is busy building, building, building with his Lego sets (another score!!).

The little girls will keep mildly entertained with playing with their picnic set inside their new pop-up tent.


Today I'm taking it easy and catching up on laundry. 

I'm still recovering from hubby home for four fun-filled days, Christmas Eve midnight Mass by.myself., waking up at 5:30am Christmas morning to get the troops ready for Mass, celebrating with hubby's family and then coming home and tidying up around the house. 

Needless to say, I was zonked out last night by 7:30.

But it was all good. Very good. A wonderful weekend and holiday.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Angels, Kings, Llamas, Camels...Oh My!

Last night we headed out to the town nearby to take in some Christmas. We planned a little Christmas light tour to see some spectacular displays and a living nativity as well.

Bundled up, we headed out.

"Why, oh why, mother dear must we head out in the dark when it's only 10 degrees?"

Because, little one, there are signs of Christmas to behold.

Kings to be seen in their ornate robes.....

A llama, surrounded by goats....

With a shepherd to lead them...

"Oh really? I am so unimpressed."

Oh, dear child, there are camels to see too....

"Ok, so now I am impressed! What is this big animal that stares at me?"

Don't forget, most important of all are Mary and Joseph and tiny baby (not a real baby)...

We came, we watched in wide-eyed wonder.....

(Yes, that would be my boy who 'forgot' his hat and mittens. You'd think we weren't Minnesotans or something)

All the while, one of my favorite bloggers was waiting to behold her own little Christmas gift....

Have you seen him yet? He's definitely a keeper. Welcome, Nicholas and Congratulations, Minnesota Mom!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~

Hosted every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter


One of my favorite things this time of year is the beauty of the Christmas tree. I think what I enjoy most is the fond memories that our ornaments hold. While I have 'filler' ornaments to fill in the blanks on the tree, there are plenty of ornaments that each of the kids have received in their lifetime. Hubby and I have several of our favorites, along with our first Christmas together, our new home and a special hand painted one for our miscarried baby.
Add to that the cute baby under the tree that is filled with wonder as she swats at the branches and ornaments, wich makes it even more memorable.

C'mon, don't those big blue eyes just exude innocence?


There is something about that father-child bond that is so special and precious to watch. My husband has certain games/songs and things that he does with each of the kids. While they are young, each has enjoyed his rendition of 'this little piggy' as he plays with their toes. The other evening it again received rave reviews and laughter from Margaret. I love these happy moments that are captured in time and forever written on our hearts.


I am learning that boys are a funny thing. Boys in a house filled with girls are an even funnier thing. While snapping away taking photos, I turn to my son for a quick shot. He gives me this pose. I can't help but laugh at the difference of a boy, but also at the unique joy he brings. It's a mother-son thing, I'm sure.


Hot chocolate and cookies with friends is one of the little things this week that helped us keep our mind on the season of Advent. How precious and few are the moments of preparation, as well as the cultivation of friendship in the midst of life's busyness. The kids enjoyed the sweet treats, a whole can of whipped cream and lots of laughter together during our little visit. Savoring the simple joys is a very real part of this season. The season of Advent and this current season of life in our household.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Five Years And 700 Posts Later

While the world is swirling around us and life keeps moving forward, I suddenly stopped last night with a revelation that came to mind.

"Tomorrow's my Blog Anniversary", I said to hubby. I struggled to recall how many years it's been. Oh gosh, it couldn't hardly be five. It's must be four.

As I hopped on to Blogger this morning, the numbers told me it was so. Five years ago today I began an unknown journey in Bloggyland. Fascinated by that fact, I then glanced at the number of posts. How coincidental that this is also my 700th post!! Wow!

Considering the loss of innocent lives this past week it seems a bit trivial to write about my anniversary, so this will be short and sweet.

A mere 'thank you' hardly seems enough to offer each of you who have faithfully read here. Whether a new reader or one of my first who found me in my little corner of the blogosphere, I have appreciated each of you. Many of you I will never meet, but your kind comments and heartfelt prayers have been a blessing to me over the years.

As I think about the many posts over the years and how I began here, I am reminded of God's faithfulness and the ways He has blessed my hopeful heart. This began as a place to heal and sort out my aching heart that so desperately longed to hold on to hope.

This morning as I write, my screaming toddler and crying baby remind me of all that has come to fruition. Our home and our love has been multiplied, my children doubled and my Faith stronger. Much of that is due to the strength I gained from so many of you. Thank you.

And so, I REJOICE today for this little place and for all of you reading. I will pray in a special way today for your intentions and needs.

Happy Third Week of Advent!

May we continue to prepare our hearts and our homes for the Savior's birth.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life~


There's nothing quite like Christmas music being played by youngsters that puts you in the Christmas spirit. The kids had their piano recital the other evening and I couldn't help but take several photos. They both looked so nice all dressed up (Jonah insisted on wearing the shirt and tie) and relieved that their performance was finished.

Having grandparents share in your performance also adds to that happy feeling and excitement.

It makes a mom proud for her children's hard work (and her own for getting them to weekly lesson and practicing each day) when they sit in front of the piano and play a tune.


Photos like this one of chipper little morning toddler almost make the miserable night's of her screaming and crying easily forgotten. Almost. This girl is talking more and more each day and strings words and familiar phrases together so well. We have to laugh when we hear her talking to herself and she is getting into things and says, "Careful...Gianna...."


The other day I turned from the kitchen and found this stinker had crawled into the laundry basket. She was so proud of herself and I couldn't help but laugh. The ever-constant reminder that children grow too quickly and that she is swiftly wrapping up her first year of life. Where has the time gone?


The recital on Tuesday was the very first for my Mr. Studly and while he completely forgot to play part of his first song, I chalk it up to opening night jitters. Since he only began lessons in late September, he is progressing nicely and doing well. Despite some resistance at times, I am still hoping to help this boy find his niche some place. It may not be piano, but I think the music practice and lessons are beneficial for him. Sometimes he needs someone besides mom correcting and sharpening his learning skills.
round button chicken

    Find more {phfr} over at Like Mother, Like Daughter every Thursday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

(A Little Wordy) Wordless Wednesday: 12/12/12

What?! We're all here, alive and well? The world didn't end today on

Or at least it hasn't YET.

My kids got just a bit excited about the numbers today as Lily declared "None of us will ever see these numbers line up again in our lifetime!" She's realistic, if nothing else.

Of course, we grabbed the camera at just the right moment....

and commemorated the event.

We are also celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is my favorite Marian feast day. It's chicken stuffed burritos for supper and yummy cake for dessert to celebrate at our house.

**This photo was taken at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, during one of our visits.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter Makes Its Debut

Just over a week or so ago the weather was balmy and in the 40's. And then last week it was still pretty nice and in the upper 20's and low 30's. I kept thinking how it didn't seem like December last week when the grass was brown.

I should've known better than to bask in the thought of a possible non-winter type winter. You know, like the ones other people enjoy. The winters without snow or minimal snow.

But that's not MinneSNOWta, is it?

We went from those balmy days to some snow on Friday and Saturday. There was just enough for the kids to play in and still not get too cold.

Saturday evening the snow started falling again in massive quantities. We made it in to Mass Sunday morning(we only live a mile from church), but none of the side streets in our little town were plowed.

By mid morning the wind had started up and the Blizzard Warning we were in proved obvious. The snow was still falling and swirling around like crazy.

When all was said and done, at least a foot of snow was dumped on us. The big kids ventured out several times and dear hubby went and did the back breaking work of shoveling.

I spent the day indoors with the little girls since it was just too cold to have them both outside. Our view from inside:

The girls liked it better in doors and rolling around and playing any way.

In the midst of the weekend blizzard, we managed to get some baking done and also Christmas decorating.

We are almost running out of staircase to put up our stockings!

Today is bitterly cold and will be an inside kind of day. When we woke up it was -7 degrees outside. That's seven BELOW zero, people. A bit more nippy than it has been. I reminded the kids this morning of the 102 degree temps we had around 4th of July. That was 109 degrees difference from this morning!!! Whoa.

Not much ahead for our week, besides a Little Flowers meeting tomorrow and piano recital in the evening. It will be Jonah's first time performing for an audience. I am hoping it goes well.

Until then, it's a season of waiting, isn't it?

I am eagerly awaiting  a great nephew or niece who should debut (hopefully) tomorrow. And of course, waiting on Minnesota Mom and her litttle man's arrival too.

And while we're all waiting, could you spare a prayer? There are so many in the world/blogosphere asking for prayers, but maybe you could say one for my friend who suffered through a miscarriage last week. Thank you!

Happy Second Week of Advent!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Something For Your Weekend Baking

I found this recipe last week in an old copy of Family Fun magazine at the library. While we have some oldie and goody Christmas cookie recipes that we enjoy, I always like to try something new to add to the collection.

The kids and I whipped these up with ease pretty quickly yesterday. While ours were a bit on the small side, they are packed with chocolate and marshmallow goodness so I wouldn't want them much bigger.

Enjoy and Happy Baking!!

Chocolate Surprises

2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk (I used what we had on hand, skim milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla
10 strawberry or other flavored marshmallows, cut in half
           (I used regular small marshmallows and left them whole)


3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream
    (I halved this entire icing recipe and still had more than enough for my 3 dozen cookies)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream all the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until mixed, about 1 minute.

Add the milk and vanilla, mixing on low speed.
Slowly add half of the flour mixture, mix, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix well until blended.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, make balls of the dough and put on to the sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and top each with your marshmallows.

Return to oven and bake another 4 minutes, then cool cookies on a rack.

Make the icing: sift the powdered sugar and cocoa in a bowl. Stir in the sour cream until it's smooth. Top the cookies with the icking so that the marshmallow is completely covered.
Allow the icing to set, about 1 hour.

In the words of Gianna, "Wiscious!" (Delicious)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lighting The First Candle

Happy Advent!

Truly one of my most favorite times of year, despite the chaos and stress that it seems it inevitably brings. How could I not love a season of preparation, baking and gift giving? All of those things that are near and dear to my heart.

In an attempt to actually get a post up on my new background and feel like an ACTUAL blogger again, this is gonna be quick.

Advent seemed to sneek up on me despite my planners heart. Oh sure, I read your posts and your wonderful ideas and longed to do such beautiful things in our home this Advent. However, keepin' it real is how we roll lately and with a bout of a series of colds in our family, I just plain ran out of time.

And then Jamie's post arrived in my reader. She's inspirational, that Jamie. And practical. That's exactly what I've got to stick to right now. Her post that had photos of an easy Advent countdown that gave ideas for each day was right up my realistic alley.

Away I went, cutting and creating our own Advent coutdown on Friday. With some of our own creativity and help from the big kids, we came up with a number of simple ways to prepare our hearts, our home and our days.

Our completed countdown serves hangs on a cupboard in the kitchen and serves well as Chrismtas decor too.

A few items from our list:

Several other ideas we came up with included:

-a couple of baking days for the kids and I

-preparing a plate of goodies for a family member in assisted living

-praying for certain intentions

-celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe

-purchasing items for the food shelf

-the kids' Christmas piano recital that is at a home for elderly

-going to confession as a family

-driving around looking at Christmas lights

-watching a Christmas movie as a family

Jamie even did a follow-up with her list so I could fill in where my feeble mama brain was lacking. Thanks Jamie! Check it out if you haven't already.

Another Advent favorite has been the St. Andrew Christmas novena, which we started on Friday. We have so loved making this an Advent tradition in our home over the last few years.

Tonight, as we lit our first purple candle, we also began our Advent family story book. This year we continue through the books by Arnold Ytreeide and are reading Tabitha's Travels.

Finally, in order to give our Advent a fun jump-start we had one of our diocesan seminarians over to visit this weekend. He came yesterday evening and stayed until after supper this evening. You can't believe the fun our kids had with him! He had my big kids kept busy with card games, board games and Wii while it allowed for Reed and I to catch up on odds and ends around the house. Of course, we visited with him too. Hopefully he felt right at home, because we felt right at home with him here. Hey, he was a cheap 'nanny' for a day! I sure wish he wasn't going back to Rome to study after his pastoral year this year. I would hire that guy for my 'manny' in an instant. I guess God has other plans for him instead.

I hope that all of you are enjoying the beginning of Advent in your home as you celebrate this beautiful season of preparation.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hey Look! I posted something!

How's this for a Saturday surprise? I'm actually posting.

Nothing too exciting going on here, but hopefully I can resume writing next week.

Until then, stop by to check out my new header and a new background too.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Checking In

When one leaves their blog for a week, the world begins to wonder.....or does it?

Thanks to a shout-out today from Colleen, it was the kick in the pants I needed to stop in and let you know that I did not fall off the face of the earth. Or the blogosphere.

That's right, Mr. President, you didn't get rid of me that easily.

While my heart and hopes were a bit shattered last week, I picked myself back up, rallied the troops and declared that this is where the rubber hits the road.

Never mind. I'm not getting into that today.

Instead, I'm just gonna tell you what's up and assure you all is well, if not just a tad bit busy.


Last week, Miss Gianna decided to take matters into her own hands and give potty training a whirl. After several days of sitting and trying, one day she finally tinkled just a bit.

While I thought it was a fluke because my big kids weren't the least bit interested until around age three, we pressed on. Guess what? Every day we keep on trying and each day she goes potty at least once or twice. To keep me on task with getting her to the toilet and with sticking to it, yesterday she decided to go #2 as well. Woohoo!! A repeat performance today as well.
We'll see what happens from here and we are trying pull ups off and on, but I'm gonna keep encouraging as long as she keeps trying.
Go Gianna!


Not to be out-done by the growing-up-too-fast committee, Margaret decided to finally give the stairs a try. She succeeded. She is also pulling herself up by things and almost thinking about walking around them.

While the cushions were off the couch the other day, she decided to crawl up on the couch and crawl back and forth.
She thought she was pretty darn smart. Until she rolled off the couch. And then she tried it all over again.

Busy, busy little ladies I've got here.


Hubby took the day off work last week and took the big kids on a field trip. Our homeschool group was going to a nature preserve for a nature hike and other activities.

The kids had a lot of fun learning about wildlife and their habitats and playing games.

The indoor rock climbing wall was a hit as well.

I'm so grateful that Reed has a job that he can take time off and enjoy some of these activities. It works well these days so the big kids can get out with the group and I can stay home with the little girls.


Have I mentioned here that I'll be a great-auntie again in the next few weeks? Yup, great niece or nephew #7  is due December 15. I went to a baby shower last weekend for this little one, my niece's first child.

While it would be cute to add a photo of the super cute shower, I have none. Instead, insert here a cute growing belly mama, excited family and a Classic Winnie the Pooh shower theme. Trust me, the hostesses were VERY cutesy-cutesy and matchy-matchy in the decor. Pinterest would be proud!!

Can I also make another mention?

Not to be out-done in generosity, God's adding more to our extended family brood in the spring too. I have TWO more greats entering the world then as well. Two of our nephews are adding to their families again. Hooray!


Who's ready for Christmas? Um, me neither.

Working on shopping and online shopping like a crazy woman, whenever I get the chance. I'd like to be finished or nearly there by Advent. It really does make my Advent so much more meaningful and calm. Spending time at home preparing and less time in the store listening to the same old Christmas song they've been playing since October, definitely keeps me more focused on Advent.


Thankfully, Swagbucks (see sidebar if you want to sign up) helped me earn lots of gift cards in the last several months and they are helping with the Christmas budget. I cashed my swagbucks in for lots of Amazon gift cards and a number of Walmart ones as well. Every little bit helps, that's for sure.

In addition, I will be thankful to my parish this year for helping with the budget. In October I took a very minimal part time (more like volunteering, but getting paid for the time) position at our little parish. Since we are twinned with a larger parish where the secretary works/parish office is located/rectory is, our small parish felt a bit left out. Our new pastor agreed with parishioners that having a contact person here to tie up loose ends, take care of odds and ends, make phone calls, arrangements for things, etc, etc, was a good idea.

Enter ME. I applied for the position because a) I could work around my at-home schedule, b) I wanted to help out a bit more at our church and c) I really missed working for the Catholic church.

The timing seemed ideal and now seemed like the time. Thankfully, Fr. Michael is really one of those ideal priests to work for/with as well. So far, it's a good thing. A very good thing.


This evening we're going to attend a White Mass. Have you ever heard of one? I hadn't.

A local Catholic physician asked  a nearby priest to have one here and he is going ahead with it. A White Mass is specifically offered for health care professionals, but anyone can attend. Since we are friends with a couple of very good Catholic physicians and one of them is our family physician, we feel like we really need to attend.  They need our support and prayers as they face a lot of opposition when they stand up for their morals and beliefs. With the HHS mandate around the bend, they're gonna need those extra prayers.

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend!


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