As I breezed through the months worth of photos during my blogging hiatus, I found that there wasn't much to tell.
It was then though that I was reminded of strings of days that came together with seemingly nothing monumental to report.
These are those days that perhaps get lost most in the shuffle, the days that no photos are taken and little documentation to prove we really did live them.
Maybe those were the days I struggled most or perhaps they were those ordinary days that make the best moments. The ones my children will remember.
Either way, a very brief look at a few of the things that did happen.
Lily turned ELEVEN. Wow. I totally didn't see that coming. Remind me again how these kids keep growing up? We celebrated with her non-cake choice (it's some type of preteen phase I'm guessing) of rice krispie cake with chocolate glaze.
Lily ended up getting that cow she wanted. Kind of. Her AG doll, Abby, did at least. Perhaps in the spring she'll get a real cow or maybe a few chickens at least.
That following week we headed out of town for a couple days. Reed had a work related conference to attend, so we tagged along and did fun stuff while he worked. It's kind of a win-win. Fun for us all day, some fun as a family in the evenings and no time apart. It's perfect!
Well, when our parish priest found out we were heading to Rochester he mentioned this Catholic coffee shop. He was appauld I hadn't heard of it. So was I!
Catholic and Coffee, two of my favorite things together?
Oh, but it got better my friends.
The kids and I headed out one morning to find the shop and it was just minutes from our hotel and our side of the city.
It was like a fun field trip. Keep waiting, it gets better.
The St. James Coffee Shop is ah.maz.ing.
Not only do they have coffee and treats and all the great stuff a coffee shop should....
they also have JESUS there:
You saw that, right? The tabernacle there in the center?
In the back of this coffee shop is a small chapel so that the working person or the average person who stops in for coffee, can also stop in for some Jesus time too.
It was really the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. I wish I lived closer! I would totally work there. Or be a frequent customer.
Check out their website link above to find more about their mission. We really enjoyed the atmosphere and the classic coffee shop feel, but with Saints photos and bios all over the shop. In the corner they had a treasure of basic Catholic books and other pamphlets, etc to evangelize and share the Catholic faith. Very cool.
We managed to cruise right on through the rest of September and October mainly just schooling. We made a brief stop at the end of the month to celebrate my 35th birthday.
Somewhere in there our diocese finally received word that Rome had finally named a new bishop for us and he would be on his way.
Our bishop had retired last year and then with the change of Papacy we had to wait even longer for a new bishop to be named.
Bishop Donald Kettler's Installation as our Bishop would be held in early November with only limited seating available. Each parish received three tickets for members to attend the special Installation Mass.
Thankfully, I've got connections, I work for our parish and it was during the week so a lot of people had to work.
Score three tickets and two very eager kids who thought the event would be awesome to attend.
And here we are with the new Bishop:
Yeah, it was kind of a big deal and all. We had so much fun and made a great memory that day.
Of course, we celebrated some holidays in there as well.
Thanksgiving was at our house with my family. It was still relatively nice out and the ground still bare and brown without snow. Here's my big kids and my brother's boys, my nephews.
This is about the only time Lily is outnumbered by the male population, otherwise it's always the other way around and Jonah is outnumbered.
Christmas Eve was our tradition of just our family together and then Christmas day was spent with both of our extended families.
We went all out this year and took all four kids to Midnight Mass at our church. Last year I attended alone because we just didn't know how we'd venture out with everyone. This year we bit the bullet and grabbed everyone and went. It was beautiful and the kids all behaved really well.
This photo was taken AFTER Mass, which meant it was well after 1am and the kids had only about 2 hours of sleep beforehand. Not bad, huh?
Another reason my time away was good/needed was the unexpected things God threw our way.
Like the off and on colds/coughs that eventually took all of us captive at one time or another. This was a persistent strain that lasted and every time someone had it kicked, it returned. At one point all four kiddos were on meds and then right in there in early January both little girls got the tummy bug. They were troopers and we all survived. I'll just say though that it was the longest.month.of.my.life. And hardest as I've never had all of my kids sick at the same time and for any length.
Mix in that Old Man Winter had dealt us some nasty cold that didn't allow us to go outside for many a day during that time. Not our best days as a family, that much is for sure.
In the midst of much of my time away, something was still stirring and tugging at my heart. In early December I finally found what it was when one evening I received the dreaded phone call I'd know for months was coming.
My dad's voice on the other end told me that my grandpa, Papa, had passed away. My heart broke and months worth of knowing finally became the reality I feared. I cried and I grieved most differently than I ever thought I would. While Papa Eddie and I weren't ever real close in our relationship, or so I thought, I didn't know how much my heart would miss him. I didn't know how deep the loss would impact me. He was a good man who after 94 years is missed by so many. I wasn't ready to let him go, even though many of us knew it was near. He was a man beyond words to explain. I lived most of my life at home with grandpa just across the meadow in the white house I frequented with visits. It's funny how his passing has stirred within me more memories than my heart can hold. Many of his years were on the family farm that he struggled and toiled farming for so long. Many of my memories are of the simple things grandpa said or did that connected him to each of us grandchildren in a unique way. Many of those things have come back as a flood filling my own soul since his passing.
I am still overwhelmed with love for the man who taught me much, led by so much determination, loved his Catholic faith and whose wit, wisdom and laughter were what he was most known by.
I still find myself some days caught off guard by the simple memories and the quiet moments when the sadness of loss grabs a hold of me.
Somehow I am easily consoled by the prayer that he taught many of us from our very youngest days:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give thee my heart and my soul.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, grant that I may die in thy peace and company.
I sure hope they did, Papa. I pray that your prayers were answered.