Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday: Vacation Edition

It's been nearly forever since I joined in on Quick Takes, but with vacation photos in need of posting I thought it was the perfect week to hop back in.

Prepare yourself for a photo-heavy post.....


#1. Busy time, vacation time means keep the baby and toddler happy at all times time. Thanks to the double stroller, we could get here, there, and everywhere with ease. Miraculously, both little girls tolerated it well for three days.

 #2. For some reason, vacation time also means that we are eating WAY more than when we are just hanging out around at home. It sure seemed like the kids were in full time snack mode while away.

 #3. Thankfully, we did a LOT of walking so that surely cancelled out all of the irregular eating. Right?

 #4. We spent part of Monday at Amnicon Falls, over in Wisconsin. It was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed watching the large quantities of water gushing due to the prior week's rainfall and flooding.

#5. When anyone visits Duluth, you've got to visit Canal Park and head down to the edge of Lake Superior. The other thing you'll want to do if you can is catch a ship either coming in or going out. We were fortunate to do all of the above. We caught a ship going out Tuesday morning and caught another coming in later in the day. It's one of my favorite things to see and it seems that Lily was equally amazed with the ships.

    (Can you tell that Gianna was thrilled to have her photo taken??!!)

 #6. Our villa became a relaxing haven in the late afternoon and evenings after a busy day. It was ideal for a family with little ones and busy big kids. It had room to roam and a full kitchen to prepare meals, just like at home. A great place to get back to and put the girls down to nap, but also to play games with the kids. A new addition was an alpine coaster and short zip line nearby, so Reed could take the big kids a couple of times. An ideal fun spot for them while I stayed back at the villa with the girls and prepared supper.

#7. Lastly, vacation was about family time. Despite it being probably one of the most chaotic vacations we've ever taken, we went without any set plan and didn't leave disappointed. My parents and grandma even joined us for the day on Tuesday, so we could share and make memories with them too. It was a good time as our first big venture as the six of us. It was also a good reminder of how blessed we are to be able to afford a family vacation, have the freedom to travel and be grateful when it's time to go back home again.

(I couldn't help but share the imperfect photos. Mostly because this is our reality right now and also because there weren't too many 'perfect' photos. In the end, these are the ones I'll treasure as I'm reminded of our young and growing family)

Have a great weekend!

For even more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Preparing, Planning, Packing

In less than 48 hours, we'll pack up our family of six for our first FAMILY OF SIX vacation.

While we'll only be gone three nights and four days, we're traveling with two little ones and all their gear. We also opted to stay at a villa that has a full kitchen in order to allow us to save money eating out. The drawback there would be then we also need to bring along food. And of course snacks. Many, many snacks.

The list is growing longer and I'm doing my best to imagine every possible scenario in order to have what we need. It makes me wonder how on earth I ever did NET for nine months? But then, I wasn't travelling with four children way back then.

It's sure to be an adventure, since we're heading to Duluth where it flooded earlier this week. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Even though the mayor there has declared "Come one, Come all", I'm a bit nervous what we will find upon arrival. But then, our villa leaves us no choice since they have a strict cancellation policy and we have already paid half our dues.

We're venturing on and I know it will be full of memories. And perhaps many very interesting stories.

Since we're driving four hours to get there, I think I'll just be happy to put my feet up and enjoy the view. And yes, just enjoy the time with my family.

I'll be sure to post photos next week as long as you promise to pray a prayer for us. How do you like that for a bribe?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Motivate Me

I'm in need of some musical motivation while exercising. Right now I'm mainly walking and jogging to work my way up to running for longer periods of time.

My playlist is getting too routine, so I need help finding some tunes to rock my exercise time.

Any suggestions? I'd love to hear 'em!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Outakes

We started the morning with a breakfast whipped up to honor one of my favorite men. The little girls kept daddy entertained and busy while mommy worked in the kitchen.

On the menu: pancakes with whipped topping, strawberries or blueberries; scrambled eggs; sausage and orange juliuses. Alas, I was so busy making it that I forgot to take a photo with the final presentation. I think it would have easily won several stars in the culinary division of Father's Day breakfasts.

Afterward, the kids were eager to give daddy his gifts. I think the best one was the homemade one.

Happy daddy, later in the day with his gift. I'd say that's a contented father, wouldn't you?

Thanks to Pinterest for this idea. And thanks to my babies daddy for the cute footsie wootsies that belong to the children that make Father's Day possible.

Late morning we headed out the door to meet up with my parents for a picnic. The weather was fair and only a 30% chance of showers maybe later in the day.

We arrived at our destination, Grasshopper Chapel. It was a popular Sunday afternoon destination during my childhood and was always a very peaceful place to pray and enjoy the peace and calm. Today was no different and the blooms and colors were beautiful.

Inside, a few short prayers with Papa and grandma.

Lots of ground for the toddler to roam.

 And finally, a family photo.

The rest of our visit with my family includes no photos since the weather took a turn and it started to rain. And rain. We came up with alternate plans and thankfully my mom remembered a small park that might have a shelter area with picnic tables. She was right. We found one lonely picnic table under the shlter roof and out of the rain to enjoy our Father's Day picnic. Success.

Again, not documented, but we headed to the DQ for ice cream treats before heading back home.

Later on, we went to spend time with hubby's parents to visit and Reed and the big kids did a little fishing.

Tired from the day, the little girls were still troopers and were still in pretty good moods. Greta even tried out the sitting in the grass and laughing as she watched Lily hoola-hoop. Pretty cute.

Finally, I gathered the children for one last photo of the day with the man we love so much. I think it's safe to say that it was a good day. A very good day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Sacred Heart And Me

Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (just FYI, it's a movable feast day that always occurs 19 days after Pentecost and is always on a Friday).

While growing up, I recall many litanies to the Sacred Heart and prayers to the Sacred Heart during the month of June (the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart)  at our local parishes. I wouldn't say that I had a devotion to the Sacred Heart, but was drawn a bit to it.

But now, the devotions and prayers have a bit more sentimental meaning and have generated a new-found love for Him. Why?

Two years ago, on the feast of the Sacred Heart we found out we were expecting her:

One year later, on the exact same feast day, we found out we were expecting her:

Should it come as no surprise then that Miss Margaret's patron saint is St. Margaret Mary Alacoque who established the devotion to the Sacred Heart? God totally had that one planned.

Isn't it amazing how God works?

I couldn't agree more.

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

*Just so you know, we are not planning a Three-peat. There are no positive pregnancy tests this time around, in case you were wondering. You're all so darn predictable, you know.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Humility 101

I must have thought I had learned a whole plethora of lessons lately and that God couldn't possibly need to humilify (my word) me any further.

I was wrong.

Recently, in the two-fold effort to a) get out of the house and do something as a family and b) use a gift certificate we received for Christmas, we took the whole family out to eat. Since currently an outing that forces requires us to all physically leave the house takes nothing short of a small task force and brigade, it couldn't have possibly been planned any better.

Naps were achieved (to some degree), diaper bag well stocked and packed, kids clean and dressed accordingly and we were out of the house in just under an hour.

We drove the half hour to the restaurant, a local place near the lake and at this time of year brings in an assortment of weekenders who have cabins nearby. We chose an early supper time in order to avoid the inevitable meltdown by one or the other of the little girls and the suppertime rush. Easy peasy.

We were efficiently escorted to our table and while doing so Gianna decided that she would make her grand entrance by starting to cry loudly. You know, because we never take her out of the house or anything and she never sees real people.

Once seated, we managed to get her settled down and browse the menu. Quick and easy was on my mind. It was a hot summer day and a simple meal would suffice. Not to mention, the quicker our food was prepped in the kitchen, the quicker we could eat it and be out of there.

Within a couple of minutes, mission accomplished and food items selected.

And then we waited. And waited. For our delightful waitress.

My husband and I, neither of us being the 'annoying' kind or the 'bothersome' type of customer who demands speedy service, even we were getting pushed to our limits. The place clearly wasn't busy and there were probably more wait staff on hand than customers at the time. Apparently they missed the daggers we began to cast their way. Obviously, the rambunctious, climbing and screeching toddler didn't tip them off either.

Finally, we were tended to and our order taken. The big kids turned their attention to the tv behind us and were entertained with numerous trivia questions that flashed across the screen. There's nothing quite like a meal with your son shouting out random words while you are eating..."Mork and Mindy!", "Connecticut!"

Well, at least they were enjoying themselves.

As for daddy and I, we were fighting the untamed toddler who entertained the baby sister for a while before deciding that she'd like to sit in the infant carseat with her sister. The diaper bag contents had long past reached their usefulness and nothing could side-track Gianna from the numerous things she could not have.

We tried the big fish tank at the restaurant which lasted for a bit, but with the kitchen staff apparently as non-speedy as the wait staff, it hardly held her off.

With feeding time at the zoo fast approaching and no food in sight, we tried to keep things light and couldn't help but laugh while in the midst of what seemed to be an eternity of one very long humility lesson.

It wasn't that it was SO bad, but the feeling like we were 'those annoying people' everyone despises at the restaurant, really made me self conscious. But, what could we do? We handled each moment as we could, even as Margaret decided to try out her new trick of screeching in a public place and Gianna her climbing, falling and bonking on everything and everyone.

Finally, as I started to think perhaps we should have just ordered our meal to-go, it arrived. I hardly enjoyed a bite as I planned in my head an escape route should things still go sour suddenly and we needed to make a fast exit. I'd grab the diaper bag, baby, carseat and big kids. Reed would be left with busy toddler and paying the bill. Oh, and the eyes of all the other patrons watching us as we left the scene.

Thankfully, chicken strips and fries soothed the savage beast.

In the end, we survived. I only had to make one diaper change, everyone was fed and satisfied and we left with our dignity intact. Or at least we hopefully left without giving big families a bad name.

Turns out, there's a lot to be learned when you are just trying to use up a nicely gestured gift certificate. There were oodles of virtues (patience and humility for sure) to be learned by simply going out for supper as a family. Maybe we even gave the other patrons of the restaurant ample opportunity to work on some virtues as well. Or maybe I just felt like the spotlight was on us and no one really noticed a thing.

But hey, at least now I know that my son has turned out to be quite the bar trivia expert.

And next time (in about five years from now), I think I will order that margarita after all. With a side of humility.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Bucketful Of Summer

Inspired by one of my favorite Texans, Patty, we came up with a summer bucket list for our family.

Some things on the list are rather simple, some will be able to be accomplished numerous times during the summer and others are one time deals.

Either way, it will help keep in mind lots of fun things to do this summer. With the two little girls in the household, a lot of time seems to be dominated by naps, snacks, bottles and diaper changes, so the list will help keep us focused and create some other fun times for the big kids.

We've already making good progress and have plans for a few of the items on the list for the very near future.


- Swimming in the lake

- Camp out in the backyard

- Mini-golf and Go-karts

- Vocations Camp

- Picnic lunch with dad at the park

- Family Vacation in Duluth

- Check out the revolving restaurant (on top floor of local hotel in Duluth) while on vacation

- Run through the sprinkler

- Geocaching and hiding caches for others to find

- Spend time checking out the local libraries

- Go to a County Fair

- Invite our new parish priest over for supper

- Try something new

- Fishing with dad

- Make tie-dye shirts

- Bike rides

How about you? Any big plans for your summer?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Settling In To Summer

Anyone miss me last week?

Oh no, don't feel guilty if you didn't. I don't mind one bit. Although, I'll admit that I did miss you just a little.

Last week was the first week of summer vacation which meant a lot of settling in, readjusting and more freedom to roll with things around home.

Which was good since last week was a hum-dinger. You know how that is when you feel like the wheels fall off? When all is going well and then BAM! craziness abounds, certain little girls are off-kilter with their nap routines, the weeds are growing in all the gardens with no time to pull them and someone needs something every waking moment that daddy is gone at work.

And then Friday hits and it seems as though at least three out of four are suddenly sprouting new teeth! No, seriously, I think each child is in a different stage of either teeth on their way or poking through currently. Ouch.

Within all of this, I contemplated blogging and my enjoyment of blogging. But the time, the precious time, that doesn't seem to happen these days. And, as if on cue, sweet Tracy had this post that spoke to me and shared my feelings exactly. I realized that I was not alone and although I love my sweet little place here in the blogosphere, I need to BE here in my home where I am needed much more.

Even though I missed out on the homeschool conference on Saturday (missed seeing you Margaret!), I just wasn't ready. I'm not sure what direction/curriculum I want to go with for the next school year yet. I need some time to pause and just settle in to the now. Come July I will probably be ready to go and scouring the catalogs and websites again with eager anticipation, but not yet.

Spending the week settling into a less hurried, scurried and busy life allowed me to treasure some really good times with the kids too. And, with a toddler who is daily growing her little vocabulary and adding animal noises to the scene, it makes for some very fun times. I'm glad I didn't miss these days, even in the midst of some very chaotic moments.

As I thought about what I might be missing and not blogging about last week or the fact that I wasn't conjuring up posts in my head all day long, I found it timely that I read this quote last week (again, thank you Tracy!) as well:

Comparison is the death of contentment.

So true. The more I re-read that line, the more it rang true. And you know how contentment fits in with tranquility and peace. And how comparison can affect a mama's tranquility. Perhaps you recall that Tranquility is my word for this year?

It all came together as a short and sweet reminder.

No, I may not blog every day or blog with beautiful insight or blog with real words some days, but blogging is not my job. Motherhood is.

And I found that while settling in to summer, I'm also settling back in to the role of motherhood as I take a break from the official title of 'teacher'.

With that in mind, I think we're going to work on a Summer Bucket List (thanks, Patty) for our family.

For this week I'm looking  forward to the end of Lily's soccer season and to family that is coming to visit later this week.

And I'm going to enjoy a little more time settling in.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Attention Google Readers!

A new header is up on my blog!

Go check it out!

And I assure you, a new post or two will actually come out next week. Hooray!

Hope you are all having a wonderful June weekend.
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