Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The 12 (Or So) Photos Of 2014 {link up}

I decided to hop on the bandwagon of top photos from the past year with House Unseen. It's always fun to look back at the year and remember certain things or be reminded of those forgotten moments.
2014 was a year of growth, sadness, trust, and blessing. Clicking through the photos of the year reminded me once again of the growth of my children in the span of a year. It also showed the beauty of family, the tenderness of loss, and the joy of friends of the heart.

Let's get started.

January:   Winter days, hazy days, nothing but inside days. This is when we rely on the craziness of toddlerhood to keep us laughing and grace to keep us going.

February:  When baby turns two, but still has a paci and it's the cutest thing ever. We got out a bit more, but winter threatened to rob us of our sanity.

March:  The hope of spring was in the air and the journey through lent kept us looking on toward a new season. Our parish held the annual Winter Carnival and the Olaf pinata is still one of my favorite memories from the year. 

April:  Easter arrived and the air was fresh and crisp. I remember it vividly, as if it were my first spring. It felt glorious! When my heart kept nudging me to visit my grandma on her birthday, I followed its command. It was the last time my kids saw great grandma and I saw her happy. It was a good day and I'll treasure that visit in my heart always.

May:  We continued on with our steady school days. It also began a season of field trips and family day trips enjoying the great outdoors. So too began the days of short sleeves, flip flops, and silly girls.  

June:  One event that clouded the year was the loss of grandma, just six months after grandpa. This photo is most of my memory of that day. As in life, so in death, she was surrounded by people and it was beautiful. 

July: The kids were making their final preparations for the County Fair while we were taking in our summer days. We again hosted Vocations Camp, enjoyed some time with grandpa and grandma, and decided to begin the adventure of raising chickens. 

August:  The days were warm and the garden continued to be bountiful. A visit with friends proved to be just what I needed. Many days were spent out and about as a family enjoying life and I finished a 5K walk/run with my big kids. 

September:  School was in full swing and the weekends were for adventure. Lily celebrated her birthday by getting her ears pierced, we took in the fall colors, and enjoyed a few days away

October:  I took my first solo airplane ride and lived to tell the tale. On the other side I met up with two amazing friends and had one of the most memorable trips ever. That weekend was one of my favorite memories from 2014. 

November:  Winter began with a big snow dump when I was least prepared. The snow gear was pulled out and we began settling in to another season. More days at home, but with holidays on the horizon we had the fun to look forward to.  

December:  My favorite season (Advent) was upon us and the days were marked with prayer, baking, memories, and traditions. A laid back, peaceful Christmas was just as it should be and our bellies were full and hearts content. 

Here's to looking ahead to 2015 and the days that will shape the new year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Wishes for a blessed Christmas season for you and your family, 

From our family...

And the angelic children at 1:20 AM....

Plus the crazy couple who raises these beauties...

I'll be back with more once the celebrating and eating is all wrapped up. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Final Days

I wish all days of winter or at least all the days leading up to Christmas looked like this:

That's my vision of the beauty I wish Advent had held. Sure, it really did on a good portion of the days. With the right mix of prayer, reflection, steady days, and family time, the past weeks have been good ones. While those proportions weren't evenly divided, we did our best to make our Advent the preparation time. 

The pink week gave us extra feelings of Advent preparing as we headed out of the house to enjoy the season. 

The girls were pumped.

Our more recent annual tradition of taking the kids to experience a local Live Nativity, was a hit once again. We bundled up and headed into the 20 degree weather to see the camels, goats, donkey, and of course those dressed up in costume. It's simple, but it has also become one of our favorite evenings each year. It is usually the week before Christmas and fills us up and puts us in the right spirit. We also take in some great Christmas light displays along the drive as well. 

The following evening, we again headed out (mark your calendars, that's two nights in.a.row out of the house!) and attended the kids' piano recital. 

Another job well done by both of the them and another excellent way to get in the Christmas spirit. 

They are growing up, don't you think? 

The weekend proved to be a fruitful one without much on the agenda. I have most all of the loose ends tied up at home, so I could help Reed with some of his baking and we could make our holiday meal plans. My parents came to visit and we enjoyed a couple of meals with them and a peaceful evening watching a movie together. 

Sunday after Mass we had one of my aunts and a cousin over to our house for a baking afternoon. In honor of my grandma's love of baking and having family gathered around her, I decided to extend the hospitality that she always shared with so many people. We had a great time reminiscing and remembering my grandparents, laughing, and making cutout cookies using my grandma's recipe. 

Perhaps this will be the beginning of a new Advent tradition?

As the weekend came to a close, our priest's homily theme echoed in my mind....

There is still time: Prepare!

With the final countdown to Christmas ahead of us, let us not forget all that has led us to that Holy Night.

My hope is that my family can put our feet up, rest, and enjoy each and every day this week.

And keep on smiling.

I hope that you can do the same and enjoy each precious moment with your family too. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Drink, Smell, And Be Well

Every once in a while a random thought triggers a blog post and then hours/days pass by and it goes unwritten. Gone are those days of wonderfully inspired, thoughtful posts. I guess it's just the season of streamed (un)consciousness I am in these days.

I'll just roll along with the few free minutes I have and go with it. We're wrapped up in this beautiful, wonderfully good season of Advent (my favorite) and I'm trying my best to take in what I can.

Let's just call these my current top 5 things that have rocked my December. Ready?

Sure, call me living-under-a-rock. Or call me a Minnesotan who hasn't a Dunkin' Donuts near her. My trip out east in October brought about a great enlightenment to the wonder that is Dunkin' Donuts. It may not be Starbucks, but to this hometown gal it's a step up from my el-cheapo coffee and my tastebuds are in heaven. It has become my 'splurge' item of which I delight in a cup both morning and afternoon. Add in my flavored creamer of the week and it brightens my day. What can I say? I'm easy to please.

Another enticing drink that found its way to my home last weekend was the Apple-Ahhh-Rita. Have you tried these little treats yet? I had found the Straw-Ber-Rita late summer and not being a beer drinker, but a fan of margaritas, I gave it a try. Oddly, I liked it. I see that the apple variety is a fall limited edition, but it's still in my local store. I also see they have a Mango and Raz (among other flavors) that I may need to taste test in order to choose my favorite. (Patty, I highly suggest heading to your nearest wet county and trying these)

Let's talk winter, shall we? With the onset of dry winter air and being indoors most of the time with the furnace running, we've entered dry skin season. Being that I have sensitive skin, I am especially prone to notice these changes. Literally, in the span of a day my facial skin suddenly dried out like crazy dry. I searched online for something that would quench my parched skin, but being that I also have oily skin I had to be picky on what to try. I found several recommendations for Nivea Creme on your face at nighttime. I found it at our local Walmart and decided to try it out. I'm happy I did! I slather it on after my nighttime face washing and it makes my face ready for the morning without making it overly greasy. I was fearful at first since it appears oily on the skin after application, but after working all night it's completely fine.

I even tried it on the cracked heels of my feet (I am almost always barefoot) and saw great improvement just over a few days.

What would winter be without cold and flu germs swirling about? I was convinced this fall that we were not going to fall stricken with any of those nasty germs this year. 2014 started out with nearly a month of colds/hacking coughs that wouldn't go away and I wasn't about to revisit that. I decided to stock my natural arsenal survival kit with essential oils to use topically as well as in our Fan Fuser diffusers. While we did just suffer through two weeks of that same early 2014 crud (might as well finish the year the way we started), the oils did help us to some degree. I think that being more on top of these things with consistent use will help build up our immunity. I found a bunch of the oils online at Amazon for a good price. I have been looking up their uses when symptoms pop up and the diffusers are mainly used at night in the bedrooms. Eight hours of natural oils should help build up that immunity and push aside at least some of those germs. I also found that I must be going through sinus issues and eucalyptus has become my new friend. A drop of it on rubbed around the edges of my nostrils a couple times a day and at bedtime has worked wonders for me.

Lastly, a wonderful smelly feel good scent in my kitchen, aside from the Christmas baking. Last Christmas I received a wax melt plug in and it has been one of my favorite gifts. Ever. I enjoy changing the scents and trying warm, homey smells all year 'round. I generally get the inexpensive ones that fill shelves at Walmart. Last week in the holiday section I had a hard time choosing just the right blends of holiday scents. I threw the Sparkling Berry Garland one in the cart and hoped it was a goody. It's definitely a keeper. With the right mix of evergreen and berry, it is my new seasonal favorite. I also see that it's a Limited Edition for 2014 so it seems I will need to stock up for future use. 

I hope that your Advent has been a peaceful one and you are enjoying this season of preparing our King.  May you find many ways to Rejoice this week.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tugging Heartstrings

I remember well the phone call. I remember the sadness that clung to my heart. I remember the months when I could not blog here because I just simply couldn't. I lost the longing for the familiar connections and felt there were no words to be said.

While the days, weeks and months passed, a hidden part of me was paralyzed and found settling in difficult. A "normal" that didn't include a member of my family who had always been there was simply difficult to comprehend.

Caught off guard and unprepared to lose my grandpa, that December day and that phone call still echo in my head.The movements of the following days in which the the family who gathered to say goodbye were mixed with familiar hometown faces.

One year later, my thoughts turn to fond memories and many stories I heard through the years. I still hear his voice and see his every movement from my last visit with him just a few weeks prior. His bushy eyebrows, his hardworking, but softened hands, the way he looked at grandma and his hearty laugh.

Not surprisingly, just six month later, grandma joined him. As in life, so too in death, their souls longed to be together.

This Advent, I am comforted by the hope that they are together in heaven. I am consoled by the peace that I pray their eternity brings.

And yet, there is the finality that the sight of dates on a gravestone brings.

The bittersweet parts of our hope and our faith that touch our heartstrings a little more deeply on days such as this.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Beginning December And Advent {Daybook}

Outside My Window...

There's a breeze outside and it's 14 degrees. The morning stillness in winter before the sunrise is a starkness I never get used to.

Thankful For...

The Thanksgiving weekend and lots of family time with my parents and brother's family.

Being healthy so that I can tend to the kids under my roof who are under the weather.

Thinking About...

This from our pastor's corner in this week's bulletin:

"Quite often, the hectic pace of the season becomes more of a passing blur rather than an entered preparation. The sadness is that when we miss the preparation, the moment we await is less fruitful. When we miss out on recognizing the journey, the meaning of the destination is diminished."

I am Hearing...

The usual morning chatter of children with the occasional outburst of crankiness. It seems many of them are not a morning people.


The St. Andrew Christmas Novena for a number of intentions, but especially for my SIL and my baby nephew that will arrive in spring.

For my mom on her 60th birthday today.

What I'm Reading...

Before my trip back in October, I stumbled upon a series of books I had read from in the past. I was delighted to find that the Tales from Grace Chapel Inn series has numerous books and authors that keep alive the stores from Grace Chapel Inn. These light reads are perfect for me right now when I have few moments to read, but I can make great progress each day. I am enjoying the tales from Acorn Hill and the lives of the Howard sisters as they run the local Bed & Breakfast. I was especially delighted when I just found out there are just under 50 books in this series.

What We've Been Up To...

The off-and-on approach to potty training yet another stubborn, reluctant trainer.

Twelve of our chickens met their destiny (aka our freezer) on Black Friday. Thanks to my brother's help, I could stay uninvolved and he and Reed took care of business.

Christmas shopping, mostly of the online variety, means many packages greeting me at my door. Seriously, what did people do before the internet?! Thankfully, the bulk of my shopping is complete and I'm eager to start wrapping.

Celebrating Thanksgiving and my mom's 60th birthday last weekend with my family. It was a lot of fun spending some rare time together for two whole days!

Preparing for Advent at home and at church. That means more hours spent with small parish projects as part of my job and constantly planning ahead during this liturgical season.

Lily and I enjoyed a girls afternoon and attended the ballet of Sleeping Beauty. It was Lily's first ballet and only my second. We agreed that it was an enjoyable afternoon out of the house.

Jonah has officially graduated from Speech services at the public school. It was a day to celebrate after just over one school year of weekly sessions. Both his teacher and I agreed that he had made great progress and had achieved all of his speech goals. Hooray!

From the Kitchen...

Not much after the Thanksgiving feast and weekend of irregular eating schedule. I really need to get back to a menu plan. I hope to warm the oven and my home soon with yummy Christmas cookie baking with the kids.

From the Schoolroom...

The students will keep plugging away on their usual schoolwork while I try to keep the little girls entertained with projects. Gianna especially seems to enjoy busyness and "projects" to do while the kids are schooling. I am working on compiling some easy Advent/Christmas projects, coloring sheets and worksheets for the coming weeks. I just found a bunch of preschool goodies over at first-school yesterday and I'll seek out a few more today. These will all go well with the stack of Christmas books I recently snatched up at the library.

Around the House...

There's still Thankful decor, lots of turkeys and pilgrims on the scene. I'm looking forward to Christmas decorating and changing a few things this upcoming weekend.

On Tap for this Week...

Getting a couple kiddos healthy again.

Piano lessons tomorrow, plus a few errands and Christmas shopping for a few of Reed's gifts.

A three evening mini-mission at our parishes focused on Mary, that includes confessions on Thursday evening. I hope to attend at least a couple sessions and settle into Advent with prayer and quiet.

Picture to Share...

**I'm sharing more photos via Instagram these days. If you don't see me much here, I am over there and joining the HolyLens project this Advent. Click on the icon at the top of my sidebar to find me.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...