Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Last night, today, and tomorrow

Last night some of the Blessed Is She team had a Google Hangout and it was a lot of fun! If you missed it you can watch the video here.

And now coming up in a few hours I will be joining my co-hosts Rebecca and Heather for a LIVE hour on Mater Dei Radio. They're doing their Fall Sharathon and so we get to do some extra work. :) It should be a really fun hour and I hope you can tune in a bit. You can stream us on their website, right here.

Oh! And! I have a special intention for this week and if you get the chance to say a quick (or long) prayer for me and my intention I would really appreciate it.

And now the crying children await. Not because they are hurt or hungry or need their butts wiped... they just want me. So buh-bye!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thrilling things you'll want to know, aka Seven Quick Takes

1 - It's been a long time since I've started one of these Seven Quick Takes with a song so I thought I'd come back with a sugary pop bang:

Judge away but I love this song and can't stop listening to it. You can feel bad for my husband, it's okay.

2 - I finally got my hands on a copy of As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. It was a delightful book - especially if you know and love The Princess Bride. As soon as I was done I picked up the novel The Princess Bride, which I've read before but it's a treat to re-read.

3 - I've been working on show notes for The Visitation Project. There's some new episodes up, the one on Forgiveness has my stubbornness on full display.

4 - I'm part of a wonderful group of friends at our parish. These are couples who are funny, kind, and love their faith.  Twice a month the men get together and do boy, I mean manly things. (Last month they made a Bat signal... like Batman.... while drinking beer and also talking about NFP.) The women get together once a month for a bit of wine, a bit of conversation, and a bit of faith formation. Last month was awesome  with Kathryn Whitaker Skyping in and to share tips for running your home with less stress - so good!- and this month our associate pastor, a priest from Uganda who is here getting his doctorate in education, spoke about the strengths and weaknesses of the Catholic Church in America - also so good! What awesome things do you have going on at your parish?

5 - I began watching Once Upon a Time on Netflix. I had seen some of the episodes before; I think I watched the whole first season or two on tv but then things got a little rocky for me and I bowed out. I started watching again after so many people recommended it to me while I was on bed rest, and I'm liking it. Especially now that we're out of Neverland.

6 - I also started physical therapy. I've never done PT before and I must say that so far I love it. I have horrible pain in my lower back and hips - something I've had with most of my pregnancies and something that just keeps getting worse. My midwife recommended me to a local PT place that specializes in women's care and I really like the woman working with me. My problem: poor posture and lots and lots and lots of tense muscles. I got a 30 minute massage today and it was called therapy and it was amazing.

7 - Please consider this a friendly reminder that I'm an Amazon affiliate so if you are planning on doing any Halloween shopping online you can begin here, clicking on the image in the sidebar, and I'll earn money at no extra fee to you. It's incredibly helpful to our budget (hello, school uniforms!) and Travis and I really appreciate it whenever any of my readers do that for us. So thank you.

And now a big THANK YOU to Kelly for hosting every week. Make sure you head on over to This Ain't the Lyceum because she's got a wonderful give-away running right now. Good luck to you on winning it!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Getting back into the swing of things: Living liturgically in the month of October

The last few months have been so crazy for my family. There was the scare that we were losing our baby, the bed rest that followed, the death of my grandmother, and the wedding of my sister-in-law. 

I've been living my life, scrambling from one thing to the next, unable to do anything because I was always playing catch-up and running late and missing things completely. 

For a bit I was feeling doomed to continue in this way until I was reflecting on my faith and what I love about it. Hands down, one of the greatest gifts the Catholic Church gives me is the structure and rhythm of incorporating liturgical living into our domestic church. I realized that while I had needed to discard meal planning and feast day celebrating while I was in the hospital, on bed rest, and the days that followed it was time to bring them back. 

For me, feast day celebrating is usually pretty basic. I have to feed my family and life runs more smoothly with a meal plan so I just sit down with my calendar, take note of any feast days I want to celebrate, and write out a menu. 

But sometimes I don't even try to have a meal that makes sense with the saint. I'm not making French food for St. Therese, for example. In those situations dessert and a holy card are enough for me. And more often than not, just dessert. 

But I thought I'd share the feast days I'm planning on trying to celebrate this October. Just having these things noted on the calendar make me feel like I'm regaining a hold on my life. 

So here's to living intentionally!

I'm going to sneak this first one in at the last minute but...
September 29th - Michaelmas: 
Here's our menu for Tuesday's dinner + my interview with Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas. 

October 1st - St. Therese of Lisieux: 
Roses on the dinner table with a holy card + a simple dessert

October 5th - St. Faustina:
Pierogies + Polish sausage for dinner and the hope that we'll pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet 

October 7th - Our Lady of the Rosary:
Chocolate chip and mini marshmallow rosary for dessert

October 19th - St. John de Brebeuf, St. Isaac Jogues, and Companions 
Burgers and french fries - all American fare for the North American Martyrs

October 22nd - St. John Paul the Great

October 31st - All Hallows Eve

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hut, Hut, Hike me one of them chocolate football strawberries and pass me that dip!

Have I ever told you how much I hated football in high school and therefore most of my early - mid twenties?

Think of the show Friday Night Lights and that just about sums up my high school and town's love of teenage boys throwing a ball around. More people attended games than voted in local elections. I didn't know anything about the game or its rules, I just knew those boys got a lot of slack because they wore jerseys. Hashtag: Lame.

But then I married Travis and every Sunday, Monday, and Thursday was special because of the NFL, and extra special if the Chicago Bears were playing.

Over the years I have come to enjoy football. Travis has patiently taught me the rules, refreshing my memory when needed. The kids and I went through a phase where we listened to the ESPN Tim Tebow song way too much. I started to listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning.

But I have especially grown to love Sundays during football season. The family always gathers, sometimes with friends, and we eat pizza and chips and dip and drink root beer or beer beer. I watch, I cheer, I eat, and sometimes I nap. It's fabulous.

Last Sunday the Bears were playing the Packers. Honestly, I was a little nervous about how it would turn out for my Chicago team (read: I thought it was going to be an embarrassing defeat) but we still invited some friends over to watch the game.

The menu:
Pizza Rolls (heck yeah! Classy!)
Rotel cream cheese dip with chips (football staple - recipe below)
Shari's Berries Football Chocolate Covered Strawberries (a gift from the company and uh-ma-zing!)

We watched the pre-game show. Please note Travis, in his recliner, with the iPad following his Fantasy Football and his hand holding an entire box of Football Chocolate Strawberries. He did share, but they were that good.

In the end, the Bears lost but they held their own and it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. The first Sunday football event was fun and relaxing. The strawberries lasted to the end of the game but not the end of the day. We scraped every little bit of that Rotel dip out of the crock pot.

Don't know that recipe? It's easy and so good:
1 can Rotel (or any tomatoes with green chilis)
1 block of cream cheese
1 pound of sausage (we like the hot / spicy kind for this recipe)

Cook the sausage; drain the extra grease.
Add the ingredients to a crockpot and let the melting happen.
Mix well and serve with chips.

Easy peasy!

Come noon Sunday we will be watching the Bears play the Cardinals. Here's hoping! Who will you be watching? And what does your football menu consist of?

You can order your own for a game or a Fall themed party (!) or just for the heck of it because they're delicious by visiting their website. They've even got some suh-weet deals going on.  They come in cooled packages and pretty boxes.

All the food was good, but the berries were definitely...


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fall in Love

This summer I had the honor of throwing a bridal shower for my sister-in-law. Since she is having a fall themed wedding I wanted the shower to be autumnal, too. Plus, I was really hankering for summer to be over. 

I love looking at what other people have done for celebrations, decorations, and party-planning. I usually don't don exact copies, but I am always inspired by the creativity and beauty of others. So with that in mind, I'm sharing what I did to make my sil's shower really pretty and special, and for not too much money!

To begin with, I designed the invitation on PicMonkey. I had them printed at a local office store and loved how they turned out. 

In case you want to try something similar I used the fonts Geo Sans Light, Jellyka Delicious Cake, and Dead Hardy. I have the Royal subscription for PicMonkey and some of the fonts and pics are Royal - just a head's up.

I also used PicMonkey to make a sheet for one of my favorite games:
You can feel free to use that one if you'd like!

Then, for the shower itself I spent a lot of time checking out Pinterest. You can see my inspiration board here, but in the end this is what it looked like. (My apologies for the grainy cell phone pics - I forgot my camera!)

The menu was caramel dip with apple slices, cupcakes from the local bakery, homemade mints (a family tradition!), cheese, crakers, grapes, and fruit salad. My sister-in-law requested Moscoto punch but because girls would be there I wanted to keep it alcohol free. The punch bowl has the Sprite and pink lemonade concentrate and anyone who wanted was free to add the bubbly wine. 

My mom owns white table clothes - which I borrowed, I gathered her and my fall decorations and Mason jars, my friend Katie made this lovely banner for me, and I bought six plastic table clothes in the party section of WalMart for the back drop. For $6 it made a huge impact. 

Another request from the bride was recipe cards. Guys. I looked everywhere for recipe cards and in the end they were nowhere to be purchased so I could slip them in the envelopes. I then tried making them myself but it was overwhelming for me so I printed these up...

 ...stuck them in the invite envelopes, and found my way to this great Etsy shop, where I purchased, downloaded, and printed up super cute recipe cards.

Winners of the shower games, the bride, and the mother of the bride all took home a little treat: a packet of s'more love with marshmallows, mini Hershey bars, and graham crackers.

The bride-to-be loved the shower and, as a lover of fall myself, I was delighted to throw the party for her. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How do you say Thank You when words fail?

The moment I saw the positive reading on the home pregnancy test I began to smile. 

I knew that we already live paycheck to paycheck and this was not the best time for another mouth to feed.

I remembered quite well the traumatic experiences I've had surrounding the last few births and knew I am not yet emotionally healed from them.

I knew we no longer had a lot of the baby equipment needed and I wasn't quite sure just where this new person would sleep or sit in the mini van.

But I couldn't stop smiling.

In the days and weeks that followed that positive ept Travis and I have felt a lot of worry. I keep praying to God, trying to figure out what He wants us to do. Does He have some kind of plan that will ease up our financial worries? Is He asking us to carry the cross of financial hardship for the rest of our foreseeable lives? And to put it bluntly, with all these mathematically improbable babies I've had I'm wondering if He's asking me to just keep having babies or to not have sex until after menopause.

But then I'd feel the baby move inside of me and it was hard to feel anything but love and joy. This pregnancy was not planned, but this baby is so very wanted. 

And it turns out, that while many people have remained silent or have only offered a smile-less "congratulations," there are many, many people who are happy for us.

At this point I don't know what to say because every time I try to muster the adequate words I am left speechless.

It is so beautifully humbling that the people I view as towers, women I feel unworthy to call friends, people whose character, virtue, and lives I admire - when they bend down to scoop me up - there just aren't words. Only tears of gratitude.

As soon as we discovered we were pregnant we had friends send us gift cards to the local grocery store and surprise us with gifts for the baby to show us that they were happy for us.

A box of books arrived for all my kiddos
When I went to the hospital and came home for a week and half of bed rest we had people send us gift cards and bring us meals. Friends who took care of my kids, cleaned my home, and watered my flowers. 

A lovely spiritual bouquet
And out of nowhere, a group of my friends secretly got together to raise money as a surprise baby shower. The amount left me in tears and completely dumbfounded.

Then there are the countless people who prayed and continue to pray for our family.

When so much love and generosity is poured out, my words seem so little, but they are sincere.

Thank you.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Curious George Birthday Party for JP

In July JP turned two. 

So far the twos have been a bit on the terrible side, but he's also an incredibly sweet kiddo. He loves his blankie, the stuffed bunny L gave him, climbing and jumping off things, playing outside, going to his grandma's house, trains, and Curious George. 

To celebrate we had a Curious George themed birthday party for JP. Simple and fun.  

We always include a picture of the birthday boy or girl on the front of the invitation. Grandparents, godparents, and great-grandparents have all appreciated having a new picture each year for a frame or the fridge. 

The bunting has been used and re-used since JF's first birthday four years ago. And just like every birthday, my amazing sister-in-law made the cake.

The menu I framed and sat near the food. Along with the items on the menu I also put out a bowl of Curious George fruit snacks - a total treat for our kids. 

It was a fun, sweet day, and a really simple party theme to pull off. JP loved it - he loved having everyone sing "Happy Birthday" to him and he even sang right along with them - and he had a lot of fun. In the end, that's what makes a party a success. :)

Our party goods were purchased at WalMart.
The bunting was made by my friend, Katie, and she provides tutorials here and here.
The menu I made in PicMonkey - please feel free to use it if you'd like.