Saturday, July 4, 2015

A 4th of July 7QT - with a playlist for your holiday

1 - Need a 4th of July playlist? Well, if country music is your thing then you'll love this one. These are the songs we'll be listening to tomorrow.

2 - We've got a big day ahead of us for the 4th of July. The German potato salad and red, white, and blue rice krispie treats are made and ready for a full day of train rides and petting zoos at the park, parades, grilling, drinking, family, and fireworks. One of my favorite parts, though, is that Travis' family (who we'll be with) always stands for the flag when it passes. I told you before, we're a bunch of patriots.

3 - In case you're still trying to decide what to bring to the nation's birthday party here's some suggestions of offerings that are good and safe for people with gluten, soy, egg, nut, and dairy allergies. Sorry to self-promote, but potlucks and dinner parties always make me so scared for my boys. No one wants to end their holiday with anaphylaxis.

4 - One year we actually did this:
But not this year.

5 - In the past I've listed of things I love about America and traditional 'Merican things.I thought it would be fun to do it again. So here goes:

superheroes, strawberry pretzel salad, Johnny Cash, homecomings for members of the armed forces, Netflix, potlucks, Chinese take out, fireflys, kiddie pools, national parks, the Little House on the Prairie books, comic con, country music, sparklers, baby showers, cold beer in a bottle, Texas queso, redwood forests, bonfires, s'mores, Kateri Tekawitha, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Fallon, Longmire, westerns, John Wayne, Joan of Arch WWII posters, The Walking Dead, Bottlecaps candy, McDonald's french fries, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, Superbowl parties, hats at the Kentucky Derby, libraries, family pizza nights, splash parks, the Declaration of Independence, blogs, DIY, This Old House, father of the bride speeches at wedding receptions, people who use clothes lines, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, Pinterest, my kids running around in the backyard as they spray each other with the garden hose.

6 - I'm already a day late and a dollar short with this, but that's what happens when I make time for napping instead of blogging. Thanks, Kelly for hosting and for being on the ball!

7 - Happy 4th of July, everyone. God bless America and may He protect and bless our troops.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hollie Hobbie and cute things the kids said

I suppose it's because we've been home together a lot more, but it seems that the kiddos have been saying lots of super cute things lately and I wanted to share.

Resa, uniting the world of diapers and trains: Last night, my diaper came uncoupled.

Me: Who was our first president?
L: Lincoln?
Me: No. That was a good guess, though.
Ben: Jesus?

Resa: I didn't knock it over, I just wobbled it a bit.

Resa: I want to watch the movie Mom's a Bear. You know that movie, where you're a bear? I want to watch that movie. Mom's a Bear.
Me: You mean Brave? You want to watch Brave?
Resa: Yeah! Mom's a Bear!

Resa, talking about a dvd with a scratch in it: This movie is itchy.

L, who has recently her bottom two teeth: Do you think the Tooth Fairy is nocturnal and is up during the day?

JF, who is kicking apraxia's butt a little more every day: Ready! Steady! GOOOOO!

My June mantel featured flowers from the yard and two embroideries my mom did years ago. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fulton Sheen Family Day - making our faith fun and interesting through Venerable Sheen

The second annual Fulton Sheen Family Day was held this past weekend in El Paso, Illinois. 

Why El Paso? Well, while New York is where Sheen is currently entombed, D.C. is where he spent the majority of his life, and Peoria is where he was raised and first served as a priest, it was in the small town of El Paso where Fulton Sheen was born, baptized, and spent his earliest years. 

St. Mary's Parish and Fr. Don hosted the event and while numbers were low it was a really wonderful day. 

At registration kids grabbed a bag, filled it with a Sheen holy card, coloring book, and comic book. We ask for a $1 per person donation, which helps us offset the cost of supplies but also keeps the event family (and budget) friendly. Everyone was also able to enter for a one of our door prizes.

Ignatius Press, Sophia Press Institute, the Sheen Foundation, and musician Matt Faley all made donations for the door prizes.  

We also gave away Sheen's World Mission Rosaries, dvd's, holy cards, and more.

The sisters who run the Sheen Museum in Peoria (a really great visit if you ever get the chance!) brought some relics and other interesting items to display.

We even got a picture of St. Mary's priest, Fr. Don, wearing Sheen's chasibule. 

The sisters also brought this great timeline of Sheen's life. 

Here's one of my favorite facts:

Fr. Don brought a collection of photographs from all the times Bishop Sheen returned to El Paso. He came back several times throughout the years to preside at the wedding of family members and to be present for other special events.

There were four activity stations and each one had a simple version for younger kids and a more detailed version for older kids. All the stations taught about the faith but also related to Fulton Sheen's life. There were adults and teens at every station to explain the craft and how it related to Sheen. Our hope is that children and parents alike will find the Sheen Family Day to be a fun, interesting mini pilgrimage. We hope they will walk away having learned something new that will lead them to know and love Christ more, and having enjoyed being Catholic.

Miraculous Medals:

Spiritual Adoption of Unborn Babies & Fetal Models:

A priest is not his own:

(The kids colored and tape up the altar, then colored the stand-up. One side was a priest, the other Christ.)

World Mission Rosary:

Snacks! Because the day began at 2, followed by a kid-friendly holy hour at 4, with the invitation for the Sheen Family Day attendees to stay for the 5pm Mass, we wanted to make sure there were snacks to help keeps kiddos happy and tummies content until dinner time.

Katie's mom made the cookie cakes with the Sheen chalkboard frosting.

Lots of fruits and veggies, too!

And cute plates and napkins.

The extra tables had coloring sheets so families could snack and color, or even grab some of these and take them home in their goody bags.

Following the activity and snack time, we headed over to St. Mary's Church for a holy hour. If you ever get to St. Mary's make sure you check out the Baptismal register, where Sheen signed his name at his entry during one of the visits

Fr. Don sat on the steps and talked to the kids about Christ in the Eucharist and led the kids in prayers. As runaway toddlers brisked past him, he didn't bat an eye, and a musician led songs throughout the hour, too.

Katie even created a special booklet for kids to use while they prayed.  L told me it was the best holy hour she'd ever been to.

The whole day afternoon was really wonderful, and it wouldn't have been possible without the generosity of the following:

The Sheen Foundation, for their donation of various books, printed materials, and for bringing special relics and Sheen Museum items.

Sophia Press Institute, for their donation of God's World and Our Place in It, Wartime Prayer Book, and Angel in the Waters

Ignatius Press, for their donation of Remade for Happiness

Matt Faley, for the donation of his album The Only Light

Katie Bogner, who put a great deal of time, talent, and treasure into developing the day, recruiting volunteers, planning and preparing for the crafts.

Sr. Lea, Sr. Anne, Fr. Don, and all the folks who volunteered - this really couldn't have happened without them.

Next year we plan on being back in Peoria. I hope to see you then and there!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Avett Brothers and my grandma

When I was a girl all four of my mom's grandparents were still alive. I have many memories of them and I consider it a gift that I knew them as well as I did. My mom's mom's mom I especially remember: her light red hair, her knobby hands, the colorful popcorn balls she'd make, sitting in her little living room and looking at her little knick-knacks.

When she died they sang "In the Garden" at her funeral. Ever since I have associated that song with her and with the loss and grief we felt once she was gone.

Recently, several events have happened in my family's private life, one right after the other, and all have left me feeling like the rug was pulled out from underneath us. Some of the things happening have left me worried and sad, others have left me hurt and angry. All together, I've been a bit of a beat up mess for a couple of months now, though probably only my husband would know it.

For the most part I don't know how to deal with the situations at hand. I suspect I just need to make my way through it all and time will take care of the details, so that's been my mode of operation.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, came a special break from it all. A friend invited me to attend the local Avett Brothers' concert, her treat. She had an extra ticket and was pretty sure I was the only one of her friends who knows who the band is, let alone enjoys their music.

It was a thrill.

I suppose it was a bit of a relief for me, a night away where I didn't have to think or talk about anything hard. I could just listen to the music... until a specific song in the night.

When those three men stood in a spotlight and sang "In the Garden" tears sat in my eyes and a lump sat in my throat.

I'd stay in the garden with Him tho the night around me be falling. But He bids me go through a voice of woe. His voice to me is calling, and He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known. 

And that about sums it up, folks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A future train driver, a pirate, and a mom sum up their school year AND the Best of the Web

Summer is in full swing in these parts. Of course it's raining almost every day but there's still time for swimming lessons, playing in the sprinkler, and checking in on our small garden and pumpkin patch. 

Today we tried something new: handwriting and math worksheets for the older three while Resa and I worked on shapes, colors, and numbers. L read aloud to us all and then I sent them to play - I have some very important blogging to do!

Important blogging, like posting the last day of school pics for the sake of my adult children who will read this blog when I am dead and shed tears over how embarrassing I was.


Ben finished his school year first.
At the beginning of the year Ben wanted to learn how to make boats. Sadly that didn't happen for him this year but he did learn his ABCs, as in how to write, identify, sign, and say their sounds. I had at least taught him the song. He also wanted to be a farmer when he grew up and he said he likes trains.

JF's last day came next.
I didn't do the survey with JF at the beginning of the year, probably because I didn't have my act together. Sorry future JF! But how cute is it that he wants to be a pirate when he grows up? arrrrgh

L finished up third and here's what she had to say for herself:
Math was what L was excited to learn at the beginning of the year and I'm so glad she takes after her daddy and enjoys the thrill of numbers. (That actually wasn't sarcastic.) In August she wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up, which was heavily influenced by a visit from Resa's godmother who is a vet, and she liked flowers. Now she likes playing on the slip-n-slide.

Travis finished up his school year last, spent a week working at his parents, and then started an intensive masters' class. So here we are now. The baby is sleeping, Travis assignment for the day has been submitted, JF just got tossed on the sofa, and Ben is calling someone a Tickle Turd. 

And on that note, may I introduce you to 

This week (and it's only Wednesday!) has been a fabulous one for blog posts. Here's some of my faves.

On fairy tales and letting my children believe at Svellerella

The one thing every parent needs to stop doing at Team Whitaker

State of the blog: Going forward at House for Five

20 states + 6 weeks + 3 kids + 1 van = Our next crazy idea at Carrots for Michaelmas

Changing the world with a bonfire, and a giveaway! at Like Mother Like Daughter

What we'd like new moms to know podcast from The Visitation Project

I want the tidying up, but not KonMari's brand of "Life Changing Magic" at Ordinary Lovely

#5Faves: Things about my husband at Everything to Someone

Raising Boys to Men - 12 insightful guidebooks for parents at Sole Searching Mama

God cares about skillful design, a guest post at Look to Him and Be Radiant (be sure to check out her giveaway!)

Have a fun day, all, and thanks for stopping in!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Answer Me This!

I think Kendra's Answer Me This link-ups are always a lot of fun. I mean look at her blog! It's a carnival! How can it not be fun over there?

And with Kendra bringing back the Answer Me This link-up for the summer, well how could I stay away? She's got some good questions, so let's get going.

1. Any big plans for the summer?
Sleeping in, napping, eating lots of fruit, hitting up the farmers' market - those are the little things but they actually are big plans for me because I look forward to them every summer. There won't be any trips further than the Chicagoland area, but we are looking forward to a friend's baby shower, my sister-in-law's bridal shower, the big family gathering that happens every 4th of July with Travis' family, and the upcoming Sheen Family Day.

2. What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
There were three sassafrass trees that grew up from the same spot so that the bottoms of their trunks grew into one another. At one point my dad cut off another sapling that was growing up from the trunk base, creating a flat spot, right next to a small knot / whole in one of the trunks. There was also a little dip in the gathered trunks. All together it looked like the entrance to a fairy's home with a well right outside the door. I believed a fairy did live there and drank that water, and I would leave her flowers and whatnot.

Turns out some young boys - who shall not be named - would pee in the "well" making it most definitely not suitable for habitation or magical fairy water.


3. What is your favorite amusement park ride? (can be a specific one at a specific park or just a type of ride)
Growing up I always loved riding The Scrambler at our town's Old Settler Days fair. Any more, though, my motion sickness won't let me tolerate any such rides, though I think I would probably like bumper cars.

4. What's on your summer reading list?
This summer I'll be reading the Little House Rocky Ridge books and Pioneer Girl. That should keep me pretty busy, but when I'm done I'd like to read Bossy Pants by Tina Fey after a friend recommended it.

5. Have you ever fallen asleep in public?
Do airplanes count? Because I've fallen asleep multiple times on airplanes. Also at adoration. Once at a theater.

6. What is your favorite smell?
Fresh baked bread is probably my favorite, but any freshly baked item - pie, cake, cookies, rolls, muffins - all smell fabulous.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My weight is personal but so is my blog

Is weight and the effort to lose it too personal of a matter to talk about it online? I definitely don't think so. Do we need to change how we talk about and view health and beauty? Yes, yes we do.

In Yes, I'm Overweight, and I Don't Care, blogger Michelle Arnold shares her story with weight, from watching her parents' relationships with their own bodies and health to horrible comments directed at her because of her own weight. At the end of the post she makes a couple of statements:

Do not talk about weight on the Internet. Do not talk about your weight, or anyone else’s. If you have decided to lose weight, either for health reasons or because you are unsatisfied with how you look, that’s great. More power to you. I wish you all the best.

But there is absolutely no reason the Internet needs to know about your mission.


Because when you call yourself “fat,” you are not just hurting yourself. You have the potential to hurt others who struggle with weight, and whose stories as to why they are overweight you may never know. When you do that and you also deny the reality of fat shaming, you provide a handy link for all the thin fat shamers out there who are compiling evidence for “interventions” with overweight friends and family. “See! This person is [or was] fat too, and she says that being fat shouldn’t be glamorized!”

Weight is an extremely personal issue. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?

Here's the thing: being fat shouldn't be glamorized. Neither should being thin. Michelle and I are in total agreement there. What is important - so, so important - is being healthy. Health is what should be celebrated. And one person's healthy body will look very different from another's.

I believe that I have a moral obligation to be healthy because our bodies are important. My body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. All of me - soul and body - has been redeemed by Christ and all of me - soul and body - will be in Heaven for eternity. I am responsible for taking care of my body.

I also know that I have not been doing the best of jobs with that. Further, I know that for me to be super trim and toned I would never get to eat or drink food I enjoy and I would have to work out a ridiculous amount of time. Since I like food and I hate exercise, manipulating my body into that kind of shape would be horrible, a punishment almost. There is a balance, a happy medium we can call it, and I call that being Healthy.

Now I have a whole sub-category in my sidebar called "being fat" and I use that term because I'd much rather think of myself as "fat" than "obese." Hopefully when I've written about my struggles with my weight I've never hurt anyone else. Michelle is right though, there is the potential that when someone who looks like me sees me and then hears me calling myself "fat" they may feel like I just called them fat. I may even be unintentionally striking at a wound they have. I hope everyone knows that when I'm talking about myself I am only talking about myself, and I sincerely hope I haven't hurt anyone.

But since a healthy body can look very different from one person to the next does that mean we shouldn't talk about it online? Should we not share our weight loss failings and victories on our blogs and social media accounts because it's too personal and may hurt or be used as ammo against someone else?

No. No way.

Weight loss journeys are no more personal than the many things we bloggers talk about: politics, religion, sex, death, addictions, child loss, family planning... If I were to not write about topics that may hurt or offend I would having pretty much nothing to write about. Writing about my kids could be a wound for the child-less; writing about my marriage could hurt the single, divorced, or widowed; writing about the beauty of Christ in the Eucharist could hurt someone who is outside the Church.

Plus, I have always found inspiration from those who are willing to be vulnerable and share their weight loss journeys. My friend M.H. blogged her weight loss and I still think of her (even though I only know her through the internet) when I am trying to do better. Right now The Crescat is sharing the same journey on her blog and I've found her honesty to be both inspiring and encouraging - even when she's struggling.

Healthy can look like a lot of things. I actually like my body with a bit more "softness" and feel much more feminine that way than if I were super trim and toned. But I also like when I can comfortably sit, bend over, walk up stairs, play with my kids, go for hikes, buy clothes not in the Plus / Women's section of stores. Finding that balance is hard and it's one I plan to continue to discuss on my blog because it helps me and hopefully it will help others. I hope you all will stick around for it and I hope that as I have success you will celebrate with me and that when I fail you will not tell me to try Paleo but will continue to cheer me on.

If you want to read older posts on weight here's some of the highlights:
Removing the shame so it will all taste better

A letter to myself as a new mom

PSA: Never ask a woman when she's due

Real Beauty: hard to watch

Running to Lose: a guest post on weight loss