Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And...I got the Stomach Flu

Well, unfortunately, I didn't make it through the early night before coming down with the stomach flu.

It was bound to happen.

One can only clean up after others so many times...without the benefit of gloves...without falling victim to the same bug!

So, last night was a long and rough night.

I'm feeling better. A little. It seems to last about 12-18-hours around here.

Just enough to cause utter chaos around the house!

Anyway, hope to be back up and running tomorrow.

I don't have a choice. The husband is out of town.

Doesn't it always work out that way?!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

We're Alive...Barely.

Sorry so long no post...and no visiting.

I'm stuck in a vortex of stomach flu at our house. 

First Mary.  Then Benjamin.  Then Benjamin.

Yup, I typed that correctly.  Poor Ben got it twice.

It's been a long two and half weeks around our house.

The bright side...that sweet baby...I mean TODDLER....of mine has yet to get sick!  Could Luke still have immunity from breast feeding...7 months later?  LOL

Hope to be back to post tomorrow...but now my tummy hurts.  ugh 

I'm off to bed after an especially long night last night.  Three baths for Ben between 8 PM and 1:30 AM.  oy!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

HE Gives Us Enough Talent & Grace To Tell Others

This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, where Christ reveals himself to man. In our western Catholic tradition, this specifically relates to the visit of the magi (three kings) and thus, the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles.

As I was listening to Father deliver his homily, I was struck by the awesome responsibility that has been handed to us as recipients of the gift of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Gospel Mt 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
"Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage."
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
"Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

But, the story does not end there.  
Instead, the magi tell people about Christ.  They DO something.

And so, our responsibility never ends...to quote Father Pat, "We have enough talent and grace to tell others, to announce Christ..."

So how do we do that?

First, by accepting the Gospel...
Second, by offering up to God the most precious gifts we have,
and Third, by telling others.  

That might look like going door to door sharing the Gospel, it might take the form of collegians handing out tracts on campus, or maybe, it just might take a "quieter" approach that looks like a parent sharing the Gospel with their child in the home, or living a life that is an example of Christianity to our neighbors and co-workers.

1 THESSALONIANS 4: 11 & 12
(Our Family's New Year Resolution for 2012!)

Only you know how the Holy Spirit is moving you.

But regardless of "the way"...we are all called to announce Christ!

Wishing you a Most Blessed Feast of the Epiphany,

My daughter's gift?

Art. She loves to draw and sketch. And often draws pictures of the Cross, Crucifix, Saints.

During Father's homily (sorry Father Pat!) ;) she sketched this sweet drawing of our parish Nativity scene. I just love the little lamb and the tiny crown that she placed on Baby Jesus!

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays.  Please drop by to read other beautiful, faith-filled posts.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sewing on Saturday: Project 1/52 (Ruffle-Bottom Boutique-Style Pants)

Last March, (yes, nine months ago) I took a sewing class at a local craft store.

I never learned to sew while growing up and was "too busy" with other coursework to take Home Economics classes while in high school!  Who needs to know how to sew?!!!  Fast-forward twenty-five years...I do!  And it's not so much "a need" as "a desire".

Anyway, I didn't blog about it because I know myself.  I am a perfectionist, and sewing has been my nemesis.  If I can't do it "right" on the first try with this craft, then I usually give up. And, I did.  Give up.

But, my New Year's resolution is to live a more intentional life. 

Meaning, I really need to put the perfectionism aside and be more determined to learn a new skill and find enjoyment in the process.  Regardless of the final result!  :)

So, I am planning on creating 52 new projects throughout 2012.  I think I can manage 1-project a week given my "easy" skill level and can't wait to create clothing for my three kiddos as well as soft furnishings for my home and/or as gifts for others. 

Feel free to join me each Saturday as I "sew my way through 2012".  I plan to share tips and tricks that I learn as a novice, and would certainly appreciate any advice that you, dear readers, might have to offer! 

Happy Sewing on Saturday!!!

"Boutique Style" Ruffle-Bottom Pants

As you can see from the above photo, I struggle with even the most-basic of sewing skills!  The strip of fabric on top was my first attempt at hemming the ruffle.  My stitching was everywhere!  Then I remembered that I'm supposed to use "the guide" as my fabric feeds through the machine.  Thus, the bottom ruffle has a much neater hem line!

And you thought I was kidding about being a novice!

Here is my first attempt, ever, at creating a ruffle.  If you disregard my sloppy sewing skills, you might actually agree with me that it turned out cute, no?  Mary Catherine picked the fabric (pants are the polka dot fabric).  We wanted something "Fall/Winterish".  Darling daughter actually wanted the pants made from the "cheetah" fabric.  I vetoed that idea.  

My work in progress...from far-away these don't look too bad!  And wow...attaching that ruffle to the pant leg, about made me return to my old ways (of quitting!), but I persevered.

The "nearly" finished product.  I still need to add the elastic waistband, which I will do today.

Finally, a few pics of Mary modeling her new pants.

And I have enough fabric leftover to make a pair of ruffle cuffs to add to a turtleneck to make a coordinated outfit.  Which is perfect since I need to really practice those hem lines!

Some Simple Sewing Truths
(I learned along the way!)

  • Following an "EASY" sewing pattern is not as "easy" as it sounds for the novice.
  • Your seam ripper will become your best friend.
  • When in doubt...Google!  There are amazing sewing tutorials out on the web.
  • Novices really need to PIN their fabric when sewing seams, hems, etc.  Even if you've pressed your fabric.
  • Sewing is best done during naptime.  ;)
Here's the pattern I used...McCall's M6429
Favorite "YouTube" tutorial for creating ruffles to add to pants...

Friday, January 6, 2012

When You Dare to Find Joy...in the Little Things

Early this morning, I read this post.  And it moved me.  In a way, similar, to yesterday's link that I shared. 

Ann Voskamp, author of A Holy Experience
(visit here!) 
can make me long to be a farmer's wife...have six children...and walk closer with Christ.  Her writing is amazing and, apparently, many of you think so, too.  Her book, One Thousand Gifts:  A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are was on the New York Times Bestseller list.  

And she's continuing the quest...her personal journey to find 1000 gifts from God in 2012.  

And she's invited us to participate. 

All it takes is listing three gifts a day...the way sunlight sparkles through your kitchen window...how a snowflake floats gently to the ground...seeing a tulip bulb begin to sprout...to find a 1000 ways to say thank you to God in one calender year.

Are you longing for more joy in your life?

Are you tired of feeling anxious...worried...stressed?

Sometimes, all it takes is a change in perspective...even if our circumstances can't change...

Will you join me on this dare to find joy...to give thanks?

You need not make it public.  It can be a privately kept journal. 

Not sure you can find 1000 gifts in 2012...Ann has a printable journal page with daily prompts.  
Go here.

So here I go...the start of my list of 1000 gifts that I give thanks to God for experiencing...

January 1:  Three things about yourself that you are thankful for...(1)  That I'm quick to smile.  (2)  I can carry on a conversation with anyone...senior citizen...preschooler...special needs adult...  (3)  That I'm an optimistic peacemaker...always looking for a way to compromise so that all parties are happy.

January 2:  A gift outside, inside, on a plate...(4)  58 degree weather in January.  (5)  A home with a 3rd story finished attic so that my boys might share a bedroom. (6)  Paula Deen's Pumpkin (Chocolate) Chip Bread.

January 3:  Three lines you overheard that were graces...(7)  "Valerie, you always make me smile"  (8)  "Your joy is contagious"  (9)  "Mom, I wish I had a thousand dollars to give you to pay our bills."

January 4:  one gift old, new, & blue:  (10)  creamer pitcher and sugar bowl from my great-grandmother; brought to the United States with her from Poland; late 1800s.  (11)  Cuisinart Bread maker.  (12)  Luke Alexander!!!

January 5:  Something you're reading, you're making, you're seeing...(13)  January/February Issues of Southern Lady magazine.  (14)  Ruffled-bottom pants for my daughter; McCall's Easy Pattern M6429  (15)  Pine cone Nutcracker mouse on my desk that my daughter made with her Daisy Scout Troop.

January 6:  One thing in your bag...your fridge...your heart...(16)  Diaper in my purse...proof positive that I triumphed over infertility.  (17)  Bottle of Moscato wine.  (18)  Deep love and admiration for my husband who works 2, sometimes 3, jobs.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Calling All Mothers of Boys...

Tabitha of Team Studer wrote the most beautiful post about mothers and sons!  Her 25 Rules for Mothers of Sons is not just eloquently written and full of many truths, but also a poignant reminder of the enormous responsibility we have in raising future husbands...fathers...or  those called to the consecrated life.

Grab a cup of coffee...and a box of Kleenex...and take a couple of moments for yourself.  You'll be glad you did!

And here's a shot of my own team...Team Brothers (and Sister)!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Flower Child

He came home with the bouquet of carnations for her...to her surprise and delight.  And she immediately asked if she could keep them in her bedroom.

Lover of nature...art...music, this child of mine came downstairs with her hair fashioned with flowers.

His eyes grew misty with tears when he saw how much his simple gesture meant to her...the joy that she received from this impromptu gift.

"Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get."
~H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (author of Life's Little Instruction Book)

And today I'm linking up with "Wordless Wednesday...with Words!"  Ha!  Love it...because I just cannot communicate without words!

and then, she {snapped}

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Beauty in the Home (Pump Soap)

As I truly am trying to live a more intentional life, I thought it would be helpful if I posted a simple homemaking tip every Tuesday to hold myself accountable to my New Year's resolution.  Thus, "Tuesday's Tip".

And first up...pump soap.  Yes, I really am blogging about pump soap!

Whenever I visit my parents' home, I love visiting my mother's guest bathroom.  She always has the most fragrant pump soap for washing hands and a beautiful hand towel for drying.  It makes visiting her lavatory an enjoyable experience! 

But when my husband and I came to the decision that I should stay home, we needed to make some drastic spending cuts.  Lots of frivolous spending went away including magazine subscriptions, expensive eating out, and pump soap.

As in...pump soap from Bath & Body Works.

And I've really missed it.  While "Equate" pump soap from Walmart certainly does the job...it's not a very "joyful" way to wash one's hands!

And so, while shopping at Bath & Body Works for some holiday trinkets for my two sweet babysitters, I "splurged" on some scented pump soaps.

And you know what?

Almost immediately our house began to feel more like a home!

Mistletoe Kiss is in our guest bathroom and kitchen...and Ribbon Candy in the children's shared bathroom (which doubles as a "guest bath" when my parents come to visit).

A simple folk art Santa hand towel complemented the fruity/woodsy fragrant smell of the pump soap and made my first floor 1/2 bath a cozy and inviting place to wash up.

For the children's shared bathroom, I went with "Ribbon Candy" to complement the pastel colors I have in their bathroom including their lime green hand towels.  An unforeseen bonus...my kids LOVE washing their hands with it!

And while I probably won't purchase expensive pump soap for their upstairs bathroom throughout the year, I definitely plan on keeping "fancier" pump soap in my first floor guest bathroom for both visitors and my loved ones.

After all, we should decorate our homes for ourselves and our loved ones.  Don't we deserve to be treated as "guests" in our own homes? 

"We choose how enthusiastically we live our time alive."
~Alexandra Stoddard, Time Alive: Celebrate Your Life Everyday

After-Christmas Holiday Savings

I am really not an "after-Christmas-sales" type of shopper.  

But, I've had my heart set on hanging Christmas wreaths from ribbon on each of my wrap-around front porch windows for several years now. So, in my effort to live life more intentionally, I promised myself that I would hit the craft stores after Christmas to find greenery on sale for next year.

And "on sale" I did!  As in 70% off all holiday decorations.
I was able to purchase four wreaths of greenery and pine cone on metal bases for $5.99/ea. regularly priced $19.99, and...

...I got these adorable little dessert plates for $.59/ea., regularly $1.99.  I bought 10 of them...five "Christmas Trees" and five "Stacks of Presents".  I think that my two older children and their friends/classmates will really enjoy using these plates at a little "Christmas Tea" that I am dreaming up!

Already, I can't wait to decorate for Christmas 2012!

As for the exterior of our home....think "Farmhouse Christmas" to complement our Greek Revival farmhouse exterior.  Lots of greenery, red ribbon, and candles to light up the night sky and give some holiday color to our all-white farmhouse facade.

My goal for 2012 is to create 12 DIY projects (one a month) that add some holiday sparkle to our home.  I can't wait to share with you what I create each month!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Gentleness Challenge

This month, I am excited to participate in "The Gentleness Challenge" sponsored by Courtney at
Women Living Well

Women Living Well
What a wonderful way to start off 2012!  Each Monday, during the month of January, Courtney will be sharing a video excerpt from her summer book club feature, The Ministry of Motherhood.  And while I have not personally read this book, my interest has been piqued by just a peek at the table of contents!

If you are a mother, I invite you to join us each Monday for tips, suggestions, and ideas on how to parent more gently during those, sometimes, trying moments that arise during the day.  Whether it is  when little ones get underfoot or big ones press our buttons, we've all been there!   Feel free to link up with us and share what works for you, or just visit a few of the bloggers who choose to link up and gain some inspiration or find camaraderie.  We are not alone in this business of mothering!

And what works for me...

I often find myself turning to the Blessed Mother during particularly stressful situations.  To help me keep my emotions in check...and from flying off the handle over little things...I stop and ask myself how Mary would have handled this situation.  (Although I imagine Jesus was a model child!)   This 10-second time out, seems to help me regain some self-control and see that the situation for what it really is.  While disciplining with grace is certainly more challenging, it is abundantly more beneficial. 

What works for you?

Sunday, January 1, 2012



It is how I want to live life.

Deliberately.  Purposefully.  Willfully.

Whether that is through loving my family...fostering my friendships...or deepening my relationship with Christ...

This is my New Year's Resolution...

...to live life with intent.

Hoping that 2012 brings you and your loved ones much joy, peace and happiness!

1 THESSALONIANS 4: 11 & 12