Friday, October 26, 2012

Cutest little Saint Patrick!!!

Crazy days lately...

...lost my batter charger...then found it...

...only to discover that I have now lost the BATTERY to my Canon DSLR.

 NOOOOOOOO! (why oh why did I not just put the battery back in the camera???!!!!)

Thus, I've been going through blog and photography withdrawal...

...although my house has never been cleaner! ;)

Well, tonight I mastered a new technological trick...

...I figured out how to download pictures from our iPad onto my computer!

Wheeeee...I'm back in business!

So what else have I been up to besides house cleaning...early Christmas shopping...and cooking/baking?

How about this for a little Halloween/All Saint's Day inspiration?

My inspiration photo for Benjamin's costume!

This year, my children's school (Catholic parochial) has decided against celebrating Halloween and instead to go back to the classic tradition of celebrating All Saint's Day.  The children have been encouraged to learn about a favorite saint or Biblical hero and then dress accordingly. 

Benjamin and I thought long and hard about this one!  There are so many great male saints or Bible heroes to choose from.  Ultimately, the folklore surrounding St. Patrick banishing snakes from the Emerald Isle caught Ben's attention.  Thus I present to you...St. Patrick!

 (Sorry the pics are sort of blurry!  I'm still new at operating the iPad, but you get the basic idea!)

This weekend I still need to create St. Patrick's mitre hat and staff, as well as locate a beard!  I'm pretty pleased with how Ben's costume turned out.  I could not find a costume pattern I liked that seemed "saint" or "priestly" appropriate so I designed this on my own using the above photo as inspiration.

As Ben went "Trunk or Treating" up at school tonight, he insisted on wearing this snake around his head as well as keeping three more in  his trick or treat bag!  Needless to say, the fact that it is pure folklore about the snakes (or that the snakes represent the banishing of pagan practices from Ireland!) is lost on this 5-year old!

Anyway, I can't wait to share Mary's costume!  A very special friend turned us on to a beautiful saint who Mary has been so excited to learn about.  Pictures coming soon!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's Here...THE YEAR OF FAITH begins!!!

Like a little kid anticipating the arrival of Christmas, I've been counting down the days until (today)...

 ...October 11th...

..the first day of...

...the world-wide initiative of  THE YEAR OF FAITH!

All of my report cards from Catholic grade school lovingly preserved by my mother!

For me, faith has always come easy.

I'm not sure why.

Perhaps because I am the "first-born" of my siblings...a rule follower for certain?
Perhaps because I was raised in a two-parent household with devoutly-Catholic parents?
Or maybe because I was just open to receiving the gift of Faith from God.

From my earliest years of Catholic schooling (starting in 3rd grade), I loved religion class...although I could not have told you that I got mostly "A"s on my report card!  If it hadn't been for my mom saving my report cards, I wouldn't have believed it. (I struggled in other areas, academically!)

But what I love the most about all of the "A"s seen on my report cards in religion class are not the letter grades themselves...but what they stand for...

I was passionate about learning about Catholicism!

I took my "job" (as student) seriously. (Regardless of the debates waged over the value of Catholic catechesis from the 1970s and 1980s!)

And maybe, that's why...when those challenging times come...whether they be a sense of loss or confusion during collegiate years...or the pain of facing a divorce/infertility/death of a parent, spouse, child, etc...or just feeling "lukewarm" about religion and faith in general, I was able to stave off any desire to give up on God.

No matter how bad it got, I always had Faith.

Faith, for others, is not that easy.

Perhaps they were raised without faith...or maybe in a dysfunctional form of faith?  Maybe they suffered hurts at the hands of a church community...or maybe they've always questioned authority?  For these folks, organized religions and/or faith in God is a challenge.

So today, I invite you to explore your own personal faith journey.  Where have you been? Where are you currently?  Where do you want to go?

This year, the Catholic Church's "Year of Faith" theme is Faith:  Love It, Learn It, Live It! and she invites ALL believers to explore and deepen their faith journey.  Want to learn more about the Catholic Church's year of here.

Faith:  Love It, Learn It, Live It!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Saints and Sight Words

Each of us as parents are called to make the very best decisions on behalf of our children's educational needs.

Those needs differ from family to family...and from child to child.

The response to those needs can be varied as well!

For many families, public school is the best or only option. For others, it is homeschooling. And yet for others, private or parochial school is the best fit.

We are one of those families. And I just can't say enough good things about St. Paul Catholic school! It has truly been a positive, faith-based educational experience for my children...and for me as well! (*ahem, Mary Catherine was sent home for a change of clothes on picture day as her sundress was too "bare" shoulders! Shame on me.)

Anyway, what I first saw as a cross to bear (our 20 minute drive each way) has turned into a blessing in disguise! Often, God's blessings are disguised and it is up to us to see the beauty in the situation. I now use the 20 minutes in the car to really "talk" with my children. No television. No radio.

Here's the conversation that took place earlier this week...

(Mary) "Mama, what's your middle name, again?"
(Me) "Anne"
(Mary) "As in Saint Anne, Mary's mother, Jesus' grandma?"
(Me) "Yes, after Saint Anne."

From the Back Seat... 

(Benjamin): "And?" "And is one of my sight words!"

I've officially been renamed...Valerie And  :)

Here's another thing that I love about our Catholic versus Public school experience...


 Yup...Saints and Sight Words...that's how our minivan rolls down the highway!

Wishing you a blessed evening!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Catholic Woman's Almanac {CWA} Week 3

Moments of Gratitude
  • Celebrating 19 years of marriage last week.
  • Celebrating my father's birthday.
  • Celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday.
  • That we had safe travels on our journey to St. Louis and back over the weekend.
  • For the crisp weather and blues skies we had to celebrate Immaculate Conception Parish's  annual Turkey Dinner in beautiful Augusta (wine country) Missouri.
  • Papa/grandson moments.
  • Progress made on Mary Catherine's full-size bed quilt.
Taken on our Wedding Day (after the ceremony!) 19 years ago.

Celebrating my father's birthday this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri.

Celebrating my crazy sister-in-love's birthday!  I bought her the CRAZY SISTA's cookbook by Jimmy Buffet's sister, Lucy Buffet when we ate at LuLu's restaurant in Gulf Shores, AL last summer.

This is the view from behind my brother and sister-in-law's parish in August, MO.  I know, seriously, right?!!!

Beautiful, tiny, Immaculate Conception Parish in Augusta, MO.

Beauty in the Ordinary

  • Papa and my youngest, Luke Alexander, operating the trains.  
  • Papa and my middle child, Benjamin, sharing a moment operating the trains.
  • Mary Catherine playing with the doll house that my father built for me when I was just her age.
  • The view in Augusta, Missouri...better known as Wine Country.  The town sits high up on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River.  Gorgeous!
Benjamin (5) with Papa at the train board.

Thinks he's graduated to Engineer!

Newer model board that my father has been working on.  This is a hobby of his that I recall fondly from my childhood!  I loved going down to our basement to see what my dad was creating...little trees, mountains, towns, circuses, etc.

My littlest one wants in on the action, too!

Adjusting the speed of the trains.

I think I was around age 10, when my father built this doll house for me.  The kit was under the tree one Christmas!

Mary Catherine now loves this doll house and can lose herself for hours playing make-believe.

Gorgeous view of the bluffs surrounding Augusta, Missouri.


I will be praying for some dear, dear friends that are traveling to Rome for their Year of Faith pilgrimage.  They are able to attend the Canonization Mass of Kateri Tekakwitha!  What an incredible opportunity.  Let's remember this dear family and pray that they have safe travels to St. Louis and then on to Italy.

In addition, my friend has offered to send your prayer intentions with her husband and children to Rome!  Email prayer intentions to:  I have a few that I am sending for sure!

(On a personal note...this friend is an incredibly beautiful and faith-filled Catholic.  We attended Catholic all-girl high school together and she is an incredible face for the Pro-Life movement!  She recently delivered identical twin girls...children number 10 & 11 in their super-sized family!)


The Gospel according to Matthew (The New American Bible)
The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis
Rediscover Catholicism, Matthew Kelly
Magnificat:  Year of Faith Companion


The Healing of a Centurion's Servant (Matthew 8: 5-13)
"The centurion said in reply, 'Lord I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.' "

I can not even describe how very excited I am to begin this Year of Faith in our Church.  I can only pray that every Catholic takes the opportunity to learn more about our religion...Mass...sacraments, etc.  The "Healing of a Centurion's Servant" is the perfect example of how someone like me, who considers themselves a "faithful" Catholic, had never made the connection between this passage and the Liturgy of the Eucharist!!! Seriously, where.have.I.been???

You don't choose your family.  They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.  ~Desmond Tutu

Linking up with the lovely ladies of...


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Anniversary to my True Love!

Nineteen (19) years!

I look at these pics (from before the digital age!) and we look like kids

 Life was so much easier...simpler...then. 

 But not nearly as rich!

 A few things I've learned about marriage...

  • Love does NOT mean never having to say your sorry!  In fact, it means you do!
  • After 19 years of marriage...your spouse is NOT the same person that you married.  Hopefully he/she is better off because of you.  
  • For marriage to succeed, both of you must grow in love and sanctify one another!!!  (Your marriage is holy and thus, should be set apart from all other relationships!)
  • The best thing you can do for your to love your spouse!  (This is a struggle for often do I put the children before my husband?  This should not be so.  Instead, I should model for my children the beautiful relationship I have with their that one day they too may be a loving spouse.)
A few inspirational quotes about marriage...

"Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church."
~Blessed Pope John Paul II

 "Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."
~Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

 "The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist."
~Pope St. Gregory the Great

Happy Anniversary to my sweet husband!  I love you.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Catholic Woman's Almanac {CWA} Week 2

Moments of Gratitude
  • Carpooling with a lovely family from St. Paul Catholic Elementary School. Saves gas for the 30 mile round trip we do each day...twice a day!
  • Catholic moms who have taken the time to create awesome Saints folders...and have kindly shared with us fellow bloggers.  Thank you to Gardenia of My Little Flower  and Charlotte of Waltzing Matilda for their generosity in sharing Feast Day ideas.
  • Having three SNUGGLERS for children.  We love to have "sleepovers" (i.e. sleep in mommy and daddy's bed) when daddy is on-duty!
  • A support group of friends (my Catholic Women's Group) who support and raise each other up through prayer and conversation.
  • Pumpkin Pancakes and Natural Bliss coffee creamer!
Beauty in the Ordinary

I have begun piecing together a quilt for our daughter, Mary Catherine.  I appreciate how my simple, ordinary, Singer School Model sewing machine is such a trusty workhouse.  (Don't get me wrong...I would certainly love a fancier machine designed for quilting.)  No computer to go on the plastic parts to break..just good old-fashioned ingenuity and quality.  I will never part with this machine!  It may be old and loud, but it is the perfect machine to learn on.  Just ask Mary Catherine!

This simple sewing machine is the tool helping to create this item of beauty...a full-size bed quilt for Mary.

From the Kitchen

After a few weeks of sloppy eating I'm back on the healthy foods kick.  (I really do feel so much better when I eat whole/clean foods!)  This morning's omelet consisted of egg beaters, fresh baby spinach, and this:

  • For my father whose birthday is later this week!  Happy Birthday, Dad!
  • For my father-in-law who recently lost his job.
  • For all those struggling with family or health issues.

The Story of a Soul in  honor of St. Therese of Lisieux Feast Day!

Words to Live By

 “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
 ~St. Therese of Lisieux
Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action.
~Blessed (Mother) Teresa 

Linking up with the ladies of