Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sewing on a Saturday with Marmalade

We have had a crazy, fun, busy day at our house! And sometimes, that's exactly how we like it. (Other days...not so much...like during the work/school week.) But today we enjoyed getting to do some fun, out-of-the-ordinary, activities.

We started out our day with a special breakfast treat... ...Pumpkin Pancakes.

 I made this recipe (minus the whipped cream...which probably would have been delicious!)











After breakfast we headed out to the theater where we caught the 10 AM matinee of



I gotta say, it was pretty cute.  Mary's favorite line was, "Dad, I'm not 83 anymore.  I'm 118 and I want to experience the world for myself."  She thought that was quite amusing!  (I find cognitive development fascinating...I love that she "gets" that it's in reference to aging...that for humans it would be 13 versus turning 18.)

After the movie, we headed to one of my favorite quilt shops, Quilting Bits & Pieces.  Mary finally decided on a fabric line for her bedroom makeover.  We've been holding off on painting the room until we decided on a fabric color(s).  She chose a line that I am loving right now...

If you aren't familiar with Camille Roskelly (of Bonnie and Camille Fabrics for Moda Fabrics) you should check out Camille's blog, Simplify.  I love her decorating style...her fabric design...her life...JUST KIDDING!

Here's what I purchased this afternoon; it's just waiting to be pieced together!




Ironically, I have been eyeing this fabric line for several months.  I did not persuade Mary to choose these colors at all. She chose this all on her own.  My girl has a love affair with color...like her mama!


Finally, we wrapped up our afternoon with a quick tour of  the Johnson County 4H Project Fair at the K-State (that's KANSAS STATE...not KU! for you non-Midwesterners) extension offices.  It was so much fun and several of the exhibitors allowed me to photograph them with their projects (Mary and Ben are the newest members of Johnson County's 4H program...future post to come!).


This young man was so personable!  He introduced himself to me immediately and then struck up a conversation with my two older kiddos asking them about their 4H experiences (they have none!) and encouraging them to explore the Project Fair.  We then asked about his Metals and Leathers projects...he welded "Junior" who is actually part of a larger display (where he works with farm tools with his "father") and he sewed the gun holster/knife sheath by HAND!




These young ladies were also a delight to talk to.  The quilter has been practicing her art for 8 years and stared when she was age 7.  The rabbit handler was so sweet and great at encouraging Luke to pet the bunny.  Funny thing...she really couldn't be that much older than Mary...maybe 2 or 3 years.  It is interesting to see how an organization like 4H helps to develop leadership skills in young people.

After the Project Fair we made it home in time to enjoy a gorgeous evening sunset...and some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  (Just keepin' it real!)

Hope you had a delightful Saturday as well...whether it was spent in quiet solitude or crazy business.  Definitely looking forward to a peaceful Sunday.

HUGS & KISSES!

Val

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vintage Val---1987

Between cleaning/organizing our basement, and seeing lots of facebook posts about my classmates (from Catholic grade school, 1983!) attending their 25-year high school reunions this Fall, I've been feeling a bit nostalgic!


 So when I ran across this photo last night...


...I thought it was too cute not to share!

This was my "Senior Portrait" taken in August of 1986.  

As I shared on Facebook, "Farrah called from Heaven...she wants her wings back!"  LOL

Of course this picture brought back a flood of memories from my high school days!  My parents blessed me with the incredible opportunity to attend a private, Catholic, all-girl's school.  Ursuline Academy (St. Louis) that helped to shape me into the woman of faith that I am today.   Our school motto, Serviam (meaning to serve) was instilled deep within me, and is something I strive to do daily in my life...regardless of the season I am in. (full-time employee outside of the home...wife...mother...parishioner, PTO,  etc.)

Anyway, just thought I'd share this sweet photo with y'all!  Lots of innocence...and life INexperience...behind those eyes! Sometimes I miss those days!

I think Mark Wills does a great job summing up childhood in the 70s and 80s...

Enjoy!







Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hoarding Versus Blessing

For some time now, my husband, children and I have been contemplating a move to the country.  Someplace close enough to the city for my husband to have an easy commute, but allowing us to have acreage (and chickens!) and allow our children to roam, explore, and commune with nature God!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon one's outlook) the real estate market continues to be stagnant in our geographical area and walking away from this beautiful home would not be prudent.  (Chickens, coops, and acreage must wait...at least for a couple of more seasons!)

Our beautiful home that we built in 2002.  We celebrated 10 years in our home this past May.

 In the meantime, we do have our realtor (who sold our Platte County home) locating and finding listed acreage for us...one just never knows when the "right" property might become available.  This also gives me time to work on this...


This, my friends, is utter chaos...disorganization...and hoarding!  It is Rubbermaid tubs full of unused baby clothing...it is piles of infant and toddler toys...it is saved "keepsakes" that certainly can't be that precious if they are not scrapbooked and/or archived.

Interestingly, as I have begun to get rid of my excess "body clutter", I have begun to get rid of excess "things" in our lives...puzzles with missing pieces...makeup past it's expiration date...cleaning supplies half used and toxic, etc.

And as I have become more confident and happy with the person I currently am...in the state of life that I am living...I am letting go and blessing others with my "clutter"!

"He who monopolizes grain, the people curse-
but blessings upon the head of him who distributes it!"
(Proverbs 11:26)

 I have begun to tackle the basement with a vengeance.  (Believe it or not, organization has always been my gift!)  I *heart* Rubbermaid totes!!!



Two hours earlier...you could not see floor space or walk to those back shelves!


I still have lots of work ahead of me, but I have been steadily making progress!  Unfortunately, over the years (and due to some lack of diligent supervision on my part!) my sweet daughter has made her way into my teacher tubs.  They are now mixed in with holiday...Uhaul...baby...etc.  But things are definitely looking up!  We can see floor space...and tubs are sorted and appropriately labeled.

And do I not have the best hubby and neighbor?  They built those incredible storage shelves for me this past spring/summer.  Plenty of workspace to organize!


Looking forward to when I can call this project done!  Even if we never finish the basement...or move...it will be wonderful to have this space clean and organized.


 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When Family Becomes Divided

Recently...as in 10 months ago...I spoke some less than charitable words at a family function.

(I'm not quite sure why holiday gatherings can bring out the worst in us...perhaps because we're focused on the wrong things during the holy, holiday season?)

Feeling horrible, after the fact, I made amends with the person I hurt.

I called and apologized to that family member. (They were quick to offer forgiveness.)

I apologized to my husband...family loyalties run deep...and one never wants to hear negative comments about their loved ones.

And, I apologized to God during Confession for my loose tongue.

All of Armella's Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren at her 90th Birthday Party.


But to this day...a different extended family member...hurt by the comment I made that fateful January day to the other family member...has refused to forgive me.

Multiple family gatherings, including Easter and a summer Family Reunion, have provided ample opportunities for the two of us to converse.  Yet, they will have nothing to do with me.  To the extent that if I enter the room and there is a way for them to exit to get away from me...they will.

While this is painful, I bear it.  It is a consequence of my actions last winter.  But what is even more painful, is seeing this same behavior (avoidance) exhibited toward my children. 

Children. 

Who know nothing about what happened.  What words were spoken.  What apologies were issued.  They are just the unfortunate recipients of this soul's misguided/misplaced anger.

So, what is a person to do?

I have been praying for this family member off and on.  And they have appeared to soften towards me...if even just a bit.  They at least communicated with me during the 90th Birthday Celebration.

So, I'm thinking that I need to increase my prayer life...my offerings of forgiveness...my requests for a softening of their heart...and maybe some prayers for myself to let this go. 

I've been searching for words to provide comfort and guidance during this painful time in my life...and I found some words that I didn't actually want to hear...but needed to hear.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” 

~Mother Teresa




 

Social Media Upgrades/Cute Kid Pics!



Just a couple of "business" related items...

  • I did create a Facebook page for "her Little Ways"...only their system wouldn't allow the word "her" to begin with a lowercase letter so it actually is listed as "Her Little Ways".
  • I'm trying to figure out how to create social media buttons for my sidebar...not quite there yet!  (Back a few years ago, I was really getting quite good at writing my own html code...then baby #3 arrived and, well, I fell off the code-writing wagon!  I have yet to hop back on.)
  • In general, I'm feeling like the "blogging" bug has returned!  That's a good thing.  For the past 2 years I've really slacked on posting.  The reasons are varied, but suffice it to say that I'm itching to regularly post.  They may not all be "deep thoughts" or even creative endeavors, but they will be from the heart!
  • Do you find that you follow more bloggers via Facebook than thru your Google Reader?  I do.  I'm not sure exactly when this happened, but somehow I pretty much morphed into this creature that only reads blog updates that show up on my sidebar Linkys (let me know if I have failed to add you to my sidebar!) or thru Facebook.  Hmmmm....
  • Finally...a few pics from this weekend of my cuties!  This was taken at Pike's Peak in Wisconsin.  Yes, there really is a Pike's Peak (named for explorer, Zebulon Pike, who was sent to explore the Mississippi Valley in 1805) not located in Colorado.







I have decided that once you surpass two children in any given family photo the odds of a quality picture go down considerably.  While I was attempting to get a great shot for our family Christmas cards (I like to plan ahead like that!), I don't think I'm going to use any of these.  (By the way, Benjamin was so funny that day...he kept telling us, "Mom, Dad, I look like a burnt waffle.  Guess I'm not the greatest cook!)

  



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mary Catherine's Singing at Great Grandma's 90th Birthday Celebration

This past weekend, we traveled to Wisconsin to celebrate 90 years with Chris' grandmother.

Armella is an incredible woman...she knits, quilts, bakes, bingo(s), and drives! LOL

In fact, Armella often takes her neighbor, Albina who turns 100 in December, to Mass and grocery shopping!

Grandma was married to Grandpa Kueter (Paul) for 66 years and is a beautiful example of dedicating one's life to their vocation (marriage).

For Grandma's 90th birthday, her daughter (Mary's Great Aunt Pam) co-wrote a song (with her daughter) and performed it at the birthday celebration. Mary was invited to sing with her Great Aunt Pam and 2nd Cousins (Heather and Whitney). While Mary only had one line in the refrain, she sang it with gusto and was the hit of the party! :)

 Enjoy!

 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Catholic Woman's Almanac {CWA} (Week 1)

Moments of Gratitude

  • Safe travels to Wisconsin this past weekend.
  • Spending time with extended family in celebration.
  • Being able to honor this little lady's 90 YEARS! (My husband's grandmother)


  • Pumpkins, mums, crisp mornings.
  • Slow days...slow (crockpot) meals.
  • The gift of being a stay-at-home mom (I've worked outside the home too...thus, I'm ever grateful!)
  • And, last but not least, grateful to Jenny at Suscipio for recently discovering my blog and encouraging my walk in Catholicism and parenting.

Beauty in the Ordinary

  • The view of  the upper Mississippi River Valley...where the Wisconsin River enters into the Mississippi.   God's brush strokes are magnificent!


Praying

  • This week, I am going to begin to set aside 10 minutes each day to spend in total silence.  In this day and age of constant noise, it is more important than ever to just "be".   This can be scary...what will I hear if I truly listen to God?
 "...Unless you withdraw from all the noise of your life and the world for a  few minutes each day, you will most likely just become another cog in the global economic wheel, consuming and being consumed.

Our world has been filled with noise, and as a result, we can no longer hear the voice of God in our lives.  It is time to enter into the classroom of silence."    (Rediscover Catholicism, Kelly, Matthew, pg. 179.)



Pondering

Good Fences Make Good Marriages

"It is the job of every couple to determine for themselves how much time and energy they can give to important others without violating the primacy of their marriage."  (The Exceptional Seven Percent, Popcak, Gregory, pg. 73.)


Reading

The Exceptional Seven Percent 

Rediscover Catholicism


Linking up today with Jenny over at Suscipio.


 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What are You Willing to Give Your Life For?


 What are you willing to give your life for?

Not, what are you willing to die for...

....but what do you really live for?

This semester I am doing a new book study through my parish Women's Group.  We are reading Matthew Kelly's "Rediscover Catholicism".  It is an incredibly deep...insightful...and thought-provoking read.

As I was reading ahead, I came across this excerpt from Chapter 11 (Who Will be Next?).  Kelly says,

"On September 11, 2001, we learned a lesson that history has taught us many times before:  The most powerful people in history are those who are willing to give everything.  The nineteen hijackers were willing to give everything to complete their mission."




 "In every age, on both sides of the fence of GOOD and EVIL (emphasis mine), the most powerful agents of change are those people willing to give all their time, effort, and energy without reserve to the cause they deem worthy of their lives.  We saw this in the hijackers and we saw this in Hitler.  But we also see it in Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa, in mothers who selflessly raise their children, in fathers who work tirelessly each day to support their families, in the priests who serve in our parishes, and in countless other heroic men and women throughout history who have given their lives to the service of God, humanity, and the Gospel."

"The question I ask again is:  What are you willing to give your life for?"
Matthew Kelly, "Rediscover Catholicism", page 133.

As I don't believe in coincidences, it gives me goosebumps to read those excerpts today...on 9/11.

And in all this time, (11 years since that tragic day) I have never once thought about the hijackers as being agents of change.

Yet, through their evil actions, they have ultimately changed American behavior...

...from how we board airplanes...to creating emergency kits for our homes...to racial profiling.

But positive changes resulted from the terrorists actions as well.  According to a public opinion survey posted by the AARP, even ten years after 9/11 Americans feel that it made them appreciate their friends and family more, and that it increased their patriotism.

So what if we all lived such purpose-driven lives...what if we were all willing to give everything to complete our mission,

...only that mission was a call to holiness.  To love all of humanity.  To live the Gospel and imitate Jesus Christ.

What a different world we would live in.

What is your mission?

Parenthood...homeschooling...nursing or education?  Perhaps you are called to be an accountant...an engineer...a sanitation worker.

It doesn't matter what the call is...just that we listen for it...that we heed it...that when we respond, we live our very best lives for it...

"The modern Church desperately needs men and women who are willing to live for the faith.  What are you willing to live for?"  (Kelly, "Rediscover Catholicism", p. 132)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Journey to a Healthier Me: Picture Update (Sept. 2012)



Latest pictures (taken today) of me on my weight loss journey.
Getting ready to head out on a "date night" with my hubby!

Down 43 lbs. and recently started running.  
I feel like this has really helped with toning...and it's a "sport" that I actually like to do.

Here's where I started....





Still have a ways to go...but not nearly as far as when I started.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fall Nesting/Fireplace Mantle

Fall Nesting in Progress! 



Like many of you, I have been fluffing up our nest for Fall. I just love the autumn season (I love it so much that I convinced my husband to marry me in October!)...the sights, the sounds, the aromas! And even though it is 98 degrees today (101 degrees yesterday) I'm dreaming of apple cider mulling, pumpkin bread baking, and turkey basting! A girl can dream, right?!!!

As we gently slip into Fall, I have been tackling lots of home maintenance duties as well as a few easy decor projects. This week, I have been focusing on our family room. This room gets a lot of wear and tear. It is open to our kitchen and serves as a gathering place before and after school as well as after dinner. In fact, we're together in this room even more now, as we recently imposed some "after-dinner" rules (as suggested by my sister) with regard to media usage.

Needless to say, I had a lot of heavy-duty cleaning to do...windows, couches, hardwood flooring, etc., from a summer spent almost entirely inside.  I was able to give proper attention to these much needed projects while the older two were at school and our youngest down for a nap. (Oh how I have come to LoVe nap time!)

My fireplace mantle is still a work in progress, but nearly complete. I am looking for a tall object(s) (I'm thinking candlesticks) to place next to my vintage window with wreath, but here is how I've arranged my mantle so far


In the evening, when the candles are lit, the image of leaves dancing grace our walls.
I am especially pleased with how my bow turned out that is secured to the ribbon hanging the wreath.  I spent several hours both watching YouTube tutorials and practicing creating large/full bows.  Yes, I still need some practice, but for my first attempt I think it turned out nice.

Below, is a Pinterest project that I recreated this weekend.  I still want to embellish the hurricane lamp with a bit of twine or raffia, but I am again pleased with how this project turned out.  My biggest expenses were the investment in the hurricane lamp and candle (which smells heavenly by the way...Mulled Apple Cider by Better Homes and Gardens (Walmart)).  The popcorn kernels, beans, and peas were about $1.00 per bag!

I thought this was an extremely affordable decor project for a stay-at-home mama on a budge.  Plus, I've got grand plans for this hurricane lamp come Christmas.  Plan to see it recycled frequently over the course of the next year!


Pinterest project that I recreated...hurricane lamp, candle and beans.  So quick and easy!


Lately,  I've been putting a lot of thought into how I decorate (or don't!) my home for the seasons.  For some reason, probably from surfing around in blogland, in recent years I have tried to imitate others' sense of style in my own home.  This has left me feeling a bit unsettled...confused...and exhausted!  It's tiring trying to be someone you aren't!

So, I have decided to go back to decorating the way I like...

...it may not be vintagey-whites...all shabby chic...I may not be using the color de jour (you won't see any grey in our home)...or all neutrals...

...but it will be all me.

Farmhouse-y...with an eclectic mix of French Country/Primitives/Fresh Vintage decor, and lots of color  Also, I think you should just purchase/create items that you really love...that speak to your heart...without worry as to whether or not it is "in" or meets a certain style criteria.

I recently stumbled upon this passage from Scripture and loved it enough to memorize it.  It is a new favorite passage...

1 Corinthians, 7: 17 (The New American Bible)
"Only, everyone should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one.  I give this order in all the churches."

At this time in my life, I'm called to live as a homemaker...wife and mother to three...NON-homeschool, but Parochial-schooling parent...raising my children in a three--parent household (God, my husband, and me)...throwing color on the walls..and seasonal decor on the mantles.  We are also eating cleaner...living simpler...loving harder...and continuously learning to die-to-self.

Blessings,