Dec 31, 2017

Christmas 2017

It has been a full December! We didn't do several things I had mentally planned (Living Nativity, free train show, Lessons & Carols) but I need to keep reminding myself that the girls are still young and there are (hopefully) many years ahead to enjoy those things. And thankfully we didn't have as much sickness as we had last December! There was a lot of oil diffusing, chest rubbing, and handing out of probiotics and vitamins at our place- anything to help keep sickness at bay!

Tim did take three of the girls to Breakfast with Santa one Saturday, while I stayed home with a sick Audrey. Evie and Audrey also went to a Bethlehem Walk at a local parish with their aunt, uncle, cousins, and my mom, and we made it to both of Evie and Audrey's school Christmas programs, which were on the same day. Audrey was Mary in her pre-k pageant and Evie sang with her class in the older grade program.
Tim also took the older three to the dollar store on Christmas Adam to pick out gifts for each other, which I'm sure was a hoot; I don't think anything was a surprise. ;) On Christmas Eve we went to my parent's house for an appetizer dinner and enjoyed our neighborhood's farolitas on the way home!

We went to our usual Sunday mass time for Christmas morning mass; I do LOVE mass on Christmas Eve but after years of trying different parishes and finding packed to the GILLS (our parish had six masses just on the Eve!), plus combating post-nap grumpiness and dinner time, we found going in the morning works well for us.

On Christmas morning I had to wake up Cora and Heidi, and when I brought Heidi down she looked at the tree and presents and then turned to me and said, "Mom! We got you chocolates!". Such a sweet girl!
 We enjoyed opening some presents, threw some food in front of the girls and headed out the door-
And that's when our Christmas morning became eventful.

The mini van battery was dead ("as dead as a doornail"). After several minutes of doing the things that help re-charge it with no success, Tim told me to go ahead and take Evie and Cora to mass in his car. 
Very thankfully mass wasn't crowded at all, we sat with my parents and brother, and Tim, Audrey, and Heidi made it to mass by the readings (Christmas miracle!).

We were having my family over for Christmas brunch right after mass, and my sister had texted me they would be at our place before we got back from mass (as far as I knew, they had no way to get in).
 Well, when I pulled up to our house I took one look at the place and was certain we had been burglarized (burgled?). I saw my sister's van, but the garage and front door were wide open, and one of the front windows had been jimmied up. We have ancient storm windows without screens and they are such a pain to open that we never open them. (Also, it was super cold and windy.)

Then my brother-in-law came out and told me that Tim had left a door open for them, and they had gone ahead and started a fire in the fireplace but the flue wasn't open, so the house filled with smoke. Haha, something we've definitely done before! NBD.

This stinker is continually snatching Mary from the Nativity scene and keeping an iron clasp on her
After the chilly start to the brunch the rest of the day was relaxing. :)
Evie took it upon herself to tape up some self-made decorations, adding a bit of cheer to our walls. ;)

Cora's favorite presents were her baby doll and a ball one of her sister's picked for her- I love how little it takes to please youngin's!
[Somehow Cora chipped her front teeth in November, and days before Christmas Evie got glasses. It was heart-wrenching to see her try them on and watch her face as she realized how much better she could now see. Poor thing!]
After naps we went over to my parent's again for a Christmas feast (and some eye-gouging, in Tim's case).

I have seriously done nothing productive this past week and am a teensy bit dreading when the to-dos of next week hit me in the face, but first ringing in the New Year.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dec 12, 2017

Some Things to Tell You About

Just blaring a quick PSA of a few random gift ideas!📣

This isn't really a thought-out list but more a handful of old and new-found favorites.  :)

First, I've mentioned before about the hair clips in this shop that we love, but she makes beautiful Our Lady of Guadalupe dresses too! Evie has one and it is such a lovely and well-made dress.

Along that vein, how cute is this Guadalupe board book?? (Amazon Prime!)

My friend's mom has an Etsy shop with Montessori-style aprons, the most adorable felt food, and hand-held marble mazes. I've never seen anything like the mazes before; my mom bought one for Heidi for Christmas and I'm so excited for her to use it! I love that it doesn't have any pieces to loose, which also makes it great for keeping little hands busy in the car or waiting in line. 

We've gone through a few reading lights in Evie and Audrey's room over the last couple of years and are pretty pleased with this one (so far!). You can switch between yellow or white light, and there's a dimming option too.

Ashley mentioned this hand held nightlight a while back, which we bought for Heidi. It's just enough light to look at books by but nothing too bright. We've had the same batteries in it for a good length of time, too, which is paramount for me when battery changing involves finding a screwdriver. ;)

So, not really a gift but used FOR gifts- 50 kraft paper bags for $14. (The price has gone up bit, no doubt due to that time of year, but still a good price!) I have a stash of "real" gift bags but having a large stash of non-occasion-specific bags comes in so handy! They can be used for goody bags, drawn on, or dressed up with fancy tissue paper.

Finally, this spiced nut recipe is SO good and would be an easy edible gift. I ate the vast majority of my first batch before the week was over and am very proud that it wasn't something chocolate.

Happy feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Dec 11, 2017

Glimmers of Good

photo by Aaron Riddle
I once had a co-worker who had been raised Catholic but was no longer practicing. I'm not sure what his story was; he was adamant about celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, though. :)
One night at work we received news that an outside agency was coming in to assess the need for personnel on each unit- meaning seniority based downsizing and I was the newest hire for our shift, so I would be the first to go. The enormity of what I was facing got the better of me and I couldn't keep the tears back. I'll never forget what happened next: that co-worker whom I mentioned above leaned in and asked if I wanted to go down to the chapel. It was a Catholic hospital and we were blessed with Christ's true presence always being present in the tabernacle. My co-workers covered my patients for me while I went down for a break, and I was able to seek solace there. While the assessment didn't end up affecting my job, I'll never forget his offer, and that while he wasn't even a practicing Catholic, he understood how important a visit to the chapel was for me in that moment.

At the Edel Conference in 2015, Audrey Assad mentioned she listened to a CD of the Stations of the Cross during her labor...narrated by Liam Neeson (for reals.). Apparently he was moved by the work of the Redemptorist order who produced it, so he offered his talents to make the CD. I know he was the voice of Aslan in the new Narnia movies, but to take the initiative to let that order know he valued their work is a pretty cool thing.

Several months ago our pastor told a story about the wife of Leonid Brezhnev, communist, atheist, leader of the Soviet Union from 1964-1982. Father said at Brezhnev's funeral, which then VP George H.W. was present at (again, in an atheist nation), just before the lid of the coffin was shut, Mrs. Brezhnev reached over and quickly traced the sign of the cross on her husband's body, in front of everyone present. (This blog tells the story 100 times better and in much greater detail)

I know these are kind of random examples, but stories like these just get to me. (A related aside- the book Deathbed Conversions, which I've mentioned before, is one of my *favorite* books.) There's something so stirring about someone who doesn't share the faith who can appreciate or has respect for some aspect of it, or a shock of light amidst so much darkness.

There's hope that God's grace is there in those moments.

Dec 6, 2017

Life Lately {November}

I don't know if it was because Advent didn't start until December, but November seemed long for me (in a good way!). 
We attended the Veteran's Day parade in our city, which we had never been to. The length was just right and the weather wasn't too cold, which (almost) made up for the fact that we weren't able to go to the big Christmas parade last weekend. 

In mid-November I found out from my mom that my, and some of my siblings', 1st grade teacher passed away on All Souls' Day. She was a wonderful lady and one of my favorite teachers. She used to give us gummy bears as treats, and I remember when she "introduced" our class to Mother Teresa. One of my older brothers accidentally broke her statue of Mary twice, so she finally gave it to him, all glued together. :) 
I am amazed that we even found out about her passing- My mom was in adoration when a former teacher at that school, who she just happens to be in touch with, saw her, told her the news and then passed along her obituary.
 God is merciful. 

On Thanksgiving morning we went to mass and then drove straight to my sister's house nearby for donuts, coffee, outdoor fire pit, and football with our family and her in-laws. The football was serious business, so it was mostly the men folk and kids that played. :)
Our Thanksgiving meal was at my parents' that evening and we. ate. well.

We re-arranged the furniture in our living room, splitting the room into two sides, which I think works a lot better for us. I also found super inexpensive drapes for our family room and chair pads for our kitchen at an a bargain/outlet store. We bought a screen for our family room fire place and I love seeing how all those little touches make a difference aesthetically!

Tim and I finished the last season of Longmire on Netflix and I was (mostly) happy with how it ended. I definitely appreciated that it didn't feel like a last-ditch, just-wrap-it-up-however-because-it's-ending season. 
We also started The Vietnam War documentary and Stranger Things. The former I'm finding really interesting (especially because I know next to nothing about it!) and the latter is good and super intriguing BUT I keep dreaming about it and it sticks with me in a creepy way if we watch too many episodes in a row, so I'm not sure if I can continue.
I AM looking forward to the next season of The Crown coming on Friday!
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