{JEI} New Year or resolutions that don’t involve dieting.

1.  What is one small thing, if you accomplish it in 2017, that will make you feel successful?

A small success would be following through on my 2017 resolutions, which are 1) learn how to bake layer cakes by making one a month 2) making my own bread again and 3) completing the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge.  I have reached the conclusion that New Year’s Resolutions like “lose weight” and “eat healthy” or even “pray more,” just set you up for discouragement.  These things are lifelong struggles that we all continually work at.  And depending on our circumstances and season of life, we’ll have varying rates of success at improving our mastery of these things.  So my New Year goals have become fun little challenges to improve or enjoy a small area of life.


Just to briefly outline the goals, in an effort to hold myself accountable!

1) Baking layer cakes.  I love to bake, and I’m proficient in a number of recipes.  But layer cakes intimidate me.  The only kinds I’ve made with moderate success are carrot cake and German chocolate cake.  So I’m choosing a special day each month and a different cake to try!  For January, I’ll be making a double chocolate cake for my birthday!

2) Baking bread.  Two years ago, Bobby gave me this book.  I really enjoyed trying the recipes and making bread more regularly.  But then I got pregnant and stopped having the energy.  This winter, I’m opening the book again and I’ve already made two batches!  Hoping to keep fresh bread around.  I hope it will make a good snack for my ever-hungry two year old.


3) This will be the third year I attempt to complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge!  I’m going to do the “fun” list, and my first book this month, the one I choose for the cover, is The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

2.  Have you picked a “word of the year” or patron saint of the year?

On to the spiritual resolutions for the year!  The word I chose this year is “trust,” with verses from Isaiah 12 and 26: “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid… You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you…Trust in the Lord forever.”  With so many potential changes in our life this year, my need to trust the Lord is very great indeed.  We need to move, a need another job, my husband may start a second masters program, and our daughter will be starting school.  The words “dawn” and “light” have also been recurring for me, and I’m trying to wait and listen to what the Lord is saying to me with those words.

St. Joseph and St. Teresa of Calcutta are my saints for 2017.  St. Joseph because who better to intercede when you’re looking for jobs and houses?   It has been on my heart to read more of the words of Mother Teresa ever since August, when I was reading 33 Days to Morning Glory for my Marian reconsecration on September 8.  The words of Mother Teresa really resounded with me then, and I’ve borrowed a book of her private writings to mediate on.


3.  What are you looking forward to in 2017?

Having a place of our own!  God willing, things will come together so we can purchase a house of our own.  But even if we end up renting for another year, come June we should no longer be renting my parents’ house!  My parents are retiring and moving into our current home this summer (which they bought five years ago in anticipation of retirement).  I’m grateful we’ve had this large house and yard to enjoy for four years, but it has put a strain on our relationship with my parents, and we are very eager to have place of our own.  We also plan to move closer to my husband’s job, hopefully reducing his commute time by at least half (so 40 minutes each way instead of 75 minutes each way!)  But I know I will miss this view.


12 Takes for 2016: Part II

Here’s the July-December photo recap for 2016.


Chillin’ by Nonna and Boppa’s pool.

NYS Museum Historic Carousel

Snow in July!

Cecilia with Fr. Paris

In July we took a trip to New York to visit my parents.  This is where I grew up, but we decided to do some touristy stuff with the kids.  We visited the state capital, including the free NYS Museum.  It had some great kid exhibits and a historic carousel.  We also went to Lake Placid, because Bobby loves Olympic stuff!  We also spent time in the pool and at the lake house of a friend, where we took the big girls canoeing.  At the end of the month, we visited Cecilia’s godfather, Fr. Mike Paris, so he could meet her before traveling to Minnesota to join the Carmelites.


Luray Caverns

Five months old and just so.cute!

Mini golf on a very hot day.

My sunflowers.  The one thing in the garden that really did well.

Our new van!!!!!

Pool time.

August was an all-around busy month!  Bobby and I were in DC a bunch for my job, and our anniversary and Bobby’s birthday are also the start of Bobby’s school year.  But we found time to visit Luray Caverns (the girls really enjoyed it), go mini golfing (luckily no one else was there) and cool off at the community pool a few times.  We also bought a new van, which was a huge excitement for me!  Our old one died in the spring so I’d been without a vehicle, and this new Chrysler Town and Country is just awesome!


Despite having chickens ourselves and cows next door, the girls love farms!

Catholic Women’s Blogging Conference

I just love this picture.

Lots of ups and downs in September.  Started preschool with Grace, visited local farms for the fourth year in a row during the Rappahannock Farm Tour and spent lots of time outside in the still warm weather.  I also attended a local Catholic women’s blogging conference, which was so amazing.  Cecilia came too, but wasn’t so sure about it 😉  And like every year, September 19 found us in Philadelphia, visiting and remembering our first daughter.  Mary Catherine would have been six.


Incredibly hot October day!

We love fall hikes in Shenandoah National Park.

Halloween: kitty and princess.

October was more low-key, with a pleasant rhythm  and fall fun.  We love fall hiking, and the girls had fun going on their first neighborhood trick-or-treat for Halloween.


We voted.  And were stunned and excited by the outcome.

Playing in the leaves.


November started off with an All Saints Day party at church, then the anxiety and excitement of the presidential election! I taught Grace to say “the wicked witch is dead” and Bobby taught her “Donald Trump wins!”  The leaves take awhile to change here, but they finally burst into brilliant colors.  It was a very windy month, though, so not much raking because they all get blown along the fence!  In honor of Grace’s fifth birthday, we went to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, and had a great, albeit cold, day at the park.  There were dozens of little kid rides, which the girls loved, a small zoo, and of course the factory tour and chocolate!


Decorating the tree.  We made the switch to artificial this year…

Christmas card picture 🙂

Merry Christmas!  We actually had a very nice December.  It started with a birthday party for Gracie, with about 25 kids here.  Then a quiet, peaceful Advent and Christmas spent at home.  The girls love decorating and “redecorating” the tree.  We finished off the year at the home of our friends who have four kids, where we played Mario Cart, had a lovely dinner, and left by 7pm.  It was the perfect New Years Eve. Cheers!


12 Takes from 2016: Part I

The year of Our Lord 2016 consisted of many ups and downs.  For myself, my family, and it seems, for many other too.  But every year is like that, right?  Life will never be perfect, and as the saints tell us, we should receive the good and bad as coming from the hands of Jesus and Mary, and be grateful and joyous in every circumstance!  MUCH easier said than done!  My husband and I like to review every month of our year on New Years’ Eve anyway, so I thought I would capture our memories on the blog this year.   (Going through the pictures, I realized I couldn’t limit myself to one a month!)


Snow Cave!  Naturally created when the weight of the snow bent over this bush!

The Big Snow! We got three feet of snow in Virginia and my husband had seven snow days!


Waiting for baby to be born. And we spent St. Valentine’s Day at hospital visiting Bobby’s grandfather.  (He’s 95 and has been in and out of the ICU this year.  But he keeps pulling through!)


Cecilia Anne was born on March 4!  Her pregnancy was rough, but her birth by scheduled c-section went smoothly, and she has been the most wonderful baby!  She had brought so much joy to our lives, and is bouncy, happy, and laughs more than either of the other girls.


Adorned with hair bows and dancing.  This captures Gracie at age 4.

Apparently it was a warm April!

Ceciilia’s Baptism.


In April we started spending lots of time outside in the gorgeous spring weather.  Cecilia was baptized and we bought another 12 baby chicks to add to our flock.


Gala at Bobby’s school.

One of my favorite pictures of Theresa.

So. Much. Attitude.

May was a busy month!  I was working a lot, and so the kids were usually playing outside while I worked on the patio and the baby slept in her seat.  Bobby, Cecilia and I had a wonderful evening at the Gala for Bobby’s school (I wrote about that here).  Bobby planned a special Mothers’ Day outing for us, which included a buffet breakfast and feeding ducks.


Cecilia is unimpressed by her first visit to the beach.

These girls loved the boat ride!

In June we celebrated Fathers’ Day for the second year in a row at the a local beer fest.  We enjoy the micro-brews and there were great activities for the kids too. At the end of June we had our only weekend at the beach this year.  Friends of ours graciously host us at their beautiful beach house in Virginia Beach, and we had a fun and relaxing weekend.  The girls especially enjoyed the indoor pool and hot tub at the house, as well as our ride in our friend’s new boat (we cruised the back waterway, not on the ocean).