Everyday Gratitude: wk. 5

 “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”    Job 1:21

  • Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of four daughters.  I bless your name, as we returned to Philadelphia last week, to visit the grave of my firstborn, Mary Catherine.  I thank you for the precious gift of her life, of the witness we provided that the life of a tiny baby has infinite value and worth.  I thank you for the amazing and unknown nurse who baptized her in the OR, when I was under anesthesia and Bobby wasn’t allowed in.  I thank you for her beatitude in Heaven.  I thank you for sustaining me through the early months of grief, and for blessing us with more children.  Amen.
  • Lord, I thank you for the chance to rest after a long week, when all the girls rested and let me rest on Friday afternoon.
  • I am thankful for time in the car to talk with and listen to Gracie.  I love hearing her “read” a story to her sisters (she knows The Very Hungry Caterpillar and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by heart).  She makes up silly, sometimes elaborate, stories, then tells me she’s just kidding!   Like her dad, you never know what ridiculous things she’ll come up with next.
  • I am thankful for Cecilia’s sweet and infectious baby laugh.  She laughs a lot, because everything amuses her.  She is definitely my happiest, most fun baby yet!
  • I am thankful for Theresa’s snuggliness early in the morning.  Generally, she is independent and busy, but in the morning, and occasionally throughout the day, she gets affectionate and acts so very sweet.
  • I am grateful for a special day with my husband on Saturday, as we attended a diocesan workshop for couples on Prayer and Communication.  The talks and insights where very interesting, inspiring, challenging, and a few times, profound.
  • I am grateful for my parents now living close enough to come spend the day with the kids on short notice, for continuing, beautiful warm weather, and sunny days.
  • I am grateful for the chance to go apple picking with friends, and begin making all things apple!
  • I am grateful for good books to read, making time for reading to myself, and to the girls, and for the opportunity to teach Gracie to read.
  • Finally, I thank you Lord for the challenges, tension, waiting, and change of my life right now; through this time, please help me hear and discern Your will.  Amen.

Everyday Gratitude: wk. 4

“In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God,
and in all things give Him thanks.”
 St. Teresa of Avila

  • After the first day of school went so well last Monday, the rest of the week was challenging.  Cecilia didn’t nap as well on Tuesday, but school still went fairly well.  Then the rest of the week I got sicker, as the kids (thankfully) felt better, so we didn’t do much else in the afternoons, after our morning activities.
  • I am very thankful for the new activities and friends we’re making, to get out of the house and have new experiences.
  • I am thankful that the lawn in finally mowed; the tall grass I had to call someone, but Bobby finished the back yard.
  • I am thankful Saturday was a productive and busy day, and Sunday we relaxed and visited one of the local Civil War battlefields and cemeteries.
  • I am thankful for the lovely fall weather, a few nice walks, and our quiet little neighborhood.
  • I am thankful the first week of school is over, and it went relatively well, and I have more confidence now that I can homeschool smoothly.
  • I am thankful for cold medicine and for finally feeling better.
  • I am thankful for my husband and my beautiful daughters.
  • I am thankful that all the people I know personally in Florida are safe after Hurricane Irma, and I pray for all those adversely affected by these hurricanes.
  • I am having trouble discerning the “providence and wisdom of God” in several matters lately, especially bills and my lack of a job, but still trying to persevere and “give Him thanks.”
  • And I would also be very thankful for any prayers of others this week, as we remember our first born, Mary Catherine, and visit her grave tomorrow.

1st week at Immaculate Academia

What we learned:  Starting slow with Grace, doing “Button Time” (our circle time rug has buttons on it!) with prayers, calendar and read aloud, then something fun!  This week we worked on some Kiwi Crate projects (click here for $10 off a first time crate); learning about rainbows and the human body.  Seriously, these science crates are awesome for a non-craft-mom like me, with everything included and lots of cool information.   We went over letter sounds and Grace practiced writing lower case letters (she know all her upper case already).  I also realized there was pre-math lessons, so we went over those.  Happy to find that Grace has learned so much in the last year, with very little intentional effort on my part.  I am very glad I chose to wait an extra year to start kindergarten, instead of pushing her last year and greatly frustrating both of us.  We are starting Bible history with the Creation story and learning about the Trinity.  Theresa listens, plays and sometimes participates, and I am going over a letter a week with her.


What we read:  Too Many Pumpkins (very sweet fall story), Counting Crocodiles, Chesapeake Rainbow (beautiful book with local “color”), Earl the Squirrel, Planting a Rainbow (inspiration for a flower garden next year!), A Kiss Goodbye (good moving story), Flora and the Penguin (Grace is appreciating the Flora books more this year), Flora’s Very Windy Day (all about loving your sibling). 

What we practiced: Letter recognition and sounds; shapes with Gracie and colors with Theresa.  Practiced days of the week and months of the year.

What we made:  Tie-dyed rainbow bag for Theresa, human body poster and “sewed” organs with Gracie, and worked on silk floral arrangements one afternoon.

Where we went:  Checked out the public library, which had a great, gated playroom.  We also went to Braehead Farm with friends.  There was a huge play area, lots of dirt piles, and chickens, alpacas, goats and rabbits.  Girls loved it.

How we celebrated liturgical feasts: Went to Mass for the Exultation of the Cross.

Fun at other activities:  Second week of co-op.  Theresa apparently was doing much better at the times I wasn’t in her class.  No longer clinging to the other teachers, but getting very involved.  Grace was quiet this week, as she had crashed into Theresa the night before and bit her lip, which was very swollen.  Cecilia was crabby, and ended up with me most of the time, including falling asleep in science class!

Mom’s favorite things:  Getting to the library and getting new books, finding time to read aloud.

Grace’s favorite thing:  Calendar time, drawing, read aloud.

Theresa’s favorite thing: Maracas we got as gifts.


Looking forward to next week:  Not exactly looking forward to it, but we’ll be heading up to the cemetery in Philadelphia on the 19th, to remember the birthday of our eldest daughter in Heaven.  Also hope to do some leaf identification as we celebrate the first day of autumn.

7 Quick {Change} Takes

Linking up with Kelly this week to share a bit about our new home and all the changes that have taken place for us in the last four months!

1) New House.  We bought our first home in May.  It’s a four bedroom 2 bathroom ranch, with a partially finished basement.  The unfinished part of the basement has a large glass door that opens out to the backyard, and I have fixed it up as a school room.  The yard is sloped, but a large swing set came with the house, and there’s lots of room for the kids to play, so that was a huge selling point!  The tiny kitchen presents a challenge, but overall I like living in a smaller house with smaller rooms, because it is much easier to control the mess and keep it clean.  The third bedroom upstairs has also been a blessing, as we finally have a nursery and can better sleep train our youngest.


2) New town.  In order to be closer to my husband’s job, the new house is 70 miles from our old home, and we are in a new town.  We have visited here several times over the years, and are thrilled to live here now.  Fredericksburg is an old, historic Virginia town, Southern in tradition, and the sight of numerous Civil Wars battles.  At least once a week, we pass the large Confederate cemetery downtown.  While it has a small town feel, there a myriad of activities and stores and historic sites and playgrounds and pools.  We try to get out and explore a new place each week.


3) New parish.  Moving from a small “country” parish to one of the largest parishes in the diocese has been a positive and exciting experience.  There are dozens of activities, ministries, group and activities at church every week, four priests and two deacons, as well as a parish school.  The first event we attended (not including Mass which we of course started attending right away) was the parish picnic.  There were half a dozen bounce houses for the kids, craft beer on tap, live music, a magician, and tons of food and tents.  The kids were thrilled and Bobby and I were stunned (in a good way 😉  With the start of September I have been able to join a women’s Scripture Study, Grace has begun religious education classes once a week and we are exploring other ministries.  Liturgies with Latin is probably the one thing I miss most here, as well as silence during Communion.  All the priests are very reverent and homilies are good, but the choir always sings all through Communion on Sundays.


4) Grad school.  In July, my husband started a second Masters program in education, with a focus on becoming a Catholic school principal.  This meant he was gone for two weeks over the summer, and now works online several nights a week doing online courses.  He really seems to enjoy the new academic challenge, and I hope it opens doors for his career advancement.

5) Homeschool.  Although I’ve sporadically done preschool with Gracie for the last two years, this year I bought a real curriculum and intend to do kindergarten 3-4 days a week.  We are using the Catholic Heritage Curricula, and God willing, we will get through a whole year!  Although the school room is in our unfinished basement, I think it will work out well.


6) No job.  After frustrations and difficulties increased regarding my work-from-home job, and I knew I could not both homeschool and do this job, I quit in August.  Slowly, the stress and affronts of that job have faded, and I’ve realized that the constant feelings of failure and being overwhelmed have subsided.  I am struggling to find a good way to replace that lost income, but reveling in the freedom from a difficult boss.

7) New friends.  My overview of recent changes would not be complete without mentioning the new friends we have been meeting.  I have already met several lovely moms with kids of various ages, and look forward to getting to know them better.  Old friends reading this, I still miss you very much, and I hope you will come visit soon!

Everyday Gratitude: wk. 3

 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1

This past week has been exceedingly busy, as many of the school year activities began.  There was also several feast days important to our family.  For all these blessings, the happy and the difficult, I thank you, Lord Jesus:

  • For the first day of home school co-op.  I think the group will be a good fit for us.  The girls all had fun and no separation anxiety, although they were so happy to see each other after being apart for four hours!
  • For the first day at a women’s Scripture study at our new parish.  I have never participated in a group study like this long term, and I am very excited.  Also, there is free babysitting (!) and the girls were very good.
  • I am very grateful for these new activities with socialization and separation for all of us.  I think its a good thing for us girls to have a little time apart.
  • September 8 we celebrated the Nativity of Mary, and I made a Bohemian poppy seed cake.  This feast is my Marian Consecration anniversary.  I think this year marked 18 years since my first consecration preparation, according to St. Louis de Montford.  I am also very grateful for the new consecration preparation 33 Days to Morning Glory.  The format is easier and in a way, more profound, as you read about the Marian teachings of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Theresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul the Great.  Fittingly, we celebrated Mother Theresa’s feast day while I was reading about her Marian teachings.
  • And I am very grateful for finding the writing of Mother Theresa.  Her words have resonated with me in a profound way.
  • I am thankful for my husband’s help this weekend to get the school room cleaned and ready for the first day of our home school.
  • For the first day for Gracie and Theresa at Immaculata Academia, my name for our home school.  This first day went remarkably well; mostly on schedule and very productive.
  • Finally, I am grateful for my interview with a trained Called and Gifted interviewer, who helped me sort through my Spiritual Gifts Inventory and discern two charisms to explore further.  I confess to a great deal of excitement over this discovery of my spiritual gifts.  It’s like a “super power” to bring people to Christ!  More on this, as several ideas take shape in my head….
  • I was happy to spend more one on one time with Theresa on Saturday, while her big sister was visiting grandparents.  Theresa and I explored the Farmers’ Market, had a snack at Chick-fil-A, chose florals at Michael’s and picked up a few things at Target.  Theresa really seems to like these special dates; she talks more, and I think enjoys the attention.  (I’m trying to forestall middle child complexes…)
  • And thank you, Lord, for the little things.  For a walk by myself today, for cold medicine and tissues (our well streak ended with the change of weather and contact with other people), for beautiful blue sky days with amazing, cool fall weather, for the chance to be home with my girls.
  • I have also noticed the blessing of less stress since I quit my job, as I’m stress-eating and craving chocolate much less.

Lord, you pour blessings upon us.  Please help me to be grateful and focus on these blessings, not on the many things that worry and trouble me.  Amen.


Everyday Gratitude: wk. 2

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings of this past week:

  • The week started with a “date” with Gracie.  We shopped for winter clothes at a kids’ consignment sale and went out for ice-cream.
  • My computer suddenly started acting strange, and I was sure it was dying and I would lose all my files.  After about five calls to the service center, and a call back from a level 2 technician, a fix was found that actually worked!  Considering my past computer issues, this seemed almost miraculous.
  • A visit with my sister and my niece and nephew.  We hung out in our pajamas, talked lots, and the kids played relatively well together.
  • Sis helped me do some more unpacking, purging, and organizing.  We now have a playroom cleaned and set up!
  • While Sis was here we enjoyed our last day out at a local pool, where Gracie is doing better and better at swimming confidently!
  • Cecilia talks more and more.  Recently, she started saying “thank you” when given something.  It’s so sweet!
  • I am grateful none of my friends were displaced by Hurricane Harvey, and hope to be able to help others less fortunate.
  • Had a “date” with Theresa too.  She came with me to drop of her aunt and cousins at the airport, and enjoyed the escalators and shuttles, and then we shopped at Trader Joe’s and had ice cream.
  • Our health.  I am so grateful no one has been sick this summer.
  • Unexpected messages from friends, and the prospect of seeing lots of dear college friends at 10 year homecoming next month!

Finally, thank you Lord for those things that are so hard to be grateful for; the crosses, trials, and difficulties of life:

  • Financial strains since I had to quit my job.
  • A very unexpected and untimely large bill.
  • The hole in the basement ceiling, which costs too much to fix anytime soon.
  • The unkindness and contempt of several people in the last few months.
  • The uncertainty of which job to pursue, what interests to cultivate, what charism to discern.