Everyday Gratitude: wk. 10 {Thanksgiving Edition}

“Let us remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm, and look forward to the future with confidence.”
Pope St. John Paul the Great

At Mass on Thanksgiving day, our pastor mentioned the above quote from St. John Paul II. Certainly, it sums up very well what our Thanksgiving should look like. I have been thinking a lot about gratitude this month, and trying to remember my blessings, be happy and content in the present, and look forward to the future with great trust in the Providence of God. Ironically, I realized it’s been three weeks since I recorded my every gratitude. So here’s a few things I’ve been particularly grateful for this past month, though not necessarily in chronological order.

Dear Lord, I praise and thank you:

  • For the kids being all better after two weeks of a nasty virus. We had to stay home, and the Cecilia wasn’t sleeping well, and Grace was getting very antsy and wanting to get out and see her friends.
  • For a warm, snug house as the weather turns colder. Cozy blankets, and snuggle time.
  • For hosting Thanksgiving in our own home. And lots of help doing so from hubby, who cleaned the house, set the table and carved the turkey ūüôā
  • For pleasant, sunny days, and the chance to be outside, take walks and go to the playground.
  • For our first hike since last spring, when we explored the Chancellorsville Battlefield.

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  • or the opportunity to pray for the Holy Souls this month in a special way.
  • For an almost six year old daughter, who keeps us amused by her constant chatter, and who has become an incredible helper, always willing to lend a had and do some clean-up. She even begged to clean the bathroom one day!
  • Raking leaves and the sweet smell of falling leaves and pine needles. There’s a lot of trees in our yard and we raked an enormous leaf pile, which the girls loved!

  • Making my first fresh flower arrangement for the church altar! I put it in front but it was moved in front of Our Lady ūüôā So blessed to be using my floral skills this way!
  • Freshly painted shutters for the house, changing the way the whole front looks! Great to be adding some *curb appeal* and looking forward to decorating for Christmas.

  • Checking out historic homes near our house, which had beautiful grounds to walk around. It’s a fun way to get out instead of going to a playground.
  • Christmas cards are almost done! Grace put on the stamps, return address labels, and then stuffed and sealed the envelopes! I cannot believe what an awesome helper she has become.
  • Walking through downtown to see the Christmas lights and displays. We love the town here because it’s so old fashioned and pretty.
  • Looking through pictures of the last month, I remember that at the beginning of November, Bobby and I were invited to a Gala to benefit the charitable outreaches of the OB/GYN I go to.¬† It’s an a great, pro-life practice, and we had a wonderful night out with dinner, live auction and dancing.

  • Gracie helped me plants 60 flower bulbs in the front yard.¬† Hopefully lots will bloom in the spring!
  • Solemnity of Christ the King and the end of the liturgical year. I love Advent, and I’m looking forward to it. Since it’s so short this year, I feel like this week is a bonus week to get ready *before Advent* instead of scrambling right after Thanksgiving.

My Sunday Best {2017}: New Church and Unplanned Haircuts

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Back to blogging! ¬†My husband is away for two weeks, starting another Masters program with an intensive 6 credit session! ¬†So, my evenings are free and what better way to get back into blogging than with a link-up! ¬†Joining Rosie at A Blog for My Mom¬†for My Sunday Best, and hoping to post regularly again. ¬†So I’m starting the weekly count again, although I have a few past posts in this category.

We moved seven weeks ago, and our new church is both great, and an adjustment! ¬†The priests are all reverent and good homilists, but the church is more casual than our last parish, with no Latin. ¬†Besides, we’d been going regularly to the Extraordinary Form Low Mass, which is very quiet, and I miss the silence. ¬†Still, the parish is very large with lots of ministries, and I’m hopeful we will find the right groups to be involved with! ¬†If by chance you read this and you go to St. Mary’s in Fredericksburg, I’d love to connect with you!

I have to give my daughter credit for finally getting a Sunday Best picture. ¬†There are gorgeous flowering trees outside of church, as well as flower beds, and she asked to take a picture with the flowers. ¬†You can’t really see them, but it was a cute picture of all us girls! ¬†This skirt is the first LulaRoe I ever picked out, and I love it! ¬†I think of it as my Lady of Guadalupe skirt, although it’s technically covered in flowers, not stars.

If you notice Theresa’s bangs look rather short, that’s because she decided to give herself a haircut this morning!

The trim I gave her looks a but silly, but I guess it fits her!

On a reflective note, the readings today reminded me of how I’m trying to plow, water, and rejuvenate the soil of my soul. ¬†I’ve been reading a new book out called¬†Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life. ¬†¬†Right now, for me, its amazing! ¬†Just what a need to hear and reflect on and work on, in terms of seeking God’s will for my life and learning to cultivate and thrive in the life I’ve been given. ¬†The author relies on a lot of garden analogies, and also says she learned many of these lessons from having a garden, and so today’s readings really spoke to me.

What I took away today was that I need, through God’s grace, to cultivate the soil of my soul and heart and mind to that it is the “good soil.” ¬†And not only does the word need to fall on good soil, but the Word itself creates the good soil! ¬†Finally, I loved what our pastor said about the harvest: the “hundredfold” harvest Christ speaks of is a miracle, more than those seeds would produce on their own.

Maybe I’ll write more about this book, definitely a new house post in the works! ¬†Until next week!

 

7 Quick Takes: Autumn

  1. Down here in the valley, the leaves are just starting to change color.  But last weekend we drove up to Skyline Drive and the colors were at peak and absolutely gorgeous.  Its still hard for this New York girl to remember how late fall comes to Virginia, even though I’ve lived here for the better part of the last twelve years.  I just appreciate the fact that I still live in a place where the change of seasons still happens dramatically and with each season comes a different vista to view.  Here is the one tree in our yard that has really begun to change color so far.

2. I’ve only bought one mum, and just a few little pumpkins, but I love how my simple autumn displays turned out with them.

  
3. We went apple picking a few weeks ago, and there’s been lots of pies, crisps, and apple meals.  Oh, and apples and cheese for lunch.  My favorite cheese to have with fall apples is the Trader Joe Creamy Tuscano dusted with Cinnamon.  So good.

But it looks like we’re going to have to go apple picked again, because the first half bushel we picked is almost used up, and I still haven’t made any apple sauce or apple butter!

4. The girls are looking so cute in their fall clothes.  Grace usually dresses herself every day, and I’m amazed at her color and dress sense; her outfits usually match pretty well.  Theresa just looks cute in everything, but I was really trying to capture this very fall outfit I put her in today!

   

5. Lots of singing and dancing in the house these days.  Grace likes to make up songs about everything, as well as singing ones she’s heard.  She even made up a song about the dead mouse they found outside!  Here, she’s dancing down the street during the Festival of Leaves last weekend.

6.  I finally cleared out all the dead plants from my garden beds, and covered them with grass clippings.  Also, the prediction of 30 degree temperatures this weekend makes it necessary for me to bring in my patio plants.

7.  I’ve enjoyed reading the {31 Days of Writing} undertaken by several of the bloggers I follow.  But my October 31 days resolution was more simple: say at least one decade of the Rosary every day, in honor of the month of the Rosary.  So far, I’ve only missed one day, and we’ve done it as a family a few times too.   I’ve also tried to make time for daily Mass once or twice a week, which I think has been a great blessing.  And today, Theresa genuflected for the first time at church ūüôā

And a number 8 bonus.  Every day has been warm, sunny and beautiful. And I prioritize getting outside because I think it will be the last “nice” day, but all week had been gorgeous. Such lovely weather and the girls love it too. 

  

Seven Quick Takes

Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum.

1. Tuesday was the first day of my husband’s 10 week summer vacation.¬† (He’s a teacher ūüôā¬† He’s caught up on sleep, but has also been super helpful with taking the kids, washing dishes and even making meals.¬† This is because…

Going to school with Daddy, on one of his last days.  She always asks to go with him, and was thrilled to spend a few hours at his school.

Going to school with Daddy, on one of his last days. She always asks to go with him, and was thrilled to spend a few hours at his school.

2. This month is the busiest time of my work-from-home job.¬† Usually, I email for about an hour a day.¬† The last two weeks, it’s averaged 5 hours a day of calling, emailing and texting.¬† I’m tired of being online and don’t know how people work this way all the time.

“Shopping” for a snack. Playing while Mommy works.

3. With all the time online, I’ve tried really hard to get outside at least a little every day.¬† On Tuesday, we got out for an afternoon hike.¬† We did our new favorite hike: 2 miles on the Dickey Ridge Trail, into Shenandoah National Park.¬† Great trail to do with kids, as it follows a little creek and is fairly level for the first mile.

Go hike!  One of Grace's favorite activities.

Go hike! One of Grace’s favorite activities.

4. I’ve also worked a little on the garden.¬† Harvested and cleaned out the snap peas and bok choy; still working on eating the rest of the lettuce, and harvesting the carrots and beets.

Height of the first crops in this garden.

Height of the first crops in this garden.

Harvesting and getting ready for the next planting.

Harvesting and getting ready for the next planting.

5. The summer vegetables are growing, and lots of cucumbers will be ready to pick soon.¬† And I’m loving the fresh herbs.¬† Winter without was so bland.¬† They smell so fragrant and lovely and taste so good!

The new, beautiful bed, Bobby built this year.

The new, beautiful bed, Bobby built this year.

6.¬† I actually got out one week for the parish women’s craft night, and worked on my quilt that’s been in progress for over seven years.¬† It was a much needed night out, and sewing was wonderfully relaxing after all the work pressure.

7.  On Friday we went to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Homeschool Conference in Fredericksburg.  Now that we are actually looking at textbooks and curriculum to use in another year or two (going to do simple pre-school this fall), I am so overwhelmed!  Still, it was really fun, the girls were so good, and we bought a few great books.  And have more ideas for the future.

25 Ways to Keep Summer from Slipping Away

Inspired by this post from Heart of my Home, here’s my list to help me live intentionally this summer and appreciate the summer’s goodness.

1.¬† Make time for my morning prayers and go to daily Mass more frequently.¬† Maybe even make an extra Holy Hour or two.¬† My husband is a teacher and has the summer off, and my parents will be visiting for a few weeks, so these things should be a lot easier!¬† Also get back into the habit of praying the evening Examin, and keep up my weekly Rosary (praying all four sets of mysteries in a week).IMG_00072. Host a garden cocktail party.¬† I had a lovely party in January for my 30th birthday, and I’d love to host another one, this time outside and with fresh things from my garden.

3. Take the girls to the splash pad we’ve heard about nearby.

4. Sew at least one sundress for each of the girls.¬† I have lots of material, but haven’t made any in years.

5. Berry picking, hopefully for raspberries and blueberries.

6. Make jam and apple butter.

IMG_99977. Exercise in the morning, maybe even with hubby.

8. Go to a waterpark.¬† I love them, and have to take advantage of summers when I’m not pregnant!

9. Enjoy all the fresh veggies from our garden and CSA.  Make pickles and salsa.

10. Blog once a week.

11. Prepare to start pre-school with Gracie in the fall.¬† We’re attending the Seton Conference in a few weeks, and I can’t wait!¬† Planning to do Catholic Icing with her, but want to check out some other options with a more diverse covering of subjects.¬† Also, looks like we may do a laid-back coop, so that’s exciting too.

12. Spend time reading books.

13. Go to the animal park near here, and maybe the National Zoo.

14. Keep fresh flowers on the table.

15. Go on a date with hubby.¬† Maybe, maybe, we’ll even get away for an overnight at a B & B, something we’ve never done before

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16. Enjoy my girls.  Have special time with them every day, and maybe do more one on one with Grace.

17. Read to Grace.¬† Bobby puts her to bed and reads to her then, so often I don’t get to read much to her, unless I make the time.

18. Get a new phone.  Take more pictures.

19. Try making homemade mozzarella, to go with fresh tomatoes and basil and homemade bread.

20. Web free days, at least after all my job responsibilities are done.

21. Go canoeing.

22. Put up a tire swing.

23. Enjoy some self-care: massage, haircut, new eyeglasses, teeth cleaning.

24. Keep pitchers of water with cucumbers and mint, fresh iced tea, and homemade lemonade on hand.

25. Have one on one time, maybe even a date, with my mom and my dad.

Bonus: Sit quietly and do nothing.    IMG_0010