What I Learned This Fall

Thanks to my friend Laurel over at Muffin Dome, I discovered a new blogger this fall: Emily P. Freeman.  Her podcast is my new favorite listen in the evening, and her wisdom about “creating space for your soul to breath” is exactly what I need to hear right now.  Her seasonal “what I learned” sheets have been working well for me, as I attempt to be a bit more reflective and thoughtful about my life.  Joining her linkup for the first time.

Here are eight things I have learned this Fall:

  1. “When once we begin to form good resolutions, God gives us every opportunity of carrying them out.”  St. John Chrysostom
  2. After attending a Called and Gifted workshop, I will be discerning the charisms of mercy and hospitality.
  3. I made my first double crust, traditional apple pie.
  4. As I detached from the frenetic pace of being a work-from-home mom, I have been able to slow down and enjoy playing with my children.img_7657
  5. The power and real graces from the sacrament of Confession, especially to help me forgive those who have wronged me.
  6. God freely and lovingly can bestow any grace, even unlooked for and unasked for graces.  This fall, I enjoyed the season.  I was constantly noticing the beauty of the changing leaves, the brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine, and the smells of falling leaves.  I have never particularly liked the season of fall, and since the September our daughter died, its been a season of grief.  But this year, it was a real and beautiful grace to enjoy the season.    img_8875
  7. 10 Year College Homecoming was THE BEST!  It was so much fun to see friends after many years.  Everyone in my class, whether I had been close friends with them or not, was friendly and kind and interested in how we were doing.  It was great to catch up with people I don’t regularly keep in contact with.  And the college put on a great weekend, with lots of good food, beautiful dinner, fireworks and a special dance.
  8. Thanksgiving hosted in our own home, with our parents there, was a peaceful and happy experience.



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 🙂
  • 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 🙂 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}: Finding my Floral Niche

It’s been awhile since a remembered to take a Sunday picture before changing out of church clothes!  This weekend, the weather was so nice when we got home that the girls stayed outside to play and Gracie snapped this photo!  Happy to be able to link up with Rosie this week for My Sunday Best.img_8670


The weather in Virginia has been amazing, and its time to break out pants and sweaters, along with a pretty Lula Roe floral top.  Speaking of flowers, today was Parish Life Weekend at our new church, and there were representatives from probably 25+ ministries, after the Masses.  Since I’ve already gotten involved with about four different things at church already, there was only one more ministry I was really interested in signing up for: liturgical decorating.  These are the people who decorate the inside of the sanctuary, but it turns out its only done at Christmas and Easter.  So I signed up, but I also approached the Sister in charge about something close to my heart; regular flowers for church, as there doesn’t seem to be any arranged.

Sister said she would talk with the pastor, and that this might be an answer to prayer, if I would purchase and arrange flowers regularly for the sanctuary.  Friends, this would be a dream come true for me, to have a flower budget and create beautiful arrangements to adorn the altar and statues in the church.  I worked as a floral designer for several months after college, and it was the BEST job I have ever had.  Lately, I have been exploring ways to pursue this passion again.  If its God’s will, I hope this opportunity comes to fruition!







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.

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.

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).


My Sunday Best: New Clothes!

Because every post should start with a cute baby picture!

Gaudete! Rejoice! I finally had an outfit today that I was excited to share! I recently posted about how I don’t like my clothes, and on Friday I finally bought some new ones! Here’s my gorgeous Lula Roe Cassie skirt, and a rose top for the liturgical dress win. (The girls all wore pink today too 🙂 

My husband cannot seem to focus the camera or take a flattering picture of me. Grace is getting a camera for Christmas. Maybe she’ll do a better job!

Linking up today with Rosie. Check out her lovely outfit, cute new baby and the other link ups!