Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Fruit Tray Idea for the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

I got a quick shot of the fruit tray I made for a family party today (happy birthday to my sister and John Paul!) and thought I'd share it here for the archives.  Sort of a take on my idea from last year but on a bigger (and less picky) scale.  It makes a great dessert for a crowd.  

Pretty self explanatory, right?
(Strawberries, melted chocolate, orange, watermelon, squashed marshmallows, and mint leaves)
I'm not sure anybody but me was all that impressed but my family is used to my weird ideas.  I think.

Friday, June 27, 2014

How Did I Not Know You?

It was a decade ago today that I didn't know you yet.  I don't really understand that.  I loved you entirely from the second that I knew you were there but I didn't know know you yet.
How could that be?

You changed me, sweet boy.  From the moment I held you in my arms, I was a different person.  I was mother. 

How is it that you weren't always here?  The other day you were floored by the realization that there once was a time when you were not.  "But where was I before I was in your womb?"  And I understood.  I feel the same way.  It's what makes me so in awe of our God.

When I was pregnant with you, I was able to go to daily Mass a whole lot.  When I would receive the Eucharist, I always thought it was so awesome how you could be so close to Jesus so often.  I pictured Him right there next to my sweet growing baby.  It blessed you.  I believe that.

From that moment when I knew you were I knew you were special.  I knew that you were one of those people destined for great things.  I have no idea what that means yet but I can't wait to find out with you.

You believe you can do anything.  I battle with how much to let you know that. You're one of those people who just seem to do well at whatever you try.  Sometimes that means you don't work as hard as you can.  But when you decide which of those many things is your passion, which thing makes you come most fully alive, we'll stand back and watch you blow it out of the water.

I love how innocent you are.  I don't think I've ever known you to intentionally do something wrong.  The times you get in trouble it's for getting distracted or not obeying right away almost always because you're engrossed in a book or project.  I get that.  (But you still need to do it ;)

You make teaching easy.  You've spoiled me, really.  Things just make sense to you and you remember everything.

I love knowing you.  I love that you climb trees and devour books and build weapons and dream about pitching and saved up all your money for that beebee gun and build gifts for your brothers and beg to watch Jeopardy and prefer to eat things that are "fresh" and have been asking over and over to be an altar boy and have been counting down to tomorrow for two months.  

It wasn't until this year that I had ever seen you get genuinely angry.  (And I really couldn't blame you.  Little brothers are hard sometimes.)  And even then it lasted for only a moment before it was forgotten.  You're just not that way.  

I am in awe of you.  Truly, I am.  Sometime I realize that you are a much better person than I am.  The way you are so quick to forgive, to find joy, to let things go.  Oh, I learn from you everyday.

Sometimes I worry that you'll grow up and realize how often I failed as a mother.  That you'll wonder why we made the choices we did and regret them.  While I can't keep you from that, I hope you'll grant me grace.  I hope you'll see how much I tried.  I hope the pages here will show you that.

These next years are going to be so interesting.  People have told me to dread them, to fear what they will hold, but I just can't.  I know you.  I know how awesome you are and I am so excited to see you become the man that you were meant to be.  You were meant for great things, sweet boy.  I know it.

Happy birthday, kiddo.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Gift of Letting Your Husband Leave

Brian's gone again.
Every week he leaves.  For a few hours one night a week, he's gone.  When he first started doing it, about five years ago, it was a hard adjustment.  It didn't seem fair that he could go out every week while I was left with the kids again.  I mean, I supported him because he felt it was really important but didn't he know I'd been doing this all day?  Didn't he realize I needed to get out, too??  Where was MY time? (I conveniently forgot during those interior whine sessions about the play dates, Facebook time, phone calls, and emails that happened all throughout the day.)  There were certainly times I complained about or begrudged him that time away.  It's hard with little children to let your spouse leave one night a week for something that feels like an "extra".  But now can I tell you?  I've done a total 180.  Because it's one of the best things that's ever happened to our family.  It has become such a gift to give him that time away because when he comes back?  He comes back stronger, happier, and with a greater sense of purpose for himself and for our family.

A few years ago he and some other men started a weekly men's fellowship group.  Every week they meet to build each other up, to share each other's struggles, and to help each other be better men.  They pray the Rosary, they discuss whatever current book they are reading together, they have small group accountability, and they have time to just hang out.  This group has been invaluable to our family.  When I give my husband the small gift of a few hours every week to be with other men who want to be better husbands and fathers and sons of God, it is returned back to me tenfold in the changes I see in him and in the other families around us.  There is community building and it is a beautiful and exciting thing to be a part of.

Men need this.  Men need real friendship and I think a whole lot of them aren't getting it.  Our marriage suffered for a long time because Brian didn't have this.  We as wives need to realize that we are not enough for them.  And that's okay.  Men need to be able to be with other men who are fighting the same battles and seeking to be the men that God wants them to be.  I'm not talking about the buddy from high school that they meet for drinks every other month (though that's nice, too).  I'm talking real, solid, Christ-centered friendships that challenge them, support them, and call them on.  Friends that they can be completely real with.  They need friends who know what their struggles and sins are and help pull them out when they need to.  Just like we do.  Men, just like women, need to know they are not alone and they need accountability (separate from their wives) in living out and growing in virtue.  Just like we as women wouldn't be content with only the companionship of our husband and need true solid girlfriends, men also need that fellowship with other men.  I would venture to say that most of us stay at home moms get far more socialization and fellowship than our husbands ever do and yet we still somehow feel slighted when they need to take some time to do just that.

It's not always easy to give him this.  There are nights it's hard.  There are times I just feel selfish and want him to stay home and finish a project hang out on the couch and watch Downton but not only is the group helping him, he is helping them.  That's (usually) enough to pull me out of my self absorption and kick him out the door.  The group works because they all make the commitment to be there.  There are times, of course, when serious things come up and he can't make it but the men have made a commitment to each other and they do their best not to skip out on this time except for very good reason.  I don't know everything that goes on there.  The men are serious about confidentiality and trust.  I know the gist and the format of what they do and that is enough.  What is really helpful on a practical level (and in curbing the begrudging) is that they intentionally planned it later in the evening so that they could help get kids to bed before they go.

And it works.  We've seen so much fruit in our own family, enough that I hope and pray that every man out there find himself good, solid, and regular fellowship with other men for their own sake but also for the sake of their wives and children.  Heck, for the sake of our world.  And we wives need it, too.  We say we want strong husbands and fathers, men to be spiritual leaders of the home and yet we don't take any real action to get there, especially for men who didn't have that model growing up.  We somehow want them to just know what that means.

I guess my whole point of this post is to encourage you to encourage your husband to find fellowship.  They need it.  Your family needs it.  If your husband doesn't have this, pray that he finds it and when the rubber hits the road, encourage him to take that time away.  Of course, it doesn't have to be a formal group (though there are many reasons that is great) and once a week may be undoable for different families in different situations.  Find what works for your husband and for your family.   Supporting your husband in finding and maintaining real friendships with other men is important for his sake as well as for your whole family.  It can be so hard but it is so worth it.

(Plus, you'll end up not really missing that sideline Downton commentary. ;)

Brian asked me to let you know that if there are any guys out there wanting to get more details on how to start a group, to feel free to shoot us an email.  The group he is in is affiliated with a growing number of groups around the country and he'd be more than happy to help you out!

Waterfalls, Spiderwebs, and a Picnic on an Island

Last weekend we took a morning and went to a local county park for a quick hike and picnic.


This is the end of the hike.  I remember stories from high school of kids jumping off those cliffs!  

I'm always in awe of a good spider web.  How that little arachnid can make something so perfectly ordered is just so amazing.


On the way back from the falls we decided to stop on the path and have our lunch.

There was a big rock in the middle of the creek that Michael picked out as the perfect spot to eat.  We all were able to get to it (without falling in!) and David was thrilled to be eating lunch on an "island."

"(Insert certain melancholic child's name here), if you don't smile, you're not getting lunch."
Result:  Semi-decent shot of four children looking semi-happy

We spent a good amount of time trying our hand at geocaching.  There were supposedly two caches in this park.  We didn't find either but we certainly whetted the boys appetites for hidden treasure.  Later that day we attempted to find one that is supposedly right near our house.  No luck there either.  But the idea is so neat I'm really hoping we get to try again soon!

Hop yourself on over to Like Mother, Like Daugher for more {phfr}!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Things I've Been Doing (that haven't been blogging)

baseball games

painting stools

doula meetings

selling random things on Craigslist

homeschool planning

curriculum buying

watching magic shows

breaking up fights

lamenting this year's pitiful garden

chicken wrangling


spending time with friends




family get togethers

going to Mass


While I'd love to be blogging more it seems that this season I'm just meant to be other places.  I hope you're having a wonderful summer and I'll get the blogging back to acceptable levels soon ;)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mass at St. Michael's

The last few days we've been privileged to be invited to Mass every morning with Father Michael.  Yesterday Mass was at his parish, which is, coincidentally, St. Michael's.  Something tells me things are a little illicit here, though.  I may find myself writing to the bishop soon.

Deacon David, of course, proclaimed the Gospel. 

Sometimes he needs a little help.

Their altar boy seemed like a newbie.  Sometimes he even runs out mid-Mass.  At least he was ready with the bells.

Clearly Mass is a very solemn event.

This is outside the church.  Because it's St. Michael's.  Obviously.

Then this morning Father invited us to his other parish, St. Mary's.

They may want to rethink their music ministry.  Their entrance song always seems to be the same.

Wait.  The Gospel always has to be about Jesus??

Father explained the Resurrection during the homily and there were no theological errors as far as I could tell.

But I'm preeeeettty sure these hosts are invalid.

Another Mass has been planned for this evening.  And pretty much every other day after that.
You should come ;)

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