Let’s do some “appreciating”!!

When I used to teach, I loved to see all the different gift ideas that would flood my desk at the end of the year. Let’s be honest…if you have NEVER been one to “do”teacher gifts…this is your year!! Teachers truly care. We truly pour our heart and soul into teaching your children…with little financial gain. We spend countless hours after school and on the weekends working on the latest and greatest way to help our students learn. If there is anyone who desires your “appreciating”, it is your child’s teacher. However, this doesn’t have to be a huge expense. As a teacher at our local co-op and a parent, I get to receive cute gifts and give them.

When I taught in the school system,  the “crafty” moms would get something cute and trendy, and the “last minute” moms (don’t be offended…this would be me..haha) were always good for a gift card.  My desk was often filled with yummy baked goods, and candy filled mugs.

So….what did I love???!!

Here you go…….5 great gift ideas for your teacher:

  1. A group gift: One year my “class moms” collected money from any family willing to give, and gave me a Visa gift card and a card from the children. It was a hefty sum of money and was such a thoughtful way of acknowledging me. If you think giving a Visa gift card is weird, it’s not. Any teacher would love to have extra money for a dinner out or a new outfit.
  2. A gift card: I love gift cards to places that I frequent anyway. In the past, I have given and received gift cards to Wawa/convenient store, Target/Walmart, local ice cream places, Panera, and Starbucks. I love that I can also go on Pinterest and find a cute tag  to attach to my gift card. One year our family used downloads similar to these along with our Starbucks card. I would not suggest getting teachers a gift card to a teacher supply store. Enough of our money is going there anyway…haha.

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You can find these free printables here.

3.) Homemade Food gifts: In dealing with several teachers for my children’s homeschooling co-op, I found that making something “yummy” was a great and inexpensive way to acknowledge the 15 teachers that teach all 5 of them. So this year, we used these awesome tags found here.

I didn’t feel that it was necessary to bake a whole dozen or even a half dozen. Three or four nicely baked fresh cookies would be sufficient. I have also received some delicious homemade applesauce, apple butter, and taco seasoning. All great gifts that were surely enjoyed. I was so bummed when I finished off the remainder of the homemade taco seasoning.

This is also a super cute idea. You get the “feel” of a homemade gift for half the work. haha. You can find the link for this here.

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4.) Homemade gifts: If you are the “crafty” type, you can really find some wonderful ideas on Pinterest. Here are some of my favorites…..

How cute are these hand scrub jars? You can check these out here.

diy lemon hand scrub in mini mason jar with custom gift tag sticker:

I received a tumbler like this one year and I loved it. The student had filled it with a couple of different “packets” of instant lemonade, and iced tea. Perfect for those poolside days!

You can print the tags for that here.

What a cute and easy idea for teacher appreciation! Cute cup with a free printable tag:

5.) Wine, wine and wine: It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t acknowledge the beauty of a nice bottle of wine..and what teacher wouldn’t love a bottle of wine with this cute tag attached. You can find it here.

Give a teacher a bottle of wine with this free printable gift tag.  Teachers love grapes.. not apples.

Most importantly, write a small handwritten note thanking the teacher and acknowledging the work that they have done in your child. Be as specific as possible. Few things make a teacher happier than knowing that he/she is making a difference.

Here’s to another great school year coming to a close!

God bless,

Tammi

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When the house of cards fall….

To say that things have been difficult lately, would be an understandment. It’s that time of the year….the homeschooling year is coming to a close and the “natives” are getting restless. One last three week stretch here of portfolios, testing, and finishing extracurriculars, and our summer will start.

But mentally,…..I’m done. Completely ready for the nearest beach, some sun, and always…a cocktail.

Add to that the recent health issues of the hubs, the struggles and pressure of having a traveling software sales husband, and all the extracurricular activities of the children, and I was completely overwhelmed. I was sitting amongst piles of laundry that beckoned, and food stuck on pots and pans that I had no energy to get to. For the first time in a while, no glass of wine or chocolate dessert was going to push me in the right direction.

For the first time, in a long time, I was completely depressed. 

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Maybe you can relate. The tears just kept falling….”pull it together, Tammi”…I would say to myself. I would be picking up endless barbie shoes, kids’ clothes, and pieces of “art” that the children had created….and I would be crying. I would be driving in the van to soccer and the tears would be falling. The children were beginning to see past the “no big deal” and “I’m just laughing so hard” routine I was trying to pull off. I was a tired wife and mother who was feeling no relief. I was pulling late nights trying to get everything done, and yet all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep. I wanted to forget about spending a “date night” at the hospital for the latest round of pneumonia….I wanted to leave the room rather than watch my husband struggle to breathe through his coughing fits. However, I also wanted help. I wanted another person to “adult” with me.

However, it was a Friday at our bi-monthly co-op that my “house of cards” started to crumble….

And just like a flimsy deck of cards…there was no warning.

The flood gates opened…and I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the call from the hubs that the doctor wanted to run some extensive tests on him that day….maybe it was the long nights I had endured in a row…..or maybe it was just my own need to be “done”. I’m not sure of the catalysis but…surrounded by all these moms and women that I admired and loved, I couldn’t control the tears from falling. I tried everything…play with the little babies; tease the middle schoolers; clean out the van…but nothing I did would make my face look less red and swollen or make the tears stop falling. I’m a pretty “open” person…I love to make people laugh and have a good time. However, I don’t like to cry in front of others. I don’t like appearing “weak” or “out of control”. But on this friday, that wasn’t an option…those tears just kept coming.

Several of these women pulled me aside and lent me their ear as I reluctantly poured out my heart over my recent troubles. Afraid to venture too far, they allowed me to share what I needed, not what they wanted from me. They were Christ to me. I watched as my sisters -in-law kept just the right distance, to keep me from crumbling. These ladies were another one of my “cards”. People who I had placed in my life who I valued. I valued their opinions as mothers; I valued their friendship and their wisdom. In HIS Wisdom, the Lord had allowed me to feel crushed when I was the most supported. He had surrounded me with woman who truly knew me and what I needed at that moment. His “loveletters” to me continued. On the following Sunday, when I waved to one of these ladies across the pew at church, God had already placed it on her heart that she would deliver dinner to my house on Monday night…..all I had to do was “confirm” it when I showed up at HER church on Sunday.

We all juggle with our own house of cards. We spend years putting each “card” in place…carefully stacking each one. Finding time in our lives, and in our schedules for our family, our careers, our vacations, our workouts, and our friends. We make time for our hobbies; live out our faith; and continue to be present to those who love us. As we stack card upon card, we are building a little mental house for ourselves. We look at our little house and how “pretty” it looks…we take pride in what we have created.

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 However, if we look closely, we can quickly see how flimsy it is. How every card depends on the stability of the other.  The shifting of one card can send the whole deck crashing down. With this reality, comes action. When one card falls, we jump to grab it and control the whole house from tumbling. We fear this “crumbing” of what we have created.

For the past few years, I have been creating my own house of cards. I blog often about the family traditions we hold dearly; the humorous shananigans of my brood of five, and the adventures that we embark on. We enjoy good eating, and clean living. Our family motto of “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” hangs proudly in our home.  But recently, I have been feeling the shifting of a few of these cards, and it’s really scaring me.

The hubs has been dealing with some health issues over the past five months and this has definitely been a “shifting card”. As overwhelming as this can be, my thoughts are drawn to Peter when the Lord called him into the water.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” – Matthew 14:28-33

Peter felt that feeling of “shifting cards” as he was walking on water. He felt “unsafe” and “unsure”. However….he trusted. A few days later, I found myself struggling again so I took the children to a nearby lake for a small picnic break on one of our busiest days. We had a 45 minute window to fill, and I figured hitting the lake on a beautiful day would busy the kids and allow me to clear my head. “I don’t have much time…but a few minutes will be good.” God in His Infinite goodness, blessed me with this vision…….:

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And I heard the words:

“And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”

And I felt an overwhelming breeze envelop me, and a peace flow through me.

Sometimes, God calls us out of our every day to speak to our hearts. To find him in the beauty of creation. As I stood there watching my children wade through the lake, I was overwhelmed by the peaceful tranquility. The same water that brought fear to Peter was now bring peace to my soul.

But..isn’t that what God does?

He takes our fears…and turns them into blessings.

He frees us….unburdens us….

He takes those tossed up and spiraling cards, and shows us how to create a new house of cards. He creates us anew…..

What cards do you see falling or shifting? What control is God asking you to relinquish?

 Lord, help me cling to your words, “You of little faith, why did you doubt”? Help me to trust that you hold my “house of cards” and that only in you can I place my trust and allow you to shake up those cards to build me a better house of cards.

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Working Backwards……to get it done!

Have you ever found a system that works for you…and when you share it with someone else they LOVE it!!!

Ok…well…hold your hats!

First of all, I love my new Erin Condren planner that my sister in law purchased for me. I’m not a super “decorative sticker/tape” person but I definitely have decided that pen and paper is best for me, so I decided to give up my phone calendar and stick with this one.

If you decide to look into this planner, please use my referral link so I can score more credit to purchase cool new “things”…(wink.wink). I’ve got my eye on a few things…

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Here is my link…

I mean…how cute is this personalized cover of my crew….

However, as much as I love my planner, this post is more about the process than the planner. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am not a super organized person. I leave the beauty of organization to those skilled at it like Iheart organizing and Abby over at Just A girl and her blog.

However, I do have a process that I have found keeps my world from crashing in around me.

And…it involves working backwards.

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Depicted in the photo above, on Sundays evenings, I usually sit with 5 post it notes for the week out in front of me. If my week/weekend is super busy, I will put all 7 days of the week in front of me. Simply put, I work backwards.

I think of everything that needs to be done for an event or for the week, and then space it out throughout my week so I don’t feel overwhelmed. 

For instance, on Friday, of this week, I have my weekly co-op in which I teach 2 classes. So, on Monday I will make a note that I need to send an email to the parents of my students reminding them about any work/reminders for Friday. I had my son draw me up a quick picture today (Monday) of his cake that he will need to make for his 50 states project on Friday.  I will also try and figure out the kids’ lunch menu so I can grab stuff either Monday night or Wednesday morning when grocery shopping. Wednesday, I also will note that I need to have my daughter and son work on their rough drafts due for their IEW writing class. Thursday night, I will have all the children pack their bags for the co-op and they get placed at the front door to head out in the morning. Thursday night, I also write up a quick “thing to do” and place on my kitchen counter so I know what I need to grab in the morning. I place all lunch boxes on the kitchen counter and non-perishable lunch items in their lunch boxes. This also allows me time to “think ahead”. I often ask myself “Do I have something that I need to give someone I will see at the co-op?” If so, I will add these items to my trunk on Wednesday or Thursday night.

Sounds simple, right??!! But…it’s a gamechanger!! 

If you are used to leaving everything for the last minute, you really don’t allow yourself any time to be of service to others. When I was writing my list a few weeks ago, I remembered that my sister in law (who had just had a new baby) might need a ride for her two older children to the co-op. A simple text to her earlier in the week allowed me to tweak my morning schedule on Friday to pick up her children, without any burden on myself or my family. In addition, you always want to be prepared for the occasional stomach flu or flat tire that can set you back a day or two.

This process also works through the regular week as well.

I have my schedule “set” so that I maximize my time to be the most efficient. As a parent, I understand the need to juggle multiple schedules, and yet still get everything done. A couple of months ago, I made a list of all the chores/responsibilities that need to be completed in a week. Then I sat down with my postit notes and tried to figure out the best possible scenarios in which I could “commit” to those things.

I promise, it works!

It’s just like a great puzzle…you need to make sure that everything has a time and place when it is completed. Otherwise, you will begin to realize that your bathroom shower never gets cleaned or your front foyer never gets steam mopped. (I’m certainly not speaking from experience here…haha)

An additional piece of advice to my homeschooling mom friends, this year was the first year that I had two “set” days that I was “running around” and two days that I was pretty home bound. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I am home. I have set up my children’s school schedules so that I can do the most instruction on those days. They are also the two days that I “power through” my laundry, and kitchen duties. We have family meals that require a little more prep and time on those days as well. In contrast, on Tuesdays, my day starts at 9:00 with piano lessons, then adoration, off to chorus, and then dance class. I pull into my house around 6:15 thoroughly exhausted. However, on Tuesdays, because of all the children’s activities, I easily spend hours waiting for them. My “thing to do” list on Tuesday includes multiple errands in the van, office calls, quick emails, and reading. While the children load up multiple bags of dance attire, piano books, and chorus music, I heave my large 31 bag full of stuff to do as well. For me, this is a great time to reference my Master List of things to do; “pin” a few new recipes on Pinterest; or clean out my email inbox. I usually enjoy grabbing the children a quick lunch and hitting a park for some quick outside fun!

My advice would be to plan your errands around where you are headed or have to be. Every Tuesday, I drop off my husband’s dry cleaning and/or pick up his dry cleaning after adoration. It’s literally right down the street. He appreciates the errand, and it requires little work for me. The post office is on the same street as the parish church, where the girls take piano lessons, so I add any packages or mailings to the list for that time. Additionally, I keep a bin in my trunk with any store returns that I have to make. I tuck the receipt in the bag, so that I’m ready to return it.

If you’ve had a system that you’ve tried, and it isn’t working for you….give this a try! This system of working backwards has only proven time and time again to keep me from being overwhelmed, and to feel at peace.

I hope your organizational efforts are fruitful!

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Let’s start the celebrations…

It’s here….Easter Sunday!

I was awakened at 7:30 am by all five children singing ” Alleluia…he is risen!”

This picture makes my heart take flight!

What an amazing ending……so much better than “happily ever after”!

“Death where is your sting?  now that the tomb is empty….Oh Death, where is your victory? Now that Jesus lives….”- those verses are my favorite from “Halleluia, He is Risen”. 

My children know how much I love these verses, so to be awakened by them was awesome.

Such blessed little cherubs…but…7:30am??!!

Haha….if only mom hadn’t gone to bed at 3am!

Well…I guess after 40 days of Lent…they were ready!

In order to pull off the total “surprise” of decorating for the kiddos Holy Saturday night, I am often decorating late into the night. Some might find it crazy….and it is…but I love it.

It was about 11pm when I remembered that I didn’t purchase any Easter Lilies. I can’t forget Easter Lilies!!!!! Thankfully, the nearby grocery is open 24 hours!

I love watching them tear through their Good Friday banner and seeing “Easter” all over their school room. If you want to read about the notion of our Good Friday banner, please check out my blog post here.

After running down the stairs, and ripping through their banner, the children ran to their school chairs to rummage their Easter baskets as the joyful songs of “Life High the Banners of Love” played aloud. As a Franciscan University graduate, this is my own little “version” of attending the beautiful Easter Vigil Mass. What a gift to my spiritual journey to have encountered Easter Vigil at Franciscan and truly learn what joy Easter can usher in.

After loading up on some chocolate, we were off to Easter Mass.

The Fashionista had me sign us up to bring up the offertory. Here we are before Mass.

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Dressing in our Easter best has always been a tradition in our home. In years past, the girls have worn Easter bonnets and white gloves. This year, my mother had purchased the three younger girls their Easter outfits as one of their Christmas presents… and I love practical gifts. I love how she selected identical dresses for Miss Missy and Mini Me , but she chose a dress that was a little older for the fashionista. What could be better than a busy mom just having to buy cute shoes and some dressy hair bows??!! DDD just tugged at my heart when he asked if we could purchase his Jeff cap while in Crazy 8s. Since he was about three, the boy has been obsessed with vests and suit jackets. Nordstrom Rack helped with Sweet Pea’s dress. It was the perfect blend of feminine and “older”girl.

After a small brunch, it was time for the annual Easter egg hunt! I love how most of my kids put their pajamas on to “hang out” for the rest of the day.

The hubs hides about 100 eggs filled with candy, family coupons, and cash. The children love looking through their “spoils”.

Since I was feeling under the weather, the Fashionista helped with the dinner centerpiece

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and made a cute coconut bunny cake for our Easter dessert!

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 Alleluia! He is risen!

Here’s to celebrating the next 50 days of Easter!

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Embracing the empty tomb….

It’s Holy Saturday, and as I sit here in the quiet, I’m embracing the tomb. The huge stone rolled in front of a tomb that holds my Savior.

I’m drawn to the thoughts and feelings of those Apostles.

What just happened? This man that we loved, who broke bread with us…that smile…that tenderness. How could He be taken from us?”

The bloody mess that they had to witness……the brutal beating that Christ endured. Watching someone whom you love crucified in front of you….all hope seems lost.

Jesus on the cross

I want my kids to enter in to the meaning of Christ’s death and the loneliness of the tomb.

In order to celebrate the Glory of the Resurrection, we have to truly experience the gloom of the tomb.

On Good Friday, a few years ago, the hubs and I decided to “shut down” normal activities of our home following the 3 o’clock service at our church. For us, as adults, it meant cutting off the television, and spending more time in silence thinking about the Passion of Christ. However, what does that mean for the kids?!

It meant….locking up their toys….their activities.

Thus….we started sealing off their school room and basement.

The morning of Good Friday, the children help me to create a long banner that stretches over the frame of the entrance to their school room. This banner depicts various scenes of the Passion.

Here are some of the images of the children working this year:

Here are some of the beautiful images:

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When we return from the service, the children help me put up the banner.

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This sign is a reminder for them, that their “joys” lie behind here too. It’s a reminder that we can’t partake in what we normally do because we are sacrificing for the “sake of His Sorrowful Passion”. It’s beautiful to see the kiddos stop in front of here and stare.

Good Friday also starts our nightly Divine Mercy Novena which will run from  Good Friday until next Sunday, Mercy Sunday. You can read about this novena here. I would like to also recommend checking out the website Divine Mercy for Moms, as they have so many great resources.

Holy Saturday, often ushers in the beginning “feelings” of Spring. With gorgeous weather available, we decided to hit the local park for an egg hunt and some time playing.

It is a tradition that we also dye our Easter eggs on Holy Saturday. Last year, I figured out really quickly the beauty of dyeing eggs in our garage. No crazy mom screaming about dye on the floors or counters. I just set up the plastic tables…the children dye a few eggs and then head off riding their bikes when I clean up. Dyeing eggs is a great reminder to the children about the beauty of life and how eggs remind us of the tomb of Christ. Just as a baby chick leaves the egg, so did Christ leave his tomb and bring New Life to our souls.

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We also “catch up” on our reading of “The Story of the First Easter” from our Lenten Tea on Thursday, making sure that the children realize that we have left Christ “in the tomb”.

This year,  we spent time watching “The Bible” series on TV with the kids. I’m always impressed by their insightful questions and the way the story of Bible history enfolds so beautifully in their minds.

In the next few days, we will be celebrating the joy of the empty tomb….and our Resurrected Savior.  Look for my post in the next few days about our Easter Celebration...and see the “running through” of our Good Friday banner on Easter.

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Holy Thursday 2016: Lenten Tea

When I first started blogging, I was eager to share my ideas with other moms. I was eager to inspire other moms to get more involved and celebrate the liturgies of the Church in our homes. I love to celebrate holidays and liturgical events. With this in mind, I quickly found plenty of other blogger moms who had plenty of ideas to share with me as well. I have referenced Catholic All Year, Sole Searching Mama, and Sometimes Martha Always Mary, as three of these such bloggers.

Let me begin by saying that I love Holy Week. I try to set up my week by having Wednesday and Thursday be my cleaning and purging days. I wrap up all my schoolwork with the children on Wednesday. The children and I spend Holy Thursday cleaning our house and preparing for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday! I usually run the remainder of my errands, and compile my lists of things to do for each day. I like the concept of having one or two “big” events for each day as a way to extend Holy Week.

Holy Thursday= Lenten Tea and the Washing of the Feet

A few years ago I was introduced to the concept of a Lenten Tea by the blog, Shower of Roses. You can read about that here.

A Lenten Tea sounded like the perfect way to teach the little children the story of Holy Thursday by partaking in food that would remind us of the Last Supper. This has become a beloved tradition in our home and every year we change it up a little.

Here are our pictures from this year:

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  • A small “tip” for moms of toddlers or wild boys…haha. I purchased a nice china tea pot that had about four pretty tea cups that I used when I had friends over for tea. As you can tell in the picture above, I would also grab tea cups from Goodwill and Thrift shops when I found them for my little kids to use. There is nothing worst than trying to enjoy a tea while you are worried about them breaking your “good china”.
  • This tea was primarily set up by Sweet Pea and the Fashionista. I would highly recommend having your children as involved in the planning and implementation of parties/events as possible. I have definitely dropped the need to have things “picture perfect” so I can allow my children to help more.

 

I use this book that tells the story of the Last Supper through the Resurrection. We read only the pages through Holy Thursday during the tea. I also photocopied Chapters 14 and 15 of the Gospel of Mark so I could quote scripture about each food item.

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For instance, when we read about the people waving the Palm Branches and hailing Jesus the “King”, with the screams of “Hosanna”, we wave our Romaine Lettuce “palms”. I made sure that the leaves were wet, and it was fun to “bless each other” as we yelled “Hosanna”. In years past, we have also used Spinach leaves.

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Our Rotisserre chicken pieces reminded us of the cock that crowed when Peter denied Jesus. In the past, we have also made chicken salad, and chicken wings.

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Our cheese “circles” and crackers remind us of the thirty pieces of silver that Judas betrayed Jesus for. (obviously, the kids helped themselves before this photo) My sister in law, was using Peppermint patties for these thirty pieces of silver. You could also use gold coins…however, I was interested in having less treats and more food to fill their bellies.

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FYI…..I just used pre-cut cheese slices and found a handy “cap” for our iced tea container to make the circular shapes.

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Pictured below:

  • our Fig Newtons to remind us of the story of the fig tree in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • our flatbread for the unleavened bread that Jesus broke and shared. Pita bread would be great here too. 
  • our hershey kisses to remind us how Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss
  • the tic tacs to symbolize the bitter tears that Peter wept realizing that he denied the Lord, as Jesus had foretold
  • some Cool Whip to remind us of the “clouds of heaven” that Jesus told Caiaphas that he would be returning on.
  • “sleepytime” vanilla tea to remind us of how the apostles fell asleep while Jesus was praying in the garden.

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Not pictured was our olive oil “dip” for the Mount of Olives.

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This was a great afternoon tea for us this year. I would recommend having the kids wrap their chicken pieces in their romaine lettuce…add a little olive oil dip and you’ve got a great wrap.

Lacy, over at Catholic Icing, also has an awesome Passion Lunch depicted below. You can read more about that here.

easter story lunch for Good Friday

Our second event is typically attending the Holy Thursday service at our Church and then my husband washes the children’s feet. This year, the husband was released from the hospital, on Monday, having been treated for pneumonia for 5 days. He has been trying to take it easy so we omitted these events this past year. However, I still wanted to mention them as they are important to our typical celebration.

My husband thinks its so important for the children to understand how much he loves them and how important it is to lead a life in service of others.

Stay tuned for the post tomorrow about our Good Friday details!

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Why Mercy? People want justice…..

Read any comment section of a tragic human interest story and you can see the rage that comes forth from people. My facebook, lately, has been filled with story after story of parents who are neglecting their children, leaving them to starve or physically punishing them for being “a burden”. I can’t read these stories…..I just can’t. However, I do often look over the comments and so many strangers cry for justice for these little souls.

“An eye for eye”…

” I hope they starve those parents like they starved their kids”.

“Put me in a room with them”.

People want justice.

Now, it’s easy for me to read those comments and think how crazy these people sound.

Unfortunately, the truth is that I want justice in my own life. 

When someone “wrongs’me, I want justice. I want to call my close friends and explain to them how “difficult” this person is being and how I need “prayers” in dealing with them.

I don’t want to take any time trying to “understand” any reasoning behind why someone would insult me or hurt me, I just want to be able to lash out on them in anyway I please.

I want to mentally “cross my arms” and feed that part of me that desires to hate, that demands that “hurt” to be returned.

What about you?

People don’t know how to handle the evil that pervades our world. Racism, infantcide, euthanasia, murder, kidnapping, torture, abortion, sexual abuse…the list is endless. Our gut reaction is to demand atonement for these sins. To demand that the attacker meet some sort of fair punishment or justice. The definition of “justice” is the “quality of being fair and reasonable”. In order to handle the “injustices” of this world, it seems rational that we demand justice. But in order to demand “justice”, we must sit in judgement of another. We must “judge” their deeds worthy of justice.

To the Christian…..Justice is not enough.

The Lord asks for Mercy.

This beautiful image was given to Sister Faustina by Our Lord.  In her beautiful book,  “Diary of Sister Faustina:Divine Mercy in my Soul”, sister’s countless conversations and visions with Our Lord, in which he spoke to her about His Mercy, are detailed. Sister Faustina was asked, by Our Lord, to have the following image painted.

So what does the image mean?

The Image of The Divine Mercy represents the risen Christ whose hands and feet bear the marks of the Crucifixion. When asked about the meaning of the rays from His pierced Heart, Jesus explained, “The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. … These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross” (Diary, 299).

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The Lord is calling us to receive His Mercy. 

Have you ever wanted to give someone a gift and yet, they were never home for you to drop it off? You wait in anticipation of the joy that you know this gift will bring, but it never seems to happen. You call, but your phone calls aren’t returned. You know this gift will bring this person so much joy, but you can’t get through to them.

Can you imagine that you are this person?! That Jesus has this gift of His Mercy that he is waiting to pour upon you but you can’t make time to see Him.  Would it hurt you to find out that His Mercy would fill all those insecurities and pains of your past? That you would feel truly, and unconditionally accepted and loved.

I am not a reader. I’ve never loved reading but during Advent, Lent, and over the summer, I try to read at least one inspirational book. The following book by Fr. Mike Gaitley has been life-changing for me. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I read this book this Advent, and then again this Lent. I found something “profound” each time that I read it. It’s a beautiful book to add to your library. This is definitely one that you will want to read over and over, and highlight and write in. haha. 

In his book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Mike Gaitley writes that mercy is ” love when it encounters suffering”. It is “first an emotional movement, in which we feel compassion, and then a movement of action”.

It is first “feeling” compassion for someone, and then acting on that.  It is a call to action. God is calling us to action. He is calling us to receive the gift of His Mercy, and then to act on that Mercy. Jesus wants us to be emotionally moved by His Love for us, and then “called to action” by that same love.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has declared this the Year of Mercy. How will you live out this year?

Kendra, over at Catholic All Year, has started a Year of Mercy Challenge with her family. Their family has created a challenge, for the year, to fulfill each of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a family. She has produced a fantastic printable which you will find here:

Year of Mercy challenge worksheet

Our family has printed out this form and will be challenging ourselves as well.

Additionally, when my girlfriend, Michele, asked me to consider being one of the few “early readers” of her new book, Divine Mercy for Moms, I jumped at the chance. Having just finished Fr. Mike Gaitley’s book, this seemed to be a great book to continue this same message of Divine Mercy. It seemed only “fitting” that, as I opened this book, I found that  Fr. Mike Gaitley had written comment promoting this book.

This book didn’t disappoint.

Divine Mercy for Moms is a beautiful book, written by two of my friends from Franciscan University, that speaks to the heart of every busy mom who is trying to live her faith. These women have done a wonderful job of breaking down the message of Divine Mercy from Sr. Faustina into small reflective chapters that any mom can follow. Each chapter ends with how we can live that chapter’s message through three practical ways: in deed, word, and prayer. This book is also set up for small group discussion.

******I was going to wait until I finished this book…but after reading the first three chapters, I couldn’t wait to share it with you. This book is the perfect Easter basket gift for yourself….and a wonderful pre-cursor to Divine Mercy Sunday.******

This book is perfect for the busy mom, as you can read a chapter on Sunday to begin your week, and then use the practical suggestions on ways to “live” that chapter during the week. These moms, Emily and Michele, know how to speak to the mother’s heart and give practical tips for living this message of Mercy.

These ladies have also provided us with so many wonderful resources on their website, Divine Mercy For Moms.

They have two “special gifts” for this year of Mercy…download your free copies of the Mom’s Checklists for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.!

Definitely “click” on this book and order yours today!

If you have read both of these, please join me in reading Fr. Mike Gaitley’s new book, 33 Days of Merciful Love. This book is a blend of a retreat and the journey of growing closer to St. Therese, the Little Flower. Sounds like a great way to start into this summer.

My prayer is that some of these resources will provide invaluable on your spiritual journey.

May we seek God’s mercy that He so readily awaits to lavish upon us, mere sinners.

May we fully embrace this year of Mercy!

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St. Patrick’s Day!!!

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You know what time it is??!!! It’s the celebration for all of us Irishmen! We definitely love our Irish heritage and sport our green for Ireland on March 17! Thanks to Walmart and the local Dollar Tree, I was able to score some awesome “loot” to help the kiddos celebrate! Missing from this picture is my son’s green leprechaun hat, four more pairs of shamrock socks, Sweet Pea’s larger shamrock drop earrings, and two more scarves. My kiddos always get super excited and then race away with their loot. I’ve been know to hang on to stuff so that they actually know “where it is” come Thursday….hahaha.

I try and integrate the holidays into every aspect of our lives.  With St. Patrick’s Day, this is no acception, Pinterest always has a ton of ideas.  If you want to see some of the things we have done in years past, you can check out another blog I did on St. Patrick’s Day here.

Let me take a second to be “real” about holidays. Holidays can be so fun to celebrate and some years we just do as much as we can. However, other years…I am glad to just watch the day pass without doing anything. Then, some years I just do something simple that the kids will enjoy. So…when you are reading a blog for holiday ideas, pick and choose what you want. Don’t feel the need to do everything. It’s suppose to be helpful not burdensome.

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(Back when they were little….)

School work/Activities: 

*I recently registered as an Amazon affiliate, which means I make a small percentage back when someone purchases from one of my links. Please know that this blog, has always and will always be my thoughts and will not be biased by any promotion or product. In looking at this program, I decided that I LOVE the ease of amazon prime myself and often “link” their products for the ease of my readers. It seemed to be a great way to make a little money to lighten my own Amazon cart…haha. ***

I wish I had remembered that these great books were in my amazon “cart” on Monday when I sent my mom her birthday present. When I opened my St. Patrick’s Day tote from the basement, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t invested in any good books for the kiddos. After the large number of books I have for St. Valentine, I’m definitely lacking with St. Patrick. Well, with these two purchases, we will be well on our way in getting our library for this holiday established.

 

I love all the Tomie De Paola books and am super excited to add this one to our collection.

This book looks like a great way to introduce St. Patrick to young children.

I have also found that super teacher worksheets is invaluable for me as a homeschooling mom when I am looking to cover holidays or different concepts with my kiddos. At $19.99 for the year, I feel like it’s a great deal. I can easily gather worksheets using Math, Readiing Comprehension or puzzle-making skills to celebrate any holiday. The great thing about this site is that you can save the worksheets onto your computer for the next year!

Here are some of the ones we used this year:

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Really beautiful St. Patrick coloring page. Free to print!:

Catholic Heritage Curricula has this awesome coloring page available here.

I also did a quick activity teaching the little girls about the Trinity here.

 

The children typically wake up to their place set along with Lucky Charms and some green blueberry muffins. Let me go on the record as saying that I hate Lucky Charms….but my kids have developed their father’s love for sugar cereal and since this is a once-a -year treat…they indulge!

Lucky Cereal Graphing freebie:

This year we are going to be using our knowledge of tallying and graphing along with our Lucky Charms. This is a link to the graphing page. It will redirect you to the teachers pay teachers website. Now….I totally understand if you find this frustrating…because I do too. I just want to be able to push a link and print out a cute worksheet. However, I have found many benefits to using this website. First, it’s free to sign up and if you “save” your login information on your computer, no worries of forgetting. Plus, many of the Pinterest worksheets are now found on this system. In addition, every few weeks they send me a link of several “free” downloads for the week. They are usually time-related and I typically download most of them.

  • Here are some updated pictures that I took after we completed the activity:

Let’s chat food:

This year it’s Guinness Shepherd’s Pie for dinner:

Guinness Shepherd's Pie:

Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread Allrecipes.com:

I’m going to give this project to Sweet Pea. She will love to try her hand at some Irish Soda bread, and the little munchkins will gobble it up while they complain about the shepherd’s pie and beg for dessert….haha.

This year we are going to try our hand at these Irish potatoes for dessert.

irish potatoes

I will probably make sure to have a little bit of mint chocolate chip ice cream in our fridge as well….because ice cream is my weakness!

If a tea party is more your speed, Lacy over at Catholic Icing has a great blog about that here. 

Irish Blessing Subway Art-blog size

You can get this awesome printable here, which I used in our living room with some more Irish decorations.

UPDATE:****Here are some of our pictures from St. Patrick’s Day!*****

Wishing you a great St. Patricks’ day! May we be bold like St. Patrick in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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5 Simple and Cheap Ways to Decorate for a holiday!

With St. Patrick’s Day arriving quickly, I thought I would share an old post about how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!

Chasing time and Drinking wine

Decorating for a holiday doesn’t have to be super stressful or require a lot of work. I am the Queen of procrastination and if decorating requires more than an hour or two…I can’t make it happen.

And that’s the truth. I wish I had tons of time to put into decorating but it’s not my priority but it’s something that I enjoy…… so I make time for it.

 I know that my children love to come downstairs to see what fun decorations I have put up overnight.

So…lets talk about 5 Simple and Cheap ways to decorate for any holidays :

******( This post has my St. Patrick’s Day decorations)********

1.) Keep it Simple.

When I am decorating, I like to keep stuff really simple. I have several areas in my house that I focus decorating on….my breakfast room table, a side table in my family/living room, and my…

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When everyone “seems” to have it all together but us….Moms: 7 ways we are hurting ourselves…..

Oh, man. I gotta tell you that on Monday, I was not a happy momma. Multiple times on Monday I wanted to ship my kiddos off somewhere. I gotta tell you on days like that, I usually take a few minutes and hit up Instagram and check out some funny mom posts. There is usually some sort of funny “what I’m really thinking” post. Thankfully,  Instagram did not disappoint.

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Between the sass of Sweet Pea; the naggy, whiny moans about doing Math from DDD; and the runny nose of Miss Missy, and the MOUNTAIN of dishes awaiting me from the weekend..I was pretty well fried. Monday had barely started, and I was waving the white flag of surrender.

No inspiration quote was going to get me out of this rut. I wasn’t up for the “put on your big girl pants”motivational talk from myself. What I really wanted to do was crawl back in bed with a hot cup of tea….or a chilled bottle of prosecco…..

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this is my “seriously?!” look

Dreading the rest of the day, I opened the refrigerator door to think about dinner…urgh…It was then that I saw the lamb leg roast that I was defrosting.  I had forgotten that I was making a lamb roast for dinner, and I became motivated by that simple thought. The thought of filling my home with the smell of roasting carrots and potatoes was enough to calm me. It may sound trivial, but I was excited to make my first “lamb roast”. As I went to post it on my facebook, I quickly retracted my post to include how I was feeling.

Why?

Because….who makes a lamb roast on Monday?

(one of my friends actually commented something to this effect)

Certainly only moms who have all their “$#@!” together, right??!!

hahahaha…..not true.

I’m definitely a “hostess”. I love to make yummy meals and watch my family indulge in them. However, I wanted other moms to know that today…..was AWFUL!

I was making a lamb roast while a foot away a pile of pots and pans awaited me.

My son was sitting at the breakfast room table repeating every Math problem and moaning about how he couldn’t “remember” doing those problems yesterday…..(insert sarcastic eye roll)

I was looking at the list of office calls that I was suppose to finish today and I had not made even one call.

My oldest had just made some comment about me “never listening” and stomped up to her room…..

and the hubs sent me a quick “reminder” about how he would take a “break” for dinner but work most of the night….Yippee~~~

All of that….and yes….I was making a lamb roast.

While that lamb roasted for an hour and a half, I was going to be finishing up all of these activities that were surrounding me and I was going to try and regain some peace in my mind and in my home.

Moms…..we are the heart of the home.

heart of the home

The heart of the home…..that’s such an amazing concept. I think it encapsulates how emotionally draining our job is. How, we as women, seek out love and friendship, especially from among other women. How we desire to speak with other women, and share our struggles, and our joys. But when that heart is hurting, how quickly things can fall apart.How quickly we turn to social media to “escape” what is happening in our home or create our own view of “reality”. We look at our peers and we make judgments or we grow “envious” of what their Facebook lives look like. We allow ourselves to judge others and to assume somehow their lives are easier than ours.

When I first started blogging, this was one of the main goals of my blogs. I wanted my readers to feel like we were “girlfriends” just hanging out. I wanted people to read my entries and laugh or be profoundly changed.  I wanted to be that “friend” who always spoke their mind, and held nothing back. I wanted my readers to see the struggle to raise my five children as Christians, in a world that makes few things easy. I wanted to inspire moms to get more involved with their children and seek out ways to love themselves. I wanted to be that friend who painted the real picture of reality and then passed you the wine glass to take it all in. haha. Clearly, my blog title alone tells you how much I enjoy making memories; laughing with friends; and just hanging out.

So…what’s this blog entry all about….well…it’s about the seven ways that we are hurting the “heart of the home”.…..

Let’s take a few minutes, and do a brief examination of ourselves. How many of these are you guilty of? Are you hurting yourself by not doing for yourself?

Not taking time for ourselves: Are you a natural giver? Do you give tirelessly and have nothing left for yourself?

Emotional eating: Do you eat when you are mad? sad?frustrated? or to celebrate something? Do you use food to cope with things that are upsetting you?

Tackling too much: Are you constantly asked to organize groups or meetings? Are you unable to say no even at the detriment to you or your family?

Not having a good “listening ear”: This one is tough. Do you “half listen” when your children are talking to you? or better yet..”your spouse”? Do you miss opportunities to grow closer to those around you by being a good listening ear? Do others see you as a tremendous friend that they can talk to?

Seeking perfectionism: Do you have unhealthy views of yourself? Are you never “good enough”? Do you hold unrealistic views of motherhood? keeping a home? being a friend? Are you deeply saddened by our inability to meet your own standards?

Not looking out for our own health and fitness: Do you make time to work out and exercise your body? Do you seek to eat healthy and take care of yourself? or are you sluggish and tired often? Do you place a high value on your sleep and taking care of yourself? Are you a good example of “taking care of the body that God gave you”?

Not enough prayer time:  Do you take daily time for prayer? Do you look to improve your relationship with the Lord daily? Do you take breaks in your day to refocus on prayer and give your struggles/anxieties/burdens to the Lord?

Lent is a great time when we are walking through the “desert” of our life in the Church to examine some of these areas where we can “fail” ourselves. How can we truly “love” ourselves and be a truly loving heart in our home? I would say…that it starts with us. We have to remember that we are daughters and sons of a great God who seeks to share His love with us. Don’t look at these questions as a “list of failing areas”, rather I would encourage you to take these things to prayer. Maybe you are struggling and haven’t been able to “pinpoint” your feelings or thoughts..this list may be a good starting point for you.

May you find joy in rediscovering how to “love” yourself.

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