Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve!

When I think of New Year's Eve, I think of parties and celebrating, which makes me think of dancing!  And of course to have dancing, you need great music!  So today's giveaway is a $10 gift card for iTunes.  (If you don't use iTunes, we'll figure something else out.) 

Of course, you won't have it in time for tonight's festivities, but there are so many other reasons for great music.  Maybe you want something calm to listen to after this busy season, or something to cheer you up, if the cold, dark days of winter get you down.  Something inspirational might be just the thing with Lent right around the corner (can you believe it?).  

To have a chance at winning this gift card, leave a comment below with your favorite New Year's Eve tradition.  We really don't have any, yet, so I'd love to read what you do.  As far as our house, we'll probably treat it as a fairly normal night, since we have been lacking in those lately and the girls aren't all that aware of what's going on.  We could all use the sleep and I have Christmas cards to finish!

Whatever you do, stay safe!  Coming home from Delaware last night, we drove through a sobriety checkpoint and it reminded us that there are people who will not be making good decisions tonight.  I'll be praying for them and for you. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

1,000 Gifts

I have to make this quick today.  We are headed up to see my grandmother, one of the gifts of moving to this part of the country.

Speaking of gifts, today you have a chance to win a copy of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.  While I haven't actually read the book, it's on my list for 2012 (to be posted soon), and it was my favorite thing to give as a birthday gift in 2011 because I had heard such great things about it.
And now I'd like to give it to you.  Again, just leave a comment between now and Jan. 6th and I'll let you know the winner on Jan. 8th. 

And you can check out more Ann Voskamp at her blog, A Holy Experience.

Don't forget the other giveaways so far...

It's Giveaway Day

1 Bracelet-1 Child-1Week of Food

One of Those Nights

Pop the Popcorn

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 10 Reasons For Hope in 2011


Here's to more hope in 2012!

Pop the Popcorn!

Today's giveaway is just for you!  You work hard to take care of your family and this time of year the work, while usually enjoyable, is that much  So today I am giving away my favorite movie so that you can "escape" a little!

Whenever I think about it, I want to kick myself that it took me so long to read Jane Austen.  (I didn't start reading her books until after college.)  I LOVE her work!  The first time I read Pride and Prejudice, I ended up finishing it on a plane (probably the only book I could tell you where I was when I read it) and when I was done I had a very physical reaction.  I just wanted to burst!  It was such a great book!!!  I was also a little disappointed that it was over, which I didn't ever really remember feeling about a book before.  I was always happy to finish books, the story being complete. 

Then came the movie...

...and I've been hooked ever since.  This is my absolute favorite movie.  I watch it when I'm happy or sad, calm or stressed.  I've used the movie as an escape more than once from a bad mommy day.  I've watched it so many times that even my husband has parts memorized!  And now I want to pass it on to you!  Just leave a comment telling me either your favorite movie or your favorite Jane Austen book (I also really love Persuasion) or both between now and Jan. 6th and you'll be entered to win!  Like all of the other giveaways, I'll be "drawing" a random winner and announce all of the winners on Jan. 8th.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One of Those Nights

I started to write a post last night for today's giveaway.  It was going to be nice and incorporate today's Feast of the Holy Innocents.  But, it was indeed one of those nights.  One of those nights where there was no soothing the baby.  She didn't want Daddy.  Only Mommy.  One of those nights where, as soon as she latched on, she would pass out asleep, but if I tried to put her in the crib, she would wake up screaming.  Soooo, here I am this morning, trying to throw together something quickly so you can get your chance at today's giveaway.

Speaking of nursing babies...(I know, great transition, right?) today's giveaway is a nursing cover from Udder Covers.  I LOVE my nursing cover.  I don't know how I managed without one for my first 3 babies.  I can remember one time, standing in line at Disney World, trying to balance a sweater on my shoulder while nursing Maire because she just couldn't wait until we got on the ride.  Having a cover would have been so great then!  But now I have the Maria, and life is so much easier when I need to nurse Victoria in public. 

Today, I'm giving away one nursing cover!  Just leave a comment below and if you'd like, tell me what one of your favorite "tools" for mothering has been.  And don't worry if you are not in need of a cover yourself, they make great gifts!

My sweet baby is crying now, so I must go.  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

1 Bracelet-1 Child-1 Week of Food

Bracelets with purpose.  What could be better than that?

I'm so excited to introduce you to Give Jewelry!

Give Jewelry is a sustainable movement to provide food for children in orphanages throughout Indonesia. The vision is simple: every bracelet purchased directly benefits kids in need. So no matter what type of bracelet you choose: friendship bracelets, charm bracelets, leather bracelets, beaded bracelets, cuff bracelets or any of our other bracelets, you’re really choosing to make a difference.

I first learned about Give Jewelry over at Elizabeth Foss' blog.  I was hooked instantly!  What could be better than helping orphans and wearing cool jewelry at the same time?  I loved the idea so much, I had my girls each pick out a bracelet to give to their godmothers for Christmas.   We decided on the Rock Charm Bracelets, and the girls each picked out a different color.  And I was so happy when I received them in the mail.  They shipped quickly, they were packaged beautifully, and the bracelets were amazing!  And I've already decided to get one for my godmother, when her birthday rolls around.  (I had already bought her Christmas present, another one of my giveaways!)

You want to buy one don't you?  Of course you do!  Friendship Bracelets, charm bracelets, leather bracelets, beaded bracelets, cuff bracelets and more… With every bracelet you purchase, Give Jewelry provides one week of nutritious food (that's 21 meals!) for a child in need.  It's such an easy way to do a good thing for a child in need.  And when you make your purchase, make sure you put "Stina" in the comment box and you will receive a free Survivor Purple Cancer Awareness Bracelet or Pink Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet. This is Give Jewelry's way of saying thank you!

I am going to make another purchase here soon, for myself, with some money I received for Christmas.  I've had my eye on this one.  But, as part of my 12 Days of Giveaways, I'm going to buy a bracelet for a lucky winner, too!  Just leave a comment on this post, between now and Jan. 6th, telling me which bracelet you would like to win.  I'll announce the winner on Jan. 8th!

If you'd like more chances to win, all you have to do is one or more of the following and leave additional comments saying you've done so!

• Subscribe to the Give Jewelry blog:
• “Like” Give Jewelry on Facebook:
• Follow Give Jewelry on Twitter:
• Subscribe to Give Jewelry YouTube channel:
• Post about Give Jewelry on THEIR blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube:

Remember, for each of the above actions, leave a separate comment on this post and you get that many more chances to win!

Monday, December 26, 2011

From Our Friends Across the Pond

Here is an article about these lovely ladies and this beautiful song.

Thanks to Wreaths Across America for sharing!

Merry Christmas!

May the Good News of our Saviour's birth bring peace and joy to you and your loved ones!

It's Giveaway Day!!!

I hope you and your families were blessed with peace, joy, and maybe a few presents yesterday! It was slightly chaotic around here, but fun was had and love was present. But you don't want to hear about that, do you? You heard there's a giveaway!

Yes! 12 Days of Giveaways, actually! I feel so blessed to be able to do this for you and I'm very excited! (Did I mention that Gifts are my love language?) So visit everyday to see what is the prize of the day!

Today's giveaway is a wonderful book by Amy Welborn.

From her website:

The Catholic Woman’s Book of Days is a 365-day devotional for Catholic women. It is loosely tied to the liturgical year, is a very handy size, and features special devotions for several saints. It is not structured to be tied to any particular year. So it’s sort of perennial. And no, I don’t know about the crosses on the cover. People always ask me about them, thinking they’re mine.

What a perfect way to start out the upcoming new year! This is one of the books I keep in my bedside table. What's great about Amy's book is that the devotions are not time-consuming, so even the busiest of women can fit it in.

Sadly, I'm not great at the daily devotional thing. It seems like I'm always in such a rush in the morning that I don't think about it and then at night, I'm so quick to pass out from exhaustion when I got to bed. I know this is a priority issue and I plan on working on it in 2012.

Do you have a daily devotional? Do you use a book or go to a specific place each day to be with God? Leave a comment, now through Jan. 6th, telling me about your daily devotional time, or what you would like it to be, and you'll have a chance to win this book. I'll annouce winners, for this and all of the giveaways, on Jan. 8th, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Before Becoming a Mommy...

...I never thought that making beds could count as a workout.

Bonus calories burned for additional kids, bunk beds, and/or leaving half the load of linens in the living room, requiring additional trips up the stairs.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On My Mind

Love Them Through Christmas

The stress has been high here for the last few weeks, who am I kidding, the last 6 months!!! I need to stop and refocus on the kiddos. I can't do it all, and even if I could, it wouldn't be worth it, if my family wasn't happy and healthy.

Peace and blessings to you in this last week of preparation!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

12 Days of Giveaways!

Plans are in the works for something I am very excited about!!! Make sure you check back starting December 26th to see all of the goodies!

It's Hitting the Fan

Well, maybe not the fan.

I've been used as a personal toilet by 3 of my 4 children today.

I'm done.

Maire's diaper was at capacity this morning, before anyone got around to changing her, and she just barely leaked through onto my pants. But really, is that a way to start the day?

And Victoria's incident was just a typical case of exploding baby diaper. But it was the third time for me today, and no, it was not a charm.

But my poor sweet Alexis. Yes, she's 4. Yes, she's potty trained. But we all know that accidents happen. And like her dance teacher said, it even happens to adults some times. Why was I talking to her dance teacher about this? Because it happened at dance. During class. My poor sweet baby. She was so traumatized. She's never really had a public accident like that. Luckily, I had made her wear sweats (top and bottom) over her leotard because it was cold outside, so she had something to change into. All of the other moms tried to make me feel better, but you know how that goes, it usually only makes you feel worse because it verifies that they know what happened. I do have to say that I'm happy with how I reacted, though, to the whole situation. Normally, incidents that involve functions that find home in a diaper irritate me to no end. Screaming is sometimes involved, anger, almost always. It's a fault of mine. I own it. But I managed to be the poster child for calm this morning. It must have been the mortified look on my daughter's face. I could feel her embarassment. And let's be honest, my embarrassment as well. Of course, this is just a glimpse of the hurt she is yet to feel as she grows. Oh the prayers yet to be prayed!

I know I'm not usually one to write on this subject. I leave that to the experts. (Love ya, Kate!) But I really needed to vent on this one, so thanks for letting me!

The Audacity of a Baby... want to eat when she wants and sleep when she wants.

Instead of submitting to her selfish mother's schedule.

Who does she think she is, anyway?

A perfect gift from above or something?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Before Becoming a Mommy...

...I never thought I would be using the phrase "stealth attack" to describe the happenings of my daughter's diaper.

Friday, December 2, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. Photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grocery List

After hinting that maybe Tom should take the baby to the store as a distraction, he asked what he was going to the store for.


~more hours in the day

~all of the right answers

Which we all know really means chocolate!

What is the New Translation for Funny?

Because we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves...

It's Not About Me

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Grace, Not Perfection

I'm Just Not That Important

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart... ~Jeremiah 29:11-13

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Do You...?

How do you teach your kids the concept of a morning offering?

First of all, let me say that I struggle with this practice myself. And since this was not something done in my house growing up, I'm kind of winging it. I only have one child who reads so far, so the idea of morning Bible time is not realistic for us, yet. And forget anything requiring self-discipline with our 2 year old. We are still working on making the bed, and that's something tangible, something she can see and touch to understand. So how do you teach and enforce a proper way for your children to start their day by giving it to the Lord?

In our house, I'm really trying to develop habits in my kids, so I knew some kind of prayer routine would be needed. Since my kids all need some degree of help to get ready in the morning, I am all over the place. Until breakfast. So I decided to incorporate our offering of our day into our breakfast prayer. But, again, not having anything from my past to fall back on, I found myself writing a prayer for this purpose. Crazy, I know! I knew it had to be simple, both to be able to learn, and to understand, and I also know how the girls like rhyming. This is what I came up with:

Thank you, God, for this food

And for all who made it taste so good.

And thank you, Lord, for this special day,

That we may please* you in all we do and say.

Be with us from up above

So we can share your awesome love.


The girls love it! They want to say it at lunch and dinner, too. Kind of defeats the idea of a "morning" offering, huh?

So, again, I ask, how do YOU, or do you, teach your children the concept of giving each day to the Lord? Please leave your comment, or even a link to a post you may want to write about this idea.

I can't wait to learn from you!

*(I'm thinking about changing the "please" to "serve." What do you think?)

One of the Best Things I've Read on the Mommy Wars

Um, No, I Don't Think So

Elizabeth Foss never fails to inspire me.

And while I'm sad at the end of Faith and Family Magazine, I'm hopeful for what Danielle Bean and the F&F writers will continue to do for sharing the faith through media.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I'm back. Again. Reentering cyberspace. Again.

I've come to terms with the reality that this blog, and it's, um, dry spells, are just a reflection of my life. It's been a crazy few months with a move across country and a new baby as just two of the ups and downs on this roller coaster, with many more twists and turns than I could have ever imagined. So taking a step away from the blog was ok. But a hint of normalcy is returning to my life and now I'm back. Trying again. I'm sure there will be more "breaks." But the when and why are yet to be determined. So if you've been here before, thanks for sticking with me. If you're new to my little corner of the blogsphere, welcome! I'd love to know who you are, so if you are so inclined, leave a comment. New friends are always a blessing!

For now, good night!

Snapshot ~ November 28, 2011

Outside ~ The warm weather does not have this Colorado girl feeling like it’s about to be December. I think it is supposed to cool off later in the week.

Inside ~ It’s pretty quiet. I’m grabbing some computer time while the 2 littlest are sleeping and the 2 big girls are outside with Dad.

I am wearing ~ jeans, a raspberry knit shirt with black cardigan, and jewelry! I volunteered in Isabel’s classroom today, so I was motivated to get up and get ready properly.

Blessings to be Counted ~ family that can visit ~ a roof over our heads ~ answers to health issues

On my mind ~ my daughters’ education ~ a potential business opportunity (actually, a couple of them)

With love and prayers ~ for converted hearts; PATIENCE; peace; health for loved ones

Living the Faith ~ We’ve received our new issues of Magnificat and MagnifiKid to help us learn the new translation of the Mass.

Making Lists ~ to prepare for Christmas. There are presents to be bought, recipes to be made, and parties to plan!

From the Bookshelf ~ I’ve started so many books! I just can never seem to finish them. I’m trying to organize my books that I need to read on a list so I can hold myself accountable. Oh, yeah, and not buy any more books!

From my iPod ~ I’m listening to the playlist of songs I created to celebrate the girls’ baptisms. (I’ve put them all into one playlist so I can listen to them all without having to switch lists.)
~ I also can’t get enough of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” this time of year. I have a new favorite version.

From the kitchen ~ Struggling to follow the plan. We are getting better.

From the School Room ~ Struggling here as well. I have definitely fallen into a little pit (of despair) that I’m desperately trying to climb out of. I need to find some motivation somewhere.

From the Calendar ~ There are glimpses of a rhythm developing. Not as fast as I had hoped though.

Keeping the Castle ~ The Advent wreath is out, along with our Advent/Christmas books for the kids. Tom has started decorating the outside of the house with more to do. We have mapped out a plan of “attack” to prepare our home for the Baby Jesus.

Keeping the Temple ~ The scale was not as mean as I expected this morning. I started the C2K program for a week and then got derailed by a husband’s trip and an injured toe. Have not found the motivation/energy to get back to it. This is the goal for this week.

Creative Expression ~ Have you been on Pinterest? I plan to do a whole post on my love of this site. So much inspiration to be found. And I’ve actually attempted a few of my pins.

Wanting to Share ~ If You Send Mommy to Get Mail

~ The Sole Purpose of this Post is to Make You Feel Better About Yourself

The Children ~ Isabel is still “expressing herself” a little too much for mommy’s comfort. We need to work on some politeness. But she is still a big help.
~Alexis jumps at the chance to comfort the baby when she is fussy. It brings joy to my heart to see her try to make her smile.
~We finally have some answers for Maire’s health issues. Still waiting to map out a course of action.
~I like to call Victoria my “Angel Baby.” She is definitely easy and I have even been able to sleep for more than 6 hours a few nights.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week ~ School, another medical appt., a birthday party, organization

Captured Memories ~

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011


Victoria Kathleen is here and a week old now! She is a beautiful blessing and the whole house is overflowing with love for our newest addition.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Checking In and Prayer Requests

We've made it to Virginia and are trying to set up house as fast as we can, hoping to have as normal a living space as possible before the baby comes. The last month has been a whirlwind between traveling 2/3 of the country, sleeping in multiple places, learning our way around our new "hometown" and just being VERY PREGNANT. I also managed to catch some nasty virus that has made me even less helpful to my husband over the last couple of weeks. The good news is that I'm starting to feel better and we are making progress on the house. Obviously, all of this "adventure" has kept me from blogging. And it's just been over the last few nights that I've been on my computer to read my usual blogs. I think I had 300 posts waiting for me in Reader. So bear with me as I catch up. While you are so patiently waiting for me to post something new, if you could say a prayer that Baby stays put for a little while longer, so we can get the house "finished," (is a house ever finished?) we would appreciate it. I'm definitely okay with an on-time arrival this go-round. But more importantly, if you could pray for another baby to stay put until he/she is supposed to. Do you read Kate's blog? If not, I highly recommend it!

Happy Independence Day! Stay safe!

Oh...and while I may not be posting much myself, as I get caught up with my favorite blogs, I will still be sharing my favorite posts under my Shared Items. So don't hesitate to check in to see what other brilliant bloggers are saying!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

That's What I Get For Complaining

Even jokingly.

Apparently, things were going a little too smoothly around here, so why not add in a little Pink Eye? My sweet Maire is the first victim. :( So Tom spent 3 hours in the ER with her last night and any plans of productivity for today are being altered to comfort my baby and contain her germs. And if missing Mass this morning isn't disappointing enough, we are also missing a sweet new baby's baptism. This is our first experience with Pink Eye in our house, and here's praying that it is a short one with limited victims.

Sunday Blessings!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Request for Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam, the next time you would like my husband to drag his family across the country, could you please check with my womb first? This pregnant while moving thing is not all that it's cracked up to be. The aching back, inability to lift too much weight, extreme fatigue, and my brain's inability to function properly are not exactly speeding up the moving process. Oh, and then there is the moodiness! Not that it affects me all that much, but I don't like to see the other people who live in my house get upset when I bite their head off. I think it a mothering thing.

Just thought I would put that out there.

A Cranky, But Still Proud, Military Wife

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You Got Me There

Mommy to Puppy: "Avalanche, what are you eating?"

Alexis to Mommy: "Mom, you know he can't talk, right?"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Marriage

This wondeful article talks about marrying young, but I think it holds truths about marriage that all ages should understand. Enjoy!

Twenty and Engaged

Friday, May 20, 2011

{this moment: sleeping sisters}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. Photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Little Flowers Wreath I Crafts

I'm finally getting around to sharing our crafts from Little Flowers this year. When we started out, I had every intention of doing wonderful posts like Jessica's, but it just didn't happen. I got the idea for these crafts from Jessica's blog, the Little Flowers Craft Companion, the internet, and even my mom. Along with our crafts, we also put together Jessica's scrapbook pages at each meeting. We also had some creative snacks, but unfortunately, I didn't always remember to take pictures of them. I also forgot to take pictures of the crafts at most of the meetings, so these pictures are from the day after the Tea Party in May, so they've been a little squished in the girls' binders. Our Little Flowers group had girls from ages 3 to 6 (a little younger than the average group, I think) so these crafts were kept simple, and the moms helped a lot, too.

Our pipe cleaner Sunflower from the Craft Companion for our first meeting

The second meeting of the year used Ivy as symbol of how Hope should cling to your heart. With my mom's help, we came up with this sewing craft. We used a Cricut machine to cut out 2 hearts for each girl and I punched holes around the edges of the heart of both and 2 hole on the front heart for the bow. Using green yarn as Ivy, the girls sewed the 2 hearts into a little pouch which they could keep something, prayers, a rosary, etc... The third meeting's virtue was Love of God. I found this craft at my local Michael's and all I had to do way buy it. One package had more than enough for all of the girls to make one. I especially liked it because not only could you read it as "Love God", but also as "God is Love", a very important lesson!

The fourth meeting's virtue was Love of Neighbor. We held this meeting in January and with St. Valentine's Day coming up, I found this craft online. Obviously, this example shows the young age of our members, but they still had fun making them.

The next meeting's flower was the carnation and I found the instructions for these coffee filter carnations online here.

The next meeting's virtue was Piety. We used this coloring page of the "Colors of Piety" from Jessica as our craft for this month.

For the next meeting, our saint was St. Catherine Laboure who Our Lady appeared to and gave the Miraculous Medal. We made our own medals using paper plates based on the coloring page here.



For our next meeting, I was horribly sick and stuck in bed. Our saint was St. Frances Xavier Cabrini so I printed out these coloring sheets that I found in Jessica's post and one of the other wonderful moms stepped up and led that meeting.

For our final meeting, the flower was the narcissus, not a popular flower for crafting (or snacks, I will add). I took a hint from Jessica, once again, and tracked down this craft online. I know it's a lily, but it did the trick and the girls enjoyed making another flower. I think it's especially cute because it uses their handprint.

I hope this post gets your creativity flowing and helps you realize there are lots of resources out there to help you if you think you might want to start a Little Flowers group of your own. This first year was far from the perfect picture I had in my head at the beginning, but factoring life in, I think we managed to do a pretty good job with the girls, and most importantly they had fun learning about their faith.

5 Years of Birthday Cakes

At our parish playgroup this morning, we had a discussion about birthday cakes. The talents in the group varied from master bakers to super artistic decorators to those of us who are really good at handing over our credit card. This made me think of all of the cakes we have had for our girls and how I have traveled the spectrum myself with the cakes I have "provided." So, for your viewing pleasure, here is a look at the birthday cake history of my 3 daughters.

We'll start with the cakes I actually baked and decorated myself. (Note: by baked, I mean from a box.)

This is my first child's first birthday cake, hence it is my masterpiece. I went all out, bought a cute pan, changed the suggested icing colors to match the theme of the party, and had major cramping in my hands from piping the icing all by myself. I even made a foil covered cake board to put it on. (I also made some extra pink frosted cupcakes with the little flowers on them, since the cake wasn't enough to feed all of the party goers.)

Isabel's 1st Birthday ~ A (Cute) Bug Theme

After that first cake, everything became much simpler. I can't remember where I got the idea, maybe from a blog, but this is flower cake. I just baked a 2 layer round cake and iced it yellow, and baked cupcakes, iced them pink and placed them around the round cake for the petals. Very easy, especially if you don't mind baking your own cake but are more intimidated by fancing frosting work.
Alexis' 1st Birthday ~ An April Showers Theme (April birthday)

This next cake I'm a little prouder of because the idea was mine. Again, I just baked a 2 layer round cake, dyed some icing the color of the ocean, and made sea shells with a candy mold and placed them around the base of the cake. I also baked additional cupcakes with a candy on top of each. I did buy the Ariel topper. Again, this is another cake that is good for bakers who are intimidated by fancy icing work.

Isabel's 4th Birthday ~ A Little Mermaid theme

Are you starting to notice a theme about intimidation and art on the cake? Here's another way I got around having to "draw" anything on a cake. Based on the number of people coming to this party (there's always more for First Birthdays aren't there?), I knew purchasing a "1" shaped pan would not be enough, so I made a "1" out of cupcakes. I frosted them with pink icing to match the decorations and also put sprinkles on them to add a little more fun. I just placed them directly on the table in the desired shape, after a few practice drawings. Very easy, and no messy slicing of cake required. (This also intimidates me, trying to get equal sized pieces. I usually leave this job to my husband, master of knives!)

Maire's 1st Birthday ~ A 1st Birthday theme

I didn't bake or decorate this next cake, but I didn't buy it either. My sweet friend, who was going through culinary school to be a pastry chef at the time, graciously volunteered to make it. It turned out so great!!! She also made matching cupcakes that had the other characters on them. We got the idea and instructions from the Nickelodeon website.

Isabel's 2nd Birthday ~ A Backyardigans theme

The rest of the cakes in this post, I shelled out cash for. While I feel a lot of "Mom Guilt" when I do that, the timing of the parties makes me realize that it's just a sacrifice I need to make. This cake was for a party 2 weeks after Maire was born. (Walmart)
Alexis' 2nd Birthday ~ A Mickey and Minnie Mouse theme

Have I mentioned there are only 20 days between Maire and Alexis' birthdays? I know there are those of you out there with much closer birthdays to celebrate, but this time frame definitely intimidates me, especially when Easter falls in between. We barely get the decorations down from Maire's birthday before we have to plan for Alexis'. So, Alexis tends to get store-bought cakes. This cake is actually a bunch of cupcakes. Enough cupcakes weren't included, so I asked the baker to add the extra orange ones. (Walmart)

Alexis' 3rd Birthday ~ A Dora theme

There is a month and a half between Alexis and Isabel's birthday, so theoretically, I should have time to plan a cake, but with this party, the crafts/activity planning took over. I had grand thoughts of a Mardi Gras worthy cake, but ended up last minute going with a store purchase. This is definitely an easy route when you have a popular kids theme party. (Walmart)

Isabel's 5th Birthday ~ A Princess and the Frog/Mardi Gras theme

For Maire's last birthday, we went with a generic puppy dog theme. I looked online for ideas, but everything I came across scared me. BUT...when we looked at the local grocery stores, we didn't find anything we liked, either. So we went with a Blue's Clues themed cake because Blue is a puppy, and Maire does like to watch the show from time to time. Buying the cake turned out to be a blessing because 2 days before her party, I came down with some awful virus that stuck me in bed for 5 days. We post-poned the party a week and stuck the cake in the freezer. All of this, my husband took care of, so we were actually blessed to have an ordered cake. (Base Comissary)
Maire's 2nd Birthday ~ A Puppy theme

This next cake was for a party the week of our moving from Boston to Colorado. I don't know if I even felt guilty about buying it. I don't know if there was even technically a theme. We did send out Dora invitations and had a Mexican Eye pinata. (We have a pinata at every party.) (Stop and Shop, I think)

Isabel's 3rd Birthday ~ A semi-Dora theme

And finally, the last cake on our list. I honestly had every intention of a "semi-homemade" cake for this one, based on my pregnancy and preparing for our upcoming move. The theme was Strawberry Shortcake and I had all of these pictures in my head of a store bought cake frosted with white icing that I would bring home and decorate with fresh strawberries and maybe a picture of the actual character. But alas, this party happened exactly 2 weeks after the "new" date of Maire's party and we had a last minute surprise out-of-town visitor (a wonderful blessing) for the party. Plus I was not fully recovered from my illness. So the day of the party, we went to Walmart, our guest needed to do some last minute shopping of his own, and I found this cake. White with pink and red decoration. Good enough! I just had them pipe the wording on it right there and we were good to go! I should also mention that the activity for the party was creating your own dessert with those individual shortcake cups, whip cream, strawberries and blueberries. The cake was more for the ceremony of blowing out the candles and something for the grown-ups to eat. (Walmart)

Alexis' 4th Birthday ~ A Strawberry Shortcake theme

There you have it! We actually have another birthday party this weekend. The cake will be purchased as the movers come in 12 days and we are busy preparing the house and dealing with all of the end of school year activities that don't normally interfere with Isabel's birthday. It will also be a larger than normal event, since Isabel is sad to leave her friends and we allowed her to have an unlimited number of invites. A post to come...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Random Thoughts

Why are jeans and an oversized hoodie soooo comfortable?


Laundry used to be my favorite chore. And then I had kids. Girls.


I actually had to make lunch today. What's up with that?


The weather here lately is making it much easier to leave Colorado and head east. I know I'll be having different thoughts in July. In Virginia. 9 months pregnant. (Have I mentioned I'm not a big fan of humidity?)

Friday, May 13, 2011

{this moment: sunshine and smiles}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. Photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Living a Life of Luxury

Who needs a personal assistant (or the salary required to employ one) when you have a 2 year old who will not only escort you into the bathroom every time you need to go, but will also lift the toilet lid for you?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hormones and Terrorists

So big news over the weekend, right? Not the wedding. Not the beatification. That other piece of news.

A bad man is dead.

Tom and I first found out when my MIL called to see if we had heard the news. We hadn't had the tv on at all, except to watch that other news-worthy event, the celebration of a great man, so it was definitely news to us. I let the news set in while Tom and his mom talked. I checked Facebook, which was all abuzz with the news. I finally turned the tv on. And I was kind of bothered by what I saw. Crowds of people in Times Square and at the White House acting like it was New Year's Eve or after a big championship game. I was torn about how to feel. Now if you know me, or have ever been in my house, you know my love of this great country. And I am definitely a fan of putting boots "you know where" a la Toby Keith when needed. The American military is made up of the bravest, most capable people on earth, and they deserve to be celebrated for what they do. But I was still disturbed to see such joy out of people over the death of a man. I assumed that my emotional confusion was due to the hormonal craziness taking place inside of me. Becoming a mother definitely changes the way you see the world, especially during the nine months of pregnancy. When I'm pregnant, there are certain movies I won't watch because their effect on me is so strong emotionally, and sometimes physically. (And then there are the crazy dreams I am prone to have during those 9 months.) Being a mother wakes up your compassion. To all human beings. Death and war are, unfortunately, a part of life. I know that. There was a time in my life that I was prepared to be the cause of death should Uncle Sam ask that of me. But that doesn't mean that death should be a cause for joy. In all likelihood, this man will spend eternity in Hell. The saying, "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy" comes to mind. All of these feelings were overwhelming me, but I couldn't exactly put into words how I truly felt about the news. Until I read a friend's status on Facebook, quoting the Vatican's official statement. "Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of everyone before God and man, and hopes and pledges that every event is not an opportunity for a further growth of hatred, but of peace." As for me, I will be grateful for our military and their success, hopeful that we are one step closer to peace, and joyful that while most are focused on the death of bad man, a holy man is celebrated for the good he did and leading more of the faithful to our Lord. Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The I'm Back Daybook

Outside my window: It's dark. I started this post a long time ago, but am just getting around to finishing it now. I'm afraid to look too close outside, though, because it's been doing a funky snow-like thing all day. Seriously, it is May, right?

I am listening to: The sounds of the tv in the other room as Tom and I sit at the table on our computers. The girls and dog are in bed, so all else is quiet.

I am wearing: My volleyball team sweats. Comfort takes priority a lot these days and looking outside has made me feel a little chill all day.

I am Thankful for: a husband who puts up with my irrational stress freak outs.
~ wonderful families with beautiful little girls for my daughters to grow in their faith with.
~the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.

I am Planning: EVERYTHING. We are embarking on three major adventures this summer, all of which require a lot of planning. Any guesses on what the adventures are?

I am reading: Educating the Wholehearted Child

From the kitchen: Uh…a trip to the commissary is desperately needed. We have friends coming for dinner on Wednesday, so groceries will definitely be needed by then. Hopefully, something Mexican for Cinco De Mayo!

On being Healthy: Our eating habits have much room for improvement, another piece of Mommy guilt I’m dealing with, but sometimes we have to just make do and try to be better again tomorrow. I have a feeling “convenience” will trump most things for the next month.

I am Thinking: About all of the news this weekend. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around what happened yesterday in Pakistan. A different post to come on that later.

I am Creating: not much. This past weekend’s tea party was the most creative I’ve been in a while, and besides a birthday party still to be planned for later this month, there really is no time for extraneous projects. I plan to make up for this later this summer.

On my iPod: Tom and I have been adding Children’s music to our inventory for a certain road trip next month.

In the Learning Baskets: Nothing here for a few months…again, see me later this summer. Isabel finishes up school in a few weeks.

Towards Rhythm and Beauty: Our Rhythm is about to be seriously disrupted. We are just surviving the month of May now with a new rhythm to be established in a new location.

To Live the Liturgy: The Beatification of John Paul II is still on the dvr, which I’m sure we will be visiting again multiple times in the next week.

I am Hoping and Praying: for converted hearts; brand new babies; PATIENCE; peace; health for loved ones

In the Garden: (sigh) One word…SNOW

Around the house: Cleaning, organizing, PURGING!!! I attempted 40 bags for Lent, but a few major things derailed progress. I did collect quite a few bags today, though, so I feel slightly productive. I will still see how much more I can purge in the next 30 days.

On Keeping Home: So much learning needs to be done on my part. It really is embarrassing.

One of my Favorite Things: A dvr so that I can still sleep normal hours, but still “take part” in major events around the world.

The Children: Isabel is “expressing herself” a little too much for mommy’s comfort. We need to work on some politeness. But she is still a big help, especially for 5.
Alexis is STUBBORN. But she still amazes me at how much joy is in her soul.
Maire is a sweety, as usual, but she is definitely testing her two year old boundaries. Lots of prayers for her, still, as we continue to wait and see what the future holds with her health.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week: School, purging stuff, friends for dinner, ballet class/dress rehearsal/recital, BABY SHOWER

A Picture Thought I’m Sharing: We are in the middle of what I like to call “Birthday Season”. Here are the birthday girls of March and April.

Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for May

General Intention: That those who work in the media may always respect truth, solidarity and the dignity of each person.

Missionary Intention: That the Lord may grant the Church in China the capacity to persevere in fidelity to the Gospel and to grow in unity.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Little Flowers Tea Party 2011

This weekend, my daughters and I hosted the end of year Little Flowers Tea for our Little Flowers group. Don't know what Little Flowers is? Visit here.

The girls' table (with all of our craft projects from the year displayed on the wall).

I copied took inspiration from Jessica's Tea Parties and was hoping to have our party outside. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate (it snowed later that day and the rest of the weekend) and I changed my plans to inside. It was a little crowded getting around the tables at times, but I think we made the best of it. Because of the relocation of the festivities, I decided to buy some flowered garland at the craft store (roses and wisteria) to give a little garden atmosphere to my dining room. The pictures aren't the greatest. The sun glare was fighting with me and I was slightly rushed to get pictures taken before our guests arrived.

A view of both tables and some of the added flora

The little table to the left was for our 2 and under crowd

One more angle

This was the first time I had ever hosted a tea party. I don't even own a teapot! So I had to get creative on some things. A lot of what I used was borrowed. At both tables, there were borrowed teapots, cream and sugar sets, lemonade pitchers, and half of the napkins (the flowered ones). At the Mothers' Table, I used my china and crystal.
Mothers' table place setting

At the girls' table, I used cups from my punch bowl set for their tea cups and some borrowed glass plates. I used Holy Cards of the saints we were learning about as prizes all year, so I continued the theme in the place settings. I put the holy cards under the plates, which I thought was a cool effect.
Girls' table place setting

We had three courses and in between courses we had activities for the girls to include Jessica's word search and a Memory Game.

The activity table

This is our version of the Memory Game

We also did a craft, using all of the flowers I had purchased for the individual meetings throughout the year.

The craft prep area

This craft project is also in the Craft Companion guide

One of the finished hats (Dad got involved A LOT with this one)

The food was delicious! Each of the other moms was so helpful and brought a couple of dishes. We had three courses, which I think the girls got a kick out of. I forgot to take a picture of the first course, but it included strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and blueberry scones.

The second course included tortilla roll-ups, cucumber and egg salad sandwiches, and ham and cheese and jelly and creme cheese flower shaped sandwiches. Don't they look amazing?

The third course was DESSERT!

Brownies topped with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles, strawberry creme cupcakes, and a strawberry puff pastry dessert. YUMMY!

Despite all of my stress and worries, it turned out to be a wonderful time and most importantly, I think the girls had a lot of fun.

(Please bear with the poor formatting. Obviously, I've been away from blogging for awhile and I'm a little rusty. I just don't have the energy to fight with Blogger anymore tonight.)