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.)