On Prayers, Plan, and Being Poolside

This began as a poolside post, then being poolside meant playing in the pool and chatting with another mom, so…now it’s a post-pool post. Probably better that way, since phones and water aren’t a good mix!IMG_20160720_102155

I’ve been reading “A Mother’s Rule of Life”, and the funny thing about it is that I’ve read it at least 3 times before, and each time, I actually do gain something new. This past week, I read through the chapter on prayer. It is the first “p” to focus on in creating a Rule (a design for your days). Prayer is the first, because God is first and everything should begin with prayer. Or, as Blessed Theresa of Calcutta used to say, “Everything starts from prayer”. After reading and thinking on this chapter, and considering what I could do to better my prayer life, I realize that there’s always room for more. There’s always room to grow. But, before I get ahead of myself and start trying to get to daily Mass and Adoration and *do* more, it’s time to just focus more. Focus on my words, focus on listening, focus on simply being in God’s presence and being aware of his Spirit working in my life. Those are the parts I’ve lost–the focus. Lately, I’ve been hitting the snooze button too many times, rattling off a Morning Offering as I sneak away from the bedroom while trying not to wake the baby, and then begging for mercy throughout the day. Anyone else doing that lately?

My plan for my Rule is to give myself–I mean, give God–ten minutes at each of the day, and more if I can manage it. Many of my mornings (and evenings) don’t allow for too much quiet time, but ten minutes seems reasonable. When I can, I’ll expand and add in some extra time, or some spiritual reading, or even Adoration when possible. Throughout the day, I’ll try, with the kids, to be more intentional with family morning prayers, and not just speed through them before starting math lessons. (We could all use some extra prayers before math lessons! ha!) It’s simple, right? Ten minutes at each of the day, but intentional, purposeful, and personal. From there, I’ll be able to bring all the day’s needs to God, and with his grace and guidance, hopefully do a better job at all the rest of the hours in the day.

Now that I’ve come to a plan for prayer, it’s about time to plan the rest. Chapters 4-7 detail the remaining “Ps”: person, partner, parent, and provider. Here I’m going to start planning with my Rule notebook as well as a new planner for the coming year. I already have my eyes and heart set on this one.

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The Blessed Is She team did an amazing job designing this beauty. It’s colorful, liturgical, and practical. Please do check it out, any purchases not only get you a beautiful planner, but also help support the ministry. Did you know there are thousands of women around the world who pray and grow in their faith with Blessed Is She? And that women are meeting in person to grow in fellowship and friendship? It’s truly beautiful and amazing and God is working to touch lives.

So back to planning and being poolside. If I didn’t need to have hands and eyes always on the little boys, I’d probably read and plan more while sitting by the pool. Being forced to not read or plan does clear my head a smidge for big-picture ideas. Ideas like how good it is to be outdoors, and how much the kids thrive being active and exploring and learning. We spent all week at the pool. Do you know how much work it is to take 6 kids to the pool? It is almost as much work as getting kids ready to play in the snow! Suits, towels, sunscreen. Sunscreen takes forever to apply. Then after swimming, the drying off, and wriggling out of wet suits, and showering, and getting dry clothes on. So much work. It’s been so worth it, though. The kids are learning and growing stronger while at swim lessons. When we play at the pool, like today, they’re using what they’re learning and teaching each other. And being active keeps them happier.

My mental notes while watching them soon will take shape when I look forward to the school year. The pool will close, but we’ll still take time to run on the beach and splash in the waves. Maybe we’ll do a YMCA membership to keep swimming through the fall and winter. We’ll prepare the day ahead for outings, because trying to prep food and clothing for an outing (like the pool or beach) is too crazed in the morning to accomplish anything else. Some days will be spent away from home all day, to make the most of where we are in the state, and the good weather. Some days will be kept sacred as “stay home days”, because after long days in the sun, we need rest and quiet.

I’ll plan days for exploring. Days for reading the classics and then doing yard-work. Days for creating and days for math and science. Days for baking, days for doing nothing at all. Even without a regular schedule yet, I can see a rhythm to our days and our weeks. Hopefully, I can tap into this and create our schedule and my Rule to reflect what comes naturally and to move us towards good use of our time.

(and then God will laugh and we’ll have a huge issue to deal with, making me humble and totally reliant on him instead of plans)

Still. I know life happens, and I’m going to give it over to God in prayer every single morning before I begin our days. I’m hoping that my Rule, and working with the natural rhythms of life and my children, will help us to all have mostly-smooth days most of the time.

And now that I’ve spent 5 days at the pool, I’d really like to visit the beach again. The feel of the sand under my toes can’t be beat. 20160718beach

Mid-Summer Reading: Saints and Rules and Stories

One great thing about finally settling a bit, and summer’s simpler days, is the abundance of time for reading. We’ve been to the library, we’ve been through our own books, we’ve read through poems, and books on Kindle. I’m reading about women in the gospels, creating a spiritual Rule to guide my days, and even a fantasy (which isn’t usually my genre). Tell me what you’re reading that I should add to my list! Here’s my current stack.


“Who Does He Say You Are: Women Transformed By Christ In The Gospels” by Colleen C. Mitchell
This book, it’s beautiful. Each time I sit down to read and journal with this one, I can’t help but be moved to the core. God’s working through the women to bring hope and joy and grace into the world is both subtle and amazing. This is a read that I’ll go back to over and over, share with my girls as they grow up, and would be perfect for a small group, too.

“A Mother’s Rule of Life” by Holly Pierlot, which you know I’m reading.


“Give Your Child the World” by Jamie C. Martin
This is one I’m using as a resource for books to read for fun and learning through the summer and all year. Filled with book suggestions for every part of the world, and grouped by age, this a (in my opinion) a must-have for any family. Take it to the library with you to search for suggested titles, use it to put books on hold before you go, use it to explore the world in your homeschooling…it’s a winner.


“A Little Way of Homeschooling” by Suzie Andres
I’ve read part of this before, and I’m continuing through it now. The stories of other homeschooling families help me keep perspective, see the bigger picture, and relax before we dive into a new year. I mostly love homeschooling, and starting the new year almost always brings out all my love and all my fears into a big jumbled mess. Reading this gives me peace and encouragement to do things with the spiritual goal in mind as well as academic.


“Eyes in the Water” by Monica Kennedy
This is the second in a three-book series, and it’s the fantasy book I’m reading. I read the first one, and was surprised to enjoy a fantasy book. It’s just not my first or second interest in books. Monica–a friend of a friend–tells the story of two worlds, one in which the land can speak to the people, and it is threatened by an unknown evil. It’s my fun-read on my Kindle app. I pick it up when I’m nursing Small Fry for naps.


“My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannett
We just finished this as a read-aloud. It was so fun. Younger readers (say, 5-8 years old) really enjoy this silly, short chapter book. It’s also great for those just starting to read chapter books on their own. I definitely recommend it.


“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster
Our good friend and Godfather of Small Fry started reading this aloud for us after dinner one night. I’m so glad, because not only was it fun for me to not read, it got us started on this book which had been sitting on the side table for too long. I realize that it’s taken us too long to finish, but we’re back at it and enjoying the silly story, the adventure, and the play on words.


“Will Wilder and the Relic of Perilous Falls” by Raymond Arroyo
I picked this up on a recommendation from another mom, and this book does not disappoint. My oldest says she doesn’t like it, but it’s been our read-aloud and she laughs at funny parts. Also, yesterday, she read ahead 3 or 4 chapters, so I think she’s appreciating it. If you have a child who likes Percy Jackson, get this. It’s similar in the adventure aspect, but much better. Raymond Arroyo’s writing is fabulous. I’d recommend this for ages 10 and up.

Now tell me what is on your list, and what I can’t miss!

Book Club: A Mother’s Rule of Life

Let’s begin! If you missed it last week, I am “hosting” a book club on A Mother’s Rule of Life. If you don’t have it, or didn’t have a chance to begin reading yet, don’t worry! You can read along at your own pace and still leave comments here to join in the discussion.

Last week, I thought that it would be fun to have this virtual book club with you ladies.

And then “fun” became “I need this so badly it is almost funny, like a tragic comedy”. Yesterday was a mess from the start, and lasted until the last possible moment. At 8:45pm I was still wrangling kids to bed, had to call a locksmith, and basically accomplished keeping everyone alive. We had popcorn and smoothies for dinner.

If we are going to do better than this and learn something this coming year, I have to make big changes.

BIG.

I read through chapter 1 and most of chapter 2. Eventually, I had to give in and sleep, because my “Rule of Life” is going to include a better bedtime.

I can relate to Holly’s sentiments about wanting to send kids to school. I’ve been there, and we did send kids to school. To be perfectly honest, it was still hard! Now that we’ve moved, the school options are iffy and Fence and I know we can do better.

Another feeling Holly shares in her book, which I can relate to, is the idea that schedules are limiting. You guys, I went to college and *never* used a planner or calendar until my boss told me he’d basically fire me if I didn’t. (Thank you, T. H., for the tough love. I see your wisdom now.) I kind of hate being tied to a schedule. But, “disorder is more limiting”. Disorder drives me nuts. Running from one crisis to the next lesson to the next exploding diaper to the next hungry child to the store for milk and back to lessons is stressful. On days like that (which do happen here, I’m not exaggerating, and didn’t even mention the locksmith!), I feel defeated. Nothing good happens. I succumb to the stress, yell, and only add to the chaos.

It’s not in my vocation to add to chaos. In fact, I’m fairly certain that God would like to help pull me up and out of the crazy, if only I offer my hand up in surrender.

Like when Jesus helped the apostles to feed the crowd, I have to give some effort. Jesus will bless my efforts, but my efforts need to be there. I love Holly’s take on this idea, that even though the Apostles could only come up with 5 fish and a few loaves for the hungry crowd, Jesus made it happen that all were satisfied, in abundance. I have a crowd. I have some meager offerings. It’s time to actually hand these efforts of mine over in trust and let Jesus work.

The Rule is about living with intention, with ordered priorities, allowing for time for what matters most. It is more than a schedule. It is about creating routines that sustain and help us to thrive in our vocation.

Do I expect batches of muffins and much cleaner floors as quickly as Holly succeeded? No, I don’t. I hope for peace, for predictability to our days, for a routine that helps every member of my family to thrive.

The “Rule” sounds stuffy and rigid, a bit…but, it’s not meant to be. It is supposed to begin with a goal, a mission, and then the day is built off of what you intend for your family days. You schedule your day for your family. I didn’t even bother reading what Holly’s day looked like, because that would skew my idea of how to structure my own. And, not all days will work! Life happens, and kids get sick or you get locked out of your house. On those days, the idea to is focus on essentials. For me, the essentials are prayer, meals, reading aloud, a quick clean, and the bonus is math lessons. If that is all that happens on some days, then great. We’re keeping heads above water, and when we can swim again, then the Rule is there to guide us to succeed. 20160626Guadalupeimage

I’m getting long-winded, so I’ll end now with this quote which I appreciate quite a bit,

“a Mother’s Rule is sanctifying, because by it we do what we ought to do.” –Holly Pierlot

The Mother’s Rule is meant to help us be our best and do our best, with intention and purpose and joy.

See you next week for Chapter 3!

(don’t forget about the sale at CCC America! 60% off great saints and heroes movies ends on July 15) affiliate link

In the (not-so) Quiet

My brain basically never sleeps. Even in my sleep I have fits of “important” thoughts, or interrupted sleep which of course means I am no longer sleeping anyway. I usually laugh when my husband asks what is on my mind, because if I answer in honesty, I spew thought after thought in rabbit-trail fashion. Five or ten minutes later, what I started with has morphed into a wildly different thought. Have you ever read, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? That is basically me. It may also be why Fence doesn’t often ask what is on my mind!

Most days, I am lucky to wake to silence. My small herd of boys rise early and they rose noisy. One always wakes up singing or talking or grunting. The others wake up asking for “brekkist”, arguing, or crying for more nursing. Not long after, I hear the toys. The laughter. The crazy play-voices.

Always there are demands. Chores. Questions. Disputes. Hurts. More questions. “Mama, come see!” Stories. Homeschool. Errands. Meals. Questions. Rinse and repeat.

Life as a mom is anything but quiet.20160703poolwithN

My soul yearns for some quiet. It’s probably time for a lifestyle and schedule overhaul to make room for quiet and prayer (no more late nights unless I give that time to prayer instead of Netflix). My mind races with ideas for personal prayer time, for creative time, for family time. How to reconcile the need for quiet, the desires to grow and create, the need and yearning for relationships to flourish and deepen in our family?

How to “do it all” without doing it all, how to find peace when there appears to be only noise and chaos, how to seek holiness and God when I’m knee deep in stinky beach and bath towels and moving boxes and homeschool lessons and broken crayons? In all that I do, I still seek Him.

“A married woman must, when called upon, quit her devotions to God at the altar to find him in her household affairs.” -St. Frances of Rome

Find HIM in her household affairs.

Ever since I heard this pearl of wisdom from St. Frances of Rome, I’ve been inspired. Maybe not enough, because I’m still feeling pretty lazy and cranky in the depths of my introverted soul. Lazy, because I’m just taking a “free pass” at this so-called spiritual life and waving the “finding God in the housework” card. I’ve slacked on my Morning Offering (which is amazing for offering the whole day in advance!), and I’ve been inconsistent with any liturgical celebrations or even mentions. (Nevermind that we were moving. It’s been a several months-long desert.) I’ve been cranky, because I’d love be at daily Mass, go to Adoration, read more about the saints (or heck, finish reading Amoris Laetitia). Cranky because I can’t do these things…easily. Have you tried taking 6 kids to daily Mass? Or tried to finish reading a book of substance when there are 20 minutes of the day with no child interaction?

Ok, excuses. See? Lazy people make excuses. Sainthood is not for the lazy, so I better up my game and make some changes.

I kind of sort of talked with Fence about this last week…and well, he’s on board with some things for the family. It’s a struggle, you know? Making changes for a whole family when there are so many different temperaments and ways to experience life and prayer and God? What works for me to know God isn’t going to work for all my kids (or my husband). I don’t know what is going to work, but I am going to try, for myself, and for my family.

We are meant to get to heaven together, after all. Saints Zelie and Louis Martin, pray for us!

But truly, I need to start with myself. I’m going to pick up my copy of A Mother’s Rule of Life and make a plan. Do you have it? Do you want to read it together? We can check in and make a virtual book club support group. Let me know. I would love to share with you. If you don’t have it and want to read together, we’ll start next week so you have time to purchase. {affiliate links}

 

Settling in is WORK

I must have selective amnesia, because we’ve moved several times before, but I don’t remember it taking this long to really settle in and get my feet back under me. It’s been weeks, and I still am barely able to look past the day and plan ahead for something. It’s like I’m scrambling to keep up with life. Give me another 24 hours, and we’ll have our new washer and dryer, at which point we’ll start loads and loads of laundry and maybe by Monday I’ll have caught up. Maybe.

Or maybe there isn’t such a thing as “caught up” with a large family.

In mostly pictures, here’s a recap of our last several weeks.

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We stopped to see some of the Painted Desert in Arizona. It was beautiful, and my photos don’t do it any justice. My mom drove with us, and I’m so grateful for her being there to help and see new things with us!

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There are farmer’s markets everywhere. This one was about 45 minutes away, but so delightful and fun. The streets in the town close, and two-three blocks are filled with vendors and street musicians. We bought food, raw milk, and ice cream from a local shop.

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On our tenth day here, I ended up taking Firecraker to the ER, because he had trouble breathing. Steroids and a breathing treatment were enough, and since then, we’ve been able to stop doing the breathing treatment at home. Hopefully it’s the last time we’ll have to be at the ER for a long time. I’ve also taken a kid to the dentist here already, for a chipped tooth.

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Beaches are within a 30 minute drive. This particular one just might become our favorite. It’s easy to reach, clean, and quiet.

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Weekly trips to the beach are probably in our future. The kids love it, the running is good for them, and the opportunities for nature study are awesome.

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This beauty is on one side of what will probably be our new parish. It’s also a pilgrimage parish for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and I’m definitely going to make that a priority.

While we’re still settling in, I’m working (slowly) on prepping a new look for the blog space, and for opening up a teeny little online shop. In the meantime, I want to share a sweet deal with you from an affiliate, CCC America. Their films are all on sale through July 15, for 60% off!! You don’t want to miss out. Save the videos for Christmas for your kids. Get one about JPII for yourself or another family member. But don’t miss the sale. It can’t be beat.
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Another treat for you! It’s a printable that you can frame and hang in your house, or set upon a desk or shelf or prayer table. Enjoy! More of these will be coming soooon!

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1978, on the ‘Shire

Our house, which I might call the ‘Shire (though it is nothing like where Bilbo Baggins lived), was built in 1978. It is full of vintage charm, and drawers that stick to prove their age.

I’m not sure the (unpictured) black toilet is original to the house, but I am willing to bet the light fixtures and curtains are! Enjoy the peek at the Shire!

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There is a laundry chute that dumps out in pantry.

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Stained glass in one of the doors and a window.

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I plan to replace these brown-colored curtains. They are in the master bath, which has the black toilet. Also in this room? An R2D2 shower head my husband received for his birthday. Maybe I need to sew some Star Wars curtains.

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About 5 minutes ago, Small Fry tried climbing this staircase. He learned to crawl only last week.

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It’s a built-in ironing board! Needs a new cover, but otherwise, functional!

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Not vintage, but I love the kitchen window. Although, I think this Mary was my great-grandmother’s, and the blue Ball jar is definitely an old one, so vintage it is!

Now, back to folding packing paper and collapsing boxes and figuring out how many broken things need repairs and replacing. So far, we have 2 broken bookshelves, a broken bedframe,

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a broken washer, a dented dryer, broken curtain rods, a missing china cabinet shelf, and broken tricycle. Such a mess.

Family-Friendly Movies for All Year

(affiliate links included. I receive a portion from the retailer if you buy through my link, which helps me keep drinking coffee…er, helps me keep blogging!)

Yesterday, I mentioned the film I turned on for my boys, Ben Hur. It is produced by CCC America, along with several other delightful saint and hero stories. A few years ago, I bought an entire set during their summer sale. Now they also have additional films and documentaries, like one about Saint John Paul II, which I can’t wait to check out.

Interested? Go and see for yourself! The great summer sale starts today, for 60% off!! Don’t miss it!

Moving In Sucks

Sorry for the slang, but it is true.

Moving in is hard, tedious, tiring, and feels never-ending. The kids are overwhelmed and restless. Mom and Dad are overwhelmed and annoyed with all the broken things we keep finding, and annoyed with the randomly packed boxes, making it hard to find things.

The kitchen is a big work in progress.
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On Sunday, we spent hours and dollars starting to fill the frigde. I wasn’t expecting the cost of peanut butter to be nearly double what we used to pay! After weeks of not cooking, I made time and counter space to cook last night. It was so good to sit and eat together, and have a homemade meal.
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The washing machine is broken. Fence is–at this moment–trying to fix it. It’s not like we have 8 people in the family, and haven’t done laundry in a week… We probably have 4 loads right now needing washing. Something tells me that a laundromat is in our future, as well as new appliances.

Yesterday, our 3rd day in the house, I found clothes and hangers, so the kids have most of their clothes in their drawers and closets now. Mine and hubs are still in boxes. I think getting the kids’ things out and somewhat organized will help them settle in to the house quicker. I hope.

We also found the movies. There’s a great closet for storage, right in the room we set up the TV, so the movies and games are out of reach. Small Fry learned to crawl in the last week, so keeping all the things out of reach is a big deal now!
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While I unpacked and organized clothes, I turned on a movie for the kids, which they hadn’t seen yet! It kept the boys out of trouble for about 40 minutes. 😉
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Today, we’re taking a small break from unpacking, and dipping our toes in the ocean! Can’t wait to see the littlest boys’ faces! They’ve only known mountains until now.

Check back later this week, I’ll have news about a huge sale on great kid’s movies!

Words on My Walls, and a Giveaway

I’ve spent the last 3 years covering our walls with photos and art, and now I am in the process of taking it all down. Bare walls seem sad and lifeless to me. Thankfully, they’re also great blank canvases for family photos and kid art and word art.
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This is my sewing and craft room, and I am sooo going to miss this space! It has beautiful sunlight, a nice wall behind my sewing table and machine, a great closet for storage. Even with my “not quite balanced” arrangement, I love looking at this wall. It makes me happy. The large photo is a print I had done from a phone pic I snapped on an evening run. I have an image of Mary, a darling photo of my girls from years ago when they didn’t mind dressing up and taking photos, and two prints by artists I super-duper admire.

I want to point out my newest one. It’s from Just Love Prints. Lindsay also sent me a second print, for one of you!

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Isn’t it pretty? And I love the words. They are inspiring any time, but particularly poignant to me right now. Moving is hard. So much is unknown; it can ne overwhelming thinking about what the future holds. St. John Paul II reminds me to be confident, and hopeful with trust in our Lord’s plan.

I’m still working on that. With our dryer breaking 2x this week, and our house plans not quite 100% settled, and all the other moving things that are bound to happen, it is hard to feel confident. Pretty much, anyone who sees me and thinks I’m handling this all well, sees my strong face that I wear for the kids. Otherwise, I’m clinging to the hope that it will all work out.

I can’t wait to find a new space for this lovely and cheerful print, once we find it again after unpacking.

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Enter the giveaway below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lindsay also has a discount code for anyone to use in her shop, now through August! Use code SAINTS10 for 10% off!

Lately

**Winner for the Radiant Magazine giveaway was Kelly H.!!**

 

Lately, life has been full. Busy. Intense. Hard. Unexpected.

I have made mistakes, begged for grace, thrown my hands up to heaven in exasperation.

I have been up a mountain, in and out of snow boots and tank tops, shoveled, roasted marshmallows, pulled weeds, washed trucks.20160416snowApril

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In about 3 months, my husband and I will celebrate our 13th anniversary. In less than a month, we’ll have a new address. In less than a week, my kids will have finished another school year. Six years of homeschooling will be under my belt (but don’t think me an expert–I am more eclectic in our approach than expert!).

It is possible that the last 6-7 months have been among our hardest yet. A new baby, specialty doctor appointments for 3 kids, 2 surgeries for my hubby.

If I’m being completely honest, some days have been pretty darn hard. But I am not going to dwell on that. There is so much to do, that I simply cannot get caught up in how hard my days are. Finishing a school year is enough. Add in an up-coming move? The to-do list itself could possibly overwhelm me at any moment.

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Yes, life has been pretty hectic. In these last few months, we’ve also celebrated. Easter was beautiful and we spent a delightful afternoon at my parent’s house that day.

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On a Friday afternoon, we crowned Mary and ate donuts.

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Last weekend was our oldest son’s First Holy Communion.

Little Man makes his own smoothies now. This is huge. Any time a kid gains independence, especially in the kitchen, life is simpler.

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My oldest and I ran a 5K together. Through the fog and cold, up a mountain and back down. She beat me in her first-ever 5K! We’re pretty happy to have finished in under 45 minutes (even if just barely). I’m looking forward to more races together.

I escape with sewing, and soon I hope to share more details about a project and online shop opening.

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Life has been full. Hectic. Good. Please pray for us in the next several weeks, while we finish the school year and move!