Thursday, November 16, 2017

30 Days of Thankfulness

I saw this #30daysofthankfulness and started daily doing "Thankful's" on Facebook. We've been sick this month with awful coughs, so I haven't been taking many pictures. I thought  I'd put My Thankful's on here too! I am up to day 16, so I'll do that today and hopefully finish the other days in a couple weeks!

DAY 1: PERSON
Jesus!! Thursday is my holy hour at our Adoration Chapel, so all day, I think of my time with Jesus. My hour is from 10-11pm and my oldest daughter goes with me. I look forward to it all day!
Day 2--ANIMAL
This has to be Hudson!! He's brought so much joy to our family!
Day 3--COZY PLACE
My Porch! Well, in the warm months, not exactly now. I need a cozy place for winter.



Day 4--FAVORITE SNACK
Apples with Nutella!! (FYI: Strawberries with Nutella are pretty dang good too!)
Day 5--PLACE
South Padre Island. I'm thankful for South Padre Island! I long to go back.

Day 6--PAIR OF SHOES
I am not a big "shoe" person. I don't have a favorite pair, although, I am thankful for shoes.
Especially flip flops!
Day 7--SCENT
I love filling my winter house with this scent! Thankful for fresh ingredients to make this!
Orange, sliced
Lemon, sliced
2 bay leaves
3-4 cinnamon sticks
a pinch of cloves
Water, which I replenish as it evaporates into the air all day!
Simmer and enjoy!

Day 8--RESTAURANT
My favorite restaurant has always been Perkins. Ever since I was a little kid!
Thankful we have Perkins, the perfect sit-down, relaxing, quiet restaurant to meet friends or go with your family!

Day 9--BLOG/WEBSITE
I used to have favorite blogs, but I rarely read blogs now. And the ones I do I couldn't just put one as my favorite. SO this one had me stumped a little, thinking about it all week. I decided I'm THANKFUL for my own blog. I started it by accident almost 10 years ago. I wanted to help my friend start her blog so I went on and was trying to figure out things and all of a sudden it asked me to name my blog! Well, since I pray very often, "Lord, Make Me a Saint" that became the name of my blog. Within minutes I... had a comment and the rest is history! My blog has introduced me to a multitude of online friends (and some real-life ones too) Women just like me, trying every day to do our best in our lives with our faith, marriages, children and everything that goes with those things. Within the first week, I found having a blog gave me a way to express myself and share all the things I was thinking about. Within the first couple years I did have a child-hate group attack my blog and bombard it with nasty comments and ended up deleting almost all my posts that had pictures of my children in them. This is the downside, the negative, the evil of the internet. After a long time of praying about it and taking a break from blogging, I started to open up again and did not let evil win. I pray for all who read my blog and I pray that all that read my blog go away not feeling inadequate, but a little happier, a little more thankful.

Day 10--TIME OF DAY
My favorite and thankful time of day is the 3pm hour! 


Day 11--TRADITION
With Thanksgiving so close, I thought of a tradition I post every year. My kids make these special little treats every year while I'm preparing our feast! 

Day 12--GADGET
My cheapie immersion blender! I love it for making scrambled eggs!  
Thankful for fun tools to help with cooking for my family!

Day 13--SOMETHING OLD 
Day 14--SOMETHING NEW
I put these together because they kind of go together. 
 I love blankets. I hate being cold!! The red quilt was made by my grandma, she gave it to Tom and I at our wedding shower, almost 21 years ago! It's old now, worn quite a bit, LOVED and a special treasure!
This NEW blanket (throw) was given to me from my mom last year for Christmas (does that make it old now?) Anyway, I love it so much, it is so soft! Everyone wants to use it when they sit down, but I always get it. Because it's mine. 

Day 15--EXPERIENCE
My best experience was living in South Padre Island, TX for 3 months. 3 years ago, we took all our money and went down there to live for the winter. (and more because our trip home cost about double what we'd planned with a rare snow/ice storm in TX) Getting the opportunity for all of us to experience life on an island, seeing the daily changes on the beach, small town living, different cultures and meeting new people, was just something that is SO very special and such a blessing, I am so very THANKFUL to have had this opportunity to do this with my husband and children. Then the following year my in-laws made it possible for us to go again for a month! (although, it makes winters now in MN much harder, knowing there is something so much better) I so long to live on the island again. I have to say it is my dream to live there again someday....
I wrote about it HERE.
And HERE. (many posts in that last "HERE")

Day 16--RECIPE
I picked my pumpkin bread recipe because it is still fall and it's the best ever!

Pumpkin Bread (the best ever!) 
Oven 350, grease and flour 2 loaf pans
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar...
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oil
1 can pumpkin
4 eggs
I put all wet ingredients in first, then dry and mix until well mixed. Bake 55 minutes

Well, that's it for now. Tomorrow is Day 17, another day, more things to be thankful for! 


Sunday, November 12, 2017

10 Ways to Prepare During Advent


Advent is a word with Latin roots meaning "approach" or "coming". Advent is just 3 weeks away. It always begins on the Sunday closest to November 30th, the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle. It is also the beginning of the new liturgical year for the Roman Catholic Church. Our church always gets new Missiles in the pews and decorates with purple. Why purple? Purple is for Royalty. Jesus is King and we are preparing for His birth. Purple (Violet) is also the color of penance, sacrifice and prayer. I always tell my children, "Advent is a time of waiting, it's a time to prepare our hearts and souls for Jesus." Easy to say, but how is that lived and acted out? 

 Inspired during Adoration last week, I wrote down 10 ways to prepare our hearts and souls during Advent. Read through these, but please keep in mind, this time of Advent, of preparing, is also meant to be a time of peace and not a time of rushing around trying to do every possible thing you can. Start slow, pick one or two things for yourself and one or two things for your family. My hope is that you are able to feel PEACE in the waiting and JOY in Christmas. Remember those 12 days of Christmas? Yeah, they don't even start until Christmas day!

  1. Pray More If you don't pray now, or struggle with this area, this is the perfect time to start! Decide what you are going to do to add prayer this Advent. Set a time each day, maybe mornings work best for you, for me, even before I get out of bed works. I have my prayers right by my bedside ready for me to pick up. St Andrew's Novena might be a great way to add prayer. It is a novena that starts on November 30th and goes each day during Advent until Christmas Day. These are the cards we have and use each year: HERE Another way might be to pray the rosary each day, set time each day to pray this beautiful prayer that focuses on the life of Jesus.  You can order these beautiful cards HERE 
  2. Stay Close to the Sacraments Go to Confession! If it's been a long time, go! Prepare your soul by cleaning out, so to speak, tell the priest when you go, that it's been a long time and he'll help you through it. Now is a good time to go to Confession to empty the sin on our souls and fill it with Grace! I know at our Parishes in our Cluster, there are extra opportunities to go as the priests offer many more times. 
  3. Go to Daily Mass Going to daily Mass during Advent is a great way to prepare your heart and soul for Christmas. If going every day is too hard, try adding just one day each week. Like choose Monday for example, to start your week. Or choose Friday to end your week. Try it. I know you will yearn to go more. 
  4. Advent Wreath  The lighting of the Advent wreath (and the distinguishing of the candle) is always a highlight of our supper time during Advent. Someone is picked each day to light the candle and someone is picked to read the family prayer. Every Advent there are free pamphlets at the entrances of church. These pamphlets have Advent activities and prayers for each day. Pick just one and stick with it. Pray from it each day as you light the candle. We leave our candles burn all during our meal then someone gets to extinguish the candle. Wreaths do not have to be expensive. I made ours by picking up supplies at the local craft store, I spend under $20, candles and all!  There's something special about lighting a candle and watching it, the peace it brings our hearts as we focus on our prayers. 
  5. Advent Calendar We have tried many versions of this over the years. My mother-in-law made us a cloth calendar with pockets and room to put notes in each pocket. Each note for each day give us something to do. We also buy the chocolate candy calendars each year, I've yet to find a cheap religious one, we just buy the cheap ones found at the grocery store or craft store. It's kind of a fun way for kids to countdown the days to Jesus's birthday.We've done coloring countdowns too. I have a friend that made this great countdown, HERE. My all-time favorite countdown has been making cards for each day during Advent and we hang them over our patio doors in our dining room. Each day we open a card and it gives us something special to do.  Some suggestions could be: (starting with December 1 here but you would start with whatever day each year Advent starts) 

    1. Read in the Bible, Luke Chapter 1 &2, the birth of Jesus, first day of Advent, light first candle!
    2.  Write 20 things that you are thankful for!
    3. Donate toys and books to charity (hospital?)
    4. Light a candle and say a prayer for someone
    5. Make Christmas Crafts with Mom (set out shoes for St Nicholas!)
    6. Celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas!
    7. Make a mini stocking and fill with goodies for a friend or neighbor
    8. Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin--make Mary Muffins and go to Mass!
    9. Set up play tent with Christmas lights!
    10. Open new ornament!  Gotta find it first!
    11. Bake Christmas cookies and treats!
    12. Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadaulupe!  Let's do Mexican food!
    13. Feast of St Lucy!  Celebrate!
    14. Unwrap new book! Have a family movie night-watch Elf with popcorn!
    15. Have a hot cocoa tea party with cookies!
    16. Wrap presents!
    17. Sing and dance to Christmas music!
    18. Fill out Christmas cards today
    19. Look at Christmas lights
    20. Mom and Dad's Anniversary--make them love cards!
    21. Open new Christmas book! Bring food to the food shelf!
    22. Simeon's b-day Let's party He's going to be 6!!
    23. Bake a cake for Jesus's birthday!
    24. It's Christmas Eve!!  Celebrate and go to Mass! 
  6.  Advent Angels On Thanksgiving day we always draw names and each child gets to be the person's name they draw angel. They get to pray for that person, do special things each day, like doing their job or giving them special things, coloring pictures, writing them notes, leaving candies, you name it. On Christmas Even they get to give a gift to their person they were an angel to. Usually within a few days they have it all figured out but are not always sure so it's still fun to sneak and do nice things for their person. We also talk about how this spreads the love of Jesus and helps us to prepare for HIM. 

  7.  Books  We have a ton of Christmas books for children so one year we wrapped up all the Christmas books (in purple) and opened one each day. We usually only read these during Advent, so it was fun to open "new" old treasures each day. It gave us time to enjoy each book in a special way too. One very special Advent book we've read on and off through the years has been Jotham's Journey.
You can order this book HERE. You read a few pages each day and each day leaves you with a little cliffhanger making you excited for the next day. If you look further down on that link, there are other stories, Tabitha's Travels, and Bartholomew's Passage are books about children you encounter in Jotham's Journey giving you their side of the story.

For yourself, I'd suggest this book, Rooted in Hope, by Elizabeth Foss. I've done a couple of her bible studies and have loved them. It's a great bible study for busy mamas! This one is written for Advent and has some really awesome ways to help you grow closer to our Lord.

  8.  Bake a Birthday Cake for Jesus--as simple as it sounds, it can be a very rich tradition that you and your children will love and cherish! We bake a cake called "Midnight Bliss" because it is believed that Jesus was born at midnight. We make this delicious, rich, chocolate cake for Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of Jesus every year. We put on a candle for each of us, to symbolize the light of Christ inside of us.


Midnight Bliss Cake
1 pkg chocolate cake mix, any variety (we picked chocolate fudge)
1 pkg (4 serving size) chocolate instant pudding
4 eggs
1 container 8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup flavored coffee, prepared (I use International Foods French Vanilla)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 pkg 8 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped.
Heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease and flour a tube pan (bundt cake)
Beat all ingredients except chopped chocolate in large bowl with mixer, until well blended and smooth. Stir in chopped chocolate and pour into prepared pan.
Bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 No need for frosting with this cake, it's rich and that good!

  9.  Give to Others--Clean out your closet and donate to local thrift shops. We have a thrift shop called "Treasure Chest" and all proceeds go to help our local crisis pregnancy center. (Birthline). Empty your cupboards and donate to your local foodshelf. Make some goodies and deliver to your neighbors, to the homeless on the street corners, to the lonely person you saw at Mass the other day. Another way to give to others is to give your time. Go visit someone you haven't seen in a long time. 

  10.  Write Your To-Do list!  Plan out your Advent. What do you want to finish before Christmas comes? Remember not to list too much. Do what needs to get done. Try to spread it out all through Advent. This will help you not to have to rush around. This will help you to enjoy it much more. When Christmas comes, you will feel as though your time was spent well, you'll have peace in your heart which is God's gift to us and our gift to Him. 

I hope you pick a couple of these things to help you this Advent. I hope these things bring you closer to our Lord and that you feel the PEACE and JOY only the Christ Child can give.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thankful

 Thankful for our new dog, Hudson!! We got a dog at the end of August. He's a perfect fit for our family.
 Thankful this girl begged me all summer, even wrote 6 page reports on "Why we should get a dog". She knew every kind of dog, if it was a good family dog and just about anything about you could possibly think of. Finally, one Sunday she showed me the "perfect" dog at a shelter. I just kind of smiled and didn't give her an answer either way. (I am not an animal person) A little later, I noticed she'd been crying, so I asked her why and then realized it was because of the dog. She said, "Mom, you said you'd pray about it and you still have not said yes, so we must not be getting a dog!" You see, I did tell her I'd pray about it, but I hadn't really done much more than that. Like I thought magically a dog would appear that we'd want. SO I decided to post something on Facebook, something to the effect of "Does anyone have a medium size dog that they don't want?" (think FREE) Within a 1/2 hour a friend messaged me and we had been the answer to her prayers. Her father in law had passed away in November and "Hudson" was very lonely since. Her Mother in law just couldn't take care of him anymore and so he was in much need of daily walks and play times! SO we took him! He's 6 years old and very mello. He loves the kids and being around someone all the time. He loves walking so we walk him a lot.

My 11 and 13 year olds have taken over everything, they walk, feed, bathe and comb him. He waits outside the bathroom door in the morning when they take their showers.
Thankful for the joy this dog has brought to our family. And the responsibility it has taught my children.

 Thankful for backyard fun, boys and sticks and fall campfires with s'mores and kids


 Thankful my little kids have the love of older siblings and that the older siblings get to enjoy younger kids around. There is just so much love. Is there fighting? Yes. But love always wins and it is the love I remember.

 (teaching her little sister how to balance on the Rip-stick)

 Thankful Tom and I celebrated his 50th birthday and my 48th birthday the next day.
Thankful this is happening now. Our 5th student to take piano lessons with our beloved teacher Mary. My little girl loves piano. It amazes me, because I have no musical talent at all. None. My kids? They're naturals. Now, I know I am biased a little, but I think my oldest daughter has an awesome voice and her beauty comes out even more when she sings.




 Thankful this happened. Yep, license, car, job. He's a senior this year. I now have about 2 1/2 hours of free time each day where I am not driving him to school, work or any activities! (which is partly why I have the time to blog today!) When people say to you that the days are long but the years are short, they are serious. It's what makes me so very Thankful for where each child is right now. I don't wish it away. I try my best to love them right where they are.

 Thankful for prayer time. Pray. Pray. Pray. Wherever you are, pray. Make everywhere you go HOLY.
 Thankful these kids asked if they could play on daddy's truck. I loved watching them. And who doesn't want to play on Daddy's truck? (Daddy may not know about this....Shhhh!!!)


 Thankful for children that love to read!



 Thankful for something small and simple like this in my window sill. This thing blooms and blooms all year.

 Thankful for teenagers. These teenagers and their friends are all amazing. They are really good kids. Here they are ready to go try out for the fall play our Homeschool Theater is having. They all got in. My 13 year old, the one in the middle got a big role and is SO excited!
 Thankful for fall baking! (these were for our Kids Pro-Life Club bake sale) I baked 5 batches.
Recipe HERE I use mini-chocolate chips and the recipe makes 2 dozen easy.
 Thankful, well, the kids are Thankful our yard went from this
 to this. The snow has melted now but it's still pretty dang cold.

Thankful for new friendships! This sweet girl and her family go to our church and she gets along with my girls and we love her! We love her family. And one of the biggest and best things is I love her mama!! We hit it off immediately and feel as if we've known each other all our lives. I'm so Thankful for this new family we are getting to know!
 Thankful Halloween is over OK kidding. My oldest went with his friends to see a movie! (they also brought my oldest daughter) For Trick-or-treating we had Salt and Pepper, a cowgirl and a knight!
It was pretty dang cold this year, so we went to Grandma and Grandpa's and then to a few homes we know, short and sweet.
 Thankful my husband was able to go to a football game with me (we took some kids to one of their friend's games) He's not been well in a long time and so this little thing was a big thing for us.
Thankful. 
Thankful  for the good and the bad. The happy and the sad. The hard and the easy. Thankful  for messes and for organization. Thankful for busy times and quiet moments. Thankful for struggles, for sacrifices and for faith. Thankful every day. Please don't look at these pictures and think my life is perfect. It is so far from anything anyone should be jealous of. I'm showing you the good. These are some of the things I search for each day to be Thankful. God's blessings are all around us. We need to look for them. Funny how the bad finds us and we struggle to see the good. Look for the good and be Thankful. 

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