Friday, January 31, 2014

The Love Of A Lifetime

My Dad and Mom today
The day we began Hospice Care for him
He was surrounded by the love of his life...my beautiful Mother
And the testament of that love...his five daughters
On this day, Dementia did not win
Dad was there with us
He smiled and laughed and joked
He knew we were there
He knew he was loved
He held our hands and
He knew
We don't know when God will call him home
But I will remember this day forever
I will be thankful for this day forever
The day we filled that room with love
The love of a lifetime
And he knew.
 
 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weekend Plans...Chinese New Year, Groundhog Day and Superbowl!

This weekend is a busy one here. Busy in a good way. Plus...we are expecting a heat wave! It's going to be almost 35 degrees! Friday will find us celebrating Chinese New Year. We began celebrating this special holiday when the kids were little as a way to break up the long, cold winter. It is simple and fun.  In addition, it is actually an opportunity for learning, but don't tell them that! A few fun, festive decorations and some yummy Chinese take out and you have a celebration!

Saturday I am going to get my hair trimmed and colored. And that makes me happy. Saturday evening is Mass. After that, Madison and Peyton are babysitting for some friends of ours. They have fun spending time with those boys together. : ) The rest of us are going to Pizza Hut...Flynn's choice. No complaints from me!

Sunday is Groundhog Day. Now I know I tend to celebrate a lot of holidays, but living in Pennsylvania, I can not let this one pass. It really is a big deal here. I have friends who have actually gone to see the little groundhog, and they tell me it is craaaazy! We will settle for watching it live on television and doing a few fun activities to celebrate. Sunday is also Superbowl!!!! Even though our Steelers are watching from home and Rhett's 49er's are too, we still love us some football. : ) Plus, any excuse to make lots of good food is always welcome. I am planning on putting some meatballs in the crockpot with some sauce...as requested by Fr. Jim, who is coming over, for meatball subs. Peyton is going to make up a ham and cheese stromboli. And I am going to throw together our favorite cheesy potato casserole. Add to that some meat and cheese and chips and dip and we will be all set. For dessert, Peyton found a new recipe for Whoopie Pie Cake that she is excited to try. Sounds like a ton of food, but think of all the leftovers! I won't be cooking until Wednesday! ; )

And that is what we will be up to this last weekend of January. I hope yours is festive and fun and cozy and yummy, whatever your plans may be. And.......go Broncos!


When I grow weary of the cold and wind and snow, I take a second look and appreciate the beauty of it all...


and the excuse to do lots and lots of this. : )


Some winter baking going on here...these are the muffins for Madison's Relay For Life Bake Sale last weekend...


and this was our contribution to National Chocolate Cake Day. And it was good. : )


Steve grilled some extra chicken last weekend, and it made for some yummy salads for lunches.


Here are a few fun printables for my little ones to work on Sunday morning...


and a few books to read as well. : )


A certain little lady is going through a "wake up really early" phase lately...so we have a deal. We get up, but she makes me some coffee, immediately.


And signing off with a smiling selfie...a reminder to myself to smile and be thankful for all the blessings in my life.

And I count you all among them too!
Happy Weekend!




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thank You

 
 
Two words...Thank You. Thank you for the love, support, and above all,  prayers you all offered yesterday. The very best thing about blogging for me is the way it has brought such wonderful friends into my life...Women who are scattered all across the country, living individual lives, yet connected through words and pictures and faith and love. The love you offered me and my family as my father battles his Dementia is filling my heart with strength. It is also filling me with peace, knowing that as I go about my days here, your prayers are surrounding him in his room miles away.

That is the hardest part for me. I will be going about my day...teaching, or cooking, or cleaning, or laughing, and suddenly my dear father, in a room some forty miles away, will pop into my mind. The sadness I feel that I can't be with him or talk to him will make me stop and feel so sad. But now, my friends, I will have peace that your prayers are with him and my mother as well. So again, thank you.

Thank you also for the love you showed me and this little old blog in my Sheenazing Award Nomination. Although I didn't win, I discovered some amazing blogs...including the one that won in my category. If you would like to see the list of winners, visit Bonnie here When you are there, please read about and pray for someone else who needs prayers...a young child...suffering from cancer who needs prayers desperately.

That's what is in my heart today, dear friends. Again...two words...Thank You.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From My Heart...For My Dad

Joy and anticipation fill my soul as I reach out to him...

This fragile being before me.

Eyes filled with wonder search my face

And then light up as he finds me among all those intertwined faces in his mind.

I take a tissue and wipe the tears that fall from his eyes

And I lay my palm aside his head.

Thoughts of life and love and dreams and laughter

Of  tears and memories and joy and sorrow

All the life a soul will live...

I look with so much love at this small, fragile person before me...

And I whisper, " I love you, Dad."

These simple words will never be enough to convey the love I feel for my father. Or the sadness that fills my soul as the heartless disease of Dementia takes him farther and farther away. These words come from my heart, and despite my best intentions, fail to convey the anguish that his loved ones feel as he slips away into the past. He is peaceful now, and for that I am thankful. But I miss him. I miss talking to him. I miss seeing him walk through the door. I miss the man that he was. And I embrace the man he continues to be...my dad.














Sunday, January 26, 2014

Don't Forget... National Chocolate Cake Day...January 27th!

Yep! I told you we celebrate all the holidays. Well, all the main ones plus any obscure ones involving chocolate. So Monday is National Chocolate Cake Day, and here is our very favorite one in case you want to celebrate too. This recipe came from a book called "The Cake Mix Doctor". Enjoy!




Darn Good Chocolate Cake


Ingredients:

  1. 1 box devil's food cake mix
  2. 1 box (3.9 oz.) chocolate instant pudding
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 cup sour cream
  5. 1/2 cup warm water
  6. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  7. 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mist a Bundt pan with Pam and lightly dust with flour.
  2. Blend cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, water, and oil in mixer.
  3. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. Then beat on medium speed 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour into prepared pan.
  6. Bake 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Let cool about 20 minutes. Invert onto platter.
  8. Enjoy!







Happy National Chocolate Cake Day, friends!





Thursday, January 23, 2014

Weekend Plans And The Sheenazing Awards

Well, here it is...the first football free weekend. Sigh. I guess there is the Pro Bowl, but not too much to get excited about there. That means we will have to find something else to occupy our time this Sunday. Outdoor activities would be nice for my little ones, but the negative wind chill readings are preventing me from bundling them up and sending them out play languish in the snow.

Friday night is free here. Dinner is my mom's amazing macaroni and cheese with green beans and applesauce. The easy peasy recipe is here. Rhett may head down to the theatre to work, and the rest of us will most likely finish our weekly cleaning chores and watch a movie or two.

Saturday during the day is also free. I have a few organizational projects planned. I need to go through our storage closet that tends to get crazy messy during the holidays. And I am going to encourage my hubby and Rhett to grab a few totes and pack up the fluorescent orange hunting stuff that is currently visible throughout my home. Wish me luck with that one. : ) Saturday evening we have Mass, followed by dinner. Steve is going to cook some chicken breasts on the George Foreman grill we have been loving. I am adding some boiled red potatoes and some fresh cut corn.

Sunday Madison is working a bake sale after Mass with her Dairy Queen friends to raise money for their Relay For Life Team. I am so very proud of that young lady! After that, we are all going to go out to dinner with some of Steve's employees for a belated holiday dinner. Then it will be home to snuggle on the sofa and prep for a new, chilly week ahead.


And that is what we will be up to this January weekend. I hope yours is warm and cozy and happy, whatever your plans may be. : )


The view from our side door...or what I see early in the morning when I let the puppy out. : )


Sooo love this! My baby brought this to me the other night. She worked on it all by herself, and was so very proud to show me that she wrote her name all by herself!


My son...a truly good sport...still smiling after his team lost their bid to the Superbowl. Now...it's Go Broncos!


Our in-house baker Peyton whipped up these yummy baked donuts last weekend. See those cinnamon sugar ones? All mine. ; )


This was the scene in my family room one night this week. I guess the Disney characters wanted to attend Mass with The Holy Family and the Saints. : )


And my sweetie...all ready for Mass last Saturday. I love how she loves dresses and bows. : )


And don't forget...Bonnie from A Knotted Life is hosting The Sheenazing Awards and I am humbled to say this little old blog was nominated. So if you would like to vote for any of your favorites, or just want to meet some new friends, hop on over and visit the amazing Bonnie!

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sheenazing!



Imagine my surprise this morning when I received an email from the lovely Bonnie from A Knotted Life informing me this little old blog had been nominated for a Sheenazing Award!

What an honor to be included among such wonderful, inspiring bloggers...

A great big Thank You from the bottom of my heart to whomever nominated me and please know how humbled I am to be recognized for doing something I love so much. : )

Voting begins Thursday at Bonnie's amazing blog A Knotted Life .
So if you want to vote or meet some really amazing new friends, go visit Bonnie.

Thanks again, friends...
And please know...I certainly receive so much more from you all than I could ever hope to give. : )


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time Goes Too Fast Tuesday

Rewind four years ago to a cold January day...the day we celebrated the gift of our Baby Flynn at her Baptism. I loved that day...I always loved Baptism Day for so many reasons. I loved thanking God for the gift He blessed us with. I loved the feeling of completeness the day brought. First there was the pregnancy...then the birth...the bringing baby home...and finally, the Baptism. I always felt as if that was the end of one period and the beginning of the next...the start of our lives as a new family.

I remember this day so very well. I remember most being alone in my room with Flynn after all the festivities ended, removing the beautiful Baptism dress that all of my daughters wore and thanking God yet again as the scent of chrism oil surrounded her. And if I try really hard...I can still smell it.


The beautiful cake for our girl.


So serious my baby was...
She was wearing a sweater made by my great grandmother. My mother put new white ribbon in just for Flynn. : )

Thank you God, again, for the gift of our Flynn Grace. : )








Saturday, January 18, 2014

Madison's Dream Coffee Cake

My Madison created this yummy coffee cake a few years ago by combining a couple different recipes. It is sooo quick and sooo good. Even my picky eater Rhett ate one...or two...pieces. It is perfect for lazy Sunday mornings and is even better  the second day. Enjoy!


Madison's Dream Coffee Cake
Ingredients:
  1. 1(18 oz.)box yellow cake mix
  2. 1 cup vegetable oil
  3. 4...yes 4...eggs
  4. 1 cup sour cream
  5. 3/4 cup sugar
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  7. 1/4 cup flour
  8. 1/2 stick butter
  9. Fresh or frozen blueberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 13x9 inch pan.
  3. Combine cake mix, oil, eggs, and sour cream.
  4. Beat two minutes at low speed.
  5. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a small bowl.
  6. Cut butter into small pieces, and add to sugar mixture.
  7. Spread half cake batter into pan.
  8. Sprinkle half sugar mixture over top.
  9. Sprinkle blueberries over sugar.
  10. Repeat with remaining batter and sugar mixture.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
  12. Enjoy!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Weekend Plans

Is it me, or is January flying right by? In any case, the weekend is here again, Yay! Friday night Steve and Rhett are heading to camp to check on it and have a guys night. I am so happy they have so much fun together. The girls and I will be home feasting on take out and indulging in Lifetime movies. The perfect Friday night. : )

Saturday Madison has a retreat day for her Confirmation which is coming up in March. It concludes with Mass in the late afternoon, so we will be attending that and then heading home. Peyton and I are making Barbecue meatballs and pasta salad for dinner. I have a pile of ironing that refuses to do itself, so I think I know what I will be doing after dinner.

Sunday can be summed up in two words...brunch and football. I know my life is ultra exciting...you know with all the lazy days spent lounging and watching football and eating...but that is what we do. And that is what I will miss one day, so that is how we spend our time. Together. : )

I hope your winter weekend is full of the things you love, whatever they may be. Thanks for visiting! I am always glad you stop by!  : )


We were able to take the trip to visit my father last weekend...and someone always gets sleepy on the way!


And look how well he is doing! This picture is actually one my sister sent me from a party they had this week. He looks sooo much better! That right there is a look I know from my sweet father. : )
Thanks for all your prayers my friends. Keep 'em coming. I know that his Dementia will never get better, but quality of life is what we pray for...and right now our prayers are being answered. : )


One more pic of Madison and her bestie Jessica before the dance. Madison had a great time, and Alan brought her right home after. Amen.


These are my new favorite things...Halos. If you haven't tried them, you must. I insist. You're welcome.


I did put a pot of sauce on the Stove Sunday morning, and Peyton and Steve made tons of meatballs. Fr. Jim came and we had a great visit. It was weird to realize that he and I are the same age. Like, we graduated in the same year...I guess I just always think of priests as being older, you know? So I guess that means I am older than I think, right? Does any of this even make sense?!


Anyway...we had spaghetti and meatballs with this easy peasy salad...


fresh Italian bread from the bakery...


and the best chocolate cake ever...


which I served like this because I like to pretend I am working in a fancy restaurant, and because I watch way too much Food Network programming.


This little guy likes snuggling on my lap these cold winter evenings. : )


January's cupcake delivery from our sweet little bakery did not disappoint...


And because there just isn't quite enough food in this one...I'll finish off with Flynn's reaction to the dinner surprise Steve brought back from a business meeting this week. No more words needed. : )





Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!








Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thoughts On Motherhood...

After seventeen years, four children and a dog...here are some of my thoughts on motherhood...these are just that...my own thoughts based on my own experiences living my dream of being a wife and mother.

The way you parent your youngest may be vastly different from the way you parented your first. And that's alright. You are not the same person that brought a tiny, sweet smelling bundle into your home for the very first time. Overreacting to a dropped pacifier? Nope. Calling the doctor the minute a temperature reaches 98.7? Not anymore. Panicking when your four year old decides to eat her dinner under the table when your parish priest is over for dinner? Please. Who even noticed? In other words, if you are more relaxed with the later ones, good for you. You earned it, right?

Compare yourself...to no one. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself and your littles to that family that sits ahead of you in church...the one where every single child sits perfectly still and doesn't play tap dance on the kneeler during the homily. Or to the mom in the pick up line at school who wears a size 2 jean and has a purse to match her shoes and gets out to talk to her friends about the next homeroom party. Don't compare yourself or your family to anyone. No one else alive has the exact same family and the exact same circumstances and interests and values that you do.

A clean house is relative. What is clean to you now with four children and a dog may be vastly different than what was clean to you years ago when you had one little baby that took two daily naps and you had time to not only write out, but also follow a weekly cleaning schedule that involved a bucket, rags, and your hands and knees. Now, if you have time to push a Swiffer around while you are helping a child write a poem about turtles...good for you. And a little dust never hurt anyone, right?

Take your toddler to the grocery store. Talk to her when you push her around the store. Let her pick out the produce and maybe even a balloon. The day will come when she won't fit into the cart anymore, and you will be putting your purse there instead. And you will miss shopping with a little one. You will.

Have a schedule. One that works for you. Stick to it. One thing I have learned as both a teacher and a parent is that children crave structure. They flourish in it. They long for the comfort of knowing what comes next. For some, this is a rigid schedule with life centered around daily naps. And if it is, don't apologize for it. For others, a schedule may be a bit less rigid. Whatever works for you, stick to it.

Parent as a team. You and your hubby are together in this. A parent of teens will tell you, some children are like cute little mice. They can sniff out the smallest crack and try to squeeze between it. Don't allow your children to play one of you against the other. Talk in private and be together in all your decisions. After all, sometimes you need the strength of two.

Allow your children to see you and your hubby in good and in bad. Let them see you laugh together, and share a hug or a quick kiss.You are the model for them as parents. Your children will one day be the parents to your grandchildren. At the same time, let them see you disagree. It is important for your children to see that sometimes, even people that love each other very much can disagree. And show them how to resolve it correctly. If you don't, they will learn someplace else.

And lastly, one thing I know for certain...birthday parties and holidays existed before Pinterest. How do I know this? I had birthday parties without fruit cut into animal shapes and without juice boxes covered in paper and glue and glitter that resemble animals. My children never missed the over the top creations that society seems to be demanding we shower upon them. A party is a party with balloons, presents and a cake...and most importantly, loved ones there to celebrate. Your child will not miss it if you don't stay up all night gluing ears onto Hershey Kisses to make little mice, I promise.

I am no expert. I hold no special degrees. I am a mother. I am blessed to have four precious souls entrusted to me. I am determined to create the best childhood I can for them, so they can go out into the world as healthy, confident, caring, sensitive adults. After all, is there anything more important to a mother than that?