And My Heart Sang

It swelled actually. The four kids and I packed our bags and headed out one early crisp fall morning to make the trek to St. Louis and meet my sisters and family for Fall break.

We jumped in leaves, baked apple pies, and took long hikes and walks. It was just in time to see the wonders of Fall before they faded and spent enough time with family to fill our hearts to the brim. 

"You will find something more in the woods, than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters." St. Bernard of Clairvaux


Speaking of Fall...

Why not make an ordinary night into a memory or start a tradition with something warm and wonderful.  

Hot Cinnamon Cider

 It beats regular cider any day. We love to make this on Friday nights and take it to go during football games. It's a family favorite here! 

64 ounces apple cider 
1 quart orange juice 
1/3 cup red hots 
1 Tbs. whole all spice 
3 Tbs. honey 

Bring cider, orange juice and red hots to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove all spice and stir in honey. Makes about 12 servings. 

The Good Bad October Day

Cool air in October makes my heart skip a beat. It beckons me to cook and bake and light cinnamon candles. 

It was one of those days...I had chicken pot pie bubbling in my oven, fall is in the air...no one sick or fighting and all is well in the world. 

I picked Nicholas up from piano and I overheard on the radio,
 "new survey states almost all parents are really looking forward to when their kids move out. The main reasons being: more money left over each month, more quiet, and more freedom." 

Good grief. This doesn't shock me. I see many couples trying to live this way while still having their kids at home. It's sad. But I think it is impart, how the world teaches them to live. 

I thought back to the car commercials I watched while watching baseball the night before. They market to the restless heart. Go get away, take an adventure, laugh, experience more and again. It's interesting to listen to because it has nothing to do with the car itself, but catches the viewer with images and notions of what they may be longing for deep inside. Doesn't it always go back to wanting to be happy? 

I come home still pondering that bleak statistic, and I notice this...

I know my own theory on a happy life is different, even opposed to what the world says. 

But I have experienced the following equation that gives me that conviction: 
More children (or even not being able to have children) = more sacrifice = more love = greater happiness.

It's a little secret my mom and dad showed me growing up, having 11 kids, choosing to die to themselves, whatever the number may be.  I saw it in their faces, deep wrinkles from suffering and deep wrinkles from laughter. A secret because most people only saw multiple kids going to and fro, most only thought they saw less money, more noise, and no freedom. They were right. 

I saw a father with a stack of bills and and tears coming from his eyes as four girls stacked on his back belly laughing caused him to laugh so hard it made him cry. I saw a mother with a mountain of laundry somewhere, dancing and clogging in the kitchen with her husband and kids around her. So yes, there was less money, definitely more noise, and no free nights and weekends. They proved the theory of sacrifice out of love and loving in the moment produces more love. 

Now I choose to have more children, choose to live without certain material things, choose to live for them, for Andrew, for God. And deep in my soul that is what is most fulfilling, albeit more difficult sometimes. Sometimes it feels supremely hard most of the time and other times it feels wonderful, and some days, maybe mostly everyday, it's both. 

My life's quest is Heaven, it will be my greatest adventure. My car, well, it needs to be a love boat of sorts. It's how the good Lord told me how I will get there. 

My favorite quote lately from St. Therese of Lisieux...
"Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them." 


That night... music played, bread baked, Julia rocked in her swing sleeping. I could see Nicholas throwing himself a football through my living room window and the girls put on their aprons and helped me bake an apple crisp. Thank you Lord! I will pour love even in this moment, and even in my joy I can still give you glory. 

"When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." G.K. Chesterton.

But later that night...I got to bed late and was up with Julia who was chatting with the bullfrogs at 3 am. for 2 hours. Then Avila awoke to use the bathroom at 5 and then Julia got up again to eat at 6. And there were only small minutes of consecutive sleep. That hurt. Oh sweet Jesus there are moments of pain in parenting such as eyes stinging and body aching for deep sleep. Such is life: good days mixed in with painful ones. But in all things I will give thanks and I will love....well, I will be trying at least. 


What we do on free evenings...

We take long walks, we dance and wrestle in our living room, and in the fall, we play football.

Whatever one member of the family does....so do we all.


Andrew is teaching them "pass patterns". 

Avila, dressed for watching football. 



Popeye, Olive Oil and the Can of Spinach

I didn't get to blog about our costumes last year. Oh did we have fun. They even won the local "Best Homemade Costume" award. 

My parents passed down their dress up genes. I remember so many Halloweens and not Halloweens of my parents dressing up in wigs and clever costumes. I remember my mom laughing hysterically after she dressed my sister into a nun costume she made.

I must have belly laughed all day long staring at Avila in her green spinach face. Goodness this was fun.

Crepe paper, poster board, and yarn....my old shirts, pipe cleaners and felt. One good wig and three willing kids. Happy Halloween.

We may have had to bribe her to stay in costume with a sucker...or two....


These are the Days....

Just an evening spent watching Dad mow the lawn and squeezing the last good bit out of the summer. 

I spent the evening watching them, it was my delight. 


Hello Breakfast

Adding some zing to the
Whole 30 morning routine. 

Pico de Gallo over Ham and Eggs

 Minute Pico
2 Jalepenos, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 to 1/3 Cup Purple Onion, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 Cup cherry tomatoes 
(or regular, but the cherry tomatoes are sweet and balance out the flavor) 
Dash of salt 

He's her biggest fan.

Maybe it's his age, but I think more so his demeanor...

but He asks constantly to hold her.

And when I'm holding her, asks if he can kiss her. It doesn't let up, every day is the same.

He is constantly giggling at her "getting fat" and has his own nickname for her, "JuJu". We'll see if it sticks...


My Sole Responsibility

"Parents, it is your responsibility to be the first educators of the Catholic faith and to keep this light of faith burning." 

 Each baptism brings into supreme focus my sole responsibility in this vocation God has asked of me. Not to have my kitchen floors swept and toilets cleaned or kids noses wiped and looking perfect. Although, admittedly that is what most times I get caught up with during the day.

He will ask me if I got Andrew to Heaven and then if I did all in my power to instill the knowledge and love of our Catholic faith to my children. What a very serious and sacred mission.

At night before I go to bed, it is this question I should ask myself.

She was baptized on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption. I have a feeling this little girl, who was born on the Feast of the Dedication of Mary Major, whom her middle name, Mercedes is Spanish for Mary Mother of Mercy, will be especially guided by her Mother Mary.


It was incredibly special for Andrew to baptize her alongside Dominic and his daughter Charlotte.

I wonder what we could see on the other side as a new soul is born into the Church family and original sin erased and a daughter of God made new...Heaven rejoicing...our journey to get her there beginning.

Our dear friend and priest Fr. Jarett Konrade did the baptism, as he was in town for Kathryn's wedding.

We proudly chose John and Lindsay with the care of being her Godparents, we couldn't admire these two more as a godly examples of constant heroic fidelity to the Catholic faith in their daily lives.

We thank Aunt Kristin for so kindly supplying our baptismal gown, since I was grossly unprepared ;)

My two pillars, my mother and mother-in-law...so happy they could be there to witness Julia's big day.