Winter Happiness

It is February! I know it is common for folks to be done with winter by now and, for the last couple of years, I would have been one of them. But this winter has been different for me in many ways and I am counting up every little thing as a consolation.

We had two birthdays in our family last week (including mine!) which we celebrate as holidays. We have very simple celebrations but the day is full of special time together as a family – no work, no school, just enjoying each other and honoring the birthday girl/boy. So, I always look forward to the last week of January and this year was one of my best birthdays in many years. I was treated to breakfast in bed and a massage in the afternoon. We enjoyed a trip to the local botanic gardens and went out for a birthday dinner. Alex and the kids baked me a cake and it was delicious. I took a walk with a couple of the kids and enjoyed the lovely sunny day.

I spent Saturday visiting friends who live a few hours away. We had such a wonderful time talking over morning coffee that we ended up also having lunch together. It was a total luxury for me to have so much time together and I enjoyed every minute.

Sunday was such a glorious day. We spent most of the afternoon soaking up sunshine and fresh air. The kids rode their trikes and scooters all over the driveway while I played with the baby and kept him from running out to the street.

And this morning? I woke up early for prayer and enjoyed the stillness of the house. My children stayed up too late last night and are – amazingly- sleeping in this morning. I drank my coffee while it was hot. I listened to the winter birds singing outside. It was just a lovely time.

It is supposed to snow some more tomorrow but I don’t even mind. I feel filled up with goodness and perfectly ready to embrace some more winter weather.

I count this all as grace.




Merry Christmas!


We had a really good Advent and Christmas has been lovely.

Our children are at such fun ages for Christmas time. Allie had the excitement and anticipation going strong all of Advent. She was just like me as a little girl. She loves the rituals and family traditions and relishes in sharing them with the boys. It was the baby’s second Christmas but this year he is toddling all around and getting into the Christmas ornaments. It is all new for him!  Joshua and John Paul have really enjoyed the celebration as well. Every day, John Paul asks if it is still Christmas and he is so happy when the answer is yes. (Did you know that it’s still Christmas until Sunday?!) (I learned that when Allie was three and I told her that Christmas on the Ephiphany and then we went to Mass where our dear priest showed me up. I was a little embarrassed.)

Anyway, I hope you have all enjoyed this Christmas time and new year. I’m hoping to get back here soon to share with you a 2015 year in review and some more bits and pieces of our days. Until then, happy new year!




Our Little Calendar Time

I meant to show this to you a few days ago with the Advent wreath but it slipped my mind. We have been doing a little “calendar time” with the kids for a few years now.

(I think that makes it sound so much more involved than it really is, but that’s what we call it, so there you go.)

We used to have this just pinned on the wall next to a big classroom calendar but I was kind of over the calendar itself. When we moved over the summer, I decided it was a good time to change our set-up a bit. It wasn’t exactly on the top of my priority list, though, and I couldn’t decide how I wanted to do it. My son Joshua started asking about it a few weeks ago, so I promised him that I would get it together in time for Advent.


I still hadn’t really figured out what I wanted to do when suddenly it was the Saturday evening before Advent. (Typical last-minute me.)*

*Side note: Speaking of last minute crafting… The first Lent we did this, I thought I had made the Lenten sign ahead of time. But when I went to look for it on Ash Wednesday, it was nowhere to be found. (I’m pretty sure now that I never did really make it. I just thought about making it.) So I loaded up the kids and went to Hobby Lobby and made it later that afternoon. The kids don’t remember that it was late. They just remember that we did it!

Anyway, I kept going back and forth between a few different ideas when I realized that I needed to just do SOMETHING and I could always change it later. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

I rummaged through my craft supplies and found some stick-on magnets that I had saved from a (failed) project a few years ago. I had just enough to attach these guys to the side of the refrigerator. This is directly across from our dining table so my people can see it clearly during meals and otherwise running amok. It’s a high traffic area of the house. :) We usually do calendar at breakfast time but sometimes it happens later in the day if we are too busy or forget in the morning.

Here’s what we do:

  • We name what liturgical season it is.
  • We change the liturgical color the priest is wearing on major feast days and solemnities (if I remember and/or we have been to Mass so the kids happen to know that the priest was wearing a different color.) My children like to know if it’s a feast day because those are the days when we get treats. :)
  • We talk about why the color is what it is. For example, purple is for times of preparation, red calls to mind the Blood of Christ, etc.
  • We tell a little bit about the saint of the day and say a brief morning offering.
  • When we had the big classroom calendar up, we also counted up to the current date and pointed out any special days coming up (birthdays, anniversaries, trips we were going on, etc). I still don’t have a plan for doing that again in the future, despite Joshua’s insistence.

I used this printable craft to make the priest activity. When I got it, I think it was just a free printable. I think you might have to sign up for email updates now or something. We use it every day, though, so it would be worth it to me.

Anyway, this very simple activity has helped our children to learn the liturgical seasons and to remember the saints in our daily lives. I just wanted to share it with you!





Our Advent Traditions

I have been trying to get here all day to share with you a few pictures of our Advent thus far. The encouragement to keep a simple, liturgical Advent first came to me through this classic Like Mother, Like Daughter post so I think it is very fitting to join in on the Advent link-up today.

I have gone back to that post often. I really took Leila’s words to heart and have found that she is right.

Simply by lighting a candle, we really can begin to inspire wonder in our family…



We did not grow up with Advent traditions so we have started slowly. For eight years now, this is the main tradition we have cultivated. We light the candles before dinner as we sing one verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

That is it.

There is something very wonderful about this simple act.


(Funny side note- My son said he was holding that ruler to measure his personal space.)

It isn’t always perfect. Sometimes the baby is crying. Sometimes I am antsy to hurry up and sing so we can eat because I am getting cranky. But it is always a good to see the children’s eyes light up with the candles and to make an act of trust that “Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

advent chalfboard



This year, we found ourselves ready to add the Jesse Tree to our family traditions. The kids are keeping strict tabs on whose turn it is to hang an ornament on the tree each day. The devotional reading that goes along with the ornaments is brief enough for my three year old.



I have Advent music playing around the house as much as I can. I have a stack of picture books waiting for me to pick up at the library tomorrow. I’m trying to remember to pray the St. Andrew Novena prayer daily, if not fifteen times a day. These things are so lovely, and I’m enjoying their addition to our Advent.

But, if all else fails,  in the evening, I light a candle for hope.

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” – Psalm 33:20


Party of Five

I love it when my children play what they have heard in a story. This week, they were inspired by a book we picked up on a whim at the library this week. The title is Medieval Feast and, as you can imagine, it tells about a great feast that was prepared for a king. It made for a happy morning of imaginary play.

(By happy morning, I hope you know that I do not mean perfect. My kids are real kids and no fewer than three arguments had to be settled in order to proceed with the happiness. Just so you know.)

While my boys played at making tea, my daughter announced that she would be serving cocktails. She kept saying it in a British accent, which I found very funny.


My pretty girl in the tent we set up for the lords and ladies to live in.

I hope you are all having a lovely fall wherever you are!

Feel free to share any pretty, happy, funny, real moments you have had this week! And be sure to stop by the link-up at Like Mother, Like Daughter for more contentment.



P.S. That Amazon link is not affiliate link. It is just there for convenience.

Broken Crayons and Best Laid Plans


Yesterday was one of those days. From errands to nap time, school work to dinner, nothing seemed to go as planned. We did make crayons from the old broken bits we had lying around. We also did sticker books and played catch in the back yard. I had time to breathe after the kids went to bed in the evening, which something of a rarity around here. It seems there a few things for me to remember here. First, that I do well to count up all the good little things and measure my days by what is, rather than by what isn’t. It also seems that there is more be learned about receiving those broken plans as an opportunity for grace, a chance for the day to be something different than I had in mind. Something more. There is always more to be received, as our God is a God who always wants to give us more of Him. Sometimes I realize it.