Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 in 2014

I love looking back at events through pictures. Some events I take a ton of pictures, but other occasions I don't take enough. And then there are some experiences that I take no pictures at all, but those are usually the ones when we are having so much fun that I am too busy to pick up my camera. When I read that Dwija at House Unseen was hosting the 12 favorite photos of the year link-up, I was all about joining her because I love lists of favorite things and link-ups. 

I looked through all of my photos of 2014, and I had a blast. Although I had too many pictures of my knitting projects. What can I say, I love yarn. But don't worry, I didn't pick any pictures of yarn to share. Anyway, I decided to use photos that didn't make it to the blog this year. Though a couple of them had variations posted either here or on Facebook. 

Without further ado (so cliche, I know), here are my favorite photos of 2014.

Yo ho, we're pirates. That we be!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Top Posts of 2014

The year is coming to a close, and what a year it has been! This year I experienced the death of my grandmother and several health issues. Despite the pain and grief, 2014 was full of blessings. To list a few, Chris and I celebrated eighteen years of marriage. Our oldest son, Holden, graduated from our homeschool and finished his first semester of college. We took a wonderful family vacation which is something that we don't get to do every year.  

Also, this year I made the decision to write less about crafts and more about faith and family life. I have made new friendships with some amazing women through blogging, and I have been encouraged by so many of you. Thank you!

I have decided to share the top six posts in three different categories. Six is my favorite number, so it seemed the right number to pick. The categories are top six posts (no link-up), top six posts (link-up) and my six favorite posts.

The top six posts were given a lot of love through clicks, comments, and shares.

The top six posts that were part of a link-up were shown a lot of love through clicks and comments. I have a suspicion that they were so popular because they were part of a link-up at other lovely blogs. 

My six favorite posts are the posts that I felt strong about and enjoyed writing. 

Now on to the lists!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Gift of a Day Spent His Way

This year all my husband wanted for Christmas was to stay home.  

Every year we celebrate Christmas in one of two ways. Most of the past Christmases have been spent either hosting or attending my extended family's Christmas Eve potluck dinner. Then on Christmas we attend mass in the morning, then I cook several dishes to take to Chris's sister's home for his family's holiday dinner. But there have been a couple years when we have gone to his mother's house for Christmas Eve and then had my mother and her significant other to our home for Christmas dinner after Mass on Christmas Day. 

The celebrations are always fun, but they are work, too. Chris only gets one day off for Christmas, and that is Christmas day. He doesn't get home until five or six on Christmas Eve, and then he is right back to work the morning after Christmas. I am not complaining. I know that there are many people that do not get Christmas day off, so I am thankful that Chris gets to spend Christmas home with us every year. But he has never spent Christmas day the way he wants to spend it since we always have family parties to host or attend. 

He wanted a simple Christmas this year, a day with just me and the boys and nothing on the schedule other than morning Mass. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December Daybook 2014


For friends that lost a family member a couple days ago, may they find comfort in Christ. 

For all the people that are alone, may they feel the love of Christ. 

For couples suffering through miscarriage, may they find healing in Christ. 

For all of our friends and family, may they have a blessed Christmas. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Books to Read During Christmas Week

We talk about Jesus, St.Nicholas, and Santa Claus in our home during Advent. 

On December 6th, we always read The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. Then we return to our regular bedtime reading (usually a chapter book) until a week before Christmas. That is when we start reading Christmas stories.

There have been many great articles around the Catholic Mom blogosphere that list great books to read during Advent and Christmas. 

I do not want to recreate their lists, but I think books lists are great resources and we have several books on our list that I have not seen mentioned yet. So I am going to share several of the books that we have read every year for the last several years a couple books that are new to us this year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gift Giving, Why All the Fuss?

My friend Amelia at One Catholic Mama wrote a thought provoking article titled When Gift-Giving is Not Your Love Language. She made some good points about how disconcerting it can be to receive and give gifts when you do not like gifts as a whole. 

I have many thoughts about gifts so instead of leaving a super long response to her post, I thought I would share them here. 

Receiving gifts is not my love language, but I don't mind giving or receiving gifts. What I mind is the attitude I have witnessed lately surrounding gift giving and receiving. 

I love finding something that I think another person will love and giving it to them "just because". I don't think that you can put a price tag on a gift given out of love with the intent to bring joy to a person. Nothing is too cheap or expensive when it is given with true intentions.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Fearless Conclusion

In January, I wrote about my word for the year, fearless. I thought the word was to help me battle fears from my childhood and young adult years, and that may have been true for I was often fearful in my younger years. But now that the year is coming to a close I see that God was preparing me for my grandmother's failing health and eventual death and my health issues (read a little about them here, here, and here). I know that God has given me the grace I need to be courageous during the difficult times and the doubts and worries that plague my mind. 

I have not continued to update the blog with the Bible verses that I chose to commit to memory this year. And I must admit that while I know them better, I can not tell you that I have learned them fully, please don't quiz me on them! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Parents, get out of God's way!

While sitting on the sideline waiting for my child's soccer game to start last May, I overheard the conversation of the people sitting next to me.

Now before you accuse me of rudely eavesdropping, I feel I need to explain that I would have had to pack up my stuff and move away from my spot to not hear the conversation. If you have ever been to a youth soccer game, then you know how close the family members of the players park themselves next to the line on the field and each other.

Anyway, now that I have cleared that up, it's back to the conversation that I overheard.

The conversation took place between two young adult men. They ended up at the game separately but ran into each other and decided to sit side by side. Apparently they had graduated from high school together a year or two prior to their current meeting, went off to college, and had not seen each other since graduation. At this unplanned meeting, they happily greeted each other and explained why they both found themselves at the soccer game (one was there to watch his girlfriend's younger brother and the other was there to watch his brother referee the game).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Current Favorites {Five Favorites}

1. Prints from Audrey Eclectic. I gave these two prints to my twin nephews for their baptism. They are gorgeous! 

2. My new flexi from Lilla Rose. I love wearing my flexi in my hair, but a new favorite way to wear it is to hold the ends of my scarves together. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Complete Surrender {on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception}

God knew that Mary would consent to be the mother of Jesus, so He sanctified her at the moment of conception, preserving her from original sin.

On this day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I focus my thoughts on Mary's total surrender of her will to that of God's. She gave herself to him completely and trusted that He would take care of everything. 

I want that kind of trust. I want to abandon my fears, and say to God "Let it be" and not have any worry of what will happen next. For many months, I have been back and forth to my doctor, trying to figure out the cause of physical pain that I am experiencing. As I move through my day, I worry about the what is happening inside my body, and I play the "What if..." game with myself, stressing over all the details. 

I have become a slave to my pain and worry. For some time, I have been feeling stuck in this place of pain and exhaustion, and feeling unable to control what is happening to me. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Homemade Scented Epsom Salts

Earlier this year, I wrote about my favorite detox bath ingredients. On the list, I included Dr. Teal's Scented Soaking Solution because I loved them. I still love them, but I have started making my on that I love more. Not only can I make them whatever scent I want, but they are so much more affordable! If you love taking a bath, you should definitely make your own scented Epsom salts. Store them in an airtight container and keep for yourself or give them to the bath lover in your life. 

Scented Epsom Salts

4 cups Epsom salts
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup mild scented oil such as apricot or sweet almond* 
30 to 40 drops of essential oil of choice**

I use up to two cups in hot water and soak for about 40 minutes. 

*Oils like olive and grapeseed are fine to use, but they have a stronger scent. 

**A few of my favorite essential oils are bergamot, grapefruit, and lavender. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Favorite Jane Austen Sequels {Five Favorites}

I love Jane Austen's novels. Unfortunately, Jane Austen only wrote six major novels before she died at the young age of  41 years old. Several years ago, a few friends and I were having a discussion about Jane Austen's novels, and one of my friends mentioned a sequel she had recently read about Pride and Prejudice. I did not know that there were sequels to Jane Austen's novels. Today, you can find enough prequels, sequels, and adaptations to keep you reading for years, but you have to be careful because they range from very steamy and somewhat scandalous to fantasy and the supernatural. At my last counting, I have read 20 books that have either continued her novels, reworked them in some way, or have storylines where Jane Austen is the main character. And I have many left on my wish list to read.

There are six books in my list, but I consider two of them to be part of a set; therefore, I count them as one.

Monday, December 1, 2014

When I Think of Home

"Home is a place we all must find, child. It's not a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we're always home, anywhere." 
 - Glinda the Good, The Wiz (1978) 

Recently, Chris and I watched the documentary, Tiny: A Story About Living Small, on Netflix. The documentary followed a young man as he built his very tiny home on wheels. He built his house in a friend's backyard, but once he finished, he moved it to his property in Colorado, the only place that he felt at home. Though the topic of feeling at home is not the primary subject of the documentary, it is discussed throughout the show, and I began to think about my earliest memories of home. 

As a child, I grew up in the home of my grandparents. It never felt like home to me; it did not feel like a happy or a safe place to be. Living with my grandmother was hard, and not having a relationship with my mother or father left me feeling alone.  

But I did have a home. I always felt loved and accepted when I was there. 

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