Sunday, November 24, 2013

Keeping Up

My kids like to listen to the Oldies station on the way home from school.  Friday, this station was already playing Christmas music.  What what what???  Had I been by myself, I probably would have been annoyed, however, my kids were belting out the lyrics and I found it endearing.  Christmas music aside, I'm just not ready for the rat race of the holidays.  I feel like we're still adjusting to the start-up of school!

As I have mentioned before, I love fall and I love Thanksgiving.  If I could extend any season, this would be the one.

I love the warm, bright colors.  I love the smell of pumpkin, cinnamon, and the roasting of harvested vegetables.  I love putting on a big sweatshirt, breathing in the brisk air, and warming my hands around a hot cup of coffee.  Most of all, I love that we are mindful of our blessings, especially in preparation for Thanksgiving.

At school, Cucumber made a list of things she is thankful for.
I am thankful for:  my fish, Jesus, family, love, food, school, home, my life, candy, the world, my class, Grandma, Grandpa, Mrs. E (her 1st grade teacher), church, saints.
I adore the simplicity and honesty of this list.  And guess what?  I'm thankful for all of these things too, even the fish!

Side note:  Freddie, the fish, has been with us since Labor Day Weekend.  Merlot predicted his demise within two weeks.  I am happy to report that he is just as spry today as the day we welcomed him into our home.  

Although the world is buzzing all around and pressuring us to "keep up" with the mecca season of retail, our family is choosing to move at a slower pace.  This week, our main focus is making coffee filter turkeys with the kids and finalizing our Thanksgiving menu.  Saturday evening we'll pack away our fall decor and put up our Jesse Tree and creche, in preparation of Advent.  Our goal:  to make sure that our beliefs are not just a lip service, but that we truly live our faith.

I recently read the article, Jen Hatmaker - The Christmas Conundrum.  It is very thought provoking and definitely worth the time to read.  It certainly has me thinking about simplifying our lives and the way in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel.

I hope these days leading up to Thanksgiving finds your hearts abounding in blessing.  If you are a Black Friday shopper, be safe, be smart, and please be polite!  And if you find yourself in a bad or cranky mood, make a coffee filter turkey.  I promise; it will brighten your day!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Celebrating 41

November 11th is dear to me for a few reasons.

One.  It is Veterans Day.  A very heartfelt thank you to all the men and women who have served and are currently serving our country in the armed forces.  Thank you, also, to their families who sacrifice so much.  You make our country great and allow my family to enjoy the liberties and freedoms you fight to preserve.  God bless you all!

Two.  It is the feast day of my patron saint; St. Martin of Tours.  Martin was born in 317 to pagan parents.  Later in life, he became a soldier in the Roman army.  One evening, as he was traveling back to the city, he encountered a scantily clothed man who was cold and hungry.  Martin dismounted his horse, shared what food he had, and took his sword and cut his cloak in half, giving half of it to the man.  That night as Martin slept, he had a dream that the man he shared his food and clothes with was Jesus.  Jesus told him to become His follower.  When Martin awoke, his cloak had been restored. Shortly after, Martin was baptized.  St. Martin is the patron of the homeless and soldiers.

Three.  It is my birthday.  This year I turned 41.

I celebrated my birthday over two days.  On Sunday, my sisters treated me to a benefit outing in downtown Minneapolis at "The W."  Sissy #1 is a culinary coach, and her team had been invited to serve at a fundraising event for Pro-start.  It was an elegant gathering, the food and wine were divine, and I rubbed shoulders with some big-wigs in the restaurant/hospitality industry.  It was an absolutely lovely evening. When I went to bed that night, I found this on my nightstand from Cucumber.

On Monday, the kids woke up and shouted, "Happy Birthday!"  Later in the day, I had a lunch date with Monkey's sister, Silly.  We were gifted with a few hours to just catch up on life.

Honey Bunches and Gummi helped prepare my Birthday supper:  salad, pasta and Italian bread.  For dessert, Grandma treated us to Pumpkin Pie Blizzards at the DQ.

Serious deliciousness in a waffle cone. 
My gifts from the Love Bugs:  scented lotion, an angel plaque, a fairy headband (this actually belongs to Sweet Pea), and a travel Scrabble game in which Gummi spelled out, "I love you Mom."
One silly photo at the end of the evening.

My most treasured part of the day was a message that Monkey posted on Face Book.

A bunch of years ago, God put into motion His plan for me. I still do not know what the outcome will be, but He sent me a gift to help along my way. I was not a Christian at that time, I was not thinking that I would be sent this Gift, and as a matter of fact, I was not even born at that time. Besides his son, Jesus, who I am Grateful everyday for his sacrifice for my salvation, it was a gift just for me!

I did not receive this gift until about 13 years ago, give or take a couple of months. This gift has guided me to becoming the father, husband and disciple of Christ I am today. I strongly believe that some 20 years ago, this gift was presented to me, and I chose not to notice it at the time.

Today is the day I celebrate my wife, Shelly's Birthday. She has given me 6 beautiful children, a lifelong companion and she is my best friend. "Soul-mate" if you will (inside joke). I am thankful every everyday that God chose her for me.

Happy Birthday Shelly. I Love you, and love the person you inspire me to be!

I read this message with tears streaming down my cheeks as I waited to pick my kids up from school. I was moved by not only Monkey's honesty and testament to God's plan, but it also reminded me of all the blessings in my life.  My life is not perfect and it is not always easy, but I too have been gifted with a faith I hold dear, a loving husband, beautiful and creative kids, and a wonderful and supportive family.  Sprinkle all of this with a lovely circle of friends and I feel like the richest person in the world.  For me, celebrating my birthday is a celebration of life and all of its beauty.  God is good all the time!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Marathon and Halloween

I no longer have a computer of my own, thus I am restricted to the use of Monkey Toes computer and working around his schedule and the availability of his laptop.  Since it has been awhile since my last post, I decided to do a little update of tid bits of our life over the past few weeks.

The School Marathon
Each year, the Knights of Columbus sponsor a marathon for non-public education. Students collect money and prayer intentions.  The marathon begins with an all school Mass (the prayer intentions are written on a large mural and prayed over during Mass), followed by lunch, and then the marathon. Grades K-3 walk through town, and grades 4-12 walk 4.2 miles around Winsted Lake.  This year, the students raised over $46,000.  The day was filled with fun and lots of school pride.  I feel blessed that my children belong to this amazing community of people who support Catholic education.  A huge "Thank You" to all who sponsored these students!

All Hallows Eve
I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, but my kids look forward to dressing up, getting candy, and watching the beloved, "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown."  

Pumpkin as "Belle"
Sweet Pea as a Cowgirl.  I have to give a shout-out to JillyBean for this adorable and durable outfit.  It has clothed 3 of our 4 girls and is still looking great!
Gummi as "Jasmine"
Cucumber as "Mother Teresa"
Our Halloween Crafts; bats and ghosts made from egg cartons.

Pumpkin watching Charlie Brown.
The kids had a non-uniform day and could wear black and orange to school.
Our daily life has been pretty routine lately.  The kids go to school, they practice their instruments, the boys play basketball and Sundays are basically Mass, crock-pot dinners and football.  I'm very content these days, which is a pretty great place to be.