Sunday, July 24, 2016


This afternoon, Monkey Toes and I dropped Gummi Bear off at camp.  It is a 5 day Girls Discipleship Camp that is 74 miles away from home.  For weeks, Gummi has been looking forward to this day. The hours didn't pass quickly enough today for Gummi, as she wandered around the house aimlessly, sighing heavily and moaning, "I still have soooo long to wait before we can go!"  We left an hour earlier than we needed to, just to pacify the child a little.  I mean, just look at that smile.  How could she possibly contain all of that excitement?

FINALLY we arrived!

We checked Gummi into her dorm and Monkey took a moment to say his goodbyes.

I was a bit of an emotional mess.  I wasn't just leaving my girl for the next few days, I was leaving a piece of my heart behind, as well.  I can't quite put my finger on it, for I know she's in great hands and will have a lovely experience.  I wanted her to attend this camp as much as she wanted to go, but the moment we turned and walked our separate directions, my tears began to fall.  I think it may be the realization that Gummi is not just getting older, but she is growing up into this amazing and beautiful person.

The theme for the camp is "Beloved" and it is directed by the Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus from New Ulm (some of our favorite sisters!).  When she arrived, Gummi was given this tshirt:

My heart is at peace.  Gummi will be exploring and discovering her worth as a Child of God and a Daughter of the King.  As much as I love her, our Heavenly Father loves her more.  She has been entrusted to Monkey and I, but ultimately, she belongs to God.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"   1John 3:1

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday

But God raised him up,
having loosed the pangs of death,
because it was not possible 
for Him to be held by it.
                                    Acts 2:24

Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday Morning

Our traditional game of Balderdash....

while the men sleep

Annual Family Easter Picture

Brothers and sisters:  If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above, where Christ is seated
at the right hand of God.  Think of what is
above, not of what is on earth.  For you have
died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears, then you too will
appear with Him in glory.
                                          Col 3:1-4

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

For God so loved the world that He gave His
only Son, so that everyone
who believes in Him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
                             John 3:16

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted
with grief...
                                Isaiah 53:3

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.  And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in  a purple cloak, 
and they came to him and said,
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
And they struck him repeatedly.
                                       John 19:1-3

Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord:
Though your sins be like scarlet, 
they may become white as snow; 
Though they be red like crimson, they may become
white as wool.
                              Isaiah 1:18

Pilate said to them, "The guard is yours; 
go secure it as best
you can."  So they went and secured the tomb
by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.
                                  Matthew 27:65-66

The Sorrowful Mysteries

Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, 
while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief
will become joy.  So you also are now in anguish.  But I will
see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one
will take your joy away from you.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Thursday

Love one another as I have loved you
                                          John 13:34

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. 
No one comes to the Father except through Me.
                                                              John 14:6

I am the Bread of Life.  He who comes to Me
shall never hunger, and he who believes
in Me shall never thirst.
                                         John 6:35



Monday, January 25, 2016

7 Quick Takes: Family Update: Christmas Letter Style


 Pumpkin is in Kindergarten and LOVING every, single day of it.  She is 6 1/2 years old (you all know how important that 1/2 year is at this age!).  Her favorite days are when she is the helper at school and can bring a treat to share with her class.  She likes to draw, color, jump rope and take coffee breaks (with a sweet treat, of course!).   She is learning how to read, which is opening up a whole new level of independence for her.   Pumpkin exudes happiness (and a bit of bossiness) and loves being the youngest!

Sweet Pea is 7 years old and in 2nd grade.  She will be making her First Reconciliation in two days, which she shared with me yesterday, "I want to be closer to Jesus."  Bless her!  She'll be making her First Communion in April. Sweet Pea loves to draw, color (especially in her new adult coloring book she received at Christmas) and craft.  She is not much of a TV watcher, so she likes to be very active.She is in her first year of taking piano lessons and doing well. She still struggles with the loss of my Mom, but each day we try to work through that, sometimes with tears, but always with a prayer in our hearts.  She still remains one of my best helpers around the house - always asking if she can lend a hand!

Cucumber is 9 and is in 3rd grade.  She takes both piano and bass guitar lessons, which she greatly enjoys both.  She loves clothes (I'm blaming her God Mother for that!) and likes to play "fashion show" with her sisters, where she dresses them, helps them with hair and lip balm make-up. She makes friends easily and in the summer, can often be found playing football with the neighborhood boys. Cucumber remains our comic relief and is quite witty (we are working with her on when and where to appropriately use her wittiness!).

Gummi Bear is in 5th grade and is 10 years old.  She ran Cross Country last fall and is currently playing basketball.  She takes piano lessons and chose to play flute in the 5th grade band, which she absolutely loves.  We have to actually tell her to stop practicing the flute some days, just so she can accomplish other tasks.  She altar serves at church and is a school crossing guard. Gummi enjoys crafting, especially sewing, knitting and sketching.  She is growing up fast, teetering on being a little girl and becoming a young lady (it's making her dad a little uncomfortable!).  She is still a gentle and kind-hearted soul, who desires to help others.

Honey Bunches of Oats is 11 years old and in 6th grade.  He plays both guitar and saxophone.  Last summer he placed first in his age group at our local county fair talent competition, singing and playing guitar.  He went on to compete at the Minnesota State Fair.  He didn't place, but he loved the experience.  Honey Bunches also ran Cross Country this past fall and is currently playing basketball, which has become yet another passion for him.

Sweet Potato is a teenager.  Yikes!  He's 13, in 7th grade, and loves to be involved with just about everything.  He plays basketball, is a Student Council member, participated in Knowledge Bowl, placed in the school Geography Bee, altar serves, takes piano lessons, plays the trumpet and attended our diocesan Boys Discipleship Camp.  He's passionate about sports and statistics.  Despite being outgoing, his favorite activity remains being at home on a Sunday, watching football and being surrounded by his family, good food, and hanging out with his cousins.

Life is busy with six, active Love Bugs.  I have realized, however, that when we keep our priorities in check (God, family, work/school), racing around with the kids isn't so daunting of a task, nor is it something I resent.  With that being said, we also rely on much help from others.  If it weren't for family or teammates parents who are ever so willing to open up their homes or provide a ride when needed, we wouldn't be able to do all that we do. We are ever so grateful and extremely blessed for the many helping hands.
                "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord."         Psalm 33:5
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


The lights on the Christmas tree twinkle through the dozens of small, glitter-filled ornaments, each in their own way representing something special to someone. We were going to be selective in which ones we chose to hang this year, because of the sheer volume of ornaments each Love Bug claims.  But when the time came to decorate, out flowed memories, stories and love that it was just too difficult to be selective.  Thus many of the branches are burdened by multiple ornaments.  As I gaze upon this tree which the Love Bugs have declared is "the most beautiful tree we have ever had" (it is the same artificial tree we have put up for the last 10 years), it is representative of what is swirling around in my head and heart, made evident especially during this time of year.  As we attempt to live and celebrate within the absence of our Loved ones, we still cling to the ways in which we know - our traditions.  They unite us to our past and draw us close within the present.  They are often the foundation of the stories that get re-told over time, and no matter how often one hears them, we never tire of them.  

Our Jesse Tree
About 4 years ago, we decided to incorporate a Jesse Tree into our family prayer during the season of Advent.  The symbol of the Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11: "The royal line of David is like a tree that has been cut down; but just as new branches sprout from a stump, so a new king will arise from among David's descendants."  The tree is named after Jesse, the father of the great King David. Beginning with the Creation story, and each night thereafter, we read from scripture and hung an ornament which represents a person or event in salvation history. By reflecting on salvation history, we see how God prepared the world for the coming of His Son.

In addition to our Jesse Tree, we also lit our Advent Wreath during meal time and continued with adding straw to Jesus' manger for good works completed each day.  I thought maybe the older kids would have found the straw activity to be a bit "young", but they looked forward to adding their straw each day, helping to prepare a bed for the Baby Jesus.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I love Advent.  I love that the Church has this time of preparation and reflection.  I love how our faith teaches us that Christmas has little to do with decorations and holiday prepping, and everything to do with preparing our hearts.  In this ridiculously fasted paced, secularized world we live in, we need more of the latter.  

As the world around us was asking, "are you ready for Christmas?", really inquiring if our tree was erected, cookies baked and cards sent, my answer, truthfully, was twofold.  No, according to the world, we were not ready for Christmas.  Liturgically, however, we were a work in progress.  Our family focused on reflecting on salvation history and trying to do more good works.  We celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We celebrated each Sunday of Advent, especially Gaudette Sunday with great joy.  We didn't skip Advent, we tried to live it.  Trust me, it wasn't always easy.

Our Christmas Tradition
The Christmas season began on Christmas Eve and will continue through the Baptism of our Lord - the first Sunday after Epiphany.   We put our tree up and decorated it on Christmas Eve morning.  It will stay up the duration of the season, as will our Jesse Tree, a reminder of where we have come from, pointing us in the direction of where we hope to go.  Now that Jesus has come, our lives will hopefully be a reflection of who He is:  Wisdom, Lord of Israel, Flower of Jesse, Key of David, Radiant Dawn, King of the Gentiles, Emmanuel - God with us.  It is not enough to just celebrate these traditions, but to embrace and live them, not only during the Christmas season, but throughout all time.

May this season be one filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Today marks the last day of summer 2015.  Our family had a great summer.  Actually, not just great, but I would dare to say exceptional.  So many times I considered sitting down and recording our experiences, but I wanted to hold these memories close - just keep them for myself.  I considered that by sharing our happenings, they would somehow be tarnished.  I'm not sure why I felt that way, but I was intentional in choosing not to post these last three months.

And then this conversation happened.

My girls and I were sitting in our living room one afternoon.  Cucumber asked, "Do you remember when Grandma Char use to make us buttered toast and hot chocolate?"  Gummi Bear added, "Grandma said it tasted best when it was white bread, dunked in the hot chocolate."  Sweet Pea shared, "She would give that to us on really cold days.  I miss her."

At this point, Pumpkin began to cry.  I held her on my lap and asked what was wrong.  She said, "I'm forgetting Grandma and all the stuff she teached me."

These words hurt and my heart broke.

When I began this blog back in 2011, I was very uncertain of the direction it would take.  I had just resigned from working in parish ministry and was deeply searching for a creative outlet.  Writing about my family and sharing adventures proved to be very satisfying to me.  Pretty soon the stories were coupled with a little advice and many lessons learned.  I began to look at this blog as a letter to my children; something that they could later in life read as a journal and hopefully discover the "good" intentions of their mom and dad to raise them with integrity and morality. And now, in this place, at this moment, I am reaffirmed to continue to tell the stories of our life, characterized by the ones who raised us and passed on their legacy. I want my children to know and love their Grandparents and all those loved ones who have passed from this earth, if only through the telling of their stories. It is these stories that connect us through generations and across miles.  The ones that unite us as family.

My dear friend Mary gave me "The Storyteller; Singing Mother" from her travels to the Southwest.  She said she thought of me when she found it, as there are six babies in her arms and on her lap.
We have some wonderful storytellers in our family.  My brother has a gift for telling stories, especially from what he refers to as "the good ole days."  He recalls growing up on the farm, all the hard work involved and memories of neighbors that would pull together as family in any number of situations.

The Love Bugs enjoy listening to Monkey's side of the family, especially the uncles, tell stories of growing up in a large family and being raised in a small house.  One can't help but smile at the enthusiasm for which these memories are told.

Storytelling: an integral part of life and rich in tradition.  It is a way of passing on life's wisdom, from generation to generation.

Tonight, turn off the screens, sit together and share stories.  Let's reconnect with who we are. Blessings to you all!