Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Need A Little Help From My Friends

When I was a little girl I knew, without a doubt, that my mother, Karen, was the most beautiful woman in the world. Whether she was working in the garden on a hot July day or scrubbing my carelessly laid tracks of mud off of the floor, no task could tarnish her beauty. I can still recall, with great clarity, the routine of those occasional Saturday evenings when she would prepare to go out on a date with my father .  As soon as the bathroom door closed, with my back against the wall, I would slide to the floor, clutch my knees and wait for the moment when the door would open wide once again. A great waft of perfumed air swiftly escaped out into the hallway, where I had waited patiently just to see her emerge, the essence of her femininity glowing like the warm sun on a spring day.  With the scent of powder and shampoo drifting out over my toes, encompassing my entire being, I drank it all in.  The moment was the essence of my mother - soft, comforting, loving, perfect. Just like her.
Mom with her precious granddaughter, Phebe Marie.
I wasn't just captivated by her outer beauty, though.  Beneath the perfectly tailed dresses and her lipstick framed smile beat the heart of a most generous, sacrificial soul.  She had (and still has) an unassuming way of caring for others, never seeking attention, yet always noticing the needs of those around her.

I remember how, for years, she would take warm dishes of delicious home cooked food to a couple in town who were in great need of assistance.  Sometimes I would go with her when she delivered the meals to them.  I remember feeling nervous as we were invited into their small home, sparsely furnished, refrigerator empty, lights turned down.  I followed my mom closely, as she led the way of compassion, sharing her offerings with a spirit of tenderness, of gentleness. Rex was a quadriplegic, his wife Mary there to care for his every need, as well as working at the local grocer to provide for the two of them.  My mother was always received with great enthusiasm by them both.  She was warm, affectionate, and sincere as she spoke to them about their lives, about their days and what was important to them. The authentic love she shared with them beamed like a brisk light, breaking through the darkness that their hardships and sufferings had imposed upon them, upon their surroundings.

She probably doesn't realize it, but my mother is the reason why I always wanted to be a missionary.

Why, you may be wondering, am I sharing all of this with you?? The reason is because I have a special favor to ask of you. Last week, my mother was given the news that she has breast cancer, and I believe that you, my readers, will honor my request to pray for her.  For me, personally, when I can envision the face of the person whom I'm praying for, or can connect with them in some small way by knowing even just a little of their life story, my prayers for them gain intensity, sincerity and commitment.  This is why I chose to share with you just a little bit about my mom.
The past few days have been a little bit of a blur.  My daily tasks are so mechanical, so robotic, as my heart and mind are completely taken with this new, rough, and difficult course that my mom is trying to navigate. I am angry at the monster she is being asked to fight, and want to be there in every way possible to help her.  In the hours spent contemplating, over piles of dishes and heaps of laundry, the fragility of the body and the mystery of suffering, I have asked the Lord over and over again, what is the purpose of this?? Why do You ask her to carry such a weighty cross?? Because, one thing I do know is that suffering is NEVER in vain.  It has a mission.  It has a purpose.  And beautiful things can come of suffering if we embrace it freely, whole-heartily.

All of the words that I have tried to compose over the phone during conversations with mom seem inferior to what I feel. And, what I feel is this:


I do not know why you have cancer.  Only our Father knows.  But, one thing I am certain of, is that within you is a quiet strength, a strength that comes from a Faith that is deeper and stronger than you know, a Faith that will rise up and be a witness of:

to one who is afraid
to one who feels that their life is not worth living
to one who has fallen away from heart of God
to one who feels that they have nothing more to give
to one who cannot find a reason to smile
to one who is ready to give up
to one is feels alone

Mom, you will be all of these things to others because that is WHO you are. Only you could take something as relentless and ugly as cancer and turn it into something beautiful.
My mom would never - ever - use the word bad-ass, so I'm going to use it for her!
And, as for you, cancer...
Damn you.
You picked the wrong lady.  You should know better than to mess with my mama. You will lose, you beastly bastard, you will lose.
Finally, for you, my friends, the best friends one could ever ask for...
Thank you for taking the time to be here, to hear my story.  Thank you for praying for my mom, for remembering her as you go about your days, for taking part in the mystery of grace and suffering, of healing and of hope.  I will continue to update mom's progress here, or on the Facebook page.  Please remember my dad in your prayers as well.  He really is a champion of great faith and devotion, too, but I cannot imagine how difficult it is for him to walk through this with the one he holds dearest to his heart.  I believe he would benefit greatly from your remembrance as well.

With all my heart, thank you!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What I Wore Sunday ~ Guess Who's Guest Hosting??

Happy Sunday, Everyone! I'm very excited today to have the opportunity to guest host at Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday! My first time participating in WIWS was last winter, and every week, since then, I get excited to see other bloggers writing about the importance of dressing well for Holy Mass, as well as sharing their enthusiasm for great style with the rest of us!
As many of you know, we have recently moved, and a new community means a new parish.  The very first week attending mass at our new church we were late. Now, if you go to a church whose architecture is somewhat rotund, a church where there are 17 side doors and you can strategically choose the one that will allow you to sneak in and slide into a pew (if you can do that with 5 children???) relatively unnoticed, then waltzing in during the Gloria isn't quite so mortifying. This was not the case for us. Our church is a very beautiful, traditional structure, more of a Slim Jim than a donut, so we could not avoid being handed a tardy slip at the door.  On top of it all, the church is pretty small, and hosts a large number of parishioners each week, consequently, when we arrived, there was NO place to sit. Super duper.

Those who actually own a watch and know how to use it couldn't possibly squish another inch together to make space for our family, the pews were already packed.  Our only option, besides standing in the back was splizville.  Before the grand scatter, I promptly turned to the boys and gave them the look along with a few hand signals and a double dousing of holy water, just for good measure.  I then painfully watched them squeeze through the maze of "on-timers," as they each found either a big family or a sweet elderly couple to sit beside.

Clutching Charlie close in an effort to hide my deodorant fail, we were ushered up to the front where I spent the rest of Mass desperately trying to resist the occasional head turn hoping to catch a glimpse of my little McSquiggles, imploring their guardian angels to keep everyone in line. Truth be told, they were probably better for the strangers they sat amongst than they would have been for their crazy mother. Miserere. 

I decided then and there that that was the end of being late!  This week we cruised into the parking lot with a whopping 7 minutes to spare.  Hallelujah, ring the bells!
I think this dress is a little spring/summerish, but, with the addition of a jacket, I was able to stretch it for one more week.  When I saw it for 1/2 off the already 1/2 price, I couldn't resist!
Dress: Alter Ego
Shoes: Kork Ease from Zappos
Denim Jacket: Silver from Maurices
Necklace: New York and Co.
Bracelet: Stella & Dot

Friday, September 20, 2013

7 QT Friday ~ Mary on the Donkey & Other Fine Tidbits

Is there an expiration date on the excuse "we just moved and I'm still unpacking"...you know the one I've been using for about three weeks now as explanation for why I'm not blogging? Until someone lets me know that I need to come up with a new one, I'm sticking to it.  Here's my 7 Quick Takes for the week:

  Cha-laarrrlie's Cha-locolit
One of these days I'm going to follow Charlie around with a video camera so that I can catch a few clips of his two-year old verbiage.  The boys are completely taken with his cuteness as he toddles around, mirroring all of their actions and trying to join in on big boy conversations with his sweet expressions. Earlier this week, he began referring to things as his own, confidently articulating his name, Cha-larlie (heavy emphasis on the ar).   Last night it was, "That's Cha-larlie's Cha-locolate!"

Danger Zone
Before we begin school each day I give the boys about five minutes to shake out their squirreliness by doing some calisthenics to their choice of jams.  This week, they were all about "Danger Zone" from Top Gun (should I even admit that we have that in our music library?).  Steve and I were cracking up over how serious they can get about doing push ups. I think there's something about the song that unleashes the inner beast. Even Cha-larlie was gettin' with it!

Terra Mediterranean Chips
I saw these chips staring back at me during my twilight grocery run the other night and thought I'd rescue them from the shelf.  When I got home, Steve broke open the bag, and (to my surprise) couldn't believe how good they tasted.  I didn't tell him they were vegetable chips.  If you throw enough fat and salt on a parsnip it magically turns into a potato-chippy tasting thingy. Get some.

Praying for Strangers
Shortly after my engagement to Steve, I was sharing with a very wise priest, during spiritual direction, my enthusiasm over being engaged mingled with the sadness I felt over letting go of my long-held dream of doing mission work overseas.  He encouraged me to live that dream in a different way, by praying every day for those who have no one to pray for them.  When I came across this quote this week, I was reminded of that conversation, and renewed my "missionary" intentions.

Mary on the Donkey
Every mama needs a mantra. Or, two or three. Some days, before the bottle is uncorked or the run is ran it is the means by which I avoid the very near occasion of losing-my-sanity sin. When I feel my temperature rising, I say to myself over and over, "Lord, make me sweet." Or, when I'm super frustrated it's "Lord, make me a saint."  The kids are catching on to my strategy.  The other day, not realizing I had an audience, in a moment of supreme anxiety, I slung out a slew of repetitive shitz. Andrew came over to the dark side, and with a "gotcha!" grin reminded me, "Mom, it's Lord, make me a saint, remember??" {Who needs a conscience when you have a 10 year old saint lurking around??}

But, my all time favorite mantra has to be Mary on the donkey. This one is the focus boss.  It's helped ease my inclination towards complaining and self pity during pregnancies, moving, teaching, sleepless nights, endless days of laundry and cleaning etc., etc. Which one of us has been 9 months preggo, in a dress, carrying the world's saviour (no pressure there) on the back of a bony donkey for 70 miles?


That's right, not you, not me.  Join my mantra movement, and let me know if it helps!

Muscle Shirts
The great thing about having boys is that you don't have to worry (too much) about fashion trends. As long as there's jeans, t-shirts and athletic wear in their drawers, you're good to go.  At least that's what I thought until yesterday when the boys decided it would be cool to sneak my scissors out of the kitchen and get all Project Runway with their shirts.  In case you didn't get the memo, homemade muscle t's, extra jagged, are in.

For many reasons, fall is definitely my favorite time of year.  Football has a lot to do with that, not because I know a lot about the game, but because I love to watch our boys play, I love the fall weather, the food, the intensity, the spirit and getting together with friends to cheer on the Cats. Ben and Andrew's teams are both 2-0, and I have 96 pictures (so far) to prove it.  I will be blogging on that!

Have a great weekend, friends!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Celebrating Henry's 6th Birthday

Last Friday we celebrated our son, Henry's, 6th birthday. For about two weeks leading up to the big celebration, he would come to me, every day, and ask, "How many days until my birthday?" Then, he would run off to share his excitement with his brothers, it didn't matter where we were on the countdown.

With the craziness of the move, the business of school and navigating a new community, I wasn't prepared for Henry's birthday, and didn't know exactly how we would celebrate.  I felt inclined to keep it simple, to keep it small, as we don't really know very many people here yet.  But, Henry had other plans.  

Earlier last week, he and George took off on their bikes without telling me.  They were on a mission to find the perfect birthday party spot.  The moment I realized that they were gone, I bolted out the front door to the car, only to find them cruising up the street toward home on their bikes, grins as wide as the road.

"Mom!! I found it!! I found the perfect place to have my birthday party!! I want to have it in the gazebo at the park.  Ya know why, mom? Because, I have made so many friends since we have moved here, Mom, but I just don't know their names.  If they see me at the park on my birthday they will want to come over and play with me.  Isn't that a great idea, Mom??"

It was a great idea.  No blow up bouncy things, no hours of covering the house in Lego Ninjago decorations, just a simple outdoor get together with a few friends at the park.  Perfect!
Every birthday at our house begins with birthday breakfast.  The tradition is always the same, the honorary son wakes up to a long succession of hugs and shouts of "Happy Birthday!" The breakfast table is covered with gifts carefully chosen and bought by the brothers and a steaming pan of caramel rolls (see the easiest recipe EVER below) made with love by mom.  We look at baby pictures, and share our favorite memories and stories of the birthday boy.  It is truly wonderful, and the children all look forward to it with great enthusiasm.
Ben, Andrew and George gave Henry an army suit and a camo watch, which of course he loved and had to put on right away!
After a morning of school, Steve and I surprised Henry and took him down to the local cafe where his grandparents met us for lunch.  The look in his eyes, the one that radiated "I feel so special" from his overflowing heart, couldn't be missed.  
He smiled ear to ear all through lunch, repeating sweet little "thank-you's" after every gesture of kindness to everyone at the table.
Who better to discuss the fine art of weaponry with than Grandpa Bob?
What's a birthday lunch without some party attire?
Even mom got wrangled into the wildness!
I'm sure the locals didn't notice.  Hello, there, never mind the coo-koo table over here!
When the kind ladies at the cafe found out it was Henry's birthday, they surprised him with a slice of their famous cherry pie, and everyone, strangers included, sang their very best Happy Birthday song to him.

Stuffed with burgers, fries and pie, we all scurried home, the children to play with birthday gifts, and I to assemble the cake, prepare a few last minute details for the park party, and to whip up the requested birthday supper of BBQ meatballs with all the fixins.  I think that PB & J would have suited him just fine, because he hardly touched his supper.  No six year old is interested in BBQ when there's a party to get to!
Every year the boys choose carefully the cake they want me to make for them.  Henry requested a Lego Ninjago cake, which was a bit of a challenge to decorate, but in his eyes, it turned out perfectly fine.  Yay!
With sticky frosting fingers and ice-cream smiles, the kids took over the park, playing football then hide and seek until well after dark.  No one wanted to go home, especially Henry....

Later that night, after everyone was tucked in and sound asleep, Steve and I plopped down on the couch recounting the days' events, our memories brimming with goodness, our hearts filled with gratitude for the precious joy that Henry has been to us.  
I'll never forget the kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament the night before Henry's birth, leaning beside Steve for support, begging the Lord to be merciful, to bless me with a short labor and delivery.  My pregnancy with Henry had a grueling one, and at the end of nine months I possessed little strength and even less confidence that I could endure another lengthy birth process.

Three short hours after the first contraction, I was holding our fourth little blessing in my arms.  The Lord had indeed answered my prayers!  

I recall that memory often, Henry, as I watch you scamper around the house, running as you please from place to place, never walking, preferring to take every step, here and there, with quickness and determination, just the way you came into the world.  I will also remember today, the day you turned six, and the way you took such great delight in everything that this day had to offer, a delight that spilled out with gratitude towards others with a smile that never stopped shining.  

Thank you for giving that to us, to me, especially.  I was able to sit back and truly enjoy all of your uniqueness today, because you allowed me to keep the ceremony simple.  You asked for so very little, I almost felt guilty. But, in the littleness, I wasn't distracted with the assembling of goodie bags, decorating the house with themed decor, making sure the bouncy blow-ups didn't fall flat, that no figity fingers accidentally strayed toward the cake.

We just enjoyed you, Henry James Augustine, and that, my son really is what the celebration of a birth day is all about!!
P.S.  Here's the recipe for the traditional birthday breakfast caramel rolls!
{ Easy Overnight Caramel Rolls }

1. Spray a 9 x 13" pan with cooking spray.
2. Sprinkle 1 cup chopped pecans on the bottom of the pan.
3. Top pecans with 2 dozen frozen rolls (I like Rhodes).
4. Sprinkle with one package of dry butterscotch pudding - the cook type.
5.  Sprinkle rolls with 1 cup brown sugar
6.  Melt 1 stick of butter and drizzle over the top.
7.  Cover with Saran wrap and let rise on the counter overnight.
8.  In the morning bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
9.  Turn rolls over onto a cookie sheet, and scrape out any extra goodies from the bottom of the pan over the top of the rolls.  Serve immediately.  Watch you family or your guests faint!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Fitness Friday ~ My Favorite "No Jillian Michael's" Workouts

Happy Friday, Friends! This week while I was unpacking yet another box, I dug out my stash of exercise videos.  I'll be the first to admit that most of them have only seen the inside of the DVD player once or twice, but there are a few that I've actually *ahem* enjoyed.  What that really means is that I actually completed more than 20 minutes of the workout, and all of my half-assed determination and effort miraculously paid off.

I think it's kind of a travesty that mom's actually need to exercise at all.  Why is it that we can hold our little Buddah-babies all day long and our arms aren't buffity buff? After 5 years of toddler toting my biceps should make Serena Williams cry.  I may feel like I could work the night shift bouncing at the local bar, but unfortunately my un-toned triceps just aren't that intimidating.

Thanks to motherhood, exercise, for me, has evolved into a pure desire for good physical health, stress management, emotional balance and the strength to keep up with the demands of family life rather than a mere desire to be a certain jean size.  Although running is my passion, cross training is an essential element that helps me run stronger and longer.  Since I don't belong to a gym, and at times snow and ice can limit exercise to the indoors, I rely on other resources to get in a good work-out.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to cross-train, the videos that I didn't trash before the move, including the Pilate's DVD that helped me through my 5th pregnancy!
It's true.  I fell into the infomercial trance.  It was the middle of the night, 2 years ago, I was nursing Charlie and trying desperately to stay awake.  The only thing on at 3 a.m. is infomercials. I must say, however, that this system really is awesome.  You get cardio, strength training and core exercise all in one workout - with just an inexpensive 10lb kettle bell and 30 minutes, anyone can do it.  

I've tried all of the Jillian Michael's videos and I must say, I'm not a fan. I don't know about you, but the only way I can survive 20 minutes with her is on mute. When she yells, "I'm going to break you!" I want to yell back, "You're 5 labors and 5 deliveries without drugs too late, honey!" The Kettleworx instructor is positive and encouraging, the music is great and the participants are modestly dressed (for the most part), so I don't have to keep my sons out of the room.

Two years later I still enjoy the exercise and the benefits from Kettleworx.  Even the programs that are specialized for resistance, core, legs etc, give you a good cardio boost.  I highly recommend this series, and you can find it at a super-reasonable price on ebay.
Let me just start by saying that this girl does NOT do yoga.  I know I should, but I just don't want to!  However, when I was marathon training, my lower sacrum was giving me some serious trouble, and dedicating a few minutes each day to do these yoga poses really helped fixe the issue (along with a great chiropractor).  It also helped strengthen my core, and improved my running posture.  If you're a mom, I highly recommend it for lower core strength and toning.
With every pregnancy, I run up to the 6 month mark then switch to walking.  During my last pregnancy, I decided to try a couple of different videos, and this one was definitely my favorite.  I really do believe that exercise during pregnancy helps with labor and delivery endurance and speeds up recovery time!
Sometimes I only have 20 minutes to squeeze in a workout.  With the Sworkit training app on my phone, I can customize a workout that suits my mood or needs for the day.  My favorite is the total body workout.  To amp it up a little, I like to lift weights on the occasional "30 second" interval breaks.  Another nice thing about it is you can do the exercises without equipment and it's like having a personal trainer with you when you travel!
Last fall, my friend, Leah, designed this awesome workout for my readers.  It's been circulating around Pinterest with some great feedback.  If you can complete the exercises without resting between intervals, and maintain a good level of intensity, your effort will really pay off!


More great ideas for Fitness Friday right here!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

5 Things That Don't Collect Dust In My Classroom

Like most homeschool families, my first venture into educating at home began at the kitchen table with a mental list of unrealistic expectations, 1 attention-less Kindergartner and a heaping bucket of craft supplies. While many of you still manage to educate the littles in the same location as the snacks, I had to surrender the dining area a long time ago, due to the high frequency of unnecessary, interrupting trips to the pantry and the fridge by myself and my students (who are always starrrrrrving) and also because grape jelly stains on spelling tests was starting to get a little old.

Thankfully, the last three homes we've nested in have had adequate space for me to set up a more structured place to lead the children through their yearly academic tour.  I'm always arranging, and rearranging, bringing stuff in and tossing stuff out.  But, after seven years of easing into our homeschool groove, I can honestly say that there are five essential elements that I have found to be necessary goods for our classroom.
I snapped this photo just before the daily destruction.  You don't think it always looks this clean, do you??
Side note: This post is one where function clearly trumps design.  Trust me, I'd love to coat that little beige box with a nice light shade of grey and hit it with some aqua and orange accents, whip out some brilliant white built-ins, throw down a fabulous rug and some bean bags.... but I'm still trying to recover from the trauma of renovating our Dolly Parton Steel Magnolia looking master bedroom, a nauseous vision of floral mauve wallpaper, into something my husband wouldn't have nightmares in. However, due to the looming effects of paint fume inhalation and the carpal tunnel in my wrist from scraping off tiny pieces of roses and vines, boring beige will have to due for now.
1. Whiteboard or Chalkboard
Okay, this may seem too basic, but I really do love having a great big whiteboard in our classroom. Not a day goes by that we don't use it. Boys are busy creatures, and when they're given a chance to get up out of their seats to work at the board, it gives them a nice break from the desk.  I have found that it's also perfect for little ones, who are just learning to write, to be able to gain penning confidence by beginning first with exaggerated motions using a colorful chubby marker. 
2.  Proper Seating  
I know that having the proper table height for little learners might seem a little over-the-top, but having that "just right" size table or desk really does help them to stay focused on their work.  When they can rest their busy feet on the floor and sit with good posture, their penmanship and their focus both improve.  
I bought this table years ago from a discount school supply store.  It works over-time as a playtime fort, a puzzle platform and extra meal-time seating during family functions and  social gatherings. The older boys have certainly outgrown it, but have graduated to the next level:
My inspiration for their workstation, which was built by an Amish craftsman, came from Pottery Barn. The P.B. model was perfect but, for us, a big budget breaker. Luckily, I found a gentleman who was willing to build it for me for a fraction of the price.  It doubles as bookshelves (the opposite side is identical to the facing side), and when the school days are done, it will make a great place work on creative projects.
3.  Maps
I love, love, love a beautiful set of maps.  This dual set of World and U.S.A. pull down maps have been a solid investment for our school.  Steve built the frame out of scrap wood pine, then we painted it to give it a bit of polish.  Each week we learn the location of a different country and waterway. I love to enter the classroom and find the boys studying different locations on the maps!
4.  Clock and Calendar
Never underestimate the value of simple basics in the school-room.  As adults we take for granted the ability to tell time and to understand how a calendar works.  For children, repetition and routine are great ways for them to learn life-long concepts.  Every day, we study the calendar, the weather, and the boys use the clock for time management.
5.  Toy and Game Basket
If you've ever tried to teach with a toddler around, you know it can be a challenge ! One tip I love to share is to keep a large basket filled with a variety of toys for toddlers in the classroom.  Every week, change a few things out to keep it fresh.  Using a basket keeps the toys contained, and holds the amount of toys underfoot down to a minimum. We also keep a few learning games, puzzles and manipulatives in clear storage boxes on the lower book shelves, so that they're easily accessible.  Using clear boxes makes it easy for non-readers to see what's inside.  Place a label at the narrow end for big kids, who help with clean-up, to get the objects into their proper place at the end of the day.
Charlie loves to dig into his basket! Thankfully, he's great at entertaining himself! 

Extras: Inspirations
- Words - 
Great quotes have always been an inspiration to me throughout my life.  When I saw this sign in a vintage decor shop, I knew that it would have a permanent place in our schoolroom.  It's the first thing the boys see when they walk in!
- Rewards -
A few weeks ago, Jen at Conversion Diary shared a link to A Philosophy Degree and Fifty Cents blog. While browsing through some back-posts, I found a sweet little tip on giving candy as a reward to your precious Poe's when they recite a poem each week.  The boys all work on poetry memorization throughout the year, but I have never given them a reward for their achievements. I can't wait to see how many stanzas they master this year!

What are your favorite classroom essentials??
Higher expectations for more exciting 5 Faves can be met here

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What I Wore Sunday & Inspiration from Blessed Mother Teresa

Our family loves to celebrate the calendar of saint's feast days throughout the year.  Last week, we spent a little time learning about Blessed Mother Teresa, her life and her ministry as founder of the Missionaries of Charity.
One cannot help but be drawn into the beautiful depths of Mother Teresa's heart.  She spoke with such simplicity on love, suffering, joy and generosity.  And yet, it is the very simplicity of her words that speaks to everyone around the world, resonating with the spirit and joy of the gospel truths. 

Honest words like, "Do small things with great love" have a way of sinking into your soul and bringing a fresh life to what seems to be the most mundane, the most ordinary tasks and moments throughout the day.  And, we can take to heart Mother's words, as she knew, like no one else, how to serve with humility, to serve selflessly, to serve with a most admirable, disinterested love.

Most poignant of all her teachings, however, is that of the beauty of seeing Christ in others. Today after Holy Mass, I was contemplating this very truth, that Christ is within all of us, and that perhaps if I kept that in mind throughout the day, my perspective on motherhood, on being a wife, a friend, even a stranger to others might change for the better.  Instead of seeing a day filled with demands, I see a day filled with opportunities to love.  Instead of just meeting needs I meet people and offer them my love by bending down to tie a shoe for the 100th time, opening a door for another, wiping up an accidental spill, reading the same book to an eager child over and over again.

With this fresh perspective on daily life, the focus is taken off of myself - all the things that I have to do.  Rather, the focus is completely placed upon others and the gift I've been given by God to love and serve those around me. A love and service where there is no need to measure or to count the cost, because, in the end, our Good and Gracious Father in Heaven knows and sees all that we have done.
I've decided to try to begin my day, every day of the week, with these quotes.  These little reminders, nourishing bits of encouragement to keep me on the pathway of love:

I suppose it may seem shallow or vain to be posting fashion pics after pondering the life of Mother Teresa.  But, we must be reminded, sometimes, as wives and mothers seeking holiness, that we have not answered the call to the vocation of sisterhood, we have answered the call to marriage.  Can we live simply? Of course. However, in living simply, let us not diminish the value of the gift of our feminine beauty for our husbands, who are first in the order of charity in our lives.  Allowing a little extra time and attention for our dress and grooming, when offered as a gift to our spouse, is a beautiful act of love.
 Steve bought this dress for me years ago after our son George was born.  We were taking a short cut through JCPenney's at a mall (probably to get to the food court!) when he spotted the dress.  He loved the color and asked if he could buy it for me. Ya'll, know I wasn't going to say no to the dress!
Dress: JCPenney
Shoes: DSW
Necklace: Bling
Bracelets: Cookie Lee

As always, thanks to the ladies at Fine Linen and Purple for hosting!
More lovelies right here!