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Showing posts from December, 2016

Day 366: DEC 31 WE MADE IT!!!!

Poop! This has been sitting in draft since Saturday and I forgot to publish it! Classic! It was a leap year so there's actually 366...

It's day 366! I can't believe it!

I know I fell woefully behind on gratitude posts at some points throughout the year, but I made it! For the few who have been with me since the beginning, thank you!

I am certain that God put this idea and desire in my heart at the end of 2016 because He knew I would need it this year. The grace that has been poured out to me as I contemplate my daily gratitude aided me so greatly in what has been a difficult year in many ways.

Finding a thing, experience, person or song to be grateful for each day has helped me maintain perceptive in trying times, and has definitely enhanced my life in positive ways. I'm not sure where we go from here on ye olde blog. New year, new beginnings! We'll see where the new year takes us.

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Day 365: Gifts Are My Love Language

I know that we celebrate Christmas to rejoice over the birth of a savior, of God coming to earth as man, but the simple fact is, gifts are a part of the celebration. And that's good! One of the ways we express our love for each other and for Jesus is through giving gifts. 
I used to think my love of gifts was because I was the baby of the family, a bit of a spoiled brat, if you will. I delight in both giving and receiving gifts, but I know not everyone does. My delight was validated when I learned about the Five Love Languages. Gifts are a thing, and loving them is legit! 
This year I had fun with much of my shopping, especially a custom necklace I ordered from Etsy for my sister, who is deep into her life as a hockey mom. Imagine my pleasure when I opened my gift from her to find a book-lover's necklace from the same shop! It's been on my Etsy wish list for a while, but so have a million other things and it made me so happy to have (kind of) matching necklaces with my bi…

Day 364: Dec 29

Many families' Christmas celebrations are over, but on the fifth day of Christmas 2016, we are just gearing up for round two. My husband and I are both grateful that we get along with our in-laws so well and look forward to spending time together. I've heard countless stories of visits to in-laws' houses that are less than joyful, and so we know to appreciate the relationships we have with each others' family. 
We're happy to be at grandma and grandpa's, awaiting the last of the cousins. There's snow, footballs, Legos, cookies, movies, sleds, wrestling, lots of old toys, and a fridge full of Bud Light, so we're doing great! Merry Christmas!

Day 363: Feliz Navidad!

On the fourth day of Christmas, we made an 8-hour car trip to our other grandma and grandpa's house. Our kids are pretty good in the car despite not having movies (yes, we are those people). Things got hairy a couple of times, and we spent most of the last 20 miles singing "Feliz Navidad," the Taco John's version."I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart... and from Taco John's."

One kid found it hilarious (as did we) and another kid would have stabbed us had he successfully freed himself from his 5-point car seat harness. Win some lose some.

We are grateful to have made the 415-mile trip safely, and looking forward to spending another weekend celebrating Christmas with family. It is still Christmas, after all!

Day 362: Winter Wonderland

By Tuesday, we'd been dug out by a generous neighbor with a tractor, and the weather had cleared up enough that we the kids could spend considerable time outside. The snow was still too deep and fluffy on our regular snow hill for even the snowmobile to handle, so they moved sledding to the road and it was perfect. 

After non-stop wind and who knows how many inches of snow, Tuesday's weather delighted us. It wasn't windy even out on the lake, which is pretty unusual. Temperatures in the 20s helped, too. 

The snow on the lake was knee deep, too, but that didn't stop anyone from trying their hand at ice fishing. My oldest kid loves fishing, so I was disappointed he didn't catch anything right away on Tuesday. But he'd been out for hours sledding already, so he was pretty tired. He did catch one Wednesday morning.

I've never been considered outdoorsy, or loved winter activities (unless you count reading and knitting on the couch), but even I got out on Tuesda…

Day 361: Grandma Helen

Today would be my grandma Helen's 97th birthday. She was one of the kindest, sweetest, and most generous people I've known. I know everyone says that about their grandma, but I don't know anyone who knew grandma who would disagree. 
I had the privilege of spending a ton of time with grandma growing up, since she lived mere blocks away from me for all my growing up years. We stayed with her when mom and dad were out of town, and spent most holidays in her presence. Her house was my second home, and I was always welcome there. It is such a gift to have a grandparent as part everyday life as a child. I certainly didn't realize how lucky I was to have her so close and so available. I  know she would have done anything for us. 
Grandma taught me to count in Norwegian, which is what she spoke at home in early childhood. The only time we ever heard her swear was when our holiday "nerts" games got heated. She was quiet and softspoken, faithful, and strong. She didn&…

Day 360: Christmas!

It's Christmas! The birth of a savior, God made man, is enough! What a delight and a joy to be able to celebrate it freely!

We are safe and warm at the lake, waiting out the Great Christmas Blizzard of 2016 Which Closed North Dakota. We are together, well-fed, and easily entertained. What a gift!

Day 359: Christmas Eve!

We made it to our destination ahead of the big Christmas storm. Yay! We decided to go to Mass earlier than planned because of the unpredictability of being at the lake during the storm. The music was great an Mass was beautiful, and we're off to a great start! Merry Christmas!

Day 358: My 2017 Reading Goals

I have never planned my reading before, and I know better than to try to tackle a whole bunch of books, or lay out a month-by-month plan. That would mean sure failure, because lots of books will come up throughout the year that shoot right to the top of my list. So I picked eight (but actually 14) from my extensive Pinterest board and semi-committed to them by writing them in my planner. In pencil. I haven't included any audio books, but I have a large Audible wishlist and I'm sure I could find some from my list on audio book at the library. 
Without further ado, here are my book goals for 2017: Little Women - Lousia May Alcott. I had hoped to finish this one in December but I have probably 250 pages left heading into Christmas Eve, so let's be real. I love it, though! The Family That Overtook Christ - M. Raymond. This is the favorite book of my super-holy priest friend and he basically commanded me to read it and assured me it would change my life. So I'm a little ter…

Day 357: Christmas Plans!

Our travel plans for Christmas have changed just a little bit because of forecasted weather. No thank you to a Christmas blizzard!

I'm really grateful that we have the flexibility to change our plans. I'm also grateful that my husband isn't expected to work on Christmas and can take vacation afterward. As a stay-at-home mom, I sometimes forget that not everyone has the schedule flexibility that I do. I'm so grateful that we can change plans and have time to celebrate holidays with our families.

I saw last night that the forecast for Jamestown is 15-20 inches of snow. Yikes! When my husband and I talked about it, we chuckled a little at the fact that we don't have to care, so long as our travel can take place safely. We have no snow clearing responsibilities as apartment dwellers. This means we don't have to rush home to clear a bunch of snow before getting a letter from the city (ask me how I know about this phenomenon). We have arrived home with a carload of…

Day 354: My 2016 Reading List

I started something new (besides ye olde gratitude blog) in 2016 and the end of the year has me wishing I'd always been doing it: keeping track of books I've read.

I've always been a reader, but reading as a hobby became a casualty of parenthood for me. Then, when I became more interested in learning about my faith, I inadvertently stopped reading everything else, feeling like somehow any reading that wasn't furthering my knowledge wasn't useful. I'm glad that time has passed!

I follow a couple of bookish bloggers (namely Haley and Christy) who inspired me to actually keep track of what I read. It's nice for me as a stay-at-home mom to see something I've accomplished and completed, since so much of my work really never gets completely finished. My list has been a great tool for me to recommend books to others or to help me remember authors I'd like to read more of.

One of my resolutions, if you will, for 2016 was to read more. I didn't really s…

Day 356: Outside!

We survived our first polar vortex, or whatever the h*** it was that kept our temps below zero for the first real week of winter. The boys were just d y i n g to get outside to play, and this weeks temperatures were in the 20s and 30s, which is prime outside playing weather.

They've been working on this little fort for 3 days now, for a half hour to an hour a day. The oldest kid is definitely the ring leader in most of what happens here and this is no exception. This choleric kid evaluates quickly, makes a plan, and gets after it. Often, that tendency drives me crazy, but here, I really got to see it work for good. He has a fantastic work ethic, especially if the idea is his idea or something he cares about. He six, so his planning and engineering leave a little to be desired, but his commitment does not. I really enjoy watching him blossom in this way. 
I was also afraid we wouldn't really be able to play outside at the apartment, but it's been fine so far. The space bet…

Day 355: Grandma Bess

December 20th is the anniversary of my beloved Grandma Bess's death, and this year marks 10 years since she passed. I can hardly believe it's been that long. I remember the day vividly (especially that part where I was crying on my way home from work and almost caused a crash). Having celebrated her 95th birthday three months earlier, her death didn't come as a surprise to any of us, but that doesn't make suffering a loss like that any easier. 
I like to think Grandma and I were kindred spirits. I know she had a unique relationship with each of her 16 grandkids, but as the youngest one who lived close enough to visit often, she and I shared a closeness that made me feel so special. I spent more time with my other grandma, and love her so dearly as well, but I felt a different and special bond with Grandma Bess. 
We shared a love of reading and I delighted in her storytelling. She was the Stanley Public Library's librarian from as early as I remember and some of my…

Day 350: Drinks!

I'm so far behind in my posts that I accidentally posted Thursdays thing for Friday. So day 350 gratitude is actually from day 351. It's my blog and I'll post how I want to, which is mostly tired.

Friday I met a new friend for drinks and had such a great time. I have mentioned my introverted temperament, which doesn't always bode well for someone in a new town! Meeting new people and forming connections isn't easy for me. I'm sure I've posted before about meeting some nice moms at the local family play area we frequent on Wednesday mornings. That seems to be my best bet for finding "my people" here. I do miss my Fargo friends so much, and so forming new friendships here gives me hope!

It's rare to have a night out since we've been here, and this week I got two! I'm so grateful for each of them in different ways.

Day 353: A Portrait

Here's a photo of me, taken by an uninterested 6-year-old boy before Mass. I was showing of my new LulaRoe maxi skirt that I won from my sweet friend Kari* during her 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. Yay! She picked a pattern I like and that matched a couple of tops already in my closet. I love getting packages like that in the mail! I have to say, I'm really pleased with all the LulaRoe pieces I have in my closet (which is 5). It's legit!

I'm also wearing one of my new Noonday Collection necklaces. I hemmed and hawed between this one and one that seemed more practical, and I'm so glad I went with this one. I've worn it three times already and it's turning out to be more versatile than I expected. I'm really excited about the Noonday Collection and I'm so glad my dear friend is an ambassador. I'd be happy to hook you up if you're interested in anything! Everything is unique and handcrafted and just beautiful!

It may seem a little vain or sill…

Day 351: Ack! A Filthy Goblin

Have you heard of this great book by Ben Hatke?

If you're looking for a great gift or a new children's book for your library, check out this one. Nobody Likes A Goblin is an adorable new addition to our ever-growing library. St. Nicholas brought it for the 2-year-old and he loves it. He's obsessed, and makes all of us read it to him multiple times a day. The illustrations are fantastically enchanting, and the story is cute. It was recommended by a couple bloggers whose opinions I trust and they did not disappoint.

It's fun to see what things different kids like and wonder why they take to certain things over others. He delights in this book and so it was $12 well spent. By St. Nicholas, of course.

Day 352: Kindle Deal Alert!

Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts is on sale (kindle version) for $3 today! Check it out here. It's the book that is partially responsible for inspiring my year of gratitude project!

Great day today with our favorite couple friends and a visit to our beloved old parish in Moorhead. We are cozy warm in our apartment now and waiting out the negative temps with a movie night!

Day 348: Little Women

I'm rereading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women right now. I was inspired by this podcast (and this one) to revisit a book I know I read at least once or twice as a girl, but haven't thought about in years. I've been carrying around an old copy from my beloved bookish grandmother, and I finally decided to crack it open. I remembered the basic premise, but almost none of the details and I'm finding it to be delightful. As in, I am delighted each night when I read a chapter before bed. 
I particularly love this little passage, when Mrs. March is talking about the girls' father being gone to war, and how she has the strength to withstand the difficult times: 
"If I don't seem to need help, it is because I have a better friend, even than father, to comfort and sustain me. My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heave…

Day 347: Healing

My Monday gratitude has no accompanying photo.

It had been one full week since I was a total idiot and sliced my finger cutting a bagel. Apparently I can't use knives and also talk to the kids at the same time. So I had spent a whole week suffering with a fairly sizable cut on my right middle finger. I realize that a cut on the top third of a finger is NOT huge suffering that I'm not capable of handling.

But it's one of those "don't know what you've got till it's gone" moments for me. Do you realize how much you use each finger? You do not. I could hardly wash my hair, and trying to hold a kid's hand while carrying a ton of groceries up to the third floor became almost impossible. So stupid. Every time it hurt doing some mundane chore, I was so angry at myself for being negligent and letting that injury happen in the first place.

So anyway, on Monday it finally felt mostly better and I can do regular things without wincing in pain or checking for …

Day 349: A Magical Medora Christmas!

We went out! We found a new babysitter who is super sweet and saw the Magical Medora Christmas show at the University of Jamestown tonight. It was kitschy and old fashioned and wonderful. I'm so glad we went! 
The date was a little spur-of-the-moment and I was real grumpy earlier today, so I'm surprised I even tried. But I'm so glad I did! We had a great time. I'm sure the big boys would have loved it, but after this long week (is it really only Wednesday?) we needed a night of someone else putting them to bed.
I cried when they honored the veterans halfway through, and my favorite part was near the end when they did Badlands Hallelujah with steel guitar and beautiful Medora scenic photographs on the screen. You should know by now that one of the quickest ways to my cold, hard heart is through the steel guitar. All the heart emojis. 
A date AND I'm ready for bed by 10:15. Boom!

Day 346: My Anti-sloth Remedy

I am really perfecting the art of the Lazy Sunday. Killing it, really.

But my spouse had to lie down with the maniac toddler to get him to nap on Sunday (and he deserved a nap anyway), so I went against my typical lazy tendencies and took the big boys outside. Apparently it was super duper cold (like 1 degree Fahrenheit) but it didn't feel that bad out of the wind. The littlest big boy lasted 40 minutes before he fell victim to the cold and warmed up in the entryway. I'm not sure the biggest one could ever actually get cold, but we went in after 53 minutes. .

And I didn't hate it! Playing isn't really my thang, especially when that playing involves many layers and constant snot dripping out of all the noses, mine included. But we climbed the big plow hills and made a couple snowmen, thanks to the pre-made chunks of snow on said plow hills. I pulled them around in their sleds, and had way more fun than I expected.

It's really a good thing I have children who sometim…

Day 345: Cable

We had company this weekend, so I didn't spend a ton of time behind ye olde laptop screen.

On Saturday, we all ventured down to our building's community room where there is cable. I haven't missed cable too much since we got rid of it something like 3 years ago. The main exception, though, is sports. We love watching sports, from the North Dakota high school tournaments to Olympics to football on the weekends. We didn't even know about the community room until Halloween, and my father-in-law tried the TV after many boring hours in our apartment and found channels, namely ESPN. We got to watch our beloved NDSU Bison whoop up on the SDSU Jackrabbits, and we had a pizza party. Whoop!

(No pictures, which usually means it really was a good day!)

Day 343: Beauty

At mass Thursday for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, I noticed right away that Monsignor Wald had on beautiful vestments. His chasuble (I think) was a brilliant white and it had black trim with gold accents. On the back was a beautiful picture of Mary with Baby Jesus.

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite podcasts is the Pilgrimage to Beauty one where the good fathers discuss leading people to God through beauty. For funny stories and more profound thoughts, listen to that.

I don't have too much to say on it except those vestments made me think about how much beauty I miss in everyday life. There are so many things that are so simple and common but also beautiful, and how often do I fail to see them? Part of the reason I committed to posting on a gratitude blog was to open my eyes to things like that, small and beautiful things to notice and be grateful for.

Day 344: Got a New Bracelet, Y'all!

I've been waiting all this blizzardy week for a special package of Noonday Collection items I ordered in their fantastic Hello Holiday Black Friday sale. They came today! I can't show all of them because some are gifts, but this is the thing I ordered for myself, and it's making me so happy today! Heart eyes!

Day 342: A Blizzardy Mercy

Back when I heard Msgr. Thomas Richter speak on mercy, one of the things that immediately stuck with me was that he said in order to experience God's mercy, we have to believe that God desires to show us mercy in real and tangible ways each day.

I thought of that often Tuesday. The snow day didn't go quite as I had planned, because after I published my update with hopes of hitting my to do list, I developed a migraine-like headache - the sensitivity to light and sound, the nausea, and a wicked earache on both sides. So from noon on, I was in my dark bedroom just trying to make the hours pass.

I thought several times how merciful it was of God to let this misery befall me on a snow day where I didn't have to shuttle people to and from school and when my husband was home to run the show. I do not know how I'd have made it through the day without him. Even speaking short sentences or sending him a text to bring me something made my head explode. It's only through God&…

Day 339: Lazy Sunday

I had the. laziest. Sunday. 
I barely moved from the couch. I knitted most of the day. The hat pictured was finished a couple days prior, but I almost finished a similar one in gray on Sunday. Football, knitting, couching, winning.

Day 340: Winter Wonderland

On Monday, we had our first measurable snow. The boys were beside themselves when it started snowing on our way home from school. It was coming down pretty hard, so after a quick snack we bundled up to head outside. At that time, it was the fluffy, pretty, gentle snow, but it accumulated fast. We were out for about an hour and we didn't even get too cold! Not even the toddler. The big boys shoveled most of the way around the building, and the toddler jumped off the curb into the snow for about 30 minutes straight. I didn't hate it!
I got to thinking, as they literally frolicked out the door, about wonder. When do we lose our sense of wonder? The kids seem to get so excited over things we don't notice, or maybe even roll our eyes at. I look at snow and I think of dangerous driving, and shoveling, and bundling people up, and trying to buckle car seats with coats on. They think: "SNOW!!!" They even made up a little chant about shoveling, and were just laughing almo…

Day 341: Snow Day

It's a snow day! No school! No work! No problems! I think that's how it goes, right? 
I'm not a huge fan of winter weather, but I am kind of glad we had a snow day. I've picked up the family cold and I'm feeling pretty miserable. Dad is home to help manage the kids. Praised be the Lord for that! They always want to eat. All the time. 
So far they bundled up and shoveled outside for 4 minutes, argued for 2 hours, played 3 games of Trouble, watched a St. Nicholas movie, and watched the tractor plowing snow outside. And it's only 10:40. 
I already caught up on some paperwork I needed to do, and am hoping I can pry my eyes open for a few more hours and get a few things done while my husband is here. And then we nap.

Day 337: Adventing

I can't say much about yesterday except that I took cranky to new levels. I did not win Advent yesterday, but I did listen to a couple of Advent podcasts this week that I wanted to share.

The Art of Simple - Episode 49: Guilt-free Holidays

Tsh gives a simple explanation of a few Adventy things, like St. Nicholas Day, the 12 Days of Christmas, and gives a peek into what her family does for Advent. I love hearing what different families do to celebrate the liturgical year. 

Fountains of Carrots - Episode 56: Advent Low Down

The main thing I took from this was the idea one of them had to not multi-task for Advent. To just do the thing you are doing, and be present there. I am so bad sometimes about putting all my focus on productivity. Can I knit or clean pictures off my phone or make a grocery list while also playing a game with the kids? Can I Christmas shop online while we are eating lunch? Can I answer emails and texts while finishing up my Christmas cards? I have pondered the diff…

Day 338: Library Love

How cute are these two little reindeer? The boys made them at the public library's free craft today. I am loving our local library more and more. The librarians are friendly and helpful, and the little boys love story time there. We do miss our old library's wiggle room, but we've spent at least a couple of hours at the new one every week lately and I'm so grateful for it. 
We stopped for coffee (hot chocolate for the guys) afterward, so that boosted my mood some, too. Counting the Christmas cookies and samples we got at the grocery store, the day ended up not being as bad as I'd expected. I'll take what I can get! 
Aside: I got to thinking today after our library visit how enthralled I am with libraries in general. Collections of books. Information. I love to just browse. I love the smell of books (you won't get that unless you're a book nerd, sorry). I think I inherited a softspot for libraries because my beloved Grandma Bess was the librarian of her…

Day 332:Doc & Ellie

Sunday. I know, it was almost a week ago. Tonight is the night I catch up! For real!

Sunday we made a quick stop at the assisted living where Ben's grandma lives on our way out of town. Not only did we get to have a quick visit with great-grandma, but we also got to stop and see an old friend of Ben's.

Doc and Ellie are probably in their late 80s or early 90s, based on the fact that they were retired when Ben worked for them in high school. They recently moved into Edgewood Vista and we stopped to see them. The were the absolute cutest. Ellie took us in and treated the boys like they were her own kids or grandkids. She shared toys, candy, pictures and stories with us. And Doc was the absolute sweetest. I wanted to hug him all day. They delighted in our visit and we promised them we'd return.

It only took a few minutes' visit to brighten both their day and ours, and the visit served as a necessary reminder to me of how easy it is to make a difference to someone, and how…

Day 331: Saturday

More of the same on Saturday. The small business shopping (only one thing ordered from this Etsy shop and a failed attempt in yarn shopping at a local Ben Franklin). The loud cousins. The MVP dads taking kids to the hunting shack again. All wins!

I did finish my mom's annual photo book. (Don't worry. I don't think she reads this, and if she does, she knows to expect that gift every year anyway.) I complain about the project sometimes, because it's overwhelming to weed through a year's worth of pictures for three families and put them into some semblance of order. But it's actually a fun project and I enjoy it once I get going. I'm always excited to see the finished project.

Day 330: Black Friday

It's been almost a week, and so I probably don't have a lot of profound things to say about the day we affectionately call Black Friday.

The cousins arrived at Grandma's. All the joy. All the yelling. All the running.

The dads took them out to the hunting shack, so basically they were all the MVPs of the day. The rest of us sat in front of screens doing all the Black Friday shopping and photo book-making. I didn't get a ton of stuff, but ordered my nephew's gift (excellent deals at and some much-needed clothes for the boys. It was a nice, relaxing day, which is what the day after Thanksgiving really should be.

Day 336: Heated Seats

Hey hey! Heated leather seats for the win!

It's not even cold yet, by North Dakota winter standards. It's been hovering around 30 here, but I am already sick of cold. I do lots and lots of buckling and unbuckling and loading and unloading, having 3 car-seat-sized kids in a third-floor apartment. Me thinks it's going to be a long winter.

I've lived about 18 of my 20 years of driving (20, whaaaaa?) without autostart, and I think I can still manage. However, my last two cars have had heated seats and it's such a nice treat. I will not take them for granted.