Friday, December 16, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

PHFR ~ { heart decorations }

{ pretty real }

As a child, my sisters and I would traipse out to the Christmas tree farm and help my dad choose "just the tree". We had an older home with lovely high ceilings, but one year, we bought a tree that needed to be "trimmed" by about 4 feet. Tom and I have taken the tradition of a real tree and made it our own. I just adore its scent, and was even crazy brave enough to put it in our family room where we can enjoy it every day. Luckily, Max has been "gentle" with the tree.

{ happy }

I love our mantle-scape.  Pulling out these pictures every year just makes me smile. And remember. In the first, Joe at age 4 reading a book during a photo session. He always reads, so it was a perfect picture that captures him. In the second picture, a very skinny me with my college roomie Kristie. I miss her terribly, but love this one of us. Finally, the last picture shows Joe as a baby in a Santa hat, next to a very young Tom and I during our college days. Sweet times. Sweet memories. Happiness.

{ funny }

This reads, "First Christmas Together 1995" and it's funny to think about what I thought my life would be like. :)  I LOVE my life, but I have enjoyed watching it unfold as a surprising present much more than if I had been able to script it all. And under those two little mice? Can you see it? It's a bright ornament that says....HOPE. Indeed.

{ real }

This is what I mean about "scripting" your life.
You know how you always believe that your children are going to see Santa every year? And that they will love it? Well. This is the ONLY picture that I have of Joe with Santa. It was the year that he went with his cousin, Nicole, to "help her be brave". Hmm. I truly believe that Santa's "real-ness" was just overwhelming for him. And even though we don't have a mantle full of Santa pictures, my heart is full of Christmases past, and the hope of many more to come.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent and Christmas Story time Treasures....

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love of reading. My sisters and I couldn't sleep if mom or dad hadn't come in and read to us, followed by pleas of "Just ONE more?". 

And Christmastime? Well. It provided for even more snuggle-time and fabulous stories. Stories about angels, trees, and Jesus....

Here are some of my family's favorites. (Just click on the link for more information.):

Picture Books/Books for little ones:

Who Is Coming to Our House?
B Is for Bethlehem:  A Christmas Alphabet Board BookChristmas in the Barn


The Crippled LambBear Stays Up for ChristmasOlive, the Other Reindeer

Beloved Storybooks

The Small OneThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey with CD: Gift Edition

The Legend of the Candy Cane

A Wish to Be a Christmas TreeA Christmas Carol

Stories of the Child Jesus from Many LandsThe Snow GooseThe Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images

And finally, no Christmas story-time would be complete without a complete reading of:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever [BEST XMAS PAGEANT EVER] [Mass Market Paperback]

This book is full of heart, and reminds us all that Jesus is the perfect gift for matter who they are or where they come from. 

SO snuggle up with a wonderful story and create some special memories...

Joyfully linking here with Jessica and her Favorite Advent and Christmas books link-up

Thursday, December 8, 2011

PHFR ~ { life }

{ pretty }

Fragrant greenery, candles aglow, chicken soup, cheddar biscuits, wine, Magnifikid, Advent with the Saints.....all make for a pretty winter table.

{ happy }

My lovely Christmas cactus in bloom. This makes me happy since it is an off-shoot from my Grandma Krystofik's plant. She passed away on Christmas Day in 1996, and I miss her so. But traditions and family and memories....beautiful.

{ funny }

So I'm thinking that I need to actually strap Max in?! oops.
He was DONE with his breakfast. There is no arguing that.

{ real }

Oh how this makes growing up seem so... real. While I am excited that Max is reaching milestones, I just cannot believe that he is old enough to drink from a cup with no lid and also feed himself. (I miss my baby already.)

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round button chicken

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Rose {Wordful Wednesday}

It's been a rough week. 

I ADORE spending time with my husband, and he has not made it home before 8pm any night this week and it feels as if I am spinning in circles. I have truly missed him, and our talks. Looking at each other over the oatmeal this morning, and as I was helping Joe with his backpack and as the baby clung to him...we had to laugh. We have ever so much to be thankful for, yes, but oh, time, how it sometimes rushes past. Life is so very precious.

As I helped everyone to the car, and pulled the crying baby away from his daddy (the baby who was reaching for him and blowing kisses at the same time).... I turned and saw this:

My eyes and heart filled as I looked to the heavens and just... breathed. I took a deep breath for the first time in DAYS, and it felt so good. Here, indeed is that "Shower of Roses" that St. Therese talks about. 

Here is the promise made to Juan Diego (Feast day December 9th) all those years ago in Mexico, and the reason that we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th.
Do you see the bud above the one in bloom? Amazing.

And oh. 
Today is the Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and tomorrow, we will gather at Mass in remembrance of her. Mary. The mother of Jesus.

So often, Mary is presented as a queen, a royal. But I must say that my favorite image of her is that of a mother. She, too, knew what it was like to have a laboring husband, and a child to care for. Cleaning, praying, cooking, loving.... Life.

As I go about my day today, I will remember this beautiful gift of a rose in early December. The one that reminds me that when work gets crazy, the house messiness never seems to disappear, babies cry, and time seems to drift away... beauty happens. Love happens. Miracles happen.

Blessed Vigil to you.....

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Preparing the way....

Prepare Ye, the Way of the Lord...
Prepare Ye, the Way of the Lord!

As I got down the Christmas boxes full of treasures and lights, Joe asked if he could set up the Nativity set again this year. This just touches my heart because he has been doing this for several years. And once he learned all about Epiphany, he takes special care to put the Magi on their "journey".

This year, we have a new piano, and it has become one of his favorite spots in the house. 
 Before I knew it, Mary, Joseph, the shepherd boy, and animals were being carefully arranged on top. ("Away from Max, mama.")  

"Joseph talking with a sheep."
When I asked him about the arrangement, he pointed to the piano bench and said, "Those three Magi there, well, they have a LONG way to go yet. See them talking? I bet they're arguing about which way to go..."

And as I thought about it, I began to wonder about that. As much as I take the time to pray and notice the beauty around me....I have NOT been good about calming myself down, and in fact, have been a bit short with my family. For what reason? Stress? I don't know.....but I am shamed by it. It's not who I strive to be. 

I am often unsure about the direction that I am headed in, when really, I should just be focusing on that Advent wreath with the tiny creche in the middle. The creche that is waiting for the Christ child. Like my heart is waiting for the Christ child.

We are enjoying reading about the saints, and walking with them on this Advent journey, using this little book:

Praying today, on this feast day of St. Nicholas, that the busyness of the season will not get the better of me....  

I love this quote for today:

"Advent is a time to expect God's intervention in our lives. It may be dramatic, or - more typically - quiet and perhaps not immediately evident. God may even use a bit of stealth, as the legendary Nicholas did, to gift us. May we keep the windows of our heart open!"

May you be gifted with love and unexpected joys this day! Peace.....

Joyfully sharing here today:
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Swing Time of Life

Is it just me? Do you find that swinging makes you feel dizzy?
  And does it then make your heart feel just a little bit sad? 

One of my very favorite past times was to "go swinging" with my sisters. We would try to go as high as we could and touch the very clouds. (For me, I secretly hoped that I could get Grandpa to reach down and say hello....maybe just ONCE.) 

I remember the metal swing set that my dad put in with the help of friends. It was PAINFUL to wait for the concrete to set up! It came complete with rings and a trapeze, because, well, we WERE going to be gymnasts like Mary Lou Retton after all. (I am sure that in today's world, it would be considered entirely too dangerous, just like merry-go-rounds and slides.... SIGH. Really?)

Lance wanting to "ride a horse".
And then. Well. Then we would lay back and come swooshing toward the ground and yet somehow be stopped from banging our heads at the very last moment. Laughing and giggling and feeling the wind on our faces remains one of my favorite memories. Lying on our stomachs, then, and hanging our heads down until we were so dizzy that we collapsed on the ground.
As I looked at the pictures that I took over the Thanksgiving weekend, I realized that almost three quarters of them are of kids in swings. The laughing-silly-rush-of-life smiles just make my heart melt. 
Lucy said, "WOW. I really am a little big!"
So why is it that I was drawn to this? 
Was it the feeling of freedom that comes with it? 
The memory of easier times? 
The sheer look of joy on their faces. 
Maybe that and so much more.... because then there was this:

As I was fitting Max into his seat, I look over, and there is Lucy and my mom, Nana, swinging together. Attempting to get comfortable on a small piece of rubber swing... My heart swelled to see my niece and my mom being so silly. It made me remember doing the same thing with her when I was a kid. 

And then it hit me. It really wasn't about being comfortable on that swing. 

It was about just being together. Just being. Being together.

So that's it! Swinging in and of itself was fun. Yes. But not just that. It was because I never really went swinging by myself. 
I was with my sisters. 
...with Carol and her sisters
Or.... mom or dad. Someone shared the experience. They made it richer by being present.

As I walk on this crazy-twisted journey of life, and occasionally hit the pitfalls and dizzy spells, I realize how lucky I am to have some very special companions on the journey. 

Companions who help me to look toward heaven in new and exciting ways. Who help me recognize that life, and indeed my very faith, with its ups and downs and sideways moves is so much better....together. 

(So who wants to go swing?)

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