Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I am about to share with you the BEST salsa recipe. Best. Ever. I gave batches of this along with some chips and cute chip and dip servers for teacher gifts. You can adjust the heat of this salsa and if you have an aversion to cilantro (not this girl! I LOVE IT), feel free to leave it out. 

Serve with warm tortilla chips (and a margarita). This is best served the next day...something magical happens overnight in the fridge.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Duke Gardens

Yesterday the kids and I met our friends Amy and Luke at Duke Gardens. This is a spectacular place with blooms, fountains, trails, and ducks everywhere. The kids got to run wild and we got to visit. It was especially good to see them because they moved from our street to over an hour away (Duke Gardens was almost the midway point for both of us to meet).  It was great to catch up, have a picnic, and enjoy the sights. Thanks for meeting us guys!

Friday, May 20, 2011


I have summer fever. I am ready for the kids to finish up the preschool year and be home with me every day. I am going to soak up every last ounce of summer this year as it is the last summer break before I lose Caroline to "real school" but while I am looking forward to summer, I do realize I need some structure. I need a plan! I figured the best way to ensure some structure to our day was to basically make "lesson plans" (teacher friends, does that strike fear in your hearts?). I also made a hefty trip to Target and the Dollar Tree for some fabulous finds. Look at all of the goodies I found (and I spent less than $30 on everything, although the games we already had)!
My basic strategy for this summer will be time at the pool in the morning 4 days a week (weather permitting) and the farmer's market 1 morning a week. After an early lunch, we will spend some time at the table working on "skills". Caroline loves workbooks and writing, so I have lots of writing paper and booklets for her. I have flash cards and alphabet workbooks for the twins. We are going to focus on three or so letters and numbers a week and make a craft (magazine collages, color pages, painting with the easel) and kitchen project (rice krispie treats, cookies, sandwiches with the cookie cutters) using the letters and numbers for the week. It will help the twins recognize the letters and Caroline can fine tune her writing of them. We will also play a game or two after nap time. My kids are really into these kinds of activities, which is why I am going to focus our time here (your kids might not like any of this, and forcing them wouldn't be any fun for your summer!). I am also going to limit my computer time to morning coffee and after bedtime so that I can "present" in this time with them. What are your summer plans and goals? Send me your ideas!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

raise 'em right...

I tried to post on the topic of marriage last week and chickened out...it wasn't the right time for me and I hadn't finished formulating my thoughts. My parents have been married for 33 years and at times it was rocky and hard. They separated at one point and weren't sure that they would make it, but they worked at it and are happily still together today. The message that gave me was that it isn't always pretty, but you keep working at it. There is a commitment and it is everlasting. When I met Matthew, I knew his parents were also still married (a fact that both of our parents were still married to their original spouse surprised us at the time) so he too was given a model of what marriage can and should be. Both sets of our parents are happy and very much in love, however, there have been trial and tests along the way.
Around the time I was getting out of college, wedding fever was everywhere. I was in five weddings (five bridesmaid's dresses. all periwinkle blue. the bridesmaid's dresses for my wedding? yep. periwinkle). With time, distance, and life coming as it does, I have lost touch with some of these friends. Over the last few weeks, I have heard that two of these unions have dissolved. This saddens me terribly to think that the love and excitement I witnessed as the two became one have given up or hurt each other beyond repair. Marriage is hard and I don't know the specifics on these relationships; I don't know the reasons they have for choosing divorce. I have also been struggling as I watch some close family friends deal with some marriage difficulties. The outcome here is not clear, but I pray that the family can be saved (I am not preaching, I promise. It goes without saying that some marriages cannot be saved. Those that are abusive or when one of the parties isn't commited are harmful and should be dissolved or annulled). 

{while I was inside taking pictures of Sam, this is what the girls were doing this...}

I think all of this has made me grow in my own faith in some very profound ways. I believe now more than ever in the sacrament of marriage. I also believe that my husband is also steadfast in his beliefs in the commitment and sacrament of our marriage (rest assured, I have grilled him about it). These situations have opened a dialogue about our feelings on all of it. It has given me cause to pray, really pray, for the involved families and for the protection of my own. I am also more thankful now than ever for the way my in-laws instilled family values, boundaries, and morals into their children. I am so proud of the man that Matthew is and am so glad that his parents modeled marriage the way that they have.
 So...all of this is to say that the pressure is on. As a parent, I already felt the pressure to get the alphabet down pat, to instill a love of reading, to illustrate kindness and patience, to work on math skills, and to give them a strong moral compass...but now I realize that I have so much more than that to do! The way that my husband and I handle conflict and disagreements as well as protect and nurture our own marriage is how we model family and marriage for our own children.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


To nap or not to nap...that is the question. The kids were playing nicely, so I thought I'd let nap slide and see what happened. Right before dinner, I heard some snoring and found my little guy asleep on the sofa. The picture was snapped with my phone camera and not a great one, but I think he looks so very sweet.

the best accessories...

I was talking with my mother in law last night about people of faith keeping their faith visible. How important it is for us to remind ourselves and those we know that we ARE a people of faith and how symbols remind us of that. Just as a wedding band is a symbol of love and fidelity, crosses, crucifixes, scripture quotes, and other visible symbols of Christianity in our houses and on our bodies hold us to our beliefs. 

On March 6, My mother in law, sister in law, Mom, and I were in NYC on our girl's trip. One of the readings while we were in mass was:

Moses told the people,
“Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.
Bind them at your wrist as a sign,
and let them be a pendant on your forehead.
“I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse:
a blessing for obeying the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today;
a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
but turn aside from the way I ordain for you today,
to follow other gods, whom you have not known.”

Doesn't it sound like Moses was trying to get his people to show their faith visibly? One of M's friends said, "You Catholics have the best accessories...". I love that line (although, every Christian should and can accssorize). 

My Dayspring giveaway and review gave me the chance to get another little reminder of faith in my house and for that of one lucky winner. The winner of the giveaway gift certificate is:
Amy, comment 2
congrats Amy! I will send you the code so you can start shopping

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

As for me and my house...

...but as for me and my household we will serve the Lord ---- Joshua 24:15
How are setting up your house to serve? Now that our children and exiting babyhood (ouch...that stings a wee bit) and entering "childhood", it is important to us to make sure we are modeling our faith. We are making it an effort to pray at meal times, talk about our faith, go to Church, and be more involved in our Church community. We monitor what the kids have access to on television, think about the kinds of books and magazines we have lying around, and the kind of language we use. I want our home to reflect our faith and beliefs.  We want our children to grow up with prayer and faith being a habit and a comfort to them.  

This explains why I was OVER THE MOON when Dayspring (one of my favorite go-to places for gift giving) offered me this frame to review (the frame was given freely from them, the opinion is my own). There are so many gift giving options and sweet picture frames right now that I would love to get (and until last month, this frame was #1 on my wish list and now I have it!). What is your favorite item on Dayspring right now? Not only has Dayspring given me a gift, but they are going to give a gift to one of my followers too! If you follow the blog, leave me a note telling me what your favorite item is on the Dayspring site and I will announce the winner of a $20 gift certificate (winner pays all shipping) in one week (May 17)...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mr. Jim and his band of pirates

I have said it many, many times before, but our preschool and Church (they are on the same campus) are real gifts. We have met amazing friends through our time with the St. Francis Preschool and love it when they have family events. This past Friday night, our school's music teacher and his band of pirates hosted a concert. The kids had a ball running around the courtyard and the parents actually got to visit. The music was awesome and we had a blast! It was wonderful to see Caroline get out there and dance (she did all the moves and sang quite a bit too!). Afterwards, we all followed the Lopez family home for a fire-pit party and s'mores (thanks guys!)! We love these sweet friends of ours and are so thankful for the school that allowed us all to meet!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Matthew and the kids treated me to breakfast (Dunkin' Donuts....you might not know this, but they happen to be my FAVORITE treat) and coffee (Dunkin' Donuts...you might not know this, but it happens to be my FAVORITE coffee), well behavededness at Church, grocery shopping at Target as a family, and lunch together. Upon getting home from our day, we saw the first of our caterpillars (Pillars as Sam calls them) had broken out of its cocoon and was flapping its beautiful wings. This project was a birthday gift to the twins from our sweet friends the Lexas. It has been so neat to watch these caterpillars grow, build a cocoon, and now emerge into butterflys! What a neat event to happen on Mother's Day and on a weekend where we all got to enjoy them.

Motherhood is FAR from easy and there are days that I feel like I am floundering in it, but it is one of God's truest and best gifts. Out of all of the women in the world, he gave these THREE to ME?! I am beyond thankful and in awe.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


A couple of months ago, I changed the blog address and name. This new one fits well, but now when you try to add this new one to your blogroll, the old one pops up in its place. I have messed and played all morning and cannot fix this...I know several of you have tried and also come away without a solution...does anyone have any ideas? I deleted the old blog this morning and hope that will help. Please send me a message if you can think of something that might work...thank you.  IT IS FIXED! Thanks to Amy Williams and Kristen (of Dine and Dish) for offering suggestions and Jenn Lopez for testing it out and letting me know!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

reality show

"Don't you want a happy family?" I said in a voice that was near a yell and was quite certainly shrill. Two bowls of spilled cereal and milk, milk all over school clothes, three arguments that became physical (between the three kids), meltdown over what was going to school for show-and-tell (between the girls), breakdowns over finding shoes (Emma Kate and Sam), and a fight over who was going to buckle who in the car were the main reasons I uttered those words this morning. Before the clock even read 8:00 am. I post this list of events not to complain, but to show that we are just an average family trying to do better (be more patient, show more love, exercise more faith). Sometimes when you read blogs, you only see the rosy picture and the grass that is certainly greener. There is a fine line I walk between keeping a positive tone on the blog and showing our "reality"...no one wants to read a litany of complaints day in and day out nor would anyone appreciate bragging about how happy and perfect we constantly we are (ha! good one, right?!). The truth is, I have a great family; my husband is involved and patient, my kids are bright and funny, we have a warm house, our needs are met, and we often have enough for the wants. We also have loud kids who run in the house, spill cereal, talk back, make a mess in every room in the house, and exhaust any patience I might awaken with. This is my journey, my reality, and my blessing. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Our little bird is now 5. It is exciting for her; bittersweet for me. We had presents, cake, silliness, and laughter...all in all, a good day. I hope Caroline will think back on it as a great birthday. 

Happy Birthday Coco...I LOVE you BIG!