Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Here is a much needed dose of John's cuteness:

Sometimes he insists on lugging my purse around - what a gentleman!

Huckleberry Picking 2010

We had a truly wonderful time on our third annual huckleberry picking trip.  It is our third year going as a married couple, but the St.Hilaire family has been going for over half a century! All my worries about camping with a toddler were for naught (see my own tips below). We drove down to the Mount Adams vicinity last Monday, picked berries all day Tuesday and headed home Wednesday morning. I was looking forward to this trip all summer and now I am sad that it has come and gone.

I think it was a great success! We picked four pies-worth of berries, which is really good, considering we were toting along our wee-one. Last year we picked only three pies-worth, but we went home with five because Mom and Dad St.Hilaire generously donated two. So this year wasn't too shabby in comparison!

The weather and bugs were also good this year. Our first year going was really rainy. We even had to dig a trench around our tent to keep water out. Then last year we were swarmed with yellow jackets... but this year was just perfect!

The best part of the trip was being with our family! It is always so wonderful spending quality time with our dear relatives!

To follow up with my concerns about camping with John, here are some of my own tips for camping with a toddler:

1.  Bring A LOT of clothes! - John got really dirty, so it was nice having a bunch of clothes as a back up. I also recommend socks and close-toed shoes. The first night he was wearing sandals and his feet got really dirty and we had to clean them with baby wipes before he went to bed. The next two days he wore shoes and socks and that made clean up a lot easier!

2. Bring baby wipes - I used these a lot to clean his hands and face, they definitely came in handy!

3. Bring an umbrella stroller - I had no clue that John would cling to this stroller and entertain himself by pushing it around. That is basically all he wanted to do. I'm not kidding either. Aside from entertaining him and keeping him out of trouble, we also used it as a highchair at meal time and strapped him in it when we were sitting around the campfire. This thing was a lifesaver! Now my only problem is when we pass by it in the garage, John cries if I don't let him play with it...

4. Try to stick with your routines but also be flexible - For bed time I tried to have a similar routine for John so that he had the cues that bedtime was coming. I also made his sleeping area really cozy and familiar with blankets, his pillow, and a stuffed animal. The first night was rough because he thought the tent with our air mattress in it was his own personal blow-up fun house! He was very hyper and it took a lot of effort to get him to settle. Finally he did, but later I made the mistake of tying to comfort him when he stirred during the night. He basically ended up sleeping with us the first night. The second night went a lot smoother. He was not as hyper and I was able to do our routine, which was read a book, pray, shadow puppets (not normally part of our routine!), and then I sang him to sleep. He actually wanted to go to the little area I set up for him. To my surprise and delight he slept the whole night in his spot and didn't join us on our mattress until about 6am! I had to be very flexible with nap time tough... he basically snoozed in my baby carrier and it wasn't a very long nap! =(

5. Let them get dirty and explore - I wanted John to have a lot of fun, so I tried to be more relaxed about what I let him get into - as long as he was safe. He picked up rocks and put them in his stroller, touched tree sap, crawled in the dirt, walked off the trails... all sorts of things that made me cringe a little inside. But I know he had so much fun and now that I had that experience of him getting really dirty, I think I am a little more relaxed about it at home in our own yard. Kids need to be kids after all!

My darling picked probably three whole pies-worth of berries on his own!
Getting ready to go pick berries!
 There was a neat cave near our picking area!
Looking out from inside the cave
Our sleeping arrangement
John's best friend
Relaxing at the campsite
My handsome men in flannel!
We visited Multnomah Falls on our way home
I love John's expression here!

John's New Rocking Chair

I bought this little old rocking chair from a rummage sale at our church for only $1.50!! I think it was a good purchase, and with a little TLC it will be a good chair for John. So far, I have fixed it up by making new cushions. Maybe someday we will sand it and put a new finish on it. John sure loves sitting on it and reading his books!



Monday, August 23, 2010

Train of Thought

Last Sunday at Mass, in the short time between the consecration of the bread and the consecration of the wine, I had this train of thought:
The smell of a woman in front of me reminded me of a lady I took care of when I worked at the Courtyard (dementia care facility) --- which made me think of dementia and I wondered who is the youngest person to ever suffer from dementia --- which made me wonder if I will ever get it --- which made me wonder if you could have symptoms of dementia for being overly tired (because I was feeling tired) --- which reminded me of a movie that Andrew and I watched part of (but turned it off because it was pretty bad) called The Machinist with Christian Bale. (It is a creepy movie about a man who suffers from insomnia and has not slept in over a year) --- and I wondered if it is even possible to go a year without sleeping --- then a gory scene from the movie began replaying in my mind where there is an accident at a factory and a man's arm gets stuck in a machine and is torn off and his severed limb is shown spinning around and around on the machine (Ick!)
So there I was grimacing to myself, when I was drawn out of my mind by the words, "Do this in memory of me." (and then the bells rang) Then I began internally reprimanding myself for thinking about such a horrible scene during the consecration! Not being aware of the path that led me to this thought, I wondered - why was I even thinking about that movie? And then I traced back my thoughts to see how I got from listening to the consecration of the bread to replaying that gory scene from The Machinist. And it all began with a smell... It's amazing how something as simple as a smell can trigger such a quick chain reaction in our minds! I say "our" because I hope I'm not the only one who has this problem! =)

I think that Satan really manipulates and tempts us with these little distractions. This might be a great failing for a lot of the "good" people out in the world. Outwardly, a person could look very good and holy, while internally they let their minds trail off. It is so easy to be distracted and turned away from Our Lord in our minds. And this is a problem that no one has to know about. We can hide this disconnect from everyone, even those closest to us. There is no one to hold us accountable because this is a problem people don't really talk about much, other than saying "I get distracted."

I don't think people realize how dangerous distractions are. The vessel for our prayers is our thoughts, for even the vocal prayers we say originate from our minds. So if our minds are easily distracted, then prayer probably comes as a difficulty (at least, I know this is true for me!). I'm not sure how I can concretely work on controlling my train of thought; I welcome any advice! I hope that eventually I can keep my thoughts centered on God and on good things. I hope that someday I will be united to God throughout the whole day, by being vigilant regarding what thoughts I allow myself to dwell on, making sure that they are always pleasing to Him.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

John Quotes ~ Vol.1

John is venturing into new linguistic territory, and I want to be sure to write down the cute things he says:
  • He has a wooden duck that can flap it's wings. Ever since he could crawl, he has liked to be chased with it, and while we chase him we say "quack - quack - quack." So now when ever he sees a bird he says, "quak - quak". Last week, there was a fly in our house, and guess what he said - "quak -quak"! I chuckled, but inside I was amazed at how smart he is, after all flies fly and so do birds! Makes sense to me!
  • In Bremerton, at eight in the morning, the shipyard plays the National Anthem - which we love! And all the neighborhood dogs like to howl along - "Awooooooo." Naturally, John thinks that this is the typical sound a dog makes. So now when he sees a dog he says "awoooooo."
  • We have made reading part of our bed time routine and John really enjoys it. During the day he often carries books around and looks at them. One day he was reading "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" to himself. I was watching him and he said "quak - quak," then he turned the page and said "Awoooooooo." Sure enough, there were birds on the first page, and a dog on the next!
  • He also says ... ball - "ba"
  • ... Jesus - "Jsh-sh"
  • ... Bye-bye - "Buh buh"
  • ... Banana - "Na na"
  • ... Dad - "Da da"
  • ... Mom - "Ma ma"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Inspiring Catholics to Vote 2010

Check out this great video that my friend, Becky Jordan, made - a must see for all you Catholics out there. Please pass it on!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Camping with a Toddler

On Monday we are leaving to go on our annual huckleberry picking trip with Andrew's side of the family. I've been working on preparing mentally for this trip... and let's just say John is a busy boy, so I've been scouring the Internet for any tips on making our trip safe and fun for John (and us). I'm not worried about the "fun" part because John loves being outside and is always leading me to the door during the day because he wants to play outside - so he will have a blast camping. I just worry about him getting cold at night, walking too close to the fire, being exposed to mosquitoes, tripping over roots... I'm just a worrier!

Here are the websites that I have found most helpful so far:
  1. 5 Tips for camping with a toddler
  2. Camping with kids
Theses aren't really related to kids, but they are still helpful:
  1. KOA camping checklist
  2. Camping Recipes
  3. camping checklist
Do you have any advice for me?? Please leave a comment and let me know! Thanks =)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

St. Maximilian Kolbe Novena Begins Today!

I'm posting for Star of the Sea today:
"If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion." ~ St. Maximilian Kolbe
St. Maximilian Kolbe
St. Maximilian Kolbe's (1894-1941) feast day is coming up on August 14th. That means that the novena invoking his intercession begins today!

Here are some ways you can celebrate his feast day on the 14th:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Video of John's Baptism Party

Playing with Blocks - Cutest Video Ever!

Celebrating St. Jean Vianney's Feast Day

I'm blogging for Star of the Sea today:
"I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than serving the world and its pleasures." ~ St. Jean Marie Vianney
St. Jean Vianney
Tomorrow, August 4th, is the feast day of St. Jean Vianney - patron for parish priests. We named our son after this great Saint, so we hold him dear to our hearts.  Here are some ways that you can celebrate his holy life with your family:

Monday, August 2, 2010

5 Steps For a Clutter-Free Home

Step 1: Locate all the clutter in your home

Step 2: Move all clutter to a central location

Step 3: Enjoy looking at your de-cluttered home! (My favorite part!)

Step 4: Sort all the clutter 
(I sort it into piles of which room it goes in, garbage, and stuff to give away)

Step 5: Put piles away!

All done! Woohoo! This process probably took me about an hour (I did it during one of John's naps), and I love how it immediately cleans up clutter and it seems more manageable when it's in one location.