Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Why do I wear a veil?

2016 - This picture was taken by a news reporter
and featured in our local paper
The simple answer to this question is - I feel called to wear a veil.

I first felt the call to wear a veil in the presence of Our Lord in the tabernacle while in college in 2004. At the college Newman Center I attended, no one else wore a veil. The call was so strong, I went out to Joann Fabrics and bought some lace material in attempt to make my own veil. I was the peer minister of liturgy at the time, so it occurred to me that I should ask the campus minister for permission to wear a veil. He was concerned that I might intimidate the other students and recommended against it - to my great relief. I'm not one for seeking attention or standing out in a crowd. I put the fabric aside and did my best to silence the call in my heart.

Years passed. I moved, got married, and attended a different Catholic church. I still felt the call deep down, but couldn't shake the desire to not draw attention to myself. To my surprise, a small group of women at the church began to wear veils. It encouraged me, but the thought of it still made me nervous. Another encouragement for me was that I saw a picture of Michelle Obama wearing a veil in the presence of the Holy Father. I thought, "if she can wear a veil out of respect for the Holy Father and the Church, then surely I can too - out of reverence for Our Lord in the tabernacle.

In October of 2011, 6 years ago, we were anxiously anticipating the birth of our second child. With our first child, I was overdue and induced on the 9th day after the due date. This time around, I wanted to avoid being induced. Finding myself overdue again, my doctor agreed that I could wait up to 14 days before being induced. So we waited and waited. I was very worried and had no idea what to expect.

On the night of the 19th, I had a very vivid dream - Andrew and I were in a church kneeling in the front and he was praying the rosary beside me. I was wearing a veil. I looked up and saw a priest sitting in the presiders chair. The priest was speaking to us, telling us that everything would turn out alright and to trust in God. The priest turned out to be Pope John Paul II!

When I woke up I cried and knew two things. The first was that Peter would be born in three days, on October 22, 2011 - the first celebrated feast day of John Paul II (and he was!!). The second thing I knew was that I shouldn't put off the call to wear a veil any longer. I always felt very close to St. John Paul II while he was a live, and after his death. In my dream, I felt that I appeared as I should be - under a veil. St. John Paul was encouraging me to respond to God's call.
2011 - One of the first times I wore a veil - Peter's baptism
Since having that dream, I began wearing a veil. I always wear it in the church (unless I forget to bring it...). It felt strange at first, but I gradually became used to it. I don't feel like I stand out. I worried that others would judge me and think that I think I'm so holy. But I don't feel that way at all. The veil humbles me. Now I'm so used to it, that if I forget to bring it, I feel naked!
2017 - At our friend Fr. Colin Parrish's first mass
Others have written or spoken about theological reasons to wear a veil. I especially enjoyed this blog post from Jennifer Fulwiler. I have no new information about that for you. Just simply that I wear a veil because I felt the call. A couple of years after I began wearing it, my mother-in-law gave me her mother's old veil. What a treasure! I never got to meet Grandma Reilly, but I think about her when I wear the veil and it makes me feel close to her. After six years of wearing a veil, and in particular wearing Grandma Reilly's veil, I wonder how many baptisms, weddings, ordinations, and funerals this veil has witnessed. How many tears have the tattered ends wiped away? I know it has caught many of my tears! Wearing this veil brings continuity to all the Masses I have attended. It is an unchanging garment that elevates my thoughts to eternity.
1969 - Grandma Reilly wearing the veil for Andrew's sister Jenny's baptism

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Huckleberry Traditions

We just got back from our annual Huckleberry Picking trip. Out in the berry fields this year, I got to hear Andrew's dad (Dad) share a little backstory about this long-standing St.Hilaire tradition. My poor memory can't recall all the details, but here are the nuts and bolts I retained: back in the late 1920s, 1927 as I recall, his parents, Grandma and Grandpa St.Hilaire, went to Mt. Adams to pick huckleberries. This was prior to their marriage so of course, they slept in separate tents! The depression hit and Dad said nobody really traveled anywhere during that time and just focused on day to day survival. Frivolous camping trips for huckleberries were out of the question. It wasn't until later in the 50s when their mail man mentioned going to pick huckleberries that Grandpa decided he wanted to go again and take the kids on a day trip to pick berries. They headed up after Mass one Sunday. On the way there, they ran out of gas and had to flag down another car. The fellow who stopped didn't have extra gas, but did have a full tank and was willing to share with them if they could get it out. Apparently in their car, there was a strap behind the driver seat for the back seat passengers to hold onto when the road got bumpy, and the strap was cased in a tube of sorts. So Grandpa removed this tube and used it to syphon gas out of the other gentleman's car. Of course, in order to get the gas going through the tube, Grandpa had to suck the gas until it began flowing. Once it came through the tube, he spat it out and declared, "Ah, that's the best gas I've ever tasted." They made it up the mountain, picked berries, and headed back home. On the way back, they even had a flat tire to tend to - and this was all on one day trip! Dad said he didn't remember what they even made with the huckleberries. He supposed there was pie - it must have been something tasty to bring them back year after year. They went picking off and on throughout his childhood. And tradition continued when he and his siblings were all grown and had families of their own.

When I entered the scene in 2005, huckleberry picking was a longstanding tradition. It was so special, that I wasn't allowed to go until after we were married. We were married in August of 2008, and as our honeymoon, we did some camping on our own and then ended the trip at Mt. Adams in the huckleberry fields with Andrew's family. The family attendance that year was low because everyone had just traveled to be at our weddings - but Andrew's parent's were there, along with Lou and Jenna, Terry and Christina + their kids, and Uncle Dick and Aunt Louise. I love that our honeymoon included this tradition - I had finally earned my right to attend! No way, I was going to pass that up! And since 2008, there has only been one year that we've missed.

As you can imagine, with all the years that the family has been going, there are so many stories to tell! There are family-famous stories I've heard, like when Andrew, cousins Maria, and Katie, got lost in the woods trying to find a frog pond... and first-hand stories that I was part of - like the year we only found one - ONLY ONE - berry!

This tradition builds our family culture. These camping trips are the fuel for the stories my children will tell.

This morning we are experiencing a "camping-hangover", complete with dirty, smokey clothes waiting to be washed, the garage full of all the camping gear, the cooler empty save for the ice blocks, still slowly melting.

As I washed and measured the berries just an hour ago, I was thinking of all these stories with a smile. Traditions like this are just so special. John helped me wash the berries and I knew in my heart, he will carry it on. I'm sure the others will too, but he is getting old enough to hold these moments as sacred. He did a lot of picking this year and to honor that, I let him label a bag as "John's berries - 2017". Later, I will show him how to make a pie and we'll share it with some special friends. Because that's what we do - the camping lasts only 2 days, but the berries last all year, sometimes longer (we're pretty stingy with our berries!), waiting patiently in the freezer for a special occasion. John knows what goes into a pie. It takes a long time to pick a pies-worth of berries. He knows when we make a pie, there better be no berries left on anyone's plate! That's a cardinal St.Hilaire rule... deeply instilled in us by Grandpa St.Hilaire. Today as John helped cleaned the berries, one fell in the sink and John *gasped* and quickly retrieved it. Yes, he knows. The berries are valuable, but truthfully it's the family. That's what the berries symbolize.  He'll take his kids picking. I'd bet money on it. And he'll share these stories and his memories.

I feel a little bad, like I'm bragging about this tradition that began about 90 years ago. Most people don't have things like this to be a part of. So please don't take this as bragging, my hope is to encourage. Hold fast to your family traditions, whatever they are. If you don't have any - start some! And if you do start your own, maybe 90 years from now, in the year 2107, your descendants will be talking about your stories and adventures with their own children.

PS. For the record - we got 7 pies this year, including John's.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Days of Auld Lang Syne

A couple of years ago, I read Little House in the Big Woods with John. I loved it - probably more than he did. It's so nice to have another chance to read great children's literature. And I think I get a lot more out of it as an adult.

At the end of the book, Laura Ingalls Wilder paints the picture of Pa playing his fiddle and singing Auld Lang Syne:

"Shall auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Shall auld acquaintance be forgot,
And the days of auld lang syne?

She asked her pa, "What are the days of auld lang syne?" And he told her they are "the days of a long time ago." As she drifted off to sleep she observed Pa as he sat by the fire and Ma rocking in a chair, knitting.
"She thought to herself, 'This is now.'
She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."
The ending of this book has stuck with me more than any other. I think about it often and it haunts me in a way, because I look around my own home and the people in it and I have the same thought as Laura: this is now. But I also know the life I am living now will someday be the days of a long time ago.

It's good to think about that sometimes. To me these days of childrearing seem like they will last forever, but somehow my oldest, John, is already approaching his 8th birthday. And I'm well aware that the next 8 years will go just a quickly as the first! Then he will be nearly grown and almost ready to fly from the nest!

Right now, I am helping shape my children's childhood. They will talk about this time someday. They will reflect on parenting decisions I made, good and bad. They will all go off to forge their own path in the world, but this shared space and time that we have now will always be the foundation of their adult lives.

It makes me want to be a better mom, to work towards building a better family culture. I'm not exactly sure what that will look like. I'm still trying to find the balance between cleaning the house, homeschooling, paying attention to the kids, and leisure. But I think as long as we are aware of the fleeting "now" and strive to savor it and put our best efforts into it, I think when "now" becomes a "long time ago", it will be remembered and treasured by my children... and that is my great hope.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Recipe: Grandma's Porcupine Meatballs

In my last post I explained my method for meal planning for the whole year! I was kind of amazed by how many people seemed interested in giving it a try. One of the recipes I listed on my meal ingredient list was "Porcupine Meatballs." This recipe actually came from a cookbook that is a compilation of all of my grandma's recipes. She passed away in 2005 and I was given this recipe book in her honor. She was a great cook and homemaker. I wish she were still around to give me pointers. But I do feel close to her when using her cookbook - like she's there with me in the kitchen. My friend Alex requested that I share the recipe, so here it is! I hope you enjoy it!

Whenever I make these meatballs, I always pair them with this amazing homemade macaroni and cheese recipe and green beans or a salad. Boom! There's dinner for you! You're welcome. ;)

Grandma's Porcupine Meatballs

Alex took this picture after she tried out the recipe and loved it!

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked white rice*
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder and pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Mix everything but the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Shape by rounded tablespoons into balls. Place in un-greased baking dish 8x8 or larger. Stir together tomato sauce and Worcestershire and pour over meatballs. Cover and bake at 350ºF for 45 min. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes. Check while baking, add more water as needed. Serves 4-6

*I typed up the recipe how my grandma had it in her book, but in my experience with this dish, the rice didn't seem to cook all the way and would still be a little crunchy. So to remedy that I usually boil the rice for about 5 to 10 minutes just to get it semi-soft. Let it cool a little before adding it to the meat mixture. I also like to add an egg to the mixture to help it to stick together. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

How I meal plan for the entire year

It's the beginning of January, which means I've been busy meal planning. For those of you who know me well, you know that I like to menu plan for the entire year. Yes, you read that correctly! It might sound crazy, but I've been doing it for about 3 years now and have learned a lot along the way. It does take a few hours to set it up, but once it's done, the rest of my year is stress-free! Well, at least it is in regard to meal planning. :)

Occasionally people ask me why I'm so crazy how I do it, so I thought I'd hop on my old, neglected blog to describe the process as best as I can:

Discuss and Compile
Gather up all the recipes your family loves. Talk together about the frequency you want to eat these meals. Whenever I try out a new recipe, my husband and I rate it (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the best). If the meal is rated 3 or higher, we talk about how often we would want to eat it (every month, every 2 months, only in the summer, etc ...).

Make your Reference List
Once you have all that information, create what I call a "Meal Ingredient List". I got this genius idea from a book called Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield. This part is time consuming, but it will pay off later, I promise! (No more rummaging through all your recipes to write up your grocery shopping list!) Make a graph with three columns (see below): (1) the name of the meal, (2) frequency, and (3) ingredients. I also divide up my list by the kind of meat I use (meatless/fish, chicken, pork, beef). You could also alphabetize it, but I haven't done that at this point - though now that I mention it I will probably go back and do that too.

Here is my personal meal ingredient list. You'll see that I put links in it to all the online recipes that I use, just in case you want to give them a try in your home! ;)

After you finish typing up your list, you could choose to keep it on your computer and refer to it that way; however, I'm old-school and I like to print it off and put it in my meal planning binder - more on that in a bit. I personally try to avoid the computer around meal time and when I actually want to get things done. I get so easily distracted on the computer, so I find that having a meal planning binder is more efficient (for me!). If you aren't tempted by online distractions, then by all means, use the digital approach.

You'll also notice that sometimes I list what I typically serve with the main dish. This helps when I am putting together my grocery lists.

Print off a calendar for the current year (one month per page). Or you can use an online calendar. For a couple years, I used Google Calendar and it did work well for me, but as I said before, I prefer to menu plan offline now. I put the printed calendar in my menu planning binder. Now grab your Meal Ingredient List, start at the top of your list and just work your way down writing your meals on your calendar. 

As an example, my first meal listed is "Mizithra Cheese Pasta" (yummm, one of my very favorites!). So I pick a day in January and write it down, flip my calendar to March, write it again, flip to May, write it again, and so on every two months through to December. Then move on to your next main dish. Do this with all of your meals and you will see your calendar begin to fill up! 

If you use a program like Google Calendar, use the same method - just copy and paste the meal however often you want.

I have about 85 meals on my Meal Ingredient List. Every year I take some off that we're tired of, change the frequency of some meals, and add new ones.

If you don't have a big collection of recipes you like, you will probably have empty spots on your calendar. I know I do on mine. I use it as an opportunity to try new things and then add them to my master list if they rate high enough. Over the years, the empty spots become fewer and you won't have to experiment as much.

The beauty of this method is it will work for any person or family to create a custom plan that will fit your situation. Some people don't need much variety, so their months will look similar. We enjoy having homemade pizza and I schedule that every week on Saturdays. Other than that, we like variety and most of our meals are repeated every 2-3 months.

Another tip is to vary the kind of meat and/or style of food you use when you are plugging the meals in your calendar. For example, I try not to serve chicken 3 nights in a row and most weeks have only one night of each ethnic food - though once I did serve "Mexican" 4 out of the 7 nights in a week and I was teased about that by a certain someone...

Shopping Lists
I usually go grocery shopping once each week - after the kids are in bed or during the day when my neighbor can watch the boys. I have found that I save at least $20-30 each week by shopping without the boys. I think this is because I am so rushed to leave the store when I have all the kids that I make lots of impulse buys and don't price check as much. 

When I am preparing for a shopping trip, I get out my meal planning binder and look at the current week on the calendar. If there are any empty spots, I find new recipes to try. I use this grocery shopping list template (printed off). On the bottom of that page, I write the meals I am going to make that week. 

I never feel bound to the calendar plan when I sit down to make my grocery list for the week, I use it as a launching point and sometimes I switch the meals around during the month as I see fit. I do feel comfort in knowing that we will have a variety of meals and everything is spaced out to our liking.

So now that I know my meals for the week, I get out my Meal Ingredient List and copy the ingredients for each planned meal onto my shopping list. Before I had created my Meal Ingredient List, I would have to look up each recipe to see what the ingredients were, now all of that information is in one place! It is such a time-saver!! The other beauty of having all of this in a binder is you can take it with you anywhere. You can put together your shopping list while you're waiting at the doctor's office, or for your kids to be done with piano lessons (or whatever else you are waiting for).

When I go shopping I fold my shopping list in half and put it on a small clip board with a pen. I know, I'm pretty hardcore! :) Last time I was at the store with my clip board list a man actually told me, "That's awesome!"

Menu Planning Binder
I keep mentioning my binder, so I thought I'd tell you more about it. Inside it I have: 
  • A "Master list" in a page-protector - a reference for things I usually buy that aren't part of the main dish (apples, oranges, eggs...)

  • January-December calendar pages - one for each month. All filled out with meals.

  • All my recipes printed off and sorted alphabetically with tabs

And that's about it! I hope this all made sense. Let me know if you have any questions!

PS. Now I remember why I don't blog any more. The house is destroyed and the kids are all grumpy and attention-deprived! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

On the Feast of St. Gianna Molla ...

... I want to introduce this blog to the newest member of our family who is already four months old!

Here is the story of her birth that I will put in her baby book:

Just like your brothers, you arrived to us later than expected. Though now we are thinking we should just start expecting our babies to be late and add on two weeks to the projected “due date.” Your due date was December 18th, so I was fully prepared to have you in my arms by Christmas, but that was not to be. After Christmas Day came and went, I looked at the upcoming feast days and noticed the feast of the Holy Innocence was coming up on the 28th. As your patroness, St. Gianna Molla, is also a pro-life hero, I thought having your birthday on this feast would be very fitting. It is also the day of your great-great-grandmother’s birth and she was a labor and delivery nurse!

Sure enough on the 27th I went into labor around 4pm. Since my other labors were long, I thought for sure you’d be born on the 28th. I called your dad and told him I was in labor. He came home right away. Contractions were about 20 minutes apart, so I was able to make sushi for dinner and we packed up John and Peter to go to Grandma and Grandpa Stockton’s house for the night. On the way to their house, we stopped to look at a toy shelf that someone was selling. We dropped off the boys and then went to Lowes to look at dishwashers as ours had been broken for a couple of weeks. We laughed because we were doing all these things during labor, but it was good for me to stay busy as long as I felt good.

We finally came home and I timed my contractions. They were still far apart, so we went to bed. I didn’t get much sleep because I would wake up with each contraction. I did get some rest though and your dad got quite a bit of sleep. I wanted him to be rested so he’d be a good coach. Peter was born only 15 minutes after we arrived to the hospital, and I didn’t want to repeat that with you. Every few hours I would tell Andrew that we should go to the hospital, but he kept telling me we should wait more. Around 6 am I felt hungry, so I got up and had some toast. Andrew got up too and we called the hospital just to tell them I was in labor and that we were going to stay at home a little longer. We went back to bed for a couple of hours. Around 8 am, we got up, took showers and packed up the car. I was still feeling good, but I wanted to be checked on my dilation since I had been in labor for a while.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the nurse told me I was dilated to between 4 and 5 centimeters. She said it was the perfect time to be admitted. By this time it was 9:30am. We decided to stay and they monitored my contractions and your heartbeat for a little while.

They quickly noticed that your heart rate was decelerating with about every third contraction. It was a concern and they put me on oxygen, and hydrated me through the IV. You and I also had to be monitored more, so I had to stay hooked up in the bed - something we wanted to avoid. Ideally I wanted to have freedom of movement so I could deal better with the pain. As it turns out I didn’t get out of the bed, except to use the bathroom, until after you were born!

My doctor recommended breaking my water to speed up labor and get you out. I wasn’t sure what to do and labor was getting more intense. He checked me and found I was dilated to 6 cm now and still recommended breaking my water. I was so indecisive, but fortunately I didn’t have to make a decision because a half-hour later, I felt the urge to push. “Urge” doesn’t seem like the right word because it was like my body took over and you shot out like a rocket! My doctor and nurse weren’t prepared for that because I had dilated so quickly at the end. The bed wasn’t even prepared for delivery. The nurse took off the sheet and your head was already coming out. The doctor was down the hall and rushed in after you were born!

We invited your Grandpa Stockton to be present for your birth. He and Great-Grandpa were in the room while I was laboring for a while and then Great-Grandpa decided he wanted to wait in the hall. So Grandpa was helping him out, when minutes later, I began pushing. As it was happening, I was yelling - “Get my Dad!!!” because I didn’t want him to miss it. He rushed in right as I was pushing and I had the pleasure of seeing his face, full of sheer joy, as he watched you enter the outside world.

You were immediately placed on my chest and I kissed your sweet, warm newborn face. I spoke your name, Gianna Frances. The only word that I can think of to describe this moment is “ethereal.” The moments surrounding your birth I will cherish and ponder all of my life. I thank our Good Lord that He has placed your in our family.

Gianna Frances was born on December 28th at 12:05pm, weighing 8 lbs 4 oz.

St. Gianna Molla, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

39 Weeks! Pregnancy Update

Tomorrow marks week 39 for me and our baby girl. Which means I probably have 1 to 3 weeks left! John was 9 days late and induced and Peter was 12 days late before I went into labor naturally. We are hoping for a natural birth again with this baby, so we shall see if she is more punctual than her brothers. - please, oh please!!

My feelings emotionally...

Last week was very emotional for me. I felt like I was on the verge of crying at any moment - happy or sad. On my way to my doctor's appointment last week, I dropped the boys off with my mom and went by myself listening to the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack in the car. Sunrise, Sunset came on and I lost it. Especially in these last few weeks, I can really relate to the fact that with each sunrise and sunset, I come one day closer to meeting our new child, and one day closer to our lives changing forever (in a great way).

I also get teary when I think about my little Peter, who will get booted out of the position of "baby" in our household. He is so sweet and will still come and snuggle some mornings in our bed with me. I love holding his little body and breathing in the smell of his hair. I know I'll still love doing that, but I also know that having a baby around will automatically make him a "bigger" boy, at least in my perspective.

John, on the other hand, is so big to me already - in stature and maturity. I am very excited to see him care for his sister. The vulnerability and helplessness of an infant is one of life's greatest lessons, and I am excited to see John in the roll of provider, even if it's just in small ways. It will also be great to have him around as Peter's accomplice. I know they'll still need my love and care, but having each other as entertainment will really help me (I hope!).

This week I am holding my tears back more and feel more determined to get things done and prepared. Yesterday alone, I got more done around the house than I usually do in a week!


I've been feeling great! Especially this last week, I've had tons of energy. During my 1st and 2nd trimesters, I took a nap most days, but lately I've been getting up early and had energy to keep me going all day. Granted, I'm usually waddling and hobbling around, but I could take on the world!!

I'm sleeping comfortably, but I do wake up to adjust my position every once and a while, which takes a lot of effort. When I'm up and going, I feel great, but once I lie down, it's hard to move.

Right before Thanksgiving, we had a worry because my belly was measuring small. So we were worried that something could be wrong with the placenta. I had an ultrasound done and that checked out fine, which was a huge relief. Our girl is just more petite than the boys.

Having a baby growing inside me will always be astonishing. Sometimes I look at my belly and it is so hard to believe that I am carrying around a practically full-term baby. The miracle of life is humbling to be a part of.


It has been great thinking of Our Blessed Mother as I journey along side her own liturgical pregnancy with Jesus. Most recently, I was feeling very overwhelmed by not being prepared enough for our daughter's birth. But then, I considered how Mary was traveling so late in her pregnancy and had so many unknowns to worry about - she didn't even have a place to stay! She gave birth in a barn and had to lay her sweet new Baby in a food trough for animals! So no matter how unprepared I feel, looking at Our Lady's trust that God will provide for her is a huge comfort and relief to me. I don't have to have it all together, I just need to trust and most of all, prepare my heart to welcome this new eternal soul into my care.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Summer Update!!

I am part of a letter writing group called the Round Robin. Members include relatives from my Grandma Stockton's side of the family - her sisters, their children and grandchildren. My grandma passed away in 2005, so it is nice to have a connection with her side of the family.

Below is the letter I am about to send off in the mail. I just realized that the last time I wrote to them, was around the same time of my last blog post, so it will serve as a good update for all my blog followers too! =)

~ ~ ~

I suppose the biggest news I have to share is that about a week after writing my last letter to you, we found out that we are pregnant with our third child! Praise God! Currently I am 27 weeks pregnant, due in mid-December, and we found out our baby is a girl!!! Having a little girl around here will be quite a change. I’m having a baby shower in the next couple weeks and our main need is clothing. It will be fun to get all the cute girl clothes. But I’m mostly just excited to watch our family grow and meet this newest member.

John (4) and Peter (almost 2) are really excited about having a baby sister and talk about her a lot. We still haven’t figured out a name for her yet, so please keep that in your prayers. Naming a person is a daunting task! =)

We are coming off of a long and glorious summer! The weather here was so beautiful that the boys and I spent most of the time outside. John really enjoyed having all the neighbor kids out of school and would sometimes spend up to 6 hours playing outside with the other children. Here are some of our other highlights since I wrote to you last:

  • John turned 4 on May 15th! He had a “Tigger” birthday with a bunch of his friends and family. His big present from us was a big-boy bike. Over the months, he has gotten really good at it and I think it’s almost time to take off his training wheels.
  • In May, we took the boys to Great Wolf Lodge, which is a nearby indoor water park. This was our second year going and it actually wasn’t that fun for the boys (or us) because Peter had a fever the whole time and John didn’t want to be in the water. We were thinking we may not go again until the boys are older, but we recently had a lot of fun swimming in Hawaii (see below), so maybe the boys would like it next year after all...
  • Family camp with our church over Father’s Day weekend. It was great because I didn’t have to cook the whole weekend! Probably more of a treat for me than Andrew, hahaha.
  • For the 4th of July we went on a camping trip with about 5 other families. We love camping and the boys do too. Nothing better than playing in the dirt for a couple days! We camped near a river, so the boys had fun throwing rocks in the water.
  • On August 9th, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. My parents took the boys overnight and we had the house to ourselves - it was really quiet!! We spent the day exploring the nearby town of Poulsbo. Andrew surprised me by telling me that we were going to go to Hawaii in early September!! 
  • Annual Huckleberry picking camping trip with Andrew’s family happened in mid-August. This was my sixth year going, but Andrew’s family has been going for over 50 years. I love being part of his family traditions. This year was a great year for berries - what we call “huckleberry heaven.” The main thing I do with the berries is make pies, so we measure our yield in “pies-worth” which is about 4 cups. This year we got 6 pies-worth, making it our best year yet! John is actually becoming a good little picker, but Peter just feasted on berries by the handful.

We just got back from a week-long trip to Hawaii. It was so relaxing and rejuvenating. We brought the boys with us and I was surprised how well they did traveling. Even the five-hour plane ride wasn’t too bad. We got to swim in the ocean every day, visit Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, swim in the Ko O’lina lagoons, go to the aquarium, and we enjoyed dinner twice with my Uncle Alan and Aunt Karen Stockton.

As you can see, it was a very full summer for us. Not to mention, we had weekly playdates with a group from our church. Now I am trying to settle down and prepare for home-educating John in pre-kindergarten. I just ordered some supplement books to use, but I’m going to try to focus on trips to the library, reading great books and giving him new experiences. I also have a long to-do list to prepare for our daughter’s birth. I’m in early nesting mode and see a lot of things I want to clean and organize around the house. just bought a new building for the business and it is currently being remodeled. It is an amazing process to witness and I am so proud of my parents and husband. The next time Robin flies by here, they will be all moved into the building and fully operating out of it! Also our little girl will probably be born and I’ll flood you all with baby pictures! =)

~ ~ ~

Eating s'mores by the fireside

Me and my daughter!

Our beautiful baby at 20 weeks

The boys showing off their new shirts from Hawaii

Andrew and the boys in Hawaii

Dinner with my Uncle Alan and Aunt Karen

Monday, April 8, 2013

My New Diary...

I think about my little blog quite often - at least once a day. Whenever I have a spare moment I think, oooooh maybe I could go write a post right now! But then I think of all the other things I could do around the house or with the boys and the blog always gets shoved on the back-burner. Then the evening comes and the wee-ones are tucked it, but alas my brain is fried at the end of the day, making it so difficult to get my words out.

I've thought a lot about the blog and it's purpose in my life. I read many blogs and so I have this mental image of what a blog is supposed to be and how often I should post. But I don't really want to have a "big" blog. I don't like thinking about total strangers reading about our personal lives. Yet, I do want to stay connected with my family and friends (and Facebook doesn't cut it all the time), and I do want to keep records of the details in our lives and the boys growing up so I can look back on it in the future - like a diary. 

So I will attempt to trudge forth and do my posts whenever time and inspiration allow. However, I do want to share with you something that has really made memory-keeping easy. I got the idea off of Pinterest:

"It's a daily calendar that is reused each year and gets better the longer you use it. Each day you write the year and something that happened that day like, "(Child's name) took her first steps." Imagine how neat it would be in 10 years."
I took this idea and decided to make it even easier by making it digital. I made a Word Document and titled it "On this day..." then I type the month and day, then the year - with one or two sentences about what happened that day. I've been doing this for over a month now and it is really easy to keep up with. And trust me, this Mama likes easy! I also like it because I'm not planning on sharing it with the world, so it doesn't matter if I'm eloquent, I just want to give my future self a few thoughts to jog my memory. Here is a sample of what I've written over the last few days:

April 5 
2013 - Friday, No mothers’ group. Went grocery shopping then to Grandma’s for a visit. We went out to Puerto Vallarta for dinner as a family and some people having a birthday thought the boys were cute and gave them each a balloon! 
April 6 
2013 - Saturday, Andrew and I both exercised! We are trying to get in shape and starting the journey! 
April 7 
2013 - Sunday, We arrived early to mass today and sat near the front!! Came home and cleaned the house. Had the Herrings over for dinner, the kids ran around like crazy!  
April 8 
2013 - Monday, Warm overcast day. We played outside and removed the fountain in the front and filled it in with dirt. John found a “sam-ann-ter” (salamander) and had fun torturing it playing with it. He was very intrigued.
My plan is to write future years under the same Month/Day. So for example, in three years, April 6th might look something like this:
April 6

2013 - Saturday, Andrew and I both exercised! We are trying to get in shape and starting the journey!

2014 - Sunday, Went to Mass and had a vision of our Blessed Mother.
2015 - Monday, Andrew let me sleep in and made breakfast for me in bed. PJ and JV cleaned the house for me.
2016 - Wednesday, Juniper Willow St.Hilaire was born this morning. She was born at 9:30am after a long restful night of sleep. Quick and easy labor and delivery with no complications. I'm already back in my pre-pregnancy clothes!
Yah, now let's wait and see if that all really happens!! ;) But it's cool, because you can look at any one day and see all the things you've done on that day. It will be really neat for the holidays because I can never remember all the details after a few years have gone by.

Anyway, I thought it was a good idea that I wanted to share with all you busy people out there who want to remember the simple day-to-day life that slips away so quickly.

Ta-ta for now!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Holiday Highlights

Well, hello! Yes, I'm still alive! I have a lot to share about the past few months. My last post was on November 15th, and now it's almost February!! That is cra-zy!

So welcome to my holiday catch-up post. I just went through all the pictures we took recently and it's going to be hard to not over-share! I'll try to keep it brief...


We celebrated Andrew's 26th birthday:
We had a party with my parents and even busted out some huckleberry pie! I got him some nice gifts, but it's hard to compare with what I did for him last year - not sure how I will ever compete with that!

We kept with our usual tradition of going to Bellingham. We had a lovely time with Andrew's family and even celebrated Mom's birthday while we were up there!

Bellingham Tree Cutting:
This is one of my treasured traditions. I have helped Andrew's parents select, cut, and decorate their Christmas tree every single year that we've known each other. Now it is a joy to see John and Peter helping with the decorating!

Funeral for Andrew's Uncle John:
Uncle John was Andrew's godfather and one of the men we named our John after. He passed away in mid-December and we decided to pack the car and head over the mountains to Kennewick for the funeral. It was so nice seeing a lot of extended family members and, most of all, celebrating the life of a great man! Andrew had the honor and privilege of being a pallbearer at the burial. Rest in peace, Uncle John!

My birthday/tree decorating:
I had a lovely birthday this year! Andrew took the boys out in the morning and I invited some of my friends over for a spa day. We all did pedicures and ate yummy food. It was a lot of fun! Then in the evening we had a family party and decorated our tree.
See if you can guess how old I am...

First tree in our new home!
We went to mass on Christmas Eve. Then my parents took the boys out to look at Christmas lights while Andrew and I went out to dinner. We tucked the boys in bed and finished setting up for Christmas morning. We had a cozy morning together in our jammies. Then we got ready and continued the celebration at my parents' home with Great-Grandpa and Uncle Aaron.

Family party at our house:
Around New Years, we hosted a "St.Hilaire" party. This was our biggest sit-down dinner so far in our new home. It worked out well and I'm glad the dining room is connected to the living room - so we can   use that space too if needed. We can't wait to host more parties!!


Now that I'm caught up with the past, I'll soon be writing about what we are up to now! ;)
God Bless!