Friday, April 25, 2014

7 Quick Takes...Easter Octave and Free shoes!

It's been a lovely week thus far, and the weekend has just begun! Linking up with Jen for another edition of some QTs

Last weekend was obviously Easter and we obviously dyed eggs. My mother in law is kind enough to host this gathering at her house and all that are in town are welcome to come and dye-away! 
I've always loved dyeing eggs, mostly because it brought the whole family together and as the youngest of 6, doing anything with my older siblings was fun!
Well, Samantha and Juli did not feel the same way, even though there were 8 or so of their cousins dyeing eggs with them and a multitude of aunts and uncles. 
Juls was done after 3 eggs. She heard Mark offering to take her 1 year old cousin outside and she was like "I'm coming too!"
The adults had a grand time chatting, dyeing eggs, drinking coffee, eating the cracked eggs and just being a family. 
My brother in law is Polish and he grew up decorating eggs a bit differently.
He brought a huge hot plate full of melted wax and pencils with nails pushed into the erasers. You then dip the nail head into the hot wax and either drop it on or swipe it on to make a design. 
This is one of the eggs I made. His were much better!

That evening, Holy Saturday, there was a huge Easter egg hunt in the neighborhood. 
I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned before what an awesome neighborhood we live in and how it's filled to the brim with kids.
Well, here are the kids that could make it to the hunt

There were some missing for various reasons but wow! I feel so blessed to provide my girls with a great place to grow up and a huge number of friends just steps from our front yard!
Oh, and there were 3 pregnant women at the hunt and one who wasn't there because it's her first and she doesn't do "mom" things yet! :) 

My contribution to the hunt was a snack.
I made Egg and Cross sugar cookies that the kids got to ice and decorate on their own...or with the help of mom/dad.
I used this recipe for the cookies. It's the same one I used for our Christmas cookies and MAN, is it GREAT! 
They are the best sugar cookies! I made a basic buttercream to go with them this time but used a royal icing on them at Christmas. 
Both icings were delicious

Mim enjoying her"tootie"

Sunday morning we went to 8:30am Mass and of course we can't get out of the house on time. We ended up in the Daily Mass Chapel, in the very back of the Church and that was a bummer. Everyone does better when we are closer but between kids waking up late, Samantha boycotting dresses and it being 8 o'clock in the morning, it's amazing we made it at all! 

Easter baskets were a hit for the kids. We never brought up the idea of the bunny because Juli is SO VERY afraid of Santa that a giant bunny coming in our house just didn't seem like a good idea. 
No matter how they got here, they were well received. 
Thank you to the Dollar Tree and Dollar Bins at Target because that is where the majority of their basket contents were from!

So, I mentioned above that Samantha is boycotting dresses. I remember when I was young that I didn't always love dresses either but I was ALWAYS aware that there were certain times that I was going to be required to wear one. Easter, Christmas, funerals, weddings, etc...
Maybe I could have pushed it more earlier in the week or I could have just let her wear pants on Easter but it wasn't until 8:10am on Easter morning that Samantha is in her closet browsing her very small section of dresses and dress clothes that she discovers she has nothing to wear!
Before we go pointing fingers, let me explain something: I love shopping! Always have, always will. 
I have a fashion degree. I understand clothes better than most, I f eel, and I am pretty darn good at shopping for others when I am asked to help.
Samantha OFTEN compliments me on my dresses/nice clothes/color combos and the little ones outfits, yet she has NEVER trusted my judgement on clothing for her. 
So, unless it is a matter of life or death, we don't go shopping together. 
Thankfully, my niece is a few years older than her and has passed on some cute clothes making my life so much easier, because if it's cool enough for Kaitlyn, it's cool enough for Samantha. 

Okay, enough of Easter...let me tell you about an awesome deal I scored on Sperry's! 
If you don't know Sperry's they are boat shoes, super cute, easy to slip on and great all weather shoes for summer! 
K, well, I've never owned a pair. Never thought I was preppy enough but alas I saw a friend in her new Sperry's and thought, I need to check into those for me. 
I didn't want to pay full market value and I am never above buying used "lightly worn" shoes, especially when a new pair can run around $70! 
So, I was checking, they had some but were still around $50.
I decided to click on over to thredup because they had just sent me a $15 off my next purchase and lo-and-behold there was a pair of size 8 Sperry's for $17.99!!
With my $15 off coupon that's $2.99 and I'm not a math major but that's a freaking amazing deal!
Well, I forgot that I had a credit with them because I returned something and boom, that $2.99 and my shipping were paid for and I got these bad boys


Free. That's right, I got $70 shoes, for FREE. 

Now, that's a good deal! 

And I'll need all the extra cash I can save because I am getting Lasik done next Friday!
Mark had it done about 8 years ago and had great success with it until his Sarcoidosis gave him double vision and he's wearing glasses again.
2 of his brothers have gotten it done and I know a handful of other folks who've had great success as well. 
I will be put of commission for most of Friday but I will be done with glasses forever...well, until I am in my mid-40s and need reading glasses but that's gonna happen whether I have Lasik or not. At least I won't need super expensive bifocals at that time. 
I will have over 12 years of no glasses. I've never had 12 years of no glasses. I started wearing them in second grade and have many terrible school pictures to prove it! 
Mark said this is my Happy Mother's Day/5th Anniversary/30th Birthday/Merry Christmas present and any other holiday for the next year or two. 
Fine, I'll take being able to see over anything!!
Prayers for me, please!

Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We made it through Lent!

Happy EASTER!!

It is such a blessing to be celebrating Easter and man, what a gorgeous weekend we had here in the 'burgh! It was like a little taste of Heaven if you ask me!

So, a few weeks ago, Mark arrived home from work and was getting his drink ready for dinner and he mumbled "when is Lent going to be over?" I thought he said "when is life going to be over?!" After we cleared up this little misunderstanding and had a good laugh about how much sacrificing really takes out of you, I assured him that there was an end in sight! Mark gave up a few of his most beloved things this Lent and he was really craving some Iced Tea when that remark was made, and while we both do our best to not gripe about how hard it is, this incident was a good lesson for Samantha to witness as she had a tough morning a day or two later.

Lent is tough for us to encourage with Samantha because she changes houses every week and the way we observe Lent is surely different than at her Mom's house. And prior to this year, I really didn't believe that she was mature enough to handle sacrificing something without constant guidance. So this year, she gave up cereal, her preferred breakfast food here at our house and surely a sacrifice for her. Well, about 25 or so days in, I found her at the breakfast table with an almost completely eaten bowl of cereal in front of her. Apparently, the temptation of her favorite cereal in the cupboard had been too much and she decided to eat it. Unfortunately, she tried to cover up her decision with a lie. After a few minutes of talking, she confessed to just wanting cereal and it being "too hard"! I assured her too, that it was supposed to be hard and that her sacrifice needs to be united with Jesus' suffering and that she could offer it up for those who are suffering much more than her (namely her cousin Emeric and his parents).

We had just one other time the devil tempted her to give in and not stay true to her sacrifice, but all in all, I think she really learned some good lessons this Lent. I am hoping that as the years go by, she will grow in holiness and seek out times to suffer willingly so that she can draw closer to God (or while praying for someone else to draw closer).

Personally, I find Lent to be even harder with little ones underfoot. There is less quiet time, and I am the type that NEEDS quiet time to get some good praying in. I rose a bit earlier in the morning so that I could read the readings for the day and a short reflection offered on the app on my phone. This was so fruitful, although sometimes didn't feel like it was enough. I loved staying connected to the Mass even if I couldn't get there everyday. And it NEVER ceases to amaze me how many time Jesus is prophesied in the Old Testament and yet they STILL didn't get that it was Him, when He came! So many were blinded by sin and their own desires and thoughts of how God should be, they couldn't see Him right in front of their faces! I find that this is what Lent is good for. We are so caught up in ourselves and how we think things should be that we don't see Jesus right in front of us, calling us by name as He did to Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Easter morning!

I am very much looking forward to Lents in the future. I love to teach the kids about the Catholic faith. I want it integrated into their everything, their everyday. Their very being. We tried very hard to talk with Juls about what Lent was for and what Easter is all about and she got the gist of it. But the amazing thing is how much Miriam hears and takes in. The other night she was looking at a book and she saw Jesus and she said "Jesus. Jesus Die."

I'll post pictures of Easter Weekend later on...Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2 years... Miss You Dad

Tomorrow, April 16th marks 2 years since my Dad's passing.

This date has been looming in my mind since I turned the calendar 2 weeks ago.

Two years. Has it really been that long? Is it really only that long. Some days it feels like just yesterday I got the text message that my Dad had been taken to the hospital (again) and some days, I think "so much has happened since you've gone away, man, you've miss so much."

I go back to April 15th, 2012 in my mind often. It was a warm day, not like today when it was snowing. No, Juls and I were playing outside and I snapped this picture of her.

I was marveling at the little girl she was growing into and saying goodbye to the baby I once knew. Especially since I had a new baby growing inside of me. 
I was 11 weeks along and we had just told my family the week before at Easter in Maryland. 
I had told my Mom and Dad a few weeks prior and my Dad was so proud of himself for keeping it a secret! Although, apparently he told one of his sisters with whom he wrote letters and she wrote back how excited she was for him and my mom. Thankfully Mom screened (and hid) the letter before it was left out in the open on the dining room table!

Juls and I came back inside and I began folding laundry when my phone buzzed. It was my sister Donna, saying that Dad was acting strange and they were taking him to the hospital to run some tests.

See, Dad had been battling liver cancer since November of 2008. He had 4 special treatments done and they had extended his life by 3 years longer than the doc originally gave him, which was 6 months. In that time, he was able to see his last 3 kids get married, meet and know Juliana (so well that she has vivid memories of him and still to this day talks about him), celebrate 43 years of marriage to my mom and know that I was expecting another baby. Not to mention all the wonderful day in and day out happenings that come with being a Dad to 6 kids!

But, we all knew he was fighting a losing battle and on March 22, 2012 (my parent's 43 wedding anniversary) we were told, the doctors had done all they could do and my Dad was no longer strong enough to undergo another chemo treatment. He was given, at max, 6 months to live. We all thought it would be more like 3 months. None of us imagined it would be less than 3 weeks. 

When they got to the first hospital, the closest one to my parent's house but not Georgetown where all his doctors were, he was pretty out of it and from what I was told, he fell asleep and never really woke back up. They were trying for hours to get him transferred and finally around 11pm, he was taken my helicopter to Gtown and admitted to the ICU. 
My family is a joking family. So I texted my brother and said "speedy delivery of John E. "Jack"! " (his name was John but went by Jack and the way I typed it above was how it was written on his business cards).
We joked about that all week. 

All the while I was debating on if I should drive down or not and of course in hindsight I wish I would have, but at 11 weeks pregnant it wasn't gonna happen. I fall asleep driving, especially at night. Thankfully my hubby had some sense in his head.
Dad had been in and out of hospitals for years and we didn't know if this was so serious. It wasn't until around midnight that I got the text that said  "You should come down." And I cried. 

After the least restful night of sleep, I was up at 5:30, took a quick shower and was out of the house at 6am. Before I left, all I told Mark was, "I don't want to be alone and be told he's gone!" So, I called my brother Joseph to tell him I was leaving and I told him that exact same thing.

My drive was uneventful and very reflective. I arrived around 10am...
I found my sisters and they told me Dad had passed away around 7am. 
My brother kept his promise. 
My 2 other sisters from out of state flew in and arrived not long after me. 
We all got to say goodbye as a family, all 8 of us, for one last time. 

So, a funny story...
My Dad passed around 7am. Almost immediately after he passed there was a page for a nurse over the intercom "Mary Perry, please come to room ***"
My mom and siblings that were in the room were like, "WHAT!?!"
Mary Perry was my Dad's mom's name.
There was still a doctor in the room at this time and he was like, "Mary Perry? There's no nurse named Mary Perry on this floor!"
My family knew that Dad was telling them he was already closer to his Mom than he had been in 20 years! 

Dad died Monday April 16th, 2012. Less than one month before his 70th Birthday. 
The 7 of us spent a whole week together. All of our spouses and kids  
came to support us and Dad's viewing and funeral were beautiful. My Dad was super involved in the City of College Park and for that reason, he was given a police escort from the Church to the cemetery. Shutting down a major section of 295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway for over a half hour! 
Yet another speedy delivery of John E. "Jack"!

We miss you dad. We love you and not a day goes by that you aren't in our thoughts, our prayers and our hearts.