Our Moving Process, Part 4: Telling the Kids

Telling the Kids IG graphic

Continuing with my series about the story of our move to Indianapolis, I am going to share a little bit with you about how we broke the news to our children. It has been a long process, not all of which I’ll share here. Our experience so far has been a bit of a roller coaster. Just to re-cap, here are the other posts:

When St. Joseph Intercedes: A true story of heavenly friendship

Our Moving Process, Part 1

Our Moving Process, Part 2: Why Indiana?

Our Moving Process, Part 3: Packing!

Our Moving Process, Part 4: Telling the Kids

Parenting is not easy. To date, telling our children that we are taking them out of their school on a Friday, moving them to Indiana, and starting them in a new school the following Monday has been the most difficult thing we’ve had to do. The thing is, it hasn’t been hard because of what we had to say. It’s been hard because we had to say it. Here are a few things we’ve had to tell the kids over the years and how they have responded:

Your pet hamster is dead.

Aw, that’s too bad! Can we get another one?

We’ve decided not to go to the beach this summer. Instead we’re just going to enjoy the pool and play in the yard.

Man! That stinks. Can we go next year?

You can’t go to see that movie, it’s too violent for someone your age.

Darn. How about when I’m thirteen?

It seems that all the tough news we’ve given our kids hasn’t been all that tough. Somehow there’s always a silver lining that they look toward on their own, which is great! But moving? The three month conversation has gone something like this (white lies included):

We’re putting our house on the market because we’d like to move, but we’re not sure where just yet.

But we love this house! What’s wrong with this house? Why do we have to move?

The house is under contract which means that in about six weeks, the buyers will own our home and we have to move.

I don’t get it. What’s a contract and why are we under it?

We’re flying to Indianapolis to go find a house for our family.

What? Why can’t we stay here? Why do we have to move so far away?!

We found a wonderful house for our family to live in. It’s less than half a mile from your new school and our new parish! Our new neighborhood is filled with kids, there’s a lake where you can canoe and fish, and there’s a community pool that’s close enough for you to ride bikes to!

New school?

The owners of the house we love accepted our offer. We will be the official owners of the home at the end of April!

Can we finish out the school year here?

We just found out that there are spaces for you at our new parish school now, and if we want to secure spots for all four of you, we have to move as soon as we close on the house here and in Indy.

Crying, losing sleep, bad dreams, acting out, arguments, and fighting. 

See what I mean? This is hard! It hasn’t been all bad, though. There have been moments of peace, joy, and excitement too. At the end of the day, we have children who love deeply and are extremely loyal to their school, their friends, their parish, even their home. Those fiercely loyal devoted kids are showing us the depths of their love. There have been tears, there have been tough conversations, but you know, I am so moved by the effort they’re making to work through the emotions to get to the truth. They know, in their hearts, that they can trust us in this decision. And they know that we wouldn’t make a decision like this unless we believed it to be the best thing for our family. So the feelings and emotions are getting worked out and hopefully, over time, their big hearts and their intuitive little minds will feel and know that we can make a new home together, in a new house, a new school, a new parish, a new community, in Indiana. Thank goodness we have each other and a God who loves us to get through the adjustment!

Little One's 2nd birthday

First Holy Communion Food and LINKS GALORE!

1st HC FB graphic SMAM

A little re-post for you since First Holy Communion season is upon us. We’re preparing for our third child to receive this beautiful Sacrament. It’s such a beautiful time in the story of each family, isn’t it? Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I hope you find these links and posts helpful!

Dimples 1st HC buffet FINAL

Yesterday, I shared with you my five favorite First Holy Communion party ideas, but for me, that’s the easy part. The difficult part is planning and executing the food. Being one of seven children, our guest list is always quite long for sacraments. And if you factor in friends and their children, we are usually looking at somewhere between 35-50 people, kids included. Given that First Holy Communion Masses at our parish are on a Saturday morning, we like to offer a buffet lunch at our home afterwards. When our oldest received his 1st HC, I was very pregnant with our fifth, Little One. I really was not up for cooking and prepping, so I ordered all the food from Corner Bakery and then paid our cleaning lady and friend Mariska to come to the house while we were at Mass to brew the coffee and receive the delivery. It ended up being more than we would usually spend if we prepared the food ourselves, but because of the timing with my pregnancy, it was worth every penny. Mariska put the food into serving bowls and arranged things on platters for me. More than anything, it was such a gift to have someone at the house taking care of everything so that I could just focus on Smarty Pants and enjoy the day. I have no regrets doing it the way we did the first time around, however I must say, I really enjoyed the process of doing everything myself last year. I saved us money and I had the satisfaction of proving to myself that I could do it on my own.

The catered luncheon:

  • tossed salad
  • fruit salad
  • a variety of small sandwiches
  • hot pesto and chicken pasta
  • cake, candy pops

The homemade luncheon:

  • ham
  • roast beef
  • All the fixings to make sandwiches with the ham and roast beef
  • pickles
  • potato chips
  • cookies, brownies, muffins, candy pops

As you can see, the foods that were prepared for us were pretty labor intensive. There is no way I would even attempt to make a hot pasta dish for a party that I was hosting. Even assembling sandwiches and cutting up fruit salad would be very time consuming. So when I prepared all the food, with the help of my mom mind you, I only offered things that could be prepared in advance and served at room temperature. My mom saw the list of how many guests we would be serving lunch to and was very concerned that we had no tossed salad or fruit salad. I was not worried at all because we had two different types of meats for sandwiches and tons of desserts. Who needs fruit when you can have a cookie and a brownie and a muffin and a pop?! I also was taking into consideration that the guest of honor, Dimples, said nothing about fruit or salad. As I recall, she asked for “ham and potato chips.” Girl knows what she wants! The spiral ham was pre-cooked, so we just heated it up and did the glaze early that morning before Mass. And the roast beef was a special gift from my parents. Mom prepared it perfectly the night before and then sliced it up the morning of the party and arranged it on a platter, all ready to be put on a Costco roll slathered in mayo or horse radish sauce. It was such a treat. In my book, sacraments are an occasion when, within reason, parents should pull out all the stops to lay out a feast. What it communicates to our sons and daughters is that this is a momentous event, more important than a birthday or a prom or a graduation. Of course, the sacrament itself is the greatest gift, but the celebration afterwards reflects that.

For my son’s party we had a local bakery create something based on a cake I found on Pinterest. It turned out so beautiful and was absolutely delicious. For Dimples, I bought a big container of mini brownies at Costco, baked some little muffins called French Puffs, and made white chocolate cake pops. Then my friend Ashley baked and decorated sugar cookies that were not only beautiful, but delicious as well. She even put Dimples’ monogram on some of the cross-shaped cookies. They were so special and everyone enjoyed having something other than cake.

Smarty Pants 1st HC cake

Dimples 1st HC cross pops/Cross pop mold/ Photo credit Mark Brock

Dimples 1st HC cookiesLittle pieces of edible art! /Photo credit: Mark Brock/

Dimples 1st HC dessertsJust look at my nephew sitting there so patiently, not touching a thing so we could all take photos of the beautiful dessert table. What self-control!

Please feel free to fire away with questions in the Comment Box! I love hearing from you. And listed below are some other posts I’ve done to share ideas surrounding First Holy Communion. It’s such a special time in the lives of our children and I really have enjoyed making sure that the Communicant knows that. I hope these posts are helpful to you as you plan!

Come back tomorrow for a list of our family’s favorite First Holy Communion books!

5 favorite 1st HC party ideas 11st HC party ideas 25 Favorite 1st Holy Communion Party Ideas

5 favorite 1st communion gift shops 15 favorite 1st Holy Communion shops 25 Favorite Online First Holy Communion Gift Shops

Dimples wedding gown communion dress FINALA Family Heirloom

1st First HCOur Family’s 1st First Holy Communion

Dimples 1st HC walking into houseThe Most Beautiful Day /Photo Credit Mark Brock/ 1st HC Pinterest BoardSMAM 1st Holy Communion Pinterest Board

First Holy Communion Books titleChildren’s Books for 1st Holy Communion

Our Moving Process Part 3: Packing!

boxes 2016

Continuing with my series about the story of our move to Indianapolis, I am going to share a little bit with you about packing up the house. I started the day after Christmas and have gone back to it a few times, but now that the boxes have been dropped off by the moving company, and our move date draws nearer, packing is in full swing! Just to re-cap, here are the first few posts:

When St. Joseph Intercedes: A true story of heavenly friendship

Our Moving Process, Part 1

Our Moving Process, Part 2: Why Indiana?

Our Moving Process, Part 3: Packing!

We have lived here for almost nine years. We’ve brought two babies home to this house, hosted Baptism and First Holy Communion celebrations, birthday parties, Christmas dinners, Easter feasts, Feast Day celebrations, a baby shower, and countless visitors, family and friends. Our back porch has been a gathering place where I have laughed, cried, and laughed some more with girlfriends and sisters. I’ve spent hours upon hours nursing babies in our nursery, folding laundry in our laundry room, and weeding flower beds in our yard. This home is where we’ve had arguments that have drawn us closer, talks that have made us wiser, and conversations that have taught us to love more deeply. Our family has played here, prayed here, grown here.

Dimples 1st HC walking into house

And now, it’s time to pack up all the stuff that we call dear: the clothes, plates, pots, pans, tablecloths and glassware, candlesticks and pillowcases. The children’s books and school work, the Christmas decorations and the photo albums. It’s all coming with us so that we can make new memories in a new home. While the stuff isn’t required, it certainly helps conjure up the good times attached to the presence of the stuff.

SB birthday cake 3

In November, before Thanksgiving, we took as many pictures as we could off the walls without leaving the house looking like no one lived here. We started up in the kids’ rooms and then worked our way around the first floor. Dimples helped me quite a bit with this project, wrapping each and every frame or piece of artwork with bubble wrap. We left a handful of pictures unwrapped, knowing we’d want some for staging later.

In December, after much debate and disagreement, we decided to hire professional painters to come in and paint all the ceilings on the first and second floor of the house. Before we moved in, we had all the walls painted, but we never touched the ceilings. It was one of those jobs that we knew would make an impact once it was done. Boy were we right! The painters had to set up scaffolding in the living room, since it’s a vaulted ceiling that is at roof level, so we thought it would be best if they came in to work while we visited Indy with the kids. Our friend owns the subcontracting company, so we knew we could trust them with the key to our home, etc. So, the day after Christmas, we packed the Christmas decorations so that they’d be move ready. The Hubs took all the Christmas boxes over to a storage unit that we started renting in November. We moved some furniture to the storage unit and took down the drapes and window blinds.

office painting project SMAM

While we were in Indy, they completed all of the ceilings very quickly, then moved on to the walls. We picked out a nice creamy off-white, “Cottage White” by Sherwin Williams, and a bright, glossy white for all the trim. They assured us that it would be easy for us to touch-up with the paint they chose for the walls, which, with seven people in the house, would be necessary before listing.

living room painting project SMAM

When we returned from Indy, the painters were still here! They took a break for about a week and eventually came back to keep going. They re-grouted the kids’ bathroom floor, cleaned the tile in the master bathroom, and laid new tiles on the floor of the master bathroom. Even the garage door, front porch, and front door got a fresh coat of paint. The Hubs replaced all the hinges and door knobs to brushed silver, and voila! Our home was ready for its close-up, and a ton of our belongings were in the basement storage, boxed up in our garage, or taken to our storage unit.

collage of upstairs SMAM

It was chaotic, packing up so much of our stuff in November and December, but I’m glad we did it. Obviously, now that it’s go-time, we have a lot less to do, but also, it got the moving conversation going with the kids. It also helped us tremendously when it was time to list the house and start showing it. So much work had already been completed!

Master BR listing SMAM

So what’s left now? Well, if you’ve read my posts about how I organize toys, school work, craft supplies, etc, you know that they’re already in boxes in the storage area of our basement. There may be a lot of stuff down there, but most of it is ready to go!

basement storage SMAM

As for the rest of the house, we’re talking clothes, kitchen stuff, shoes, tools, cleaning items, too many things to list here, really. And if I were to actually list them I think I might have a coronary.

So! I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on, one box at a time, cranking some Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, forgetting all about things like showering and doing my hair for now. And eventually, I do believe, the packed items will outnumber the unpacked items and we’ll be ready to go! Then I’ll let the professionals come in and move the big stuff.

Stay tuned for our progress….

Our Moving Process Part 2: Why Indiana?

Indiana SMAM IG plain

So many friends have been asking, “Why Indiana?” There are some days when I respond to that question with a hearty, “Heck if I know!”

I cannot believe that I, Mary Jones, born and raised in Southern New Jersey, lover of the ocean and sandy shores of North Carolina, could possibly be moving to Indiana.

The following are things that I imagine other people saying. These speculations could also be categorized as Things Mary asks herself on a regular basis since this whole thing started last summer:

“She must be going because of a job transfer.”

Nope.

“Surely, they have family out there?”

Nada.

“Does she enjoy colder winters? Perhaps she wants to live somewhere with more grey cold days.”

Definitely not.

“Maybe one of the kids wants to become a basketball star. They say Indiana is the place to go if you want to raise a child to become the next Larry Bird!”

Maybe.

The truth is, this whole Indianapolis thing has been a process which started off with a simple conversation about BIG life decisions. Last spring, The Hubs sent my friend Elise and I on a trip to New York City. I left on a Tuesday and came back on Thursday and somehow this was just enough time for my husband to formulate a simple question brought on by some observations.

“What are we doing here?”

At the time, Little One was a toddler and Social Butterfly was in half day pre-K. The Hubs worked from home during my getaway and so had the two little ones to juggle with work calls and Skype meetings. Let’s just say that when I returned, I felt very appreciated. I believe it was a walk through the neighborhood in the middle of the day that was the Epiphany Moment for him. “Mary! No one was outside! There weren’t any other moms out playing with their children. This neighborhood was completely quiet, even after school let out.”

It’s funny, isn’t it? When you’re in the thick of it everyday, you don’t really notice the things that may be amiss. We moved into this house in July of 2008. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, alone in a quiet neighborhood for years! When I need some adult conversation or some play time for my kids, I have to drive to a friend’s house. That’s just the way it’s always been for me. I can say the same of our home in Arlington as well.

What came out of both of our mouths next was what surprised us both the most. The Hubs asked me,

“Are you attached to Northern Virginia?” 

“I’m really not,” I replied.

“Neither am I!” he said.

Okay, next question, then. “If you could live anywhere, where would you like to live?”

For some reason, I had a laundry list of places I couldn’t live, and when we’re talking about living, we’re talking about raising a large-ish family and sending them to catholic school.

The South? No. Philadelphia? No. California? No. Chicago? No. St. Louis? No. Kansas City? No. Florida? No.

“My company has an office in Indy,” said he.

I could live in Indy, maybe? Let’s visit and see how we like it.

And so began a nine month research project entitled, Can this East Coast couple raise their children in a mid-west town?

You know what we found out in the four trips we took to Indianapolis, Hamilton County to be precise? We love it there.

The houses and properties, the neighborhoods, the parishes, the catholic schools, the people! It’s true what they say, you know. Mid-Westerners really are genuinely nice folks. They smile at you and say hello. They take the time to talk and ask if they can help in any way. Upon meeting you, they even do things like offer you used uniforms for your kids if you need to borrow some.

This is not to say that there aren’t other places in this vast country of ours that couldn’t offer the same kindness. In fact, I’m certain that there are. The thing is, St. Joseph’s intercession, and the open doors in front of us (surely opened by the Hand of God) are what lead us to Indiana. The job that The Hubs already had, the agreement from his boss to move him to the Indy office, our house selling at the right price in the right amount of time, the beautiful home in Carmel just a half mile from the school and parish where we felt the most at home, the children’s acceptance into the school (all four of them!) — everything has just fallen right into place. Each time a door has opened, we have walked through it with confidence and peace, knowing that this decision to move our family to Carmel, Indiana, is the right one.

The truth is, we could continue to raise our family as we have been right here in Northern Virginia. But for whatever reason, seen or unseen, we are moving to Carmel, Indiana because we truly believe it’s where the next chapter of our story begins. We can’t wait to see how it all turns out! And we know, with all certainty, that God has some wonderful and exciting things planned for us. All we have to do is trust and continue to say YES!

I’ll keep you informed with answers to the final question. My heart tells me Indy is going to be great for this East Coast Girl and her family.

Our Moving Process, Part 1

A month ago I was a crazy woman, getting our house picture perfect, ready for its close-up. I was burning the candle at both ends, cleaning, taking trips to Goodwill to donate stuff, sending loads of extra boxes of things we won’t need until after we sell the house to the storage unit. I enjoyed the challenge, really, trying to do everything in my power to get this house sold as quickly as possible, and leaving the rest up to Divine Providence, looking to St. Joseph at every twist and turn in the road.

House for Sale

The hard work and stress was worth it because our home was under contract in seven days. The inspection went well, the buyers asked us to only have a few things repaired, and we were on our way to the next step: fly out to Indy to find a home for our family!

This part of the process began last summer. In July, we went on a ten day trip to New Jersey, Ohio, and Indiana, back to Ohio, and home to Virginia. While in Indy, we met with a Real Estate agent who took us all over the place to look at properties. At the time we didn’t know much about the area at all, so this was a preliminary search. What are houses and properties in the area like? What sort of home can we get for our money? Do we want to live in a neighborhood or should we buy some land so we can have some chickens and keep bees? It was an interesting experience and we walked away with so very many ideas in our heads. There was a ton to think about on the nine hour drive home.

Indy ZOO

Then in October, The Hubs and I flew out to Indy without the children. We stayed at the cutest little B&B in the Arts and Design District in Carmel (we hadn’t been away without the children in four years), went out for a delicious dinner in the city on Saturday night, and just really enjoyed being taken care of by our hosts at the B&B. But let me tell you, we worked hard too. After a late arrival Thursday night, we got up Friday morning in time to attend morning mass at one of parishes we were considering. Right after Mass we toured the school. This was followed by another school tour, a break for lunch, then two more tours, all before 3pm. That evening we attended the local catholic high school football game with some friends who also recently relocated to the area. Saturday morning we woke up and attended daily Mass at one of the parishes we were considering followed by a morning of looking at houses. We had lunch with our agent and then hit the pavement again to look at more houses. Sunday morning we attended Mass at yet another parish and drove to the airport to head home to our little ones. We had gorgeous weather on this trip, and were pleasantly surprised at what a quick and easy flight it is. One hour and twenty minutes and you’re on the ground at the Indianapolis International Airport! Which, in my humble opinion, is the easiest airport to get in and out of. Think OPPOSITE OF DULLES. Yeah.

Indy trip 10-15

We came home with a better idea of what area we liked, what parishes felt right, and what schools we could see our children in. We fell in love with a house that was in the worst possible location and didn’t really love any of the other houses we looked at.

With a two week Christmas Break, we thought we should head back out to Indy with the kids to include them in the process of looking for a neighborhood and home. We narrowed our search down to about a ten mile radius and were zoned in on two parish schools. I felt more drawn to one, and The Hubs to the other. We looked at six houses with the children and they did much better than I ever could have expected. We took them to The Children’s Museum (that place is unreal!) on New Year’s Day and just did our level best to make the trip fun for them. I think we succeeded. Sadly, the one house that we really thought was a viable option sold very quickly, so it was back to the drawing board. By the end of the trip we felt fairly certain that it was down to one parish and one school, and that we would really love to be within walking distance of the church/school.

Indy New Year's 2016

The day we got back from Indy in January, we started packing. We had already put away all the Christmas decorations and had moved them to the storage unit. We had also taken every.single.picture, crucifix, and photograph off every.single.wall on the first and second floors. While we were in Indy, a friend’s painting crews (he runs a subcontracting business) came in and painted the ceilings and got started on filling the holes on the walls (think Swiss cheese) and painting them a neutral color. When we pulled into the driveway after ten hours of driving, they were still working. The truth is, they were only a third of the way finished with the job and would be coming back to work for another week and a half. At this point we were resolute: If we can’t sell this house, we aren’t going anywhere, so let’s focus on getting everything necessary looking as good as possible. Let’s price it right, time it right, and get it sold. Then we can move on to seeing what we can find in Indy.

Well, we showed the house about 12 times, and had one open house the Sunday after it went on the market. Our agent said that she saw 20-25 groups of people come through in a three hour period! The weather was perfect and there wasn’t much on the market, so we really hit the mark. The buyers came back on Tuesday and made their offer. We came to an agreement and started making plans to get out to Indy to find ourselves a new home!

house for sale kitchen

It’s been an exhausting few months, no doubt about it. But I really have enjoyed the process a lot so far. Truly! I have never gone through this process before, so it’s all new to me and I like it! I’m using parts of my brain that I haven’t used in a long time and that’s always a good thing, right? The selling and buying portion isn’t really what I’m thinking about right now, given that everything is working out so seamlessly.

What I’m thinking about now is how I feel. I’m wondering how my children are feeling. I’m worrying about their big hearts and their deep thoughts. I’m also thinking about my friends. I wondering how they’re processing all of this. I worrying about them and hoping they know how grateful I am for their friendship.

Say what you will about how it will all turn out. I get it. I do. I can’t even allow myself to get that far ahead yet. I have hope and I have the knowledge from experience that, in time, all will be well. Right now though, I just want to be present to the people I love and show them in as many ways I can how much I care about them. I want to stay in the moment and not dwell on what’s to come so that when the future gets here, I won’t look back with regret.

More thoughts on the move to come. Next up: Why Indiana?!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

A big, big THANK YOU! to the Abdalla, Smith, and Kauffeld Families for allowing us to stay with them on our various trips to Indiana. We are so grateful to you for your hospitality and friendship!

Triduum Menu & One Last Giveaway!

This post is from last year, and I’m not sure how much of it I’ll do again, but I wanted to share just in case you haven’t made your menu plans for this week. Scroll down for links to the recipes!

Triduum Menu Graphic
Alright, here we go folks! Links galore to all the recipes I’ll be using this weekend to fill my chicks’ bellies. I’ve gone a bit crazy with Pioneer Woman links, but hey, I’ve never tasted a PW recipe I didn’t absolutely love, so I trust her. After all, her recipes are approved by cowboys, hungry kids, and P-dub herself. That’s approval enough for me! Let’s get started.

Many families prepare lamb on Holy Thursday, but our family has a tradition of serving lamb for Easter Sunday dinner. So for dinner on Holy Thursday, we’re having Rachael Ray’s Slow Roasted Beef with Rosemary Tomato Gravy. I took a couple of photos of the prep last time I made this dish. It is so easy! Be forewarned: This recipe requires you to plan ahead. You crank your oven up to cook the roast at a very high heat for a short period of time. Then you literally turn off the oven and just let the beef roast slowly for hours. Rachael tells you how much time per pound, so it’s not too difficult to figure out. The key is not to open the door of the oven, not even one little crack the whole time the beef is roasting. When you take it out, it has this delicious crust on it and the center is perfectly pink. We love to have mashed potatoes and crispy green beans along with the delicious, flavorful veggies from the roasting pan. The recipe for the Rosemary Tomato Gravy is so delicious, but completely optional, of course. 

Rachael Ray Slow Roasted Beef Graphic
I’m going to try the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Hot Cross Buns this year, but this recipe from The Light Weigh Cookbook by Suzanne Fowler is excellent too! The kids love this tradition of having Hot Cross Buns after three hours of quiet time and chores. Or you could save them for after you attend your parish’s Good Friday Services. They really are delicious — the kind of yummy that makes me feel a little guilty for eating one on Good Friday. I do love the tradition, though, and so does my family.

hot cross buns graphic
For dinner we’re making homemade pizza. It’s a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy doing together. I like to get all the toppings prepped so that when it’s time to roll out the dough, the kids can do the rest. Since we’re having this on Good Friday, we’re going to do a veggie pizza or two, and then a couple of pizzas topped with sauteed shrimp and fresh cilantro. Yum!

Homemade Pizza Collage
You can make your own crust, but if you don’t have the time, buying it pre-made from your grocery store is great too. Our local Wegman’s has fresh pizza dough that you can buy the day you’re making it, or fresh dough that has been frozen. You simply take it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator for two days. Then a few hours before you make the pizza, put it in a lightly oiled bowl to proof some more. Wegman’s dough is so delicious! So to keep life simple, that’s what we’re using this time around. Here’s the dough recipe we use when we make our own:

Homemade Pizza Dough

Okay, Holy Saturday. I think I’m going to try this for a big lunch instead of dinner since we’ll be fasting on Friday and probably very hungry Saturday as a result. I watched P-Dub make this on the Food Network last weekend and it just looked so delicious, I have to try it. It’s her Tortellini Primavera. I’ll serve some crusty Italian bread and butter with it. Oh mama, I cannot wait!

After morning Mass on Easter morning, we’ll come home for brunch. The kids have been begging for Baked French Toast Casserole a la P-Dub, so that is what we shall have! I bought a spiral ham the other day at the grocery store that I’ll warm up in the oven while the French Toast Casserole bakes. I’m also going to try this Yummy Fruit Salad. I’m tellin’ ya, all P-Dub, all the time.

We are hosting my mother-in-law and brother-in-law for Easter dinner this year. My MIL has an absolutely delicious lamb marinade recipe, so she’ll be preparing the leg of lamb for us and The Hubs will grill it. I am making Potatoes au Gratin ahead of time and then I’ll cook them while I put the Roasted Asparagus and Peas in the oven.

Kitty's Grilled Leg of Lamb Recipe

For dessert we will be having Berry Trifle. It is a pretty, easy, and popular dessert that literally gets devoured by our Easter guests every year. It’s spring-ish and light and so easy to assemble, the kids can even help! Ain’t it perty?

Berry Trifle Graphic
I hope these ideas have inspired you! I think I just might have a little difficulty fasting on Friday knowing that all of this deliciousness lies ahead. Fast then Feast, right? If you have any Easter Triduum recipes, please post them in the comments! I’d love to see what you’re serving your families, friends, and neighbors this year!

Easter Pillow GLAH

Don’t forget that Jen is giving away one of her Easter pillows to a lucky winner. Get on over to her blog Graceful Living at Home today to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway by midnight tonight!

When St. Joseph Intercedes: A true story of heavenly friendship

Lilies for St. Joseph
In honor of the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, I would like to share some of the ways that this powerful intercessor has been a heavenly friend to my family and me.

As a child, I didn’t pay much attention to St. Joseph. I don’t recall ever praying to him for his intercession. We didn’t have any statues or images of St. Joseph displayed in our home, and we didn’t celebrate his feast days. Our family was very devoted to Our Lady, so we weren’t completely lost! Poor St. Joe, though. No love from the Joneses!

I guess I was introduced to St. Joseph in college. My freshman year, I took a Foundations of Catholicism class with Dr. Mark Miravalle. I remember realizing then that devotion to this special saint was an integral part of living a fully catholic life. And, since so many older friends were talking about praying to St. Joseph for their future spouse, I started to as well. I would go into the Portiuncula Adoration chapel on campus and pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I would talk to the Lord, but I would also ask for St. Joseph’s intercession. I prayed in that chapel so fervently for my heart’s desires for a holy and loving husband to be fulfilled in God’s time. Boy, did St. Joseph’s prayers work! God brought my spouse into my life at just the right time, and with all the right qualities for my sanctity.

Just before we got engaged, my husband prayed a novena to St. Joseph for multiple intentions. He needed to sell a house, find a job, and buy a car, all so he could ask my father for my hand in marriage. No special intention is too big for the Earthly Father of Jesus! The house sold, he got a new job, and he leased a sensible car to drive his girlfriend in to New Jersey to ask the parents the big question.

Then, after renting for the first five years of our marriage, we were ready to buy our first home together. Again, we prayed our St. Joseph Novena, and again, our prayers were answered. We were under contract on March 19th! And, more importantly, our first home was located just a few minutes away from a wonderful parish and school. I remember the first time The Hubs took me there. I cried tears of joy and thanksgiving just at the sight of it.

Our friend St. Joseph wasn’t finished yet! This story is pretty remarkable. Last May, after spending a few days away with my friend Elise while The Hubs held down the fort, he asked me a question: “What are we doing here?” This question was the beginning of a dialog between the two of us that has evolved into something we never expected to actually happen. We listed this house on Thursday, February 25th and were under contract on March 3rd. Two weeks later we were on a plane to Indianapolis to go find a home for our family. On March 15th we were under contract on a beautiful home in a wonderful parish in Carmel, Indiana. Sometimes, when you least expect it, a lifetime of prayers can bring about the seemingly impossible.

We are obviously so sad to be leaving the community we have grown to love here in Northern Virginia, but our God is a loving Father and we are completely confident that He has another wonderful pocket of the friends waiting for us. When I graduated from Franciscan University, I was heart-sick. It was one of the most difficult good-byes I’ve ever had to say. I clung to the knowledge that as my classmates scattered all over the country and the world, we would always be united in the Eucharist. It’s a mystery, but it is a reality, this Mystical Body of which we are a part.

Pray for us, as we make the transition from our life here in Northern Virginia, the only life the kids have known, into the next chapter in Indy. I can’t wait to share more of the journey with you! And it goes without saying that I can hardly wait to decorate our new house! I’ll be sharing it all here with you.

Welcome, New Readers!

Welcome new readers FB graphic

This week of celebrating catholic design and decorating has been such a joy for me! Jen and I set out to inspire you to decorate your home for Easter and I hope we have accomplished just that.

We also wanted to celebrate the richness of our faith by giving away some items that would bring beauty to your home in a tangible way. The response has been amazing! We both have all sorts of new readers following us on Instagram and Facebook as well as leaving comments on our blog posts. When you’re a blogger, this means so very much. It’s so nice to know, when you set out to inspire your readers, that folks are actually following along.

So, if you’re new to Sometimes Martha Always Mary, I’d like to say, “Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here!” If you will indulge me, I’d like to show you around the blog a bit. “Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.” See the green bar across the top of the page (if you’re on a computer or tablet)? That green bar includes each of the topics I enjoy blogging about most. (If you’re on your smart phone, you simply tap on the three horizontal lines on the top right corner for a drop-down of the categories.) The “About” tab is where I think you should begin, just so you understand my point of view and a little background about myself and how I started this whole blogging business.

The “BELIEVING” category will direct you to any post I’ve written that is related to or inspired by the catholic faith.

The “CELEBRATING” category is all about partying, baby! Our family loves to celebrate life, love, and feast days, so there will be quite a few posts there about how we party as a family. Fun!

The “COOKING” category will take you to recipes, some family, and some from other blogs or websites. I try to always include a photo of what I’ve prepared, but sometimes I’m so dang hungry that I eat without taking a picture first because, foodie.

The “HOMEMAKING” category covers things like organization, decorating, and cleaning…Lots of pictures and tutorials here.

The “PARENTING” section will take you to posts where I rant about how wonderful my children are and what incredible parents my husband and I are. If you wanna feel like crap about yourself as a person, this is where you should start. Nah! It’s just where I try to keep it real about the ups and downs of raising kids.

The “REFLECTING” category is where I wax poetic. I like to sometimes sit back and think about myself, my feelings, my likes and dislikes, and then bore you with those thoughts. Or something like that.

“LOVING” is all about how The Hubs and I met, our courtship, engagement, marriage, and raising kids together.

At the very top of the page, to the left and the right of my beautiful logo (designed by the talented and ever-so-patient Kate of Speak Easy Digital Art) are buttons that, when clicked, will take you to various social media sites where you can follow, like, subscribe, and just fill your life with SMAM. Or not!

The sidebar to the right (if you’re on a computer or tablet) has some helpful features on it too. I took some screen grabs for you.

blog screen grab #1

So if you scroll down a little from the top of the page, you can enter your email address where it says “FOLLOW BY EMAIL.” Click the orange “FOLLOW” button and this will enable you to receive a notification in your email inbox that I’ve posted something new.

Just under that option is my email address. I have to say, I love receiving emails from readers! It’s a great way to connect in a personal and private manner. If you ever have any questions or if you just want to say, “Hey! You’re doing an awesome job and I think you are fabulous!” This is where to do it.

Directly under the “EMAIL ME” box is another category entitled “BLOGROLL.” If you click here, a list of some of my favorite blogs will come up. Click away and introduce yourself to other ladies who are far better at what they do than I.

Just under that is an Instagram carousel that shows you the latest photos I’ve posted on The Gram. This is just a fun way to peek into our daily life and see what our family is up to.

If you see advertisements in the sidebar, it’s because I’m helping out a small business/Etsy Shop owner or fellow blogger. I like to shop on Etsy and so this is a way for me to support my favorite artisans.

blog screen grab #2

If you scroll down a bit more you will see a list of the latest “MOST POPULAR POSTS.”

Just under that the categories that are on the top of the home page on the green bar are also listed. You will see an additional category here entitled “READING.” This will unlock lists and lists and lists of children’s books that we have in our family library.

If you ever care to comment on a blog post, you have to click on the title at the top of the post. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave your name and email address and a website if you have one. When I read other blogs, I try to make a point of leaving a comment whenever I can. It’s a way to say, “I read what you took the time to write. Thanks!” As a blogger I can honestly say that receiving comments on a blog post are so motivating!

2016-03-18 (2)

Just below the comment box, you’ll find three posts related to the one you just read. You will also see a graphic for the fabulous company that built this blog, Fiat Insight! Click on it to see what they do.

So, thank you for stopping by and please, keep coming back!

Just one more thing before you go: As we wrap up our celebration of catholic decorating and design, we have one more giveaway to share with you! You have until midnight tonight to enter to win the Mary figure, Easter floral arrangement, and Hatchprints artwork. Visit Graceful Living at Home today to find out how to win an Easter throw pillow designed by Jen and to read her post on:

Keeping Christ in Easter: Things to Make, Do, and Buy PLUS! An Easter Pillow Giveaway!

GLAM giveaways Easter 2016

Okay, that’s it! Thanks again! We’ll be announcing the winners tomorrow, so come back here and go to Graceful Living at Home to find out if you won!

Children’s Books for the Easter Season

Children's books for Easter PIN smam

Today Jen of Graceful Living at Home is sharing her gorgeous Easter table with us as well as a giveaway from Hatchprints! It’s the third of four posts and giveaways Jen and I are doing this week to celebrate catholic decorating and design, just in time for Easter! Go check it out!

And, in case you’re looking for a book to add to your child’s Easter basket, here is a list books from our home library that I think your kids will love!

The Story of Easter by Aileen Fisher

On That Easter Morning by Mary Joslin

Eyewitness Animals:  The Story of Easter by Robin Gurrie

The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie DePaola

The Jesus Garden:  An Easter Legend by Antoinette Bosco

The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith

The Easter Swallows by Vicki Howie

The Story of the Easter Robin by Dandi Daley Mackall

Easter Eggs for Anya:  A Ukrainian Celebration of New Life in Christ by Virginia Kroll

The Very First Easter by Paul L. Maier

The Easter Story by Patricia Pingry

The Colt and the King by Marni McGee

The Donkey Who Carried a King by R.C. Sproul

The Donkey That No One Could Ride by Anthony DeStefano

Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day by Carol Benoist and Cathy Gilmore

Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco

A Tale for Easter by Tasha Tudor

The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown

The Easter Egg by Jan Brett

The Golden Egg  by AJ Wood

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by DuBose Heyward

Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco

Holidays Around the World Celebrate Easter by Deborah Heiligman

The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams

Our House at Easter, catholic artist Sue Dow, and a Giveaway!

Pinterest Our House at Easter SMAM

This week, Jen and I are celebrating catholic design and decorating by sharing with you some ideas as to how you can decorate your home for the Easter Season. The two of us have been talking, emailing, and texting, preparing these posts and giveaways because we both believe in beauty and we want to help other Catholics to find ways to bring beauty into their homes, always with our faith as the inspiration. We hope that this week will be inspiring for you. When you look at our photos and read our posts, keep in mind, we are normal moms who just happen to find peace and joy, fulfillment and satisfaction in bringing beauty into our homes. We see it as a way to infuse the faith into our family life and we hope that we inspire you to do the same!

Yesterday I shared with you how I decorated our front porch for Easter. Today, I’m going to share some photos of our home at Easter from last year. We just went into contract on the sale of our home and so the interior is nowhere near ready for Easter. I am planning on simpler decorations this year, since we’ll be packing up our belongings to move in the not-so-distant future. If you’re a new reader, welcome! (To learn more about me start HERE.) These decorating ideas will be new to you.

Shiny, pretty, fresh. Bold contrasting colors. Flowers and candles. Shop the house. Use your fancy stuff. Create pretty groupings. Mix patterns. These are my favorite ways to decorate and style our home in the spring. I shine up the silver, put out my brightest, most colorful pillows, place candles on the mantle, and fresh flowers in my vases. And on Easter, it’s time for linens and china, serving dishes and water goblets! Floral prints next to stripes are gorgeous in spring! I love to create pretty little vignettes to look at wherever I can find a clear surface on the main floor of our home.

My one piece of decorating advice today is this: Use what you have, aka “Shop the house.” Take out all of your wares and spread them out on your counter or dining room table. Start placing the things that you love and make you think of new life and the hope of spring around your home. The wonderful thing about rethinking what you already have is that there’s no guilt in it. You don’t have to spend a single penny to create something beautiful to look at in your home. I hope these photos of the ways I used what I have in our home at Easter give you some fresh ideas for spring!

Shiny, pretty, fresh
bold contrasting colors

flowers and candles mantle
shop the house Easter
Use your fancy stuff Easter
pretty groupings
mix patterns

And now, I’d like to introduce a catholic artist whose work I fell in love with just by following her on Instagram! Here’s a little about Sue Dow…

Sue Dow collage SMAM

Susan Dow BIO SMAM

Sue has generously offered a wooden figure of Mary from her shop, In the Loft. The lucky winner is free to pick from any of the Mary figures. Thank you, Sue! With Our Lady’s month of May coming up, placing any one of Sue’s figures in your home would be a lovely way to honor the Blessed Mother. So, get to it! Enter below using Rafflecopter! and good luck! Sue will mail you the figure of your choice to arrive in time for Easter.

FullSizeRender

Yesterday’s giveaway can be found in the sidebar. All of our giveaways this week will be available for entry until Friday. 

Tomorrow, the lovely and talented Jen Buckley of Graceful Living at Home will be posting some Easter decor inspiration and, you betcha, there’s ANOTHER GIVEAWAY! It’s a celebration of catholic design and decorating, ya’ll!