Category Archives: Faith

Anchored In Christ ~ A First Communion Celebration

Two weekends ago Holden made his first holy communion. Two years of CCD brought him to this point and he was looking forward to this sacrament….tired of “just” getting a blessing at communion and ready to receive the body & blood of Christ.

We worked on his banner together over Spring Break…he did the layout and I did the hot gluing.

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I spent months looking for the right dress pants, shoes and tie. One day while killing time I popped into Janie & Jack and found some brown trousers on the clearance rack for under $20. And while we were enjoying a holiday stroll through The Grove back in December, again, I ran into J & J and found some darling brown wing tip boots for half price. Once we settled on the anchor icon, I knew I needed to locate a tie with said symbol and found one in navy blue from Hobo Ties on Etsy.

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No photos were allowed during the ceremony, but here he is with Father Albert after mass…

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{Jay just happened to already have a dress shirt with anchors on it! I found Elliott’s sailor inspired dress at nautica.com for under $20. My skirt is Lauren Conrad from Kohl’s, top from Old Navy, pearl & gold statement necklace is from Target and fedora from Kmart!}

Holden had team pictures and a baseball game later that afternoon so we had a quick lunch at In N Out and shifted gears. For his special dinner, later that evening, he chose¬†Lucille’s for ribs.

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We hosted a brunch the following morning to celebrate our sweet communicant.

I found some simple little anchor notecards at Target for the invitations and that quickly became the theme of his celebration brunch ~ a nautical nod to this very big faith milestone.

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I had a couple pieces of wood laying around in the garage and decided to make a sign with the Hebrews verse that prompted me to go with the anchor icon for this special occasion…

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I put a light coat of white on it to give it a beachy, white-washed look, hand wrote the design in pencil and then pained over it with metallic gold and navy blue paints.

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I don’t have a good picture of them, but the party favors were a faux succulent pictured on the mantel to the right of the sign and a little bag of peppermint Lifesavers. The succulents were a huge hit. Everyone couldn’t believe they were artificial and was glad they required absolutely NO water!

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I saw the Lifesaver idea on Pinterest for a nautical baby shower and had the little paper treat bags, but wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. The mints were perfect and I added a little label with the verse Jeremiah 31:24 ~ “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”.

We have a huge vintage Cinzano poster in our dining area that I covered with wrapping paper to give this space a more cohesive and festive look…

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I also hung 2 of these navy paper lanterns over our huge dining table.

The paper plates, napkins, straws & cups are all from either Target or Home Goods. I picked these up months ago knowing I’d most likely go with navy blue & some shade of green.

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Fortunately being close to summer, it was easy to find anchor goodies!

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{large anchor from Marshalls and “Let’s Set Sail” sign from Home Goods}

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For the brunch, I tried to keep things simple. We had a couple baked egg casseroles {one with sausage, cheese & sourdough bread and one with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and hash browns as the base} They were both a hit, however, I think most of the guests enjoyed the Mediterranean one a little more.

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I also made Monkey Bread and should have made two as this stuff is ALWAYS popular and the first to go…

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Fruit salad and mimosas are always a must for brunch…

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Lolo & Lola ordered a 10″ marble Nothing Bundt Cake and there wasn’t a crumb left!

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Holden was blessed with so many wonderful keepsake gifts of his faith, gift cards and a telescope from Gramma Kathy to look into the heavens!

It was another wonderful milestone on his faith journey and I am sad that it’s over. The next big one is confirmation in high school!

In the meantime, we’ll continue religious education and faith formation.

Glory to God in the highest.

Anchored

Over Spring Break it hit me that Holden’s First Holy Communion was less than a month away and I hadn’t given much thought to his reception and invitations!

I had a color scheme in mind {mostly navy & green}, but not really a “theme”. As I was strolling through Target last week, I spotted these Mara Mi notecards and immediately knew that an anchor was going to be the icon for this big milestone in Holden’s faith journey.

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“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” ~ Hebrews 6:19

Perfect!

I’ve also been on the hunt for a tie to complete his outfit for the big day. I immediately searched on-line for an anchor tie and settled on this one via Etsy…

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Boom!

Trying to keep the decor simple and use things I already have. Did a search for FREE anchor printables and found this one that I adore and ties in with everything…

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{via}

Moving right along…..

Following this very special weekend is Elliott’s big double digit birthday celebration so I am in full swing with the party planning. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing our kiddos at their parties & celebrations with friends and family.

Feeling anchored and extremely blessed.

XOXO

Have Courage And Be Kind

It’s Spring Break over here at FFF. Elliott has had a terrible cough and we had rain yesterday, so we’ve laid low thus far. I’ve been trying to do some Spring cleaning & purging and the kids have been having fun making their own movies and playing Disney Infinity together. Although we’ve been inside most of the break, fighting has been kept to a minimum which has been nice!

Last night I took Elliott to see Cinderella while Holden and Daddy had a dinner date at Toppers. Elliott has never seen the animated version of Cinderella {where did we go wrong??}, but desperately wanted to see the live-action movie after seeing a preview during Annie at Christmas.

We both LOVED it and when I asked her on the car ride home what her favorite part was, she said “when the fairy godmother transformed everything!” Guess what….that was my favorite part, too! I also love the matching colorful frocks worn by Anastasia & Drizella. Such a great movie…I highly recommend seeing it in the theater despite the ticket prices and $9 for “small” ICEE and box of Sour Patch Watermelons!!

The message of this movie is loud and clear ~ have courage and be kind.

Simple really.

I hope Jay and I can teach this to our kiddos along with guiding them on their faith journey. After all, they both go hand-in-hand, don’t they?

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So, yes. Have courage and be kind…..and a little silly, too!!

XOXO

Midwestern Getaway

Last weekend I ventured to the midwest and spent 4 days in the Chicago & Detroit areas. The occasion? To celebrate the Grashanti {Hindu pre-wedding ceremony} and bridal shower for my soon-to-be sister-in-law, Anuja.

It was a lovely little getaway and it left me even more excited for their Big Day in just over 2 weeks.

I met so many of her sweet family members and was able to put a name to most of the fifteen bridesmaids!! It’s going to be ONE bridal party, I tell you.

Let me just say, the traditional Indian garb and cuisine is nothing short of fabulous. The saris that the women wear are so bright and vibrant that there isn’t a picture captured that doesn’t have several bursts of color. The spices in Indian fare are ever so fragrant and palate pleasing. If you haven’t tried Indian food, you simply must.

We spent a good part of one day driving from Chicago to Detroit. This was a great time to sit and hash out a lot of wedding logistics.

The bridal shower was held in the Detroit area and was also in celebration of Anuja’s sister, Anishee, who will be married in late August. The venue was a gorgeous home on Orchard Lake and the weather was perfect ~ a little warm if you were in the sun, but the temps and humidity were much better than I was anticipating! Again, there were many stunning saris worn and loads of exotic flavors and food served.

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*****

This was the longest I’ve been away from my babies, but I knew they were in good hands with Jay. I loved getting texts that they were at Universal Studios, that they had talked Daddy into donuts and that they were enjoying BBQ ribs while waiting for Fourth of July fireworks. It was nice, however, to sleep in a bit and get ready each morning uninterrupted. ūüėČ Once my puddle jumper touched down from Phoenix, though, I could not wait to see my little family cruise up and pick me up curbside!

It’s good to get away, but it’s even better to come home.

Looking forward to doing The Big Apple with the kids and enjoying the fruits of all the labor that has gone into this special day.

Have a blessed weekend, all!

We plan to get some haircuts, check out the first summer concert in the park {Journey cover band!} and hit up Magic Mountain after mass on Sunday….gotta ride Colossus one last time before she’s gone forever.

Nighty night.

XOXO

Busy Calendar

Hello and Happy-day-after-St. Patrick’s Day!

Our day of {all things green} was just like any other Monday pretty much.

It started out with my favorite pair of gold Havaianas having a blowout in the same spot as all my other well-loved pairs. The little part between the toe gave way and forced me to switch to my gold flats. Havaianas are my absolute favorite and I did get 3-4 years out of these, but I imagine the chlorine from the pool and the trips to the beach eventually take their toll on the rubber…..sad face.

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Mama Leprechaun dropped the ball on the once-a-year-Lucky-Charms-for-breakfast deal so she popped them in the car for a donut with green icing and shamrock sprinkles at Albertson’s on the way to school instead! Not the best breakfast to start Health Week off with….

We had a leprechaun come and turn our toilet water green which seemed to freak the kids out a little more this year.

Last week I sampled a precooked corned beef brisket at Trader Joe’s and immediately knew I was going to serve it on a hectic, homework-filled St. Paddy’s Monday night. Fortunately Mondays are our “easy” days and we have nowhere to be, but it was nice to know all I had to do was heat the brisket for about 30 minutes in the oven and saut√© up some cabbage and onions to make some sauerkraut! I also squeezed a couple drops of food coloring into a lone bottle of Mexican beer and hit it with a little lime juice for an adult after 5:00pm treat while I prepared our Irish feast.

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Holden brought home a friendly little leprechaun and I updated our “days until” sign {which hadn’t been updated since Christmas!!}. That was the extent of SPD at Chez Aspiras!

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And as for our nice, quiet, after-the-holidays schedule……that is all coming to a screeching halt and the calendar is quickly filling up again.

Elliott is back in full swing with Spring soccer through AYSO and is on another great team. They’ve played two games and walked away with a shutout in game one and managed to tie game two up this past Saturday. The Spring season is a lot more relaxed as there are no playoffs and only 8 games, but it is a great way for the kids to keep up with their skills and build up their momentum for the Fall season. We are so proud of her as she ASKS to go and practice at the park above and beyond her normal practices. She was chosen to be a team captain this past week and Jay captured this sweet picture of her teammate and her after they won the coin toss…

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She also has stepped up her dance game and has taken on another class aside from her Friday hip hop & jazz. Last week she went and tried a lyrical class with her friend, Tiffany, and came home so excited to show me what she had learned. In one hour she had mastered choreography for the Spring recital number and the teacher asked of she was doing the recital! I thought the deadline had passed to order costumes, but apparently it was extended so BOOM she’s enrolled in one more dance class during the week and I ordered her second costume for the recital.

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This warms my heart as lyrical is one of my most favorite styles of dance and I have been nudging her to take this class for a couple years now.

I feel so blessed that she can go from aggression and speed on the soccer field to beauty and grace in the dance studio. I pray that she will continue to grow in both of these activities and is always able to keep one foot in a soccer cleat and one foot in a dance shoe.

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Holden is about to start Spring baseball so we will throw in a practice during the week and a Saturday game into the calendar for the next couple months. He is very excited and received new baseball necessities from Gramma Kathy for his birthday last month ~ fancy cleats, official baseball pants with a big boy belt {no more drawstrings!}, a bat and some awesome batting gloves. I need to uncover his right-handed glove out in the garage and he’ll be good to go! He hasn’t played since being on the cutest little t-ball team 3 years ago, so this league will be a great way for him to be reintroduced to baseball.

He and I also enjoyed a little mother/son bonding time at a PTA sponsored bowling event last weekend. Our team made our own tie dyed shirts which was a first for me and so much fun. The afternoon of bowling was equally as fun and we can’t wait for next year!

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The weeks are simply flying by. Aside from these activities, they are both doing after school activities and their weekly religious education classes. Spring Break is on the horizon and that just means one thing…..Summer is not too far behind!

As mentioned in my last post, our summer is going to be filled with events leading up to the marriage of my brother-in-law to his precious finace in late July so we have all that goodness waiting for us on the books, as well.

Feeling so grateful for our busy calendar.

Have a beautiful day, friends!

XOXO

On Honesty

Last year when I was going through RCIA, we discussed that being a follower of Christ is not always easy. Sometimes being Christ-like is hard. We want to do what WE want to do, not what Jesus would want us to do. Sometimes going against what WE want is not fun, but it is almost always right.

I had a lesson in this about 8.5 years ago before I became Catholic; before I was technically a follower of Christ, I guess you could say.

I’ve always considered myself an honest person. I was born with a huge guilty conscience {perfect for Catholicism many have joked}. I learned honesty is the best policy at a young age from my parents, obviously. I always chalked it up to “doing the right thing” because it’s the right thing to do, but now I know it’s the Holy Spirit guiding me and by following the Holy Spirit, I am glorifying God.

So, when I was pregnant with Elliott I worked full-time and knew that I wasn’t going to return to the workforce after she was born. See yesterday’s post for more on this. It came time to prepare for her arrival and get all my ducks in a row. Like I said, I knew that I needed to give my employer notice before I went out on maternity leave {or SAHM leave} and when I talked to several friends they suggested I tell them I’m coming back so that I could get my disability. Well, that didn’t sit well with me although you KNOW I saw dollar signs flying out the window in my head. Let’s be honest.

It was not worth it to me to LIE to my employer who had been so good to me and have them think that I was coming back only to call them 6 weeks after my baby was born and say, “Hey guys, I decided to be a stay at home mom. I won’t be coming back.” I didn’t want that conversation hanging over me while I was enjoying my new blessing of motherhood. So one morning I went into one of my bosses offices {the one who interviewed me} and sat down. I explained to him that I knew I wanted to stay at home with my baby and that I was sad to report that I would not be coming back to work there. This was the best job I’d ever had. It was an hour commute each way, but worth every mile. I was sad to leave, but I was excited for the next chapter on our life.

Do you know that Mark looked across the desk at me and said something to the effect of, “Amy, I’m so glad you’ve decided to stay at home.We’ll certainly miss you. But I’ll just have you send in a letter of resignation after the baby is born because you’ve paid into this for so many years and you DESERVE to receive these benefits. This happens all the time.”

I couldn’t believe it. I “did the right thing” and was still blessed with the thing that I was worried about losing ~ money.

I left that meeting overwhelmed with gratitude and complete peace. Because I chose to be honest, I believe I was rewarded with several little checks during my maternity leave that certainly helped us financially. I will never forget the day the last one came. I knew it was the last one. I opened it and it was like a big {not THAT big} lump sum and there was a note that said this was my last of my benefits. The total was way more than I was receiving weekly and I guess it was just the balance of what I’d paid into?? I didn’t call to ask, just thanked my lucky stars and lived off that instead of starting to ask Jay for money and getting me a debit card at HIS bank. LOL

Anyhow, I was walking with my friend a couple weeks ago and we were talking about blessings and how they come when we least expect them. I told her about this story and about how Mark’s kindness would be remembered for a long, long time…probably forever. I got choked up as I was telling the story and she could tell that this was something that I held close to my heart after all these years.

Last weekend Jay and I were invited to a 25th wedding anniversary celebration {stay with me here} of the sweet friend who had gotten me the interview of this best job ever. We had a mutual friend and were wine tasting in Temecula one Sunday afternoon. I had expressed to her that I was unhappy at my current job and she begged me to come and apply at her company. So I did and I am ever so grateful.

OK, getting back to the party…Jay and I walked in about an hour late due to a dumb grass fire on I-5. The vow renewal had already taken place and the guests were enjoying passed hor d’oeuvres and cocktails before dinner. The DJ directed us into the room and the first thing I saw was several smiling faces of some of my favorite colleagues from, you guessed it, THE BEST JOB EVER. After a mini hug reunion, we sat and got caught up from over the years.

All of a sudden I asked, “How’s Mark? Does anyone keep in touch with him?”

There was a silence. Art, my other former boss, said, “Mark died!”

I was in complete shock. So saddened.

50 years old and had a heart attack while surfing with his son.

I couldn’t believe it.

I shared with everyone that I was JUST talking about him a couple weeks earlier and how he would forever be remembered as one of the most compassionate bosses in my career. I reminded them about how painless he made my departure for the workplace and that he had been the force behind a little financial freedom that doesn’t always come when you stop working.

It was SO great to share in our friends’, Tom & Teri’s, celebration. It was so neat to view photos of them over the years…the places they’ve visited, the CCI puppies that they have devoted their hearts to raising.

I didn’t know who to expect on the guest list from our Decision One days, but I can tell you that it was so, so great to see the ones that were there and the way they welcomed us when I was feeling terrible that we were over an hour late!

Art, Julie, Teri and Linda ~ I loved spending the evening with you all. XOXO

Being a stay-at-home-mom is great, but working in a cubicle with amazing people all around you is pretty great too!

Mark, rest in peace and love. Your words and kind gesture will NEVER be forgotten. Thank you for reminding me that being HONEST is always the way to be.

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No legacy is so rich as honesty ~ William Shakespeare

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight ~ Proverbs 12:22

I Always Knew

I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mother.

But I also always knew that I wanted to go to college and earn a degree.

There was a time when I was focused on graduating from SDSU and being a mama was not on my immediate radar.

There was a time when I thought I may NOT be able to be a SAHM.

Thankfully, I surrendered and listened to what HE had in store for me. It took some time, but eventually I saw and understood why everything that had happened in my life up to that point.

I recall being at lunch with my colleagues when I was working FT in Del Mar and looking across the restaurant at a group of what I assumed were SAHMs. They had their strollers, infant carseats, burp cloths, etc. and were sitting around chatting about what moms of infants and toddlers probably chat about ~ sleep deprivation, finding the right diapers, etc.

I recall thinking to myself, “I want to do that someday.” Not live in Del Mar and sit in a brewery/pizza joint, but be a SAHM.

That was about 16 years ago.

I’ve been at home for almost 8.5 years now. It’s hard to believe. I don’t have it all figured out. Like at all. Somedays I feel so productive and others I feel like I’m letting my family down. Some days I just have to be OK with doing the bare minimum…

Kids up, dressed, fed, teeth brushed, hair done, lunches packed, homework in the backpack, socks & shoes on and to school on time {a pet peeve of mine}.

Dishes in the sink at least washed and placed in the dish drainer.

Maybe a load of laundry started {and probably forgotten in the washer for a day or two, but I always know that Jay will remind me it’s in there!}

Making sure we have SOMETHING for dinner that is semi-healthy and not from a drive-thru.

Picking up the kids from school and getting homework done before soccer, religious ed, dance, etc.

Remembering who has practice and at which field/park and at what time.

Asking Holden 26 times to get his shoes on and get in the car.

Getting home from said soccer practice {late} and getting dinner together, the kids in the bath, reading minutes logged, teeth brushed and tucked in.

Somedays that’s all I can do. And that’s not to say that I do this all alone. Jay is obviously tired after commuting and working all day, but he helps a lot, too.

And I’m not complaining about this at all, I’m just saying that there are days {lately more so than not!} that I don’t get a thing more done than what I have to. I am totally aware that I need to put down my phone more and pick up the Swiffer duster and Hoover more. I know this. I get it. I want to. But somedays I just don’t have it in me. And I’m not saying that’s OK either.

What prompted this whole post was reading this article floating around Facebook.

I’m not going to get real deep here {because I never do}, but sometimes you just need to hear that being a SAHM IS work and that it DOES count as a “job”.

I am beyond blessed that I’ve been able to stay at home this long. Yes, we have to make sacrifices and say NO and sometimes even worry about money.

But, lately we have truly seen God’s grace and witnessed his promise to always provide.

It was laid on my heart many, many years ago to be in this exact place right now and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Bad days and all.

Because my “bad day” is someone else’s dream day come true.

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The little 4X4 IG photos above are WHY I stay home with my kids.

I am gathering moments each day, the good and the not so good, so that when my babies are older and go off to college or I deliver a speech at their weddings, I can look back and know that I embraced what God placed in my path.

I may not get everything right, but I hope I get this right…..

I knew 16 years ago.

I knew 20 years ago.

I ALWAYS knew.

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I’m a day late, but wanted to share yesterday’s Facebook post…

12 years ago at this time, I was glued to the television with fear, sadness, awe and disbelief. I go back in my mind to the visions of Ground Zero even 10 months after “that day” and still canNOT imagine being there in those first moments, hours, days, weeks and months after our country was tested. Red, White & Blue rose above all, and today I am not afraid, but am filled with hope, faith and LOVE.

…and an IG post…

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“Land of the FREE. Home of the BRAVE. Always. No matter what.”

Tulle Time ~ A First Holy Communion Celebration

This past weekend Elliott celebrated her first holy communion.

When given two dates to choose from, I decided to go with Saturday the 11th of May so that it would fall on Mother’s Day weekend. My in-laws and mom would be in town and we’d all be able to celebrate Mother’s Day together for the first time, as well.

But honestly the focus was on our sweet, sweet almost 8-year old and her special day.

I really can’t put into words the pride and joy I felt. We were given several blank cards to choose from at the communion retreat and instructed to write our child a note and give it to them the morning of their mass. I tuned out the hustle and bustle, sat and wrote her words from my heart, took her aside and had her read it. She immediately gave me a hug and said, “Thank you, mommy!”

She was confident. She was ready.

Some days she fights me when it’s time to go to CCD, but I’ve never backed down and every time we arrive and I walk her to her room, she runs in and doesn’t even say goodbye. I’m OK with that.

She’s memorized all her prayers and even got 100% on her cumulative quiz. She performed her first reconciliation like a {pro} in early February. I had NO doubt that she was going to make us just as proud as she received her first eucharist.

And proud we were….

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{We found her dress at Nordstrom. It’s actually an Easter dress and was a fraction of the cost of their communion dresses sold on-line. I wanted simple and classic, yet with a twist and I think this was perfect. Her little shoes are from Payless and her veil is from the parish gift shop. ~ Thank you to Lolo & Lola for her dress and Gramma Kathy for her cross earrings and matching necklace! XO}

Jay and I hosted a little dessert celebration that evening and I had so much fun planning and preparing for that. Obviously.

I found some sweet notecards at TJ Maxx and used those for the invites. Again, I just format the text and run them through the printer for a “professional” look.

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Of course the main color of the day was WHITE so I tried my hardest to stray away from the bright, vibrant colors that I love so much. I knew there was going to be some tulle involved since, to me, that is so light and delicate and reminiscent of the veils worn by the little girls.

I covered our huge Cinzano picture in brown mailing paper and then hung a few embroidery hoops from the tulle. I found a small remnant of while polka dot fabric at Joann’s as it complemented the little dots on her dress.

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I’d also seen a balloon chandelier on Pinterest and went off memory when putting that up…

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I had no idea what I was doing…just picked up a bag of 10 gold {accent color} balloons and some white iridescent curling ribbon, blew up the balloons, cut a long piece of ribbon, curled the bottom half of it and hung it with tape on the ceiling so that the curly part hung down. Simple as that. I hung all 10 balloons over the center of our big table.

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We decided to just do desserts and drinks and I wanted everything to be white. I went with my favorite sugar cookie bars, white chocolate covered strawberries, white chocolate covered pretzel rods, TJ’s vanilla meringues and at the last minute we picked up an ice cream cake for the kids.

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It was just lemonade for the kids and beer and wine for the adults…

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I finally picked up the stemless wine glasses I’ve been wanting for years for the occasion.

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I wanted all the families to go home with a little something so I found some small wall plaques at Dollar Tree, swapped out the ugly ribbon and repackaged them. I think we all can benefit from a little reminder of FaItH & hOpE once in awhile.

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FAITH is inspiration for the future.

HOPE never falters or gives up.

Amen.

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The kids chalked up our court with the help of the street lights. Elliott desperately wanted me to take a picture at 10:30pm, but I had to wait until daylight to best capture her work…

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Here are some other favorites from the day…

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*****

Thank you to all who came to the church for the mass and to our home to celebrate and for all her precious gifts ~ perfect reminders for her down the road of this special day and tokens of our faith.

It was a truly blessed day.

Can’t wait to do it again in two years with Holden.