Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Air BnB baby!

I don't know if I will ever want to stay in a hotel ever again after the amazing experience we had using an Air Bnb.  Before I show off my awesome house fine let me back up and share the whole week of greatness.

This summer I had a great desire to have a fun summer especially if it is our last alone before a baby comes in our adoption.  So I used Facebook events to learn about a ton of fun things to do.  We decided with the desire to save on some funds to do half stay-cation and half vacation.  We started with seeing Star Wars The Force Awakens at a local park. We packed snacks and wine (and no wine opener).
Matt got the bottle open with a little Google search and his keys!

Movie time!
The next day we spent the day relaxing and packing for our upcoming week.  We then had a Night at the Museum!  We checked our the Museum of Science and Industry's Brick by Brick.  It was an adult only event where we got in for the same cost of the museum however we got dinner, drinks and to go into the extra exhibit of Brick by Brick.  We also got to hear a live podcast interview of the master builder.  

Of course my favorite!
Sundays for us have always been a traditional day of relaxing, preparing for the week, attending Mass and making a very yummy Italian dinner.  Since we were going to be going out of town we instead celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Caramel by attending a local Italian fest, I do wear her scapular so it was a great day to celebrate my devotion to her.  

Monday finally arrived and we were off!  Of course right after Matt discovered a flat tire on his car and didn't want to leave it till we returned. We took the short hour and ten minute drive to our beautiful cabin which was located in this beautiful little forest neighborhood right off of Lake Michigan.  

The living room and dining room.  To the right is the kitchen were I made us breakfast and packed us lunches.

Matt's favorite spot the screened in porch.

The private beach!
We enjoyed our 4 days in our little cottage. We went to the beach, went on a wine tasting tour (which was half the price cause we did a week day instead of the weekend) and ate out for dinner.  We went for walks, saw deer and read books in the quiet of nature.  We grocery shopped upon arrival and so we had breakfast at home and I packed us lunches for the beach.  This all saved us so much money because we could have been having all our meals out and would have both over eaten and over spent.  Check out my Facebook page for all our pictures of our adventures. I highly encourage this way of vacation to not only save money but just to enjoy the relaxation of it all.  Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Review: The Joy of the Gospel

I was so excited to get the chance to review the book The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis.  I find our Pope to be so in touch with his flock and in tuned with what we need in the 21st century.  Boy was I disappointed!  I was so bored.  It was such a scholarly paper and way over my head.  I am so sad.  I could not even finish the book.  I don't have much to say about.  Everything I read was over my head and hard to understand.  I know he talked a bit about how we should share the Gospel and that brings joy and I know he talked a bit about violence and the economic crisis of our time.  But that is it.  Otherwise I was so lost!  Sorry I cannot give more information.  Maybe someday I will pick it up and try again but for now its being placed on the shelf.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Local Pilgrimage

I have been lucky to have had some amazing spiritual pilgrimages during my short time in this world. In 2005 I went to Assisi and Rome and followed the life of St. Francis of Assisi. We got to see some amazing sites such as St. Francis's home, monastery and grave site. We got to crawl up the Santa Scave, visit tons of basilicas and the Vatican. We even go tot see St. Peter's bones under the Vatican.  I have also had the opportunity to travel to St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal Canada.

But now those opportunists are far and few in between. We are busy adults with commitments at work and family etc. But still a pilgrimage can be very spiritually fulfilling.  A few weeks ago I made the effort to go on a local private pilgrimage to St. John, IN to the Shrine of Christ's Passion. This place is perfect for a few hour pilgrimage.  If you have never been it basically is life size statues of the passion and resurrection of Jesus. There also is a memorial for children lost to abortion and the statue of Our Lady of the New Millennium.  Everyone is welcome at this place.  Kids will love it.  There are buttons to press and then a small description of that station is said out loud through the speaker.  Also it is wheel chair accessible.  But even if you are not in a wheel chair but have trouble walking there are free golf carts that you can ride in.  You can check out their website here: I am just going to share some of my favorite pictures and hope that you will make the effort:
The Last Supper, guests are invited to sit with Jesus.

Jesus is condemned to death. 

Jesus carries the cross.

Jesus meets the women.

Jesus on the cross

Jesus is taken from the cross. 

The empty tomb.

Abortion memorial

Our Lady of the New Millennium 
 I would highly encourage that families make an effort to be on Pilgrimage this week.  Holy Thursday is a great night after Mass to do this.  Go with members from your church to different churches and pray with Jesus.  Go to Stations on Good Friday at a new parish or your diocese's cathedral.  Pilgrimages don't have to be over night.  They just are a chance to journey away from the norm and try something new.  God Bless you this Holy Week!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Miracle Morning

Oh boy have I been away!  I do apologize.  You can also find me with my husband at our adoption blog

One of the biggest changes I had this school year was teaching a 1st period for the first time in my career.  So in order to become a "morning person" I started to do some research.  I found the book The Miracle Morning.  This book begins with the author's life story about how he was in a car accident and actually was dead for six minutes.  He then went through a long recovery and along the way he created the Miracle Morning.  He calls them the LIFE SAVERS.

Silence- time for meditation and/or prayer
Visualization- visualize your goals
Scribble- be creative

So how did I adapt this to my life? Well just like Hal suggests it start's with my night before.  Getting everything ready for the next day.  Actually on Sunday I start with picking up my clothing for the whole week and hanging on the back of my bathroom door.  I also  fill in my planner for the week and confirm my weekly plans.  I do this with my Erin Condren Planner. I pack my lunch the night before and make sure my bags are packed.  I take a shower and set my alarm for the next day.  I then self talk as Hal suggests to do about how I will wake up refreshed. There is more to my evening routine but that is another post for another time.

So its morning and the alarm is going off at 5AM!!  I start by waking up and going into the bathroom, washing up and brushing my teeth.  I then change into something to wear to do yoga.  I then settle myself in front of our family prayer alter and spend my S in silence with prayer. Usually I use the Magnificat. I then write in my planner my prayer intentions for that day and visualize my day. I now have my S and V done!

From there I head downstairs and pour myself water.  I then do a 20 minute stretch yoga making my E complete.  I then move on to the other S and A.  I use The Five Minute Journal and within it I complete my time for gratitude and affirmations.  Sometimes I color in an adult coloring book too. Lastly I complete my R with reading until it is 6AM and my hubby is done getting ready and I can get ready.  Then he usually prepares breakfast for us and then we eat together before leaving for our days.

I am way more energetic thanks to the Miracle Morning.  I encourage you to pick up and try it!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teacher Conferences- Forever a student!

Proverbs 16:16 - How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

This past month and a half I have been to three conferences.  All education related and I took a lot away from each.  The first is the Connections Conference.  It is sponsored by Illinois State University.  It is over two days at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, IL.  It starts off with a keynote speaker.  I was not a big fan of the speaker and honestly couldn't remember much about his talk.  However its the workshops that rock this conference.  I went to some great workshops that ranged in a variety of topics from how to have a elective class fair to discussions on the teenage brain.  I also sat in on Illinois's Teacher of the Year Steven Elza and the strategies he uses in his classroom.  I was fascinated by the use of technology in his classroom.

My next conference was actually a student conference.  I took six students to the FCCLA (Family Career and Community Leaders of America) State Conference.  Students presented projects for medals and a chance to attend nationals.  We had one student qualify for nationals in July in Washington D.C.  She did a project in Early Childhood Education.  This is the sixth year I have had a student qualify for this event at nationals.  Throughout the weekend they had workshops for the students to attend while they were not in competitions.  The one workshop my students talked the most about was the one on sex.  However it was not a typical one.  The workshop talked a lot about safety and internet and who you meet online.  They talked about how there are predators and people who will not say who they really are but have fake identifications.  I did not attend any workshops I spend the day judging as a volunteer.  In the evening we had a group dinner and then we went to the evening events.  The girls didn't want to stay for entertainment so we went back to the hotel to enjoy the pool and pack.  The next morning we got our results and then headed home.  It was a great 3 days!

Lastly I attended the Delta Kappa Gamma Lambda State Convention.  I was not impressed.  I felt very left out of what seemed to be more tradition and a reunion then a conference for learning.  They messed up my meals that should have been gluten free.  Also they did not call me up as a first timer so I didn't bother going up.  Very few of the workshops were meant for PD hours which is why a young teacher like me would want to attend!  I don't think I would attend next year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Staying in faith over spring break and other travels

A lot is happening this time of year.  I have been attending conferences and preparing for taking students to FCCLA (Family Career and Community Leaders of America." My husband is in England right now presenting a paper at an academic conference.  We have several vacations planned this summer and more professional conferences.  And there is spring break.  Whether you are traveling alone, as a couple or a family it is easy to stay connected to your faith.  Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Use apps on your IPad such as Laudate or IBreviary. This way you don't have to pack extra prayer books and you could play the prayers over the radio when driving.
2. Download a Bible app for daily Bible time.  There are tons out there.
3. Use to be sure you don't miss Sunday Mass or to take a pilgrimage to a new church.
4. Make time in your evening to pray in the morning or before bed.
5. Listen to Christian music, podcasts or audio books.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Wedding Season and Marriage prep

As the flowers begin to bloom and the sun shines all day shower and wedding invitations are filling my mailbox!  I consider marriage to be an amazing vocation and I thank God daily that marrying Matt was His plan for me.  Over the past 4 1/2 years of marriage I have come to the realization that no one not even the church's "Pre-cana" class prepared us for marriage.  On our own we have discovered resources that have helped us figure out how to work on problems that come up instead of fighting over these problems over and over. None of these are in particular order.

First off finances and finance fights are the number one reason for divorce.  To avoid this we turned to Dave Ramsey.  We read the books and follow the plans that Dave sets out.  I really think all engaged couples should be required to go through Dave's classes Financial Peace University.  From there my advice is to meet weekly about the finances.  Write a monthly budget.  All this advice is coming from an avid spender and shopaholic so I will be the first to admit I am the problem.  So being that I am trying to become the solution.

Second discuss chores.  Whose going to do what.  Although you may do the budget together whose is pressing enter on the bank website to pay the bills?  Who is mowing the lawn?  Who is doing the ironing and scrubbing the toilets? Two people live in the house two people do the chores.  Because I am a teacher I take over more of the chores in the summer instead of splitting them in half.  I rather have summer nights and weekends for us to have some fun so I don't mind at all.  However during the school year it is both of us who pitch in.  This is another discussion at the weekly meeting.  Who will take care of what by the next week?

Third discuss your family planning.  Now this is a Catholic site so you are not going to read me telling you to get on birth control and pick a date to stop.  Learn Natural Family Planning (NFP).  I would recommend learning this while engaged not after getting married.  Otherwise you do have to abstain for 30 days.  So it is easier if you are not living together yet.  But if you are not comfortable discussing these issues then you are not ready to be married and intimate with your partner.  I personally use the Creighton Method.  However there are a variety of methods and phone/tablet apps. Another great site is Couple to Couple League.  I could spend a whole other post on why you should not use birth control without even bringing up the Catholic view point of it.  Just don't start taking the pill.  It is better for your health.  This is another thing you can discuss at your meeting.  Maybe not weekly but when you get to the week where fertility and conception has a chance discuss whether a baby or not is appropriate for your growing family.

Fourth discuss your long term goals.  This can go along with your finance discussion. Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?  10 years?  Discuss these things.  Unhappy at work? One day of unhappiness is one thing but long term unhappiness is something to discuss.  Never change or quit jobs without discussing and praying with your spouse!  Although this also does not have to be discussed weekly bring it up often if your goals change.  Otherwise I would suggest the wedding anniversary is a perfect time to reflect on the year and the future.

Fifth discuss your calendar!  This goes with a lot of things already discussed but when we first got married we had no system to share with each other our schedules.  Thanks to Google Calendar that has all changed.  We share our calendar weekly to help us meal plan and chore plan.  Also if we know that a lot of birthdays are coming up in the month we can budget accordingly.

Lastly and most importantly discuss your feelings.  Be honest about how you feel.  Where your feelings hurt by your spouse? Pray together.  Prayer can open up discussions on what you or your spouse are worried and concerned about.  Pray for your spouse.  Pray over them.  Pray to their patron saint.  Dedicate your home to a saint.  Pray to that saint.  A couple that prays together stays together.

I am not pretending to be perfect.  We are far from it.  But these are things that have worked for us.  I wish I had learned them at marriage prep. Some day my dream is to help couples with marriage prep. I hope I will have the courage to dig deeper with couples to solve these issues before the wedding bells.

Check out some of these helpful titles which would make great wedding gifts!  Who needs another gravy boat anyways?!
The Total Money Makeover
Marriage Insurance
The Juggling Act
The Sinners Guide to NFP
Holy Sex

Edit: I just found this website on Pintrest.  Although its not just about the wedding day but about the marriage I look back with such joy on our beautiful Mass we had for our wedding.  Hopefully this site can help others plan theirs: Catholic Wedding Help