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Building a House into a Home

When Ian and I saw this house a few months ago, we could see the possibilities: the little girls could share this room, the boys that one; this could be the living room, that could be a guest room; if we build a wall here, we can finally have the chapel I have always wanted. The back yard was huge, and we could see our children playing and riding their bikes around the neighborhood.

Look at those bike paths!

Lots of room to play!

So we moved in and painted a few walls in anticipation of the floor that would be put in shortly, and we’d move beds into the proper rooms and everyone would know where everything was and everything would have its own place. We would postpone restarting school for a few days because of the temporary chaos of cramped quarters on the main floor. As soon as the basement was done, we’d set up our dining room table so the kids would have a place to do school and we’d be able to unpack all our books and put them into shelves for easy access.

Margaret among the boxes

School Among the Ruins

A month later….

We have started school, using various tables and sofas and chairs that are surrounded by boxes and dressers in what will one day be the dining room. We also eat meals here and pray our nightly rosary.

so much stuff!

Taking a Break from Unpacking and Painting

The kids are sleeping in sleeping bags in two bedrooms, and Ian & I are sleeping in a tiny room that may have been an office at one time. It has been one long camp out!

Robert camping out

Robert camping out

I have taken lots of pictures of the process of tearing down, rebuilding, tiling and painting, so I’ll highlight some of those projects in upcoming posts.

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We’re Moving!

One month from today we will take up residence in a new-to-us house in Loveland, Colorado. We have lived in our current house near Colorado Springs for almost 14 years, and all but one of our children was born here. There are a lot of memories within these walls, and we thought we would be here forever.

Fun with boxes My beautiful picture
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But Ian’s job changed a year ago. He had to temporarily shut down AquinasandMore.com, and take a job in another city. After more than 12 months of commuting and spending many nights away from home, we have finally sold our house and bought a new one closer to work. As of April 9, we will no longer have to say prayers over the phone.

Pilgrimage Day 39: How are the New Year’s Resolutions Coming?

I just re-read my New Year’s Resolution post from a week ago. I had already forgotten some of them! The dangers of putting promises on public display!

Well, resolutions do me no good without frequent review, so let’s get to it:

1. Save money monthly for Chartres. CHECK. I have a certain amount I am saving each month, but I really don’t know how much I will need. I’ll just keep saving until I figure out all the expenses I am likely to incur.

2. Set monthly goals: endurance while walking, weight loss, diet adjustments to level of activity. CHECK. My personal Trainer gave me a little device called a Fitbit last week. It is amazing. It links to an online account, which helps you keep track of goals, caloric intake and burning, number of steps taken, intensity of activity, etc. If you have a heart rate monitor, you can enter that info here too, to keep all your motivators in one place. I just received my first weekly report in an email, which gives best days, worst days, and averages for all this stuff. By the way, I have lost 6 lbs. since I first logged in last Thursday. Yay!

3. Learn to use the heart rate monitor Ian gave me! No, I have not done this. I have it right here, and I downloaded the owner’s manual, though. Counts for something, right?

4. Set goals and start training with a friend who has agreed to be my personal trainer. See number 2 above. Today I took my walk (70 minutes at a brisk pace. It was supposed to be at 50 – 60% of my maximum heartrate, but since I have not done #3, I do not know if I reached this.) My Trainer wants me to get to the point where I can run a marathon at abut 5 mph. I am not there yet.

5. Stay accountable with my “loser buddy.” I sent her a note today, telling her what I am doing. 

6. Walk or exercise every day. Set a specific time for this. I do not have a specific time. I am not sure I can do this yet, since the weather and temperature fluctuate so much this time of year. As the weather warms, I can set it for the same time every morning, but for now it will depend on whether my breath freezes and falls to the ground as soon as it comes out of my nose, or whether there is a blizzard going on. I have thought about walking at the mall, but that would require at least one and a half hours of driving to get there and back, and would only give me level pavement to train on. Out here, I have gravel, mud, snow, ice, hills… and my Mother-In-Law gave me a DVD and a set of wrist weights for walking at home! I will use that during bad weather.

7. Drink enough water every day. I can make this part of a daily check list on my phone. I have not been drinking enough water, and I have not put it as a reminder on my phone. 

8. Learn more about how to exercise effectively and safely. I am doing this little by little. I am glad I have the running shoes I do. They are incredibly comfortable and supportive while I walk. Today while walking, since I did not know how much my heart was working, I wondered if I should jog. But because I was alone on a country road, I thought I had better not until Ian can make sure I don’t sprain my ankle and have to lie in the gutter until someone passes by.

9. Find out about pool membership and swim regularly if not cost-prohibitive. I did find out about this, and I think we might do it closer to summer if we go with the outdoor pool, or sooner if we go with the indoor pool with the possibility of swimming lessons for the kids.

10. Schedule time to spend one-on-one with each of the kids, especially the girls! I have some Girls’ Night In/Out activities on the calendar for my daughters. The next one is this Saturday: home manicures and pedicures! I took them the other day to pick out some nail polish.

11. Make time to go to the museum with our new family membership which we received for Christmas. Have not done this yet.

12. Try to minimize or consolidate doctor and dentist appointments so I have more time at home. Well, the appointments have slowed down a bit. At least for now.

13. Dedicate a specific time to grading school papers. I am trying to do this while the kids are doing their school work, but I frequently have to stop to teach a lesson or explain something, or even to stop a fight between the younger kids or lie down with a little one so he’ll take a nap.

14. Schedule Confession for the kids and take them. Have not done this officially, but some of them have gone recently. Some have not and need to.

15. Blog every day, or at least once a week, on the Liturgical Year/Feast Days, Family, and/or Pilgrimage Prep. Set specific time to blog. Obviously I have not done this since January 1. 

16. Set specific times for prayer (Divine Office and Rosary), spiritual reading, examination of conscience, and Scripture daily. Keep prayer area clear of distractions.  I have specific times I am supposed to do the Divine Office, but I do not always follow the schedule. The rosary I pray while on my walk and in the evening with the kids. I have not been diligent about the rest, and my prayer area is a mess. I’ll clean it up this week and try to get into a better routine. Also, at my last confession, the priest suggested I add the Angelus three times a day. I already do it at noon, but he said I should pray it at 6 AM and 6 PM also, to help structure the day.

17. Schedule regular Spiritual Direction and Confession. I went to confession last night, and have put it on the calendar for every two weeks, ,which my Spiritual Director recommended. As for having regular Spiritual Direction, he is a busy man and I take what I can get. Every 2 – 3 weeks would be ideal, but not possible.

18. Find a quiet place for a desk that is just for correspondence and bills. Keep it clean. Nope. Maybe once we move.

19. Save up for a Breviary since I had to return the one I borrowed from Fr. O’Neill. Or at least get a good app for my phone. Ian found an app that might work on my phone, but we have not gotten it yet. I have not started saving for a set of books, although this is something I really would like. I will have to look at the budget.

20. Read the Etsy-preneurship book Ian gave me, and refurbish my shop. Make more dolls and things to sell. Enlist the older kids to make things as well! Schedule time for reading, making, and doing. I have not done this.

21. Set regular time aside to sew the kids’ Christmas stockings. Goal: have Susan’s, Peter’s, Maria’s and Nana’s done by Thanksgiving! That means finish Susan’s in January, and then have a stocking completely done every 3 months. Enlist the help of the older kids. I have not done this either! And I am adding more to it: I want to learn how to crochet lace, and how to play the harp if my brother makes me a harp! Oh! and I want to have a flower garden.

22. Save up for a new Bosch motor so we can make bread regularly again. I have not budgeted this in either, but it needs to take priority over the Breviary set.

I guess that’s not too bad, but I need to crack out that calendar and start doing some of this stuff! The year is 7 days old already!

New Year’s Resolutions: 2014

This isn’t anything new, since Ian & I resolved to go to Chartres back in November. But I found this web site:

Alpha and Omega Rose Window

This is a fundraiser for the restoration of stained glass windows in bay 140 in Chartres Cathedral – to be completed in 2016! I wonder if they will be finished by Pentecost that year. It would be neat to see the project completed, but I am simply excited to be going at all!

But for the Year of Our Lord 2014, I should have some goals written down.

Chartres and Fitness goals:

  • Set a fixed amount of money aside for the Chartres trip each month.

USAGOLD Coins

  • Set monthly goals: endurance while walking, weight loss, diet adjustments to level of activity.
  • Learn to use the heart rate monitor Ian gave me!

FR70

  • Set goals and start training with a friend who has agreed to be my personal trainer.

After multiple years as a DI, the frog voice sounds like some kind of demonic possession.

  • Stay accountable with my “loser buddy.”
  • Walk or exercise every day. Set a specific time for this.
  • Drink enough water every day. I can make this part of a daily check list on my phone.
  • Learn more about how to exercise effectively and safely.
  • Find out about pool membership and swim regularly if not cost-prohibitive.

Swimming

Family:

  • Schedule time to spend one-on-one with each of the kids, especially the girls!

  • Make time to go to the museum with our new family membership which we received for Christmas.

Travel back 3,000 years

  • Try to minimize or consolidate doctor and dentist appointments so I have more time at home.
  • Dedicate a specific time to grading school papers.

  • Schedule Confession for the kids and take them.

Personal:

  • Blog every day, or at least once a week, on the Liturgical Year/Feast Days, Family, and/or Pilgrimage Prep. Set specific time to blog.

Image

  • Set specific times for prayer (Divine Office and Rosary), spiritual reading, examination of conscience, and Scripture daily. Keep prayer area clear of distractions. Note: this is not my house, just a beautiful prayer space I found a picture of:

  • Schedule regular Spiritual Direction and Confession!

Prodigal Son

  • Find a quiet place for a desk that is just for correspondence and bills. Keep it clean!! (Note: also not my desk)

Product Image

  • Save up for a Breviary since I had to return the one I borrowed from Fr. O’Neill. Or at least get a good app for my phone.

The Roman Breviary - Flexible cover (Black Leather), 3-Volume Set

  • Read the Etsy-preneurship book Ian gave me, and refurbish my shop. Make more dolls and things to sell. Enlist the older kids to make things as well! Schedule time for reading, making, and doing.

15869087

  • Set regular time aside to sew the kids’ Christmas stockings. Goal: have Susan’s, Peter’s, Maria’s and Nana’s done by Thanksgiving! That means finish Susan’s in January, and then have a stocking completely done every 3 months. Enlist the help of the older kids.

This wonderful hand~crafted Christmas Stocking called "BABY JESUS" is made of felt applique on cloth and beautifully decorated with hand sewn sequins and beads.  There is room at the top to have a special name embroidered.  A precious Baby's First Christmas Stocking.

  • Save up for a new Bosch motor so we can make bread regularly again!

Day 17: December 16: O Antiphons Novena

This Novena, though it starts one day earlier than the O Antiphons, correlates with the O Antiphons in the titles used to address Jesus between the 17 th and the 24 the of December. It would, therefore, make a good Novena to pray when your family prays the O Antiphons.

December 16: 

O Shepherd that rulest Israel, 
Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, 
come to guide and comfort us. 

Our Father...
Hail Mary...
Glory Be...

Today I was supposed to walk 40 minutes, but I took my 10 children Christmas shopping instead. They wanted to buy little gifts for their cousins who will be in town for Christmas, so we spent the afternoon going from place to place finding just the right gift for each person. I did walk for several hours, but I did not get my heart rate up, unless you count my impatience boiling my blood.  My confessor will be seeing me soon.

Pilgrimage: Day 7: St. Nicholas!

I woke up (maybe) early this morning while it was still dark, and was glad I did not have to go anywhere today. Now that the sun is up at 7:30 AM, it is  -18 degrees outside, with a windchill factor of -35!! I love my husband more than ever for braving these temperatures every day to go to work to support the family. Ian, you are my hero and my king!

I let the kids sleep in since most of them have finished their school work for the week, and I thought they would wake up on their own, knowing Who had come last night to fill their Christmas stockings!  The boys were up by 6, and by 6:45 they were chomping at the bit, so I let them go wake their sisters.

They each got a couple of clementine oranges, a candy cane, some chocolate coins, a small Italian torrone candy, and some peanut brittle. The baby got 2 clementines and 2 graham crackers, which made her extremely happy! Her sister peeled one of the oranges for her, and she ate the other one, peel and all!

Now Lucy is making French toast for breakfast, which we will eat with grapefruit halves. Yum.

Today’s walk, which will be inside again: 15-30 minutes. I think I will just do three 8-minute workout videos, since walking briskly is rather difficult inside the house! I must remember to drink plenty of water. Besides there being hardy any humidity outside, the heater is drying the air more inside the house. Thank you, Lord, for working furnaces!

Now, I can’t have a post about St. Nicholas Day without mentioning this great saint! There are so many wonderful stories about this beloved bishop. Among our favorites are the story of how he saved 3 girls from slavery by throwing bags of coins into their house at night, thus providing them with dowries, and the one of how he saved 3 boys from death (a wicked butcher had killed them and put them into a pickling barrel). But I cannot express the reality that is St. Nicholas in a more beautiful way than Leane did at her blog Finer Femininity, so go over there and read her post!

The Pilgrimage Begins: Chartres: Pentecost 2016

Ian and I just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on November 30, 2013.  It has been a beautiful marriage from the start, and God has blessed us with 11 beautiful children, one of whom He took to Himself almost as soon an we knew he existed!

We want to thank God for His goodness and mercy, so we decided that for our 20th anniversary, we will make a pilgrimage. I do not know how I came up with the idea of Chartres, but that is the one we plan to do.  For the next 30 months, until May of 2016, this blog will chronicle our preparations for the pilgrimage, and then I will bring back tales of Chartres, God willing.  I hope that all the details will help someone else who might want to do a pilgrimage, but if not, they will serve as a reminder to me of everything we did to get ready.

Day 1: St. Andrew, pray for us!

St. Andrew’s Day, Saturday, November 30,  2013, we began our physical training: we went for a walk together. Hand-in-hand, like we always do, we walked briskly from our house almost to the corner of Phoebe Grove and Black Forest Road and back home. It took us about half an hour. I wore some shoes that were a little too small for me, but my feet did not suffer too much. Our walk was in the morning after breakfast, and it was cool but not too cold, although I wished I had covered my ears. That afternoon we went to the local runners’ store The Runner’s Roost, and Ian had me fitted for walking shoes for training! The staff there know what they are doing and know all there is to know about what you need on your feet for running and walking. Ian has been going there since he ran cross-country in high school. The man who assisted us said, “The most important things when walking or running are, number one: shoes, and number 2: socks. I can’t tell you which shoe to buy, because it will be as individual as your foot. Each person will need a different shoe for the same race.” He watched me walk in the boots I was wearing, and came back with 3 pairs for me to try. He watched me walk away and back on the track they have built into the floor in the store and told me why this particular shoe would work for me or not. The second pair I tried, I knew was not going to work as I started walking away, and when I came back, before I had said a word, he told me it wouldn’t work, and even repeated to me what I had said to myself. When I settled on a pair of shoes, Ian said, “Happy anniversary! I’ll come get these for you next week.” YAY!! Thank you, Ian!

Day 2: O Come, Emanuel!

The next day, the First Sunday of Advent, December 1, we walked all the way to the corner, north on Black Forest, and back home by way of Cooper Grove. It was also about half an hour. I borrowed my daughter Anne’s shoes, thinking they would be better for my feet, but I got a blister! I felt the arch support digging into my left foot as soon an I started walking, and that should have been a warning to me that these were the wrong shoes for me. Live and learn! It was getting cold, as it was evening this time when we went for our walk. I wore layers, including a fleece jacket and a windbreaker, and a scarf to cover my ears from the wind. I was too hot! I am glad I had the scarf for my ears for the first part of the walk, as the wind was blowing on them, but by the time we turned onto Cooper Grove, I had to take my gloves and scarf off.

I will try to write every day about what I did (Ian will not be with me to train every day, so this blog will be my perspective of the journey). More to come!

If you have been on this pilgrimage, I encourage you to leave feedback here! I would like to know every detail that you can remember: blisters, shoes, prayers, songs, rain & mud, heat & cold, hunger & thirst (physical and spiritual), priests, new friends met along the way, funny things that happened, tears and joys, fears & triumphs, sleeping on the ground, camping equipment you took, wish you had taken, or wish you had not taken, what you thought it was going to be like, and how it met your expectations.

If you have not been on this pilgrimage but have though about it (or another pilgrimage), I encourage you to leave a comment also! Why do you want to go on pilgrimage? What do you hope to find?