Friday, February 12, 2016

Snow and Milestones!

Quick Take Friday as we get ready to jump into February school vacation week!  The last week has held a couple of big milestones for our family!

#1: Another Driver on the Road
Despite a snow storm, Sarah passed her driving test and got her license! It's an exciting achievement for Sarah! It's still a tough milestone for mom! It definitely increases my prayer life when my children get their license!

#2: Timber!!!
The snowstorm on Friday, brought about 8 inches of heavy wet snow. Our neighbor's tree fell down and fell into our yard......
 ....and onto our pool! :( It collapsed part of the side! Now we're in the process of getting quotes to have it repaired through our home owner's insurance! Oy!!

#3: Story Time
Our library recently relocated to a new space and I took Kate and Luke to story time on Saturday. They enjoyed it! Kate did the craft after listening to the stories and Luke got his first library card! He was so excited! Here's a cute "he said".
Luke: How long do I get to keep the library card?
Librarian: Your whole life!
Luke: My whole life!! Even when I'm 8, 9, and 10?!?

And these goofy kiddos on the way home from the library!
 #4: Birthdays!
Mike and Andrew were born on the same day two days apart! Their birthdays were on Sunday and our families came over to celebrate. Cakes ala Grandma Hamel!
Mike let Kate help 
Mike and Pepere
Andrew turned 21! It's SO strange when your child can legally having a drink with you! Andrew decided he wanted to try Jack Daniels and Coke...except he wanted RC Cola! Quirky kid! But, hey, it's his birthday! :)

#5: The Not So Super Superbowl
The Super Bowl was pretty boring, but we enjoyed hanging out with the kids, my parents, and a couple of their friends. Andrew was pretty psyched to save this Tostitoes blimp decoration from being tossed in the trash at work.... 

#6: More Snow
More snow and another snow day on Monday gave me a good reason to make pancakes for breakfast. I made snow man pancakes for Kate and Luke! :)  

#7: Valentine's Day Weekend
Jay and I usually do a pretty laid back Valentine's Day. Finding little ways to make each other feel special is our goal! :) So, Jay is going to make me dinner on Saturday night and then we're going to watch a chick flick together. I'm going to make him one of his favorite dinners and desserts on Sunday.  Sounds like a yummy weekend to me!  

I made some cookies with Kate and the kids I babysit this morning! They did a great job. (There were sprinkles everywhere!)

And speaking of Valentine's Day.....Sarah has a "friend" that has invited her on a couple of dates over the last couple of weeks. Sarah made cookies for Dan last night. Since they are both lactose intolerant, she taped Lactaid on top like a bow! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

And So It Begins.....

What pops into your mind at the mention of Ash Wednesday? 

I'd like to say that the approach of Lent makes me feel like an athlete getting ready to train for a big race. You know...

...adrenaline going, focused with intent on a goal, feeling strong, accomplishing my goals.

This is how some of the people in my house are feeling today.....

Of course, this cartoon isn't 100% accurate since a Church fast is 2 small meatless snacks that don't equal a big meal and then a meatless dinner. But, as one of my kids said who shall remain nameless, "It's SUCH a long time until dinner." The Hamel "hangry" genes are strong with some of my kids!

I always feel a little apprehensive about Lent. I'm always worried about remembering NOT to eat whatever leftovers my littles leave around at snack. I worry about those involuntary sacrifices that God always seems to provide each Lent. (It's kind of like an athlete thinking they can make up their workout...but then their coach shows up and it's 10X harder!)

Then Ash Wednesday arrives and I know that Lent is truly a great opportunity to take a good look in the mirror and try and work on some of the areas in my life that could use some pruning!  

I came upon this article on Facebook that got me thinking in the days leading up to Lent. In particular #3- Don't look at your cellphone while you're conversing with someone, (which I will extend to computer use and multitasking...bc I know I'm terrible about listening(mostly) to what my kids are saying while cleaning/thinking about what I need to do next/laundry/fill in the blank.) So, really, I'm working on being more present and attentive to people when they are talking to me. 

#6-Only buy what is necessary. Not that I do a lot of splurge shopping(most of the time!), but I think that a conscious effort to only buy what we need would be a good way for me to simplify for Lent. 

#12 Pray More is always a good one for me. Jay and I are trying to focus on doing a family rosary each night with the kids. I'm also adding some daily Lent reflections that I will get in my inbox each day to my routine. I enjoyed Dynamic Catholic's Best Lent Ever last year, so I signed up again. I also was surprised to find this Ash Wednesday reflection in my inbox today from, but I'm glad I did! It was a good reminder for me to offer up the sacrifices I'm making today, and through all of Lent, for the people God places on my heart. It certainly makes giving up snacks much more meaningful when a "rumbly tummy" reminds you to pray for someone you love..and feeling hungry is an opportunity to "offer it up" so that God's grace blesses those family members/friends that are on your heart!

Jay also sent me a really great short video on Lent by Fr. Mike Schmitz. He is one of Jay's favorite speakers right now to listen to when he's looking for material for his talks to the senior youth group he's in charge of at our parish. Fr. Mike is a young, very engaging speaker. His short talk on The Significance of Ash Wednesday was really good! It's only 5 if you can, head on over and check it out!

Here's to all of us having a meaningful, God guided Lent!

Luke is VERY excited that it's Ash Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things

We were spoiled by a mostly mild winter up until Friday! Now...not so much. Winter didn't want to pass by without leaving it's mark!

I can honestly say that winter is not my favorite season! The cold and the lack of daylight make me want to hibernate!

I've tried to make myself feel better by thinking ahead to summer months and trying to research a possible mini vacation to Story Land with our younger set. I've also been spending some time starting to outline our next Disney vacation at the end of the year that my parents invited us on! My parents are Disney addicts, especially my mom, and they love to share their Disney love with their children and grandchildren! (We are so blessed!)

Since I love to plan things and Disney is a place where you need to have pretty specific plans to make the most out of the vacation...meals planned 180 days in advance, fast passes,'s a great outlet for me! Planning and anticipating the vacation are almost as fun for me as the vacation itself!

Last night, I was huddled under a blanket googling "best Disney restaurants" to try and come up with a couple new places to try on our upcoming visit. Trying to make a trip special for everyone and get in their favorites can be challenging...especially with an age range on the trip from 5-69! That's one of the BEST things about Disney....there's something for everything! Lots of family time....and lots of family memories! My two favorite things!

Speaking of favorite things....Late last night, I found out that Jamberry is coming out with a Disney Collection!! I was SO excited! I couldn't help thinking that it was a funny coincidence that the Disney Collection by Jamberry got announced as I was putting together our next Disney trip!

If your family are Disney fans...or you know people that are(!)....please pass on your favorite Disney restaurants! If you want to check out Jamberry's new Disney Collection, you can find it here on my website:

Here are a couple of the shots from our last Disney vaca!
Sampling from around World Showcase is so much fun! 

Via Napoli is one of our favorites!

Some of my favorites from the new Disney Collection by Jamberry!