"Raising Souls"

"Raising Souls"

Thursday, June 30, 2011

First Camping/Work Trip

With another weekend of work approaching I began whining to Jeremy about how much I really miss family time with him since work takes up 90% of our lives. We haven't had a free weekend in some time! As I sadly began thinking about trying to figure out a work trip to St. Charles, MO for a performance I considered the delightful options of, A) drive 18 total painful hours to and from the performance with a 1 1/2yrs old or B) getting someone to watch Augustine for the weekend for the umpteenth time this month. Neither option was appealing. That is where camping comes in...

We decided to do what we do best... go with the flow and make the best of it and make the trip a family camping trip. Although leading up to the trip was a bit chaotic as we prepped for the work aspect of the trip and being gone for 5 days we headed off Thursday morning, not sure what to expect.

We drove to a half way point campground "Palisades-Kepler National Park" and set up our tent, pack-n-play and scrounged up some firewood. Augustine was a real trooper and enjoyed exploring the various sticks and stones as well as the new play land in the tent. Once it was dark enough he went to bed like a dream.

The next day we packed up and headed to our final destination - St. Charles, MO. We stayed with wonderful hosts who took us out to dinner on Old Main Street. It was so lovely and reminded me of Boston and Door County mixed together with cobblestone streets and lots of beautiful shops and restaurants. The history in St. Charles is that this lovely city set on the river was where Louis and Clark set off on their adventure to discover West America. It really had a nice cozy quaint feel and I wish we had more time to explore.

We had our show of LOLEK for a medium sized crowd who gave a standing ovation and raved about the performance after the show. I will never tire of people coming up to me after the show saying, "That actor is SO talented!!!!" I smile and say, "Yes, he really is!" :-)

We went to mass the next day and then were campground bound.

Awake                                                                             Sleep
We set up camp in the exact same spot as we were in before. (When you don't have a reservation and the spot is open - why mess with a good thing?) As drops of rain began to fall we pulled out our tent camping rain gear - the laptop and a movie. We watched "Up" in our cozy tent while the thunderstorm raged and it was magically wonderful. Augustine sat alert and wide awake after his bedtime while Jeremy and I relaxed and we all thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It was a really great pick and I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.

I am so excited we finally got to go camping as a family and the trip overall went really well. It was relaxing and rejuvenating and a lot of fun! I'm already looking forward to when we will be able to camp again and take our second Summer work trip to one of my favorite places - Hollywood, CALIFORNIA!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My dad...

This post is for my Dad. Yes, I'm a little late for Father's Day but since when do Fathers just want to be told they are great only one day a year??

My dad is one of the most creative and hard working people I know. He knows how to live life and be silly. His gentle and kind personality is one to be envied as he can take even the most shocking news with a calm expression and a gentle word. I wish I was more like him every day.

Growing up my dad was always thinking of ways to creatively teach us kids. I remember distinctly his "manners lessons" which included proper terms for the bathroom such as "powder room" and how a gentleman should walk across the road with a lady. (If you are wondering, how are we supposed to cross the road??, here you go... The guy is supposed to walk closest to the traffic. Basically the guy gets hit by the truck before the lady does.) Then there was the mirror at the dinner table lesson. If you chewed with your mouth open at any point in the meal you were given "the mirror." The small mirror would get passed to me after I was caught talking while chewing and get set in front of me while I ate so I would then have to watch myself and how unattractive it was to chew with my mouth open. The mirror left its impression on all of us kids and we became aware of our bad eating habits in time to realize how fun it was to eat in front of mirror. We eagerly accepted the mirror and enjoyed chewing in front of it. Raising vain children was not Dad's intention so the mirror was quickly removed once it seemed we had the drift of things.

I could go on and on about my Dad's creative teaching and discipline tools including having us stare at the un-flushed toilet for ten minutes if we forgot to flush, writing 100 times that "I'm sorry for yelling at mom" and then another 50x "I will say I'm sorry for yelling at mom" after then forgetting to apologize to my mom, running up and down the stairs 50x, and so on... My Dad's creative lessons let all of us kids know that he cared about us very much. He took the time to train us into wholesome and good kids. And no matter how many punishments I received I always knew he loved me and it has helped shape me into the woman I am today and it has given me many creative ideas as to how to train my own kids.

My dad gives me a beautiful image of what and who God the Father is; loving, kind, gentle, disciplining but always forgiving, just but always full of mercy, and full of love and sacrifice. He taught me bible studies, prayers, and christian polka songs to dance to. Most of all he lives what he preaches and is honored for it. He showed me what it meant to lead and follow at the same time. He loves beauty and nature, relaxing and traveling. I have never once heard him complain about work or his job and even told me one day, that he has never dreaded a day of work.

I love you so much Dad and I'm forever thankful for the gifts you have given to me!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Answer to Prayer

My previous post was about trust. It was written in a moment of struggle. And now I have to write this post...

The day after my last post God blessed us in a special way! Attendance has been very low at the performances this summer and after sell out shows it's been a pretty rough transition. Summer is my favorite time of year but the worst in terms of work. It is literally day to day survival. When there are only 5 people in the audience on a given night I can only say, "ok, God we are showing up, we hope you are here with us."

Well Saturday night I went to mass and prayed, surrendered, and trusted. As it turns out that night we had our largest crowd, 20 people! Besides that, the Holy Spirit moved a number of people to donate a pretty large sum of money - YES! We will make it through June! Praise God! I knew He would provide and was so grateful for His Divine providence this day! I have to share this because it is so good for me to remember and remind myself how God answers prayers. Praying really does work! I know it does, duh, but even as a cradle Catholic I need those reminders in a tangible way, thank you God!

Growing up my parents were living on a really really tight budget. I am not exaggerating when I say that my mom kept old bread drying in the oven and we ate it for snacks as kids. (She can't remember that but let me tell you I would remember that!) Or there was that time my mom got a bunch of free baby cereal and all us kids had to eat it. GROSSS!!! Now, that is frugal people. Anyway, my parents kept a book of answered prayers so they would remember God's goodness down the road. The stories they have are really amazing and it's a beautiful testimony to their faith and God's providence and the power of prayer. I too kept a journal as a child and not a single one of my prayers went un-answered. It is so neat to look back at.

In a way I am happy to follow in my parents footsteps and live a life dependent on God's provision. I am also happy God has not seen fit to bless us with gallons of free baby cereal, but if he does, I'll find a way to share the blessing! ;-)

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Trust is a really hard thing for us humans. We like to drive, we like to be in control.

Jeremy and I stepped out in trust when we started this local theatre, and we think it will survive the summer. We trust it will survive. Now is where the trust comes into play. Not just saying the word trust, but acting the word trust. There is a HUGE step between saying "Jesus I trust in you" and living "Jesus I trust in you."

Now is where the rubber hits the road.

Now we get into the nitty gritty day to day even minute to minute mental battle of trust. I'm certain anyone reading this knows what I am talking about. It's human, we struggle. Its so easy for people to say, 'just let it go' or 'it will all work out' or 'it's going to be ok' when in the present situation you feel desperate.

It is during these times when I lean heavily on my past experiences. I have a catalog, in my head, of feelings, emotions, and experiences. When I am struggling with trust I scan through my memory catalog and select instances when things worked out. The key is to select the times when things did work out. I equate what I went through with what I am going through and rationalize that this situation, these feelings, will also truly work out.

When I have an experience that did not work out, I category it as 'did not work out as I had planned.' I can often easily come up with a positive to the scenario and I can then also use these memories as encouraging instances. I try to make a point to make all my memories positive and learn from. It just seems like the most logical thing to do and most of all - IT WORKS!

Once I comfort myself with the truth, my past experiences, which are often steeped in faith and God, I can then, and only then step back and let go and trust. It is still a practice and it does still require energy which is why I call it a battle, but end result is usually the goal.

Jesus I trust in You. You are God, and you are my best friend. You clothe me better than even the flowers in the field.

Your ways Lord and not mine.

Sarah, your daughter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Leave a Legacy...

On Saturday, in between performances, we spent some time together checking out our neighbors "Estate Sale." I had never been to an Estate Sale before, and while I found it interesting I also felt like I was intruding. I know our stuff is not a part of us and it certainly doesn't go with us when we die, that was made glaringly obvious as I walked among the mounds of stuff left behind by the deceased man, but I still felt like I was dishonoring this man by scrounging through his stuff. I saw a handcrafted wooden baby cradle and it made me sad. I thought about the baby that may have laid in this cradle or even died in this cradle. I saw personal pictures and collectible items from far away countries with stories untold. And yet this stuff is nothing when this man died. His stuff was just thrown out in the yard and organized by price. It gave me a lonely feeling. It also made me think more about my own stuff and how I'd rather toss it now than later have it be left in piles of meaningless trash for strangers to meander through and comment on. It makes me think of what things I really do want to leave behind. Writings, photos and journals of my life and my family. 

So this Blog is my writings and below are some adorable pictures of our stroll to the local fast food joint for a little picnic in the grass, strawberry lemon ices and Augustine's first try at drinking out of straw.

               'I got it mom. I'm good. I'll do it myself.'

Augustine was not very happy when I took his straw away in my fear he would lose an eye. 

"But I love you!" (He is so darn cute when he cries!)

And OFF...                                                              We Gooooooooo....

 Love today like it is your last and you will treasure life and not things.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Starving Artists - Edition 1 - Berries all year round!

They say that artists are starving. Well, that is true in some cases, and is quickly becoming a reason for fear in my home as ticket sales at the theater drop to a dangerous low. Who can compete with this weather??

I may be acting a bit overly dramatic on this topic but it inspired me for a new series of posts on how this family of starving artists gets by on a super tight budget.

Each year I wait and I watch for seasonal deals at Aldi. If you don't shop at Aldi you should start. They have incredible deals on most things and its worth the extra trip and the quarter you need to "check out" a shopping cart. I have to note though that the quarter is not required. If you are like me and say... 'I don't need a cart' only to later find yourself carrying and balancing food items on every strip of body part that is useful for carrying and dropping spaghetti sauce to the chagrin of everyone around. Than, no, a quarter is not required. Recommended but not required.

So one deal that I watch... and wait for... and set up calling trees for... is their blueberry sale. At one point each year their blueberries go on sale for as low as $1.00 per pint. I load up and freeze them for blueberry feasting year long! This year my Mother In Law mentioned they were on sale for .49 a pint and my jaw hit the floor! Turns out strawberries were as low as .39 each container too! Jeremy and I were just heading out to a performance but I was desperate to get a piece of this deal! She offered to pick up a bunch for me...

She got two cases of each for me!!!!!!! Wooohoooo! Now that's money saving at its finest! I sure do love a good deal and now the two berry lovers in the house will get berries all year long. That chest freezer came just in time.

If you come upon a deal like this here is what I recommend for storage for easy access...

1. Wash berries in a mixture of water and vinegar. Apparently the vinegar cleanses the chemicals off, I got that from my mom and find it works well and it is natural and cheap. Next rinse with water.

2. Spread berries out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze.

3. Once frozen, loosen berries from the pan with a spatula and put into freezer bags. 

This system allows for clean berries that are loose in a bag together for easy measuring for recipes or toddler snacks.

Nope this family will not starve for lack of berries, not this year anyway. :-)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Heat Wave!

I love these hot summer days!

Days that are filled with fun and joy and snuggles at the park...

Warm evening walks that turn into playtime in the park across the road....

Fun with friends where there is something for the kiddos...

...and something for the bigger kids!

There is fishing at the Westcott Library on those 102 degree days...

Playing with friends...

Flying Planes...

Then topping the day off with a cool bath and snuggles with daddy while he sings the "Hail Mary."

I love those summer days!! :-)


Monday, June 6, 2011

1/2 Marathon - The Epic Drama

I remember when I said I was committed to the Marathon but it didn't mean I would complete the marathon. Well, I did complete it and I think back on that post and how I felt then and how I feel now... and wow! A lot has changed in the past few months.

One thing I have really learned is slow and steady. Pace yourself. We started training with 3 mile runs and it was like, wow I ran three miles than it was, wow I ran 5 miles. I remember my first runners high... I ran a great 6 mile run on a Saturday morning with Sarah and I was buzzing. I felt so amazing, like I could do anything! Then there was that 6/7 mile run/walk, our first one outside. It was gorgeous and finally warm enough to run outside. Boy was that run discouraging. I could hardly make it up the hills, we walked half the way in between trying to find bathrooms and trying to find our path. That was my low point in training and it didn't help that people were reminding me that the marathon was held outdoors. You mean it's not held on an indoor track with perfectly controlled temperature and a level playing field?? Duh, I know. Gulp.

Somehow, I kept going with many thanks to my awesome running partner Sarah and to Lily who made the new years resolution to run the half only to pass it on to me - an unsuspecting bum.

The night before the half marathon I tossed and turned with nightmare after nightmare. I forgot my Gatorade. I forgot my registration. I couldn't get a hold of my dad (not sure why I needed to but it seemed really important at the time). I forgot my SHOES. Man, and I thought actors nightmare's were bad! I didn't realize I was so nervous until that night.

Yep, I was nervous, excited and shaking in my neatly tied tennis shoes on race day.

This was it.

Its now or never.

As I gathered with the rest of the throngs of people in their cute spandex and hot yellow and pink running shoes the adrenaline started to hit me. Apparently so did the urge to --- line up for the bathroom ---if you get where I'm going. The bathroom lines were long and I was two people away when they blew the "start horn." Fortunately my time was based on when my time chip crossed the scanner at the start of the line so we were ok. My friend Karen and I started off together and we were making a great pace trying to catch up to our pace group. We were five minutes behind. It felt great to whizz along passing up people and flying by the adrenaline pumping through my system. It was exhilarating and a really great 7 miles with Karen. When we caught up with our "10 minute miles pace group" I kind of relaxed and got in the zone hoping to not push myself and wimp out later. I was feeling great and the scenery was lovely. Each mile I looked eagerly for Jeremy and Augustine the thought of the two of them and their cute smiling faces really motivated me... maybe the next mile??... maybe the next mile...?? By mile 9 I entertained thoughts that they were not going to come and I thought, bummer. But it's ok. That motivated me. I am doing this run for me and for God and to give glory to God through my body during this run and it made me tear up and run with even more dedication. I felt amazing and empowered and blessed.

At mile 10... no Jeremy and Augustine ... but I thought of the countless nights Jeremy sacrificed his evenings so I could go running so I could achieve this personal goal this personal reward. As a mom, wife, and part time employee this is no small feat and I felt great.

At Mile 11... only two more miles to go. I thought, this time should fly by. Let me tell you, it was the longest 2 miles ever! Who in their right mind sets a marathon track where the last 2 miles are almost entirely UP HILL!! Seriously?! And yet this was another encourager... I saw most of the people around me walking and I thought... I'm tired, but I don't need to walk. Wow, I feel really good. That good kind of pride began inching its way up my body and I got that exhilarating excitement. I'm running a half marathon and I'm almost done and I am RUNNING! Ruuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnngggg!

Mile 12... Two words - UP HILL. Only one more mile though and I'm feeling good. The spectators along the side were calling out words of encouragement. "You're looking great!" "Wooohooo!" "Go runners, you are doing great!" Its amazing what some words of encouragement can do to a weary runner. They think I'm looking strong. I'll show them strong. Yeah, I feel strong. Complete strangers, thank you!

It may have looked like I ran that marathon alone, but I didn't. I ran it with my best friend and my greatest encourager. I felt a rush of emotional gratitude to God for giving me this moment. I felt like He gave me gift and I was gift. Simple and Beautiful.

When the finish line came into sight I booked it racing to the finish. I was never that athletic in school and never ever thought I would run a race. I have to admit I thought runners were a little crazy. Well, maybe I still do, but I get it now. I raced to the finish line like I was really running a race. If I have ever imagined the most perfect race that was it. Adrenaline hit me again and my legs went full force as if I hadn't been pushing them for the last 13 miles. People yelled, "There she goes."  "That's the way to go, finish really strong!"

13.1 Miles. 2hrs 18min

Amazing. Victory. Joy. All the glory to my King!

SS #582

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ballroom Dancing

So a quick update on what's coming up next week...

If I get enough people registered for this session of Ballroom Dance Classes (they start Monday) I will begin my first lessons! More info here.

Each summer I try to save my Wednesday evenings for my small TV Addiction of So You Think You Can Dance. It's great and the dancing is amazing! I actually auditioned for the show and made it to the big stage audition for Mary Murphy and Nigel. That story is for another post though. Anyway, SYTYCD is kind of my dance outlet and Jeremy even gets into it. I didn't know he knew how to "crump" until we started watching the show together. Not to mention he had ballet dance moves up his sleeve that would make a cranky depressed person laugh until they cried, I mean clap until they cried. Something like that. Dancing is an amazing way of expressing yourself, it's great exercise, its a fun thing to do for an interactive date night, and its also a fun way to meet other people with a similar interest. So if that doesn't inspire you to get your "dance on" I don't know what would! I hope if you are reading this... and you live nearby... that you sign up for some rockin' dance classes with your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, daughter, son, or friend. It will be a BALL! Check it out here and then give me a call or e-mail and let me know you'll be registering.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Oh, how I love those words! We were lucky enough to be able to sell out all five performances of THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. What a joy to add to the signage a sign that said, "We are sorry but this show is sold out." Beautiful music to my ears! I will tell you what is not beautiful, turning away sweet families and elderly ladies waiting at the door hoping to get in to the show. A good problem to have but not an easy one to say the least. I will gladly take that problem and dump my worries about attendance for all the rest of our shows. Uh, God, did you hear that one? Let me simplify my prayer... Please help us sell out all our shows and to Yours be the Glory! Your daughter forever, Amen.

Here are some great pictures from this fabulous show.

It is our best E-Rhapsody performance yet, the costumes and acting were superb and we got comments such as the following...
"I'm kind of a theatre buff and this is the best children's production I've ever seen!"

"I don't know anyone in the show but I had to come a second time because I enjoyed it so much the first time I saw it..."

"This show was better than the Minneapolis Children's Theatre or Stepping Stones Children's Theatre!"

"Were the costumes rented? They are amazing!"

Alright I'm like a gushing mom over all my "kids" in the program- but they are so talented and I am so proud!

In the Divine Artist,