Friday, June 11, 2021

Summer 2020 :: The "Nun Run" Part One

Now that golf season has ended, and now that I have a lot of free time while I recover from my knee surgery, I can start back up on the posts!  You can find my past posts here: written by Twinkle Toes.

Last summer a group of us girls from St. Joan's went on a "Nun Run" with one of our amazing priests. Our first stop was a visit to the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles at the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus in Gower, MO. We started the trip off with 5:30 AM Confession and Mass at our church before heading to the airport to catch our flight.  


I have now been able to fly with two of my siblings for their first flights! She loved it! Especially the turbulence (not something I'm a particular fan of). I didn't get many pictures during the flight (mainly because I was asleep for most of it) but it was so cool descending into Kansas City. 

When we reached Gower, one of the sisters (Sister Grace) showed us our rooms and made sure we were all settled in. Waking up early the next morning was hard, especially with the time change (4:45 Central Time is 2:45 Pacific Time), but after a few days we got used to it.

Our Daily Schedule at Gower:

4:45 Wake up
5:05 Matins and Private Prayer
7:10 Lauds, Prime, and Breakfast
8:45 Work (We mainly worked in the garden.)
10:50 Terce, Mass, Sext, Lunch
2:15 Exposition, None, Free time/Rosary
5:30 Vespers then Supper
6:45 Work
8:00 Compline, then bed

A picture from during Compline

After Compline is the Grand Silence (no talking) which goes until after Prime the next morning.

The nuns gave us a tour of their sewing studio during our final day at Gower and showed us how to make vestments and altar linens.

Emily and I happen to have the same godparents (small world!) so we took a quick picture together to send to our godmother.

While we were at Gower, we were able to see one of my close friends (the girl in the middle).

The singing at Gower was amazing! I've grown up listening to their CDs at home and to hear them in person was even more beautiful!


After Matins, we had some free time in the morning before Lauds which gave us time to say some private 
prayers and enjoy the sunrise each morning.

I loved every moment of our visit to Gower! From praying the Divine Office to working along side the sisters in the garden, every moment will be cherished! The amount of time spent with Our Lord in the Chapel was absolutely amazing and it helped me grow in devotion to Christ and our Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

St. Joseph's Day

In March we put together our annual St. Joseph's Altar but I never got around to sharing the pictures. I thought I'd post them today in honor of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker! 

My husband and our oldest daughter are actually across the country over at Christendom College in Virginia (!!!) with our older boys! They flew over yesterday and will fly back home on Tuesday. Our other teens are off painting weapons and building armor for their upcoming "Joan the Maid" play... That just leaves me home with the four youngest. We are organizing bedrooms and getting our Saturday chores done! I also printed out a coloring page from Liturgy of the Home and will come up with a little treat for them to enjoy as we read about dear St. Joseph. Happy feast day! 


O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having death always before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch St. Joseph. Such shall be my motto in life and in death.
St. Joseph, patron of workers, a happy death, and the Universal Church, pray for us!

Friday, April 30, 2021

A Masquerade Murder Mystery Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party

Our little "Chiquita" turned sixteen last week! Since I wasn't able to host a party for her last year (remember those sweet cards we woke up to from her last year?), and since I did host a sweet sixteen birthday party for her older sister, I was determined to throw a big party for her this year.  Falling close to Easter, her birthday always sneaks up on me and I'm never prepared!  

I started researching party ideas on Thursday evening and settled on a masquerade themed murder mystery birthday party and ordered her a mask (which was delivered an hour before the party!)... On Friday I had my oldest daughter text all their friends a digital invitation I had made... Then, instead of spending the weekend preparing, my three older girls and I went on a road trip to Oregon for my niece's baptism! While I was in Oregon (after sending out invites) realized the mystery package I had picked out wasn't currently available for purchase and had to improvise... Picked out (and purchased!) another mystery game that would also work with our masquerade theme... and somehow it all came together on Monday for her Tuesday birthday! Whew! 

On Tuesday I got up to decorate, bake her a "Death by Chocolate" cake, and then she and I headed to Mass at noon and then to Dutch Bros for her birthday coffee! 

Our family usually celebrates birthdays with just family, but every once in awhile I try and give them a party with friends. She had only celebrated a birthday with a few friends once, and that was ten years ago! I am so very grateful for all the amazing friends our children have made since we moved here to North Idaho from Oregon in 2019.  We invited twenty friends to her party and all but one was able to come! 

My teens have been talking about Murder/Mystery parties for a long time and I was always skeptical. After looking into different options I was intrigued by the parties offered by Shot in the Dark Mysteries:

"We primarily use an INTERACTIVE mystery party format. If you’ve played games offered by our competitors, you’ll find this format very different, a lot more versatile and a whole lot of fun. Instead of everyone sitting around reading off a piece of paper, your guests are up and mingling, flexing their sleuthing skills (with some helpful sample questions from us to get everyone started) and questioning one another to discover the killer. It’s simple, fantastic and perfect for mystery party newbies and veterans alike."  Read more here

Since the Masquerade Mystery wasn't available (I was told they are currently rewriting it into a new mystery for adults and an update version of the current one for kids) we had a Masquerade in the Library! I went with the 13 suspect package (for 9 girls 4 boys).  Three of my teens (including the birthday girl) and ten of our guests were assigned suspects, the rest of our guests all participated as additional sleuths trying to figure out who the thief/murder was from the suspect list.  No one knew the answer, not even me, until the end of the party after all the investigations took place. It was so much fun! 

"Some mysteries inform the guilty party that they are guilty. We don't do this for two reasons. First, not knowing allows all Suspects to be completely honest with the information they receive. Second, it allows all players to piece together the mystery equally. With one Suspect not investigating, it quickly becomes clear to the other players who the culprit is and your mystery ends up ruined. In our experience, your mystery is more successful when the culprit isn't aware they are the culprit."

My teens are already looking through other themes and asking when we can host another mystery party! 

I headed to Costco for help with the party food. Instead of a full dinner, I decided to serve lots of hearty appetizers and some treats along with punch/sparkling drinks and birthday cake with ice cream.  The only thing left at the end of the party was the bowl of broccoli and baby carrots... Teens. ;) 

.: The Menu :. 

Golden Punch
Sparkling Blush

Cheese Tray
Cilantro Lime Shrimp
Charcuterie Board
with various meats, crackers,
White Stilton with Apricots cheese,
and Boursin cheese
Broccoli and Baby Carrots
with Ranch Dip
Chicken & Cheese Mini Tacos and Taquitos
Popcornopolis Zebra Popcorn
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
Oreo Cookies
Pizza Rolls

"Death by Chocolate" Cake
Espresso Madness Ice Cream

Death by Chocolate Cake made with Chocolate Fudge Cake Layers with Whipped Ganache Filling, Chocolate Frosting, White Chocolate Ganache Drip, Chocolate Ganache Drip and Oreo Crumbles

.: Our Guests Arrive :. 


.: A Murder is Announced :. 

After everyone arrived, and had had a chance to get some food, we began the mystery with the Announcement of Murder. Our package came with an audio file, but I opted to read the transcript to the teens. Afterwards each of the suspects introduced themselves and read their bio to everyone. 

My little photographer in training!

Photo credit for these goes to our three year old!

And to Twinkle Toes for this one!

.: The Investigations :. 

The investigation portion of the mystery was next! I set the timer for an hour, but ended up giving them an additional 20 minutes.  I think they would have liked to have just a little more time.  Next time, I'd probably plan for at least 90 minutes of investigations. Maybe 2 hours. I had scheduled the party from 6:00-9:30 PM and an extra 30 minutes probably would have been helpful! 



 .: The Suspects and Sleuths :. 

At the end of the Investigations, all the suspects and sleuths voted for the best mask, best costume, and cast their accusations! 

.: The Big Reveal :. 

The end of the mystery is marked by The Big Reveal.  After everyone had cast their accusations against the culprit it was time to reveal the guilty party! I opted to read the transcript once again.  It was so fun to hear all their reactions as the mystery pieces all came together and we all discovered who did it! 

Basket of Prizes for Best Costumes, Best Masks, and those who were able to guess thief/murderer
including: "PayDay" • Gum for all the "Gumshoe Detectives" • King Size KitKats for "Cat's Pajamas"

.: Sixteen Candles :. 

We wrapped up the evening with cake, ice cream and gifts! And a few last pictures! 

Happy Sweet Sixteen!