Monthly Archives: February 2015

365 Days of Joy: Week 8

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, and I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every Wednesday, and hopefully I can stay consistent with this. So here we go, week 8!

adventure is out thereI didn’t actually go on any adventures this week, but I planned for a lot of future adventures, which made this week very exciting.


Today the kids and I spent an over an hour watching a tree get cut down. This isn’t usually my idea of fun, but when it occupies the kids attention for that long, I’m not going to complain. Also, the kids would cheer every time a piece of the tree would fall down, and it was adorable.


Friday the parents were gone all day, so I had the kids to myself the entire day, which adds a little extra chaos to an already chaotic house, but thankfully they slept until 10 a.m. giving me time to get things ready for the day. And Aunt Jean came in the afternoon, which always makes for a fun time.


WHOO!!! Mary decided on the dates to come visit me!!!!! I’m so excited! She will be here mid-April for a week, and I’m thinking that will be a perfect time to visit London!


As lame as it sounds my joy came from taking a long, glorious nap. Also, Aunt Audrey and Uncle Greg came for dinner with their two boys and having a full house makes for hilarious conversation and fun chaos. Oh and I got the cutest Valentines day card from my God Baby, AvaMarie, and some wonderful pictures of my favorite Colorado family! I miss the Katos so much!


Leila told me I get a week off in May to explore South Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic–let the planning begin!  I’m going to try to plan it so I can see Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague. It’s going to be difficult and I might have to cut one or two of them, but I’m going to try!


Listened to Bach while doing my Bible study “homework”–I’ve heard lots of different renditions of his work, but I think I’ve found that the Philadelphia Orchestra is my favorite. It’s just lovely.


Well, I was hoping my joy of the day would come from Kilty having her baby, but the kid is being super stubborn. I tried to motivate him/her the best ways I could, but it’s hard from across an ocean, and I don’t think Kilty really listened to all my “labor” songs I sent her. I don’t think she thought “Push It” by Salt n’ Pepa would actually help… but what I did do is publish my Italy Part II blog! Yay for me! So please check it out by clicking here. It covers my trip to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, and Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica.

Well, that’s my week, it’s a little bland with no pictures, but overall it was a good one. This upcoming weekend I’m going to Brugge, Belgium, so get ready for pictures!

Pax Ex!


356 Days of Joy: Week 7

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato. You can find her 365 days of Presence here).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, but I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every Wednesday, and hopefully I can stay consistent with this. So here we go, week 7!

callingThis seems like an appropriate quote to kick off lent with. This quote is a great reminder that we were made by God for God, and he is waiting and waiting for us to come back to Him in Heaven. He keeps calling, we just have to call back.


Nothing too exciting happened today. However, it was beautiful out so the kids and I spent some much needed time playing in the park!


Carnival in Limburg officially began today! I took the kids to the children’s parade and they actually liked it (which is a big step because they usually don’t like loud music). Carnival is crazy here in the South (apparently in the North they don’t celebrate it like this), they celebrate hard (like to 4 in the morning) every day for 5 days. Also, since the Dutch are not ones to skimp on anything, they go all out–I’m talking costumes that would put many halloween costumes to shame.


Saturday night I took a train down to Maastricht where I met up with Anna-Louisa, a girl I had met earlier in my stay in the Netherlands. She is a student at one of the Universities there and she graciously welcomed me there for Carnival!



The Maastricht parade was full of life and joy. The Limburgers (I don’t know if that’s what they are technically called but I like it) know what they are doing when it comes to costumes, parades and parties.  It was quite hilarious because I don’t think there was a single float or parade entry that didn’t have a designated spot for their drinks and almost everyone walking had some sort of beverage in their hand, and for the most part it was a distilled beverage of some sort–they really have character here.


Monday I went back to Amstenrade to see their parade. While it was on a much smaller scale than the one in Maastricht, it was still fun and lively to see, and it reminded me of the small town parades in Iowa (only not as many tractors and more crazy costumes).



Happy Mardi Gras! I went out of my comfort zone today and went to the final town party, where the light on the owl (as seen above) was turned off, marking the end of Carnival. Not to worry, the party still continued, we went back to Jan Van Cep’s cafe and finished the ceremonies…I was also forced on stage at one point to sing “Wannabe”–they were quite shocked that there was somebody in the world who knew all the words–basically they thought I was a Spice Girl 😉



Lent has begun! I do love me a good day of fasting! For lent I am giving up a few things, but I am also picking up ways to improve my spiritual life (because that is the reason for the season, right?) My two main goals are to say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy everyday and to read the New Testament. The Bible study I am in handed out a reading plan to get through the New Testament in the 40 days of Lent–I’m pretty excited, it’s been far to long since I’ve read the Bible consistently. If anyone has any suggestions for a good Lenten book, I’m always game to here those! Also, if anyone is interested for the New Testament reading plan, just let me know!

Also, I just put up part one of Rome with lots of pictures! Feel free to check it out by clicking here!

That’s all for now! Hope you all have prayerful and renewing Lent!


365 Days of Joy: Week 6

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato. You can find her 365 days of Presence here).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, but I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every Wednesday, and hopefully I can stay consistent with this. So here we go, week 6!

courageI received a snapchat from Marissa Lueger (long time friend, old roommate and awesome person) earlier this week with this quote–she said it was her new obsession and thought I would like it. We clearly share a brain wave because I found this quote a little while ago and I added it to my “100 best quotes in literature” (I’m not finished with the list but I’m working on it). This past week it was exactly what I needed (thank you, Marissa!!!). This short, simple quote contains an magnitude of power. Having courage is no simple task–being courageous can open you up to a whole new set of hardships and struggles–however, on the flip side, it can, and most likely will, open you up to a whole new set of opportunities and possibilities.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that
something else is more important than fear.”
Ambrose Redmoon
Fear is a disabler. It tears you down and beats you up–and worst of all, it’s everywhere. The devil drives fear into our hearts because he wants us to be weak, he wants us to be vulnerable, he wants us to be discouraged. He uses fear to make us give in to his temptations and turn away from Truth. Lucky for us, there is One greater. God gives us courage, and through Grace, we can receive it. Courage, as Redmoon says, doesn’t get rid of fear, but it helps us overcome it.  This past week happened to be the week that I fear the most–it was the week when my father died four years ago. I don’t think there will ever be a year when I don’t fear this week; however, my Dad didn’t let the devil win, so I couldn’t either. Through the Grace of God I was able to find Courage in my heart, and find joy in my dreaded week.


Ok, so I know this is a reoccurring post, but I Skyped Kilty today and it was, per usual, awesomely joyful. Not only are her boys hilarious and always so happy to see me, but she is the I mean, the woman is 9 months pregnant and while we were Skyping she was watching a tutorial on how to put her 18 month old on her back with her Moby wrap. I’m convinced there is nothing she can’t do. Oh also, her and Dominic looked like they were Moby models…



I really thought I wouldn’t find a single thing to be joyful about today. I thought I would wake up and it would be rainy and gray. I figured the kids would be moody all day and my temper would be short with them. I really was expecting the worst….I was so wrong. The kids were happy-go-lucky in the morning when I got them up and their cheerfulness was contagious. Then when I came down I found Leila (my host mother) with an Oreo Cheesecake, made from a recipe given by my Uncle Mike (the one who works at the Cheesecake Factory), so you know it’s going to be good. Apparently, Leila had contacted Bryan and tried to get him to ship over a cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, but it was all too complicated, so he was able to get her the recipe from Mike and she made her first ever American Cheesecake! It was very good and I was so touched by this act of love! Also, they finally got to taste why I love cheesecake so much–they never understood because they are used to German Cheesecake which is sour and much more cheesy…so not as good 😉  To top off the day I got to talk to my sister Mary and Mary Granzow on Skype and it was HILARIOUS.  Also, I had Guinness…my Daddio tradition.

I would like to thank everyone who wrote to me and sent kind words today. I know many of you loved my dad very much and miss him terribly. Since we can’t have him back physically, I hope you all take comfort knowing that we all have the greatest Guardian Angel watching out for us–and don’t think he’s not pulling a few strings up there, I mean, c’mon do you really think the Seahawks were good enough to beat the Packers on their own? 😉

All jokes aside, thank you all for making this day easier–you helped me find my courage more than you know!

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Lambert-Joseph got his first board game and can’t get enough–it’s so cute to see him get all excited over it! Elisabeth tries to play but that usually results in her chucking the dice as far as she can and then we have to take a 5 minute break to try and find it.


Sunday was a wonderful “me” day. The family was in Antwerp visiting Henri’s family and I stayed back and had some quality time with my books.


Stayed up really late watching Psych and slept in really late because it’s my day off…two good things. Also Skype date with Katlin…always needed.


This face.



Today I went to the Bible Study I told you about last week. Instead of breaking into groups we did a program on the love languages (I got Quality Time–like I always do) and it was very fulfilling. The lady talking also spent a lot of time talking about forgiveness and it was just something I really needed to hear.

And that’s a wrap. I don’t have my Rome blog post up yet (because I’m ridiculous and I put it off and now I’m way behind again), but it will be up soonish, I promise! So until next time, I love you and miss you all. Pax.

365 Days of Joy: Week 5

I’ve decided to do 365 days of joy this year (inspired by the wonderful Raquel Kato. You can find her 365 days of Presence here).  Some posts my be long, some may be only a sentence, but the important thing is finding joy in your everyday life, because there are so many things to be joyful about, but I tend to forget that. I’ll be posting one every Wednesday, and hopefully I can stay consistent with this. So here we go, week 5!

comfortThis quote was on replay in my mind when I was in Rome. I don’t know how anyone can go to the city and not come out of it with a yearning desire to do great things for Christ. All the beauty you see in Rome is for the Lord and it is so splendid that I can’t help but want to be apart of it.


Day one in Rome! There were so many things that brought me joy today, it’s hard to narrow it down, but I will try. I’ll be putting up a travel blog with all the details, but I’ll just list my top three favorites.

1.The Pantheon: I like old things, so this was top of my list of things to see in Rome. Also, I was unaware of how huge it is on the inside, it’s like the TARDIS in there!


2. Seeing the City of Angels. Angels are the bomb, and this massive stone structure with St. Michael on top of it is a great depiction of how powerful they are.


3. Finding a little church dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.



Day two in Rome was even better than day one, although I’m pretty sure I ended up walking dang near 20 miles, but that’s being in Europe for you. My joy came from everything and anything I saw that was roughly over 1,500 years old. Here are my top three.

1. The Colosseum: I’m sure this doesn’t come to a shock to anyone, but I was quoting Gladiator the entire time I was in here. It was like a dream come true.





 2. The Roman Forum: Just old buildings and pillars everywhere. Also, the place where Julius Caesar was buried. Here I was quoting Shakespeare a little too much.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!


…and then I went back at night, and I went in this back way which I don’t think was technically legal, so I didn’t stay long…but it was beautiful.

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3. Ok, so this isn’t 1,500 years old, but my third favorite thing was the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. It was stunning and huge and when you walked in you just felt like you were in Rome…that probably doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.



Today I went to Vatican City, and, most importantly, St. Peter’s Basilica.


It was amazing. My favorite part was actually when I got to escape the crowd and go into a side chapel and pray before a St. Joseph painting (if you didn’t know, he’s my favorite saint and he is awesome). It was crazy because there were hundreds of people in the Basilica, but for about 15 minutes I was the only one in this chapel and it was very peaceful.


The rest of the Basilica was completely magnificent and wonderful. The Church is just amazing. After wandering around the Basilica for a good, long while, I climbed to the top of the dome (551 stairs, to be precise) and I saw the greatest view in the world.

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Today I left the Eternal City and went to Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. Also it is where the monastery that Bryan works for is located. Therefore, I got to see a couple great monks and I got to eat at Bryan’s Italian family restaurant–and let me tell you, it is the greatest feeling to walk into a restaurant in a small Italian city and have everyone working there exclaim “Magdalena! Ciao!” when you walk made me feel so welcome and at home–it was wonderful. Also, Norcia is wonderful…I will have a much longer post about it on my travel blog…coming soon…or sometime in November.



Sadly I had to leave Rome today, but the view from the plane was spectacular.



Today I had the realization that within a month I would have a new niece or nephew very soon and that made me so incredibly happy!


Today I went to a Bible study at the military base in a town nearby. Yes, I was the only person who isn’t in a military family and I was the only person who isn’t married, but it was still really great! I joined the study on the book of Esther, so that’s awesome.

And there is my week of joy. Hope you all had amazing weeks as well and I love you all. Pax Ex.