Lily Turns Four!! And a Birthday Interview!

20 May

Oh, my heart. My fierce little warrior girl is four years old today. Lily came to us in a time when everything was in flux, everything was hard, everything was uncertain. And there she was. Perfect, strong, and looking exactly like her daddy. This girl is brave, quick, and wise beyond her years. She’s so perceptive and has taught me so much about myself and about what it means to love. Happiest birthday, my sweet Lily darling. You light up our whole world!

 

Here’s a link to her birth story in case you’re interested in revisiting the Ole Burger of ’12. And below is her birthday interview, which was highly influenced by some Hello Kitty lip gloss rings that she just received. One track mind, it seems!

 

baby lily

May 20, 2012 – 8lbs, 1 oz – 20 in – 2:15 am

 

What is the best thing about being four? 

Being four.

 

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Play with Everett. And Maggie.

 

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world where would you go?

I would go to Granny’s house with Maggie and Everett.

 

What is your favorite movie?

Wreck it Ralph

 

yoda princess lily

Fashionista.

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A police officer. Because I want to trap somebody.

 

How many kids will you have?

Twenty-nine.

 

Where will you live when you grow up?

In a flower house.

 

What are you afraid of?

Monsters.

 

What are you proud of?

Lip gloss.

tiger lily

 

What are three things you’re really good at?

Painting, coloring, and flower making, like a flower garden.

 

What’s the best thing about our family?

All our family coloring!

 

What does daddy do best?

Cook.

 

What is your mom good at?

Kind of cooking.

 

What do you like most about your mom?

That you’re beautiful.

 

What do you like most about your dad?

Like he’s kind of like good.

 

How strong is your dad?

So strong!

 

How strong is your mom?

Not even strong.

 

chef lily

 

Tell me about the best day in your life.

Saturday. Monday. Tuesday. Friday.

 

What is the healthiest thing you can eat?

Food.

 

What is your morning routine?

Play with you and then I wipe my head off.

 

Give me an example of a good deed.

Showing somebody a trick.

 

Tell me a knock knock joke.  

Knock. Knock. 

Who’s there?

Baby rings.

Baby rings, who?

Baby rings, achoo!

 

If we were to get anything you want, what would you ask for?

Rings.

 

lily parade

War Crimes

21 Apr

I like to tell my kids this is a benevolent dictatorship…and I kind of run a communist style ship around here, if I’m being honest. Everybody shares everything, too bad if you don’t like it, no soup for you, I’m not sorry.

 

So, seeing as I’m basically my family’s Vladimir Putin and all, I thought I’d take a little time to charge some folks for some war crimes. As one does.

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Maggie, age 6

 

Charged with Inciting Panic. You know that hour right after dinner when you’re completely exhausted from being an adult all day and the act of pretending like you’ve got your life together is really taking its toll? You know…it’s the hour when you feel as though all the life blood has been sucked from your body by a parasite and you’re about to fall into an unbathed pile of exhaustion. This is the hour in which she strikes. She will sneakily lure unsuspecting younger siblings to the stairs and whisper potty jokes to them, convincing them that screaming “poopy diaper head” in the faces of your dinner guests is a good idea. She will laugh maniacally while forcing you to listen to yet another knock-knock joke. Under the guise of entertaining her little brother, she will start a game of “chase” in which someone most certainly will be tripped and maimed. She will insist on leading the others in illegal games of “jump all over the damn couch even though Mom told us eight thousand times not to” and “let’s all violently wrestle until Lily’s hair gets pulled and she shrieks like a banshee.”

 

 

Lily, age 3 

 

Charged with Harassment and Stalking. She’s kind of the least offender because I truly believe that her intentions are pure…but she’s always there. She’ll demand to help with every single task ever of all time. Have some strong chemicals you want to clean with? She’ll pour. Have a sharp knife you’d like to chop with? She’ll show you how it’s done. Have some detailed sewing to be done? She’ll hold the needles. Have to finish your taxes? She’ll file ’em for ya. Have some sleep you’d like to get? She’s in your bed. However, if you actually ask her to help with a task she’s so uninterested it’s not even funny. Chores to be done? Nah, she’ll sit an observe the other fools and cry rather than comply.

 

Also, she’s an accessory to every other crime committed. She’s not usually the mastermind (…yet. Kid’s brilliant, so once she realizes her powers I have no doubt that she’ll use them for evil), but she’s usually coerced into helping, so we’ll let her off with a lighter sentence and call it good.

 

 

Everett, age 2

 

Charged with Aggravated Assault. Even his hugs hurt. Gentlemen visiting our home are advised to wear an athletic cup in order to protect themselves from the colossal skull that will crush their testicles approximately ninety-seven times during their visit. Also, watch for flying dump trucks being launched down the stairs, blocks torpedoed toward faces, and strategically placed Hot Wheels that were definitely not under your feet a second ago, but most certainly are under your feet now that you’re carrying a lot of stuff. The perpetrator has been known to climb basically anything with an elevation of…off the ground. So, watch for falling boys, as well.

Also, while we’re at it, let’s charge him with Indecent Exposure and Disorderly Conduct. You know, for good measure. And ’cause he never wears pants.

 

Remy, age 8 months

Charged with Disturbing the Peace. Bro doesn’t sleep. Or rather, he sleeps, but only long enough to give you the illusion that you’re going to be able to get something done. He’ll nap juuuust long enough for you to get right into the deep disgusting middle of finally cleaning out the refrigerator and then he strikes. It basically goes on like that ad nauseam.

 

Alright, so that’s my legal work done for the day. Time to go dole out punishments! Mwuahahahaha!

You Matter

18 Apr

Guys, I’m struggling a lot lately and I know a lot of other people who are, too. It just seems like so many of us can’t catch a break. We don’t feel seen, we don’t feel heard. A myriad of big and little hurts has piled up and we can’t catch our breath for the weight of life pressing down on us. This is hard.

 

But here is what I know to be true: We matter. You matter.

 

flowers stock photo

 

Pope Benedict XVI said,

We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.

 

You are necessary, friend. You are valuable. You were thought up and planned out and you are important.

 

I’m going to take some time today to meditate on that truth, the truth that I’m necessary and I’m loved. I’m going to dig deep and breath deep and do my damnedest to feel it deep in my core that I am a remarkable creation, deeply loved by God, redeemed by Christ, and pursued by the Holy Spirit. And you are, too.

 

You are so incredible. I hope you know that.

 

xoxo,

Mary Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo via https://www.pexels.com/photo/flowers-flower-pink-17666/

Maggie’s Birthday Interview – 6 Years!

28 Mar

My dear Maggie Rose turned six on Easter Sunday. Yeesh, I can’t believe I have a six year old child. Maggie is glorious. She’s constantly making new friends, which isn’t surprising since her first sentence was, “Hi, I’m Maggie.” She is clever, bright, funny, and a great manipulator (as all big sisters should be, riiiight Aunt Katy??). Maggie is constantly creating, building, sewing, making…anything she can draw or make is her favorite. She lights up my life and I’m so in love with this sweet girl…even when she’s sassy, which is about every five seconds if we’re not getting out of the house and being social every. single. day.

 

 

So, here’s a birthday interview I did with Miss Margaret. I particularly enjoyed her knock-knock joke.

 

What is the best thing about being six? 

You’re old enough to take care of things you don’t even know about yet.

 

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

Swing a lot and play on the slide with Lily.

 

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world where would you go?

Chicago and Disney World

 

What is your favorite movie?

The Incredibles and Nemo

 

Who do you want to be when you grow up?

A doctor. A veterinarian doctor.

 

How many kids will you have? Why?

4 because…actually 3 because I think it would be easier to take care of.

 

Where will you live when you grow up?

I’ll live in the city downtown.

 

What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid of the dark and if there are monsters. And big thumping sounds.

 

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of being a good artist.

 

 

What are three things you’re really good at?

Taking care of my doll, Jessie; being a good sister with Lily; and taking care of people when they’re sick.

 

What is one thing you could do better?

Help my family by cleaning up my toys while I’m done with them. Taking care of my yard if any cat or dog comes in or cleaning up after them.

 

What’s the best thing about our family?

That we all love each other and we’re the best team ever.

 

What does daddy do best?

He cooks a lot and makes good tomato soup.

 

What is your mom good at?

Make the prettiest sewing pictures ever.

 

What do you like most about your mom?

I like that you and me work together as a team to sew a lot.

 

What do you like most about your dad?

Because he cooks a lot with me and Lily.

 

How strong is your dad?

Really strong. He could hold a whole bed!

 

How strong is your mom?

Not that strong, but you could hold Banjo and me and Everett.

 

 

Tell me about the best day in your life.

I went to the store with Daddy early in the morning before you guys waked up and I asked Daddy really kindly if I could have a Jessie doll and then we got one! Yay!! 

 

What is the healthiest thing you can eat?

Tomatoes and carrots and broccoli and strawberries

 

What is your morning routine?

Brush my teeth, get my doll Jessie, go play some more, and go eat some breakfast

Give me an example of a good deed.

Being nice to your friend. Playing with her when she asks you to and listening to your friend when they say so.

Tell me a knock knock joke. 

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Three cows.

Three cows, who?

Three cows, “Oh, it’s steak!!”

 

 

If we were to get anything you want, what would you ask for?

My own decorations for me if I wanted. Like poofy poof balls and glow up rubberbands…and I would decorate the whole house with hearts.

And really, who could ask for more? Happy birthday, Maggie Rose!!

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When she turned two.

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Animal Kingdom, 2012

newborn mags

And here’s newborn Margaret Rose, my headstrong, bright, darling girl.

Holy Week! And a Passion Play Set for Kids!

23 Mar IMAG0930

I hope your Holy Week is going well! Easter is my favorite holiday forever of all time. Add to that the fact that the kids are old enough to really start grasping the story and I’m just really excited to share it with them.

 

I did a little Pinterest hunting (you can follow me here if you’d like) and found some really great Holy Week activities to do with little ones. We’re going to attempt a foot washing mini-service with some of our best friends on Thursday, we’ll do hot cross buns on Friday, and watch Prince of Egypt on Netflix a few times this week.

 

I managed to put together a Passion play set for the kids the other day and they’ve really liked it. (Former children’s librarian talking here…giving kids tools to tell stories is so good for early literacy. Narrative skills help with vocabulary development, drawing conclusions, and story comprehension, so story play sets of any kind are great to have around!)

 

Anyway, I thought I’d share the links I found to be helpful and the pictures of our play set in case anybody else wanted to make one!

 

I got most of my inspiration from these two blog posts:

When You Rise – preschool activities for Holy Week

When You Rise – Passion story telling set

Because I’m both classy and Catholic I thought it was only fitting to make the tomb of our Savior out of an old Dos Equis box. Other than that, I used paper and had the kids color the scene with markers to finish out the tomb.

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You can sort of also see that the tomb has a trap door to make the Resurrection possible. The kids LOVED showing their daddy that the tomb was empty!

 

For Golgotha, I used an old flower pot turned upside down and some sticks and fake moss from Maggie’s Fairy Princess birthday party the other day. I chose the flower pot because it looked like a hill, but also because it has a drain hole that Jesus’ cross could easily fit into. Eventually I’m hoping we’ll be able to act out all of the stations of the cross, so it was important that Jesus would be able to “carry” his cross. I had some old kabob skewers lying around, so I used rubber bands and the skewers to make the crosses.

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I found an old peg doll that makes the perfect Jesus. I sewed him a little outfit, used some fabric scraps for burial cloths and we were good!

 

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So, there you go! Anybody else have good links or ideas for Holy Week with kids? I’m always interested in hearing what other families do to celebrate.🙂

Happy Almost-Easter!

Mary Susan

How to do Disney with Small Children

22 Mar

Okay, friends, here’s my Disney How-To post at long last! So, I’ve geared my info/advice toward those traveling with small kids because that’s my most recent experience and my particular area of expertise. Obviously, if you don’t have small children, ignore the parts about breastfeeding and naps and carry on.

 

Here we go!

 

 

Go Ahead, Take ‘Em When They’re Young – Everyone always says they want to wait to take their kids to Disney until they’re old enough to remember it. I get it, Disney is expensive. But kids 3 and under are free…so go ahead and take ’em when they’re young if you want. In my opinion, I don’t think a trip is any less valuable if my kid doesn’t remember every single detail in a few years. Did we have fun in the moment? Did we enjoy each other at the time? Did the entire family have a good time? Do I remember how cute they looked riding Dumbo with their wispy baby hair blowing in the breeze? If the answer is yes, then I’m cool. Now, you may differ on this if you’re only going to go to Disney World one time in your whole entire life. But if you’re like us and you know you’re probably going to be back at some point, just go ahead and take the babes.

 

 

Do it Big – If you’re going to go to Disney, my suggestion is to do it big. Go into it knowing that it’s going to be expensive. Trust me, the convenience is worth your money. Disney has a reputation for making things super convenient for guests. They’ve thought of everything, and while it might cost a little more money, take advantage of it. It truly makes for an awesome vacation. Disney isn’t cheap. I know that there are cheaper ways to do it, and if that’s your thing, go for it. But, in our experience, it just made for a better experience if we budgeted a lot of money ahead of time, paid for as much in advance as we could, and didn’t stress about money once we got there. Mickey Premiums for everyone!!

And speaking of snacks, go ahead and get the meal plan. This lets you prepay for all of your meals and it truly makes feeding a horde of toddlers a lot easier.It’s just one less thing for you to think about. You’ll get two quick service meals, one sit-down meal, and a snack per ticketed person per day. That’s a lot. You can also use it however you’d like. So, in our situation, we didn’t buy a ticket for Everett, so he technically wasn’t covered under the meal plan. But we could use an extra kid’s meal every day for him if we wanted to and then split our sit-down meals into extra quick-service meals or snacks later on. Basically, it’s fairly flexible and it was plenty of food for errabody. (Edited to add: There are a few different choices as far as the dining plan goes, this was just the option we chose. Make sure you check out all the different meal plans when you book your fantastic vacay!)

As far as where to eat, the one place we think is not to be missed is Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge. Aside from the fact that it’s located in my favorite resort, this place is SO fun. They have stick ponies that the kids get to ride around and there are lots of surprise shenanigans I won’t spoil here. Basically, if you can handle a joke and like a big breakfast, this is your spot. We love it!

Stay on property. The Disney resorts have amazing amenities and buses will take you wherever you need to be. If you’re flying, they’ll pick you up from the airport and drop your bags at your room for you. AND you can check your bags and get your boarding passes right at the resort, when it’s time to leave.

Stay for a week. It’s probably still not enough time to do everything but I think a week is the right amount of time to get the most out of an experience without pushing your kids too far. A week gives you time to spend at least one day at each park and then a couple of extra days to go back and redo the things you loved or pick up stuff you missed.

 

Don’t Do Everything – A huge part of our culture is consumed by Fear of Missing Out. We’re also ruled by scarcity, that feeling that there’s never enough time, money, whatever. If you let yourself be sucked into these mindsets, your Disney trip will suck. Say it with me, “I don’t have to do everything in order to have a good time.” Y’all, it is physically impossible to do everything that the Disney parks and resorts offer in one vacation…unless by “vacation” you mean, “I’m moving to Disney World and living there for five years.” It’s just not doable. So, borrow from Brene Brown and write yourself a permission slip. Yes, physically write a slip that says “I give myself permission to not do everything at Disney.”

On our trip we did not see fireworks once. Not one time. Also, we didn’t meet Mickey Mouse. Or the princesses. Nope. We certainly didn’t. Were those things that we kinda wanted to do? Sure. But doing those things was not worth pushing our children or ourselves to the point of absolute misery. It just didn’t work out and that’s okay.

Before your trip, make a list of your must-do’s, your maybe’s, and your whatever’s. Book your fastpasses for the things that you’re absolutely dying to do and then let. it. go. Some days in the parks just don’t play out the way you think they will. Sometimes attractions are closed, shows get cancelled, kids/parents meltdown, lines are long, lunch takes more time than you anticipated…whatever. Just release yourself from the idea that you have to do everything and be flexible. I promise you’ll have a lot more fun.

 

Be Kind – On our first full day on vacation we witnessed a woman freak out on her husband and in-laws at the bus stop. Her father-in-law accidentally told the bus driver that they were taking another bus. I’m not going to pass judgement on this girl. I’m sure she had put in months of planning, weeks of packing and organizing, and had dealt with whiny kids and long breakfast lines that morning. Also, we all know it’s hard to travel with a big group. But, guys, it completely broke my heart to see her be so ugly to her family. We’ve all done it, though. We get wound too tight and just snap and lash out at people.

If you find yourself being ugly, feeling indescribably grouchy, or just generally being a hag, you’re probably trying to do too much. Take a step back and chill out. This is your vacation. It seems like it’s high stakes because it’s Disney and you spent a lot of money and you’re tired, but it’s just a vacation. If you’re wound too tight, it’ll suck. Your family wants to remember that time you all got soaked in the rain and then rode Splash Mountain and got soaked again, not the time you wigged out on Grandpa at the bus stop. Give yourself some grace and be nice.

 

Take Advantage of Playgrounds – Kids implode if they don’t get unstructured playtime. It’s a fact. So take advantage of the awesome playgrounds on Disney property. I promise you won’t be “missing out” on anything by taking some time for free play (see above).

Most resorts have at least one small playground and several pools. The “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” playground at Hollywood Studios is awesome, as is the Boneyard in Dinoland at Animal Kingdom (it was actually closed when we visited, but I do know that it’s been renovated and is amazing). I’ve overheard people in the parks telling their kids that “you can slide at home,” and while that may be true, these playgrounds are way better than the one that’s down the street from your house.

Things to know: These playgrounds are big, y’all. Like, I sort of got nervous that I’d lose a kid in the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” one because it’s all tunnels and climbing webs and there’s just one of me and four zillion kids, so try to plan this when you’ll have an extra set of hands. Know that children are never allowed to exit the playground area without an adult; there are cast members at the exits to ensure this, so that’s good. My observations were that a 5 or 6 year old would probably be completely fine on their own in these playgrounds. Lily (3) was cool to hang with Maggie, but that was contingent upon Maggie slowing down for her. Vin followed Ev (2) around, and they handled the thing just fine (says the woman who didn’t have to bear crawl through tunnels).

 

Split Up – If you’re traveling with little guys, odds are you’re not all going to be able or want to do the same things for the entire trip. That’s okay. Really. We ended up splitting up quite a bit of the time. Now, we have a bit of an unfair advantage at Disney because we know the parks like the back of our hands, having worked there. You can just study up on some maps and be cool, I bet. Either way, we had a great time with Vin taking kids to do bigger or scarier rides while I hung onto the guys who either weren’t tall enough or were scared or otherwise uninterested. This basically means that everybody gets to do fun stuff at the same time without feeling like they’re being held back. While Vin and Maggie waited for Tower of Terror, the little guys and I saw Voyage of the Little Mermaid (during which Ev fell asleep and I ended up carrying him out while wearing Remy and herding Lil…I get a Mama Merit Badge for that one!), changed diapers, and saw some characters. While the big guys did Mine Train, we met Merida, rode the Teacups, and did Small World. Split up and everybody wins.

 

Don’t forget that you can get Rider Switch passes that allow one parent to wait with smaller kids and then go through the fastpass entrance and ride when the other parent returns. Easy peasy.

 

Breastfeed During Shows – If you’ve got a baby like mine, nursing under a cover is basically like trying to feed a greased squid under a tarp. Also, Florida is hot and humid. So basically, as far as nursing covers go, ain’t nobody got time for that. Here’s my perfect solution for you. Get yourself to Voyage of the Little Mermaid or Country Bear Jamboree or whatever show you’d like and just nurse the baby in there. I’ve gotten really good at nursing modestly without a cover, but the extra privacy of sitting in an actual chair in the relative darkness is pretty great. Obviously, this won’t work every single time your baby needs to eat, but when you can time it right, nursing during a show is gold.

 

Bring Extra Shoes and Socks  – It rains in Florida. A lot. So my advice to you is to take a pair of athletic shoes for everyone (with extra socks) and also to bring along some waterproof shoes. We’re a Croc family. Crocs are especially good in the parks because they won’t fall off as easily as flip flops and they dry a lot faster than most other sandals.

 

Maybe Skip Epcot – I love Epcot as much as the next guy. I worked there for a while and absolutely adored my time there. However, if you’re traveling with preschoolers, I’d advise you to think about skipping it or maybe just doing a half-day there. Lily’s face in the photo below is basically how we all felt at the end of the day.

 

There are a few things of interest to the preschool set at Epcot (The Seas, Journey into Imagination, Test Track if they’re tall enough), but there wasn’t enough to hold our kids’ interest for an entire day. We went early for Extra Magic Hours thinking we’d show them around the World Showcase…but that was closed. Sad trombone. There are some cool characters at Epcot (like Baymax and Mary Poppins) but the lines were consistently long and our little guys just didn’t have the patience for it. So, yes I love Epcot, but no I don’t love Epcot with preschoolers and toddlers. Spend another day at Magic Kingdom and be happy that you did.

So, there’s some insight into how we did Disney with the babes. Thoughts? What did I forget?? Hit me up in the comments!

xoxo,
Mary Susan

Liturgical Living – St. Patrick’s Day!

7 Mar

While we try to celebrate at least one liturgical feast every month, I must confess that we kind of fell off the wagon after the Christmas season.

 

But, St. Patrick’s day is coming! We come from some green blood on both sides of our family, so I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s day. I love it even more now that I’m Catholic. There’s such rich heritage that comes from St. Patrick, so I’m excited to jump in and celebrate his feast right this year. (I will refrain from harping about mainstream St. Pat’s celebrating except to say, ugh.)

 

Here’s a link to my St. Patrick’s Day board on PinterestI’ve gathered a few good ideas there, but I think I’m going to focus on keeping it simple. The feast of St. Patrick falls close to the day we’re celebrating Mag’s birthday this year, so I’ll be doing some serious party prep and I don’t want to overwhelm myself.

 

I also want to focus a lot on the story of St. Patrick, his ministry, and the culture of Ireland. So, in the days leading up to St. Pat’s, we’ll be learning the Prayer of St. Patrick…

Prayer of St. Patrick

Christ be with me.

Christ within me.

Christ behind me.

Christ before me.

Christ beside me.

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me.

Christ above me.

Christ in quiet and in danger.

Christ in hearts of all who love me.

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

 

The kids have already memorized a few prayers, so this is a great and fairly simple one to add to our arsenal.

 

We’ll also be hunting down some books on St. Patrick. I’m thinking specifically the Tomie DePaola book, but we’ll see what the library has.

 

I’m also planning to do this Trinity Shamrock craft.

 

As far as Irish culture goes, we stumbled upon Song of the Sea, a fantastic and gorgeous movie that is based on many old and lesser known Irish legends. It specifically deals with selkies, which are some of my all-time favorite creatures, so I was bound to be in love. (Growing up, we actually had a Great Pyrenees puppy that we named Selkie because she looked so much like a baby seal. Best dog ever.) The movie is directed by Tomm Moore who also made The Secret of Kellswhich I also loved. I thought Song of the Sea was just as lovely as Kells and a lot less scary for my kids. I did have to do a lot of explaining, but they loved it so much that we watched it again immediately after we finished it the first time. There are so many good lessons to take away from this film…it deals deeply with sibling relationships, the value of both positive and negative emotions, the power of bravery and love. I could go on and on and I’m pretty sure I’ll be thinking about this movie for weeks to come.

Common Sense Media has a good list of other Irish movies that might get you in the St. Patrick’s day spirit.

 

Other than that, I think I’ll be playing the Celtic station on Pandora and probably watching Riverdance. Sorry, not sorry, I have always loved the cheesy charm of Michael Flatley.

Lord of the dance, indeed!

 

 

What are your plans to celebrate St. Patrick? Let me know in the comments…especially if you’ve got a good recipe for Irish soda bread! I try a new one every year and haven’t settled on a winner.

 

xoxo,

Mary Susan

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