January 6, 2019

Christmas Letter 2018




Merry Christmas friends and family far and near!!

I don't quite remember when last we wrote but a lot has happened. Our family has been on quite a rollercoaster for the past five years. But God is so good and has blessed us in so many ways. I miss writing these letters because I not only write them to share with you but also to keep years but I'm sure the younger two won't see it the same. I will try to catch you up as briefly as momentum or our children. I'm not sure that the oldest children will forget our roller coaster possible. So what has our rollercoaster ride been like? It started when Michael bravely took a leap of faith closing his mobile car repair service and went back to school. At first, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do but after a lot of prayers, we decided that a CNA program and eventually nursing program would be a great fit. Then the birth of Mary-Anne came with some anxiety and a 12 day stay in the hospital. Wow, we were so happy to have her home! That roller coaster came at the beginning of the pregnancy especially after the loss of Peter. Our Christmas letter that year asked our friends and family to help us financially get through the rough patch. The response was overwhelming and we can't thank our friends and family enough for that help! On January 1st, 2015 our family became homeless but here are two amazing blessings! Have you ever seen a community rally! Although we didn't have a home to go to our amazing community, with two good friends Becky and Rebecca as organizers, came to help us quickly pack us up to move all of our stuff into storage. The scene was amazing young ladies with moms packing boxes and cleaning and young men and dads throwing away things we didn't need, packing a truck several times, and filling our storage unit. It took a long time to pack and a whole day of running to storage but our amazing community did it! Seriously just like in the movies! Two amazing families welcomed our family of six to stay with them. Thank you so much to the Murphy family and the Szkoda family for putting up with our rambunctious crew! We finally found housing on Mary-Anne’s first birthday 8 months after the start of our journey! As you can imagine there were many other adventures with Michael and his schooling but the next most difficult year was 2017 when Adrianne lost her Grandmother then 9 months later her father to rapid lung cancer. Her father's death was sad and sudden but in the end beautiful because he had a priest come to baptize him and give him last rights, bedside conversion at it’s best! Thank you Fr. Marc! Once again dads friends, many if Adrianne’s brother’s friends and our friends helped us with the expense of dad's death. Please continue to pray for the soul of both Paul G. Bell and Lucille M. Voutour. All of our lives have ups and downs and we know we will continue to see those ups and downs in our lives but we are so grateful to now have an RN in our family!


Michael graduated as a nurse after long and hard 4 years of nursing school. We used St Joseph of Cupertino so many times and we know he interceded for Michael during many tests. He is now working full time as a nurse in a nursing home. He loves his work and now only fixes our cars. Yes, he still runs at least one race a year often coming in third place.

Adrianne is still homeschooling all the kids except Adriana. She runs the kids' homeschool 4-H club, Homeschool Homesteaders. She also runs the kids all over the county to participate in their many activities. A few years back she fell in love with Lilla Rose Flexi clips and started to sell them for a little extra income. This year she went to California with her friend, Erin, to the Lilla Rose convention. She occasionally takes time for herself and this year she took a second trip to New York with Anne to see the sad end of their favorite band, Third Day. As usual, Adrianne loves being mom, teacher and now support to Adriana schooling.

Adriana is 14, can you believe it. She has grown into a beautiful, confident, athletic, and very mature young lady. She has learned to be a leader through our 4-H club. She shows goats in the show ring and she is a great speaker. She loves basketball and enjoys running. She most recently challenged herself and her parents to enroll her in a local Catholic classical education school where she is a freshman. She struggles academically but she loves her new school and has taken on the challenge.

James is 10 and in 5th grade. He loves all things! He is a boy's boy but still our Sweet Baby James! He also challenges himself in so many ways. He seeks out challenges. He became an altar server for the traditional Tridentine Mass a few years ago. He is a Knight of the Altar. He serves with the true love of Our Lord. We pray for his vocation often. He feels a little tug towards priesthood but also being 10 and having a beautiful soul sees himself as a dad. Please join us in prayer for his vocation, prayer he seeks God's will. Since his sister left our homeschool 4-H club he has become the president. He also shows goats and chickens and recently gave up showing pigs. He plays soccer and basketball with all his heart. He loves to learn and absolutely has an engineering mind so he focuses a lot on the math and sciences. He also loves robotics and coding.

Thomas is 8 and in second grade. This past year on the Feast of Pentecost he made his first communion. The Holy Spirit was totally present. He has also joined James at the Knights of the Altar but has not yet started serving. He still has tons of energy. Is learning to read and truly has a love for books. He also loves to play with legos and create art. He loves to teach younger children so I can see his leadership growing. He tried his hand at showing pigs this year. He loves showing goats and chickens. I can see his maturity growing.

Mary-Anne our baby is four! She is growing. She has lots of spunk coming after Thomas. She has her brothers wrapped around her fingers and is still the best gift Adriana ever received. As the youngest, she knows her way around a youtube better than any of our other children at that age. She is cute as a button and loves to spend time with her great-aunt Denise. She has a natural love of animals especially goats and dogs. She interestingly loves to be home and I say that because we are generally not home. She loves school including are homeschool Co-op. We all wait and watch to see her character.

Adrianne also posts lots of our family Adventures on Facebook. If you are not already friends with her it is a fun way to watch our family grow, https://www.facebook.com/ajniall. We wish you the Merriest of Christmases and a Blessed New Year. God bless, Michael, Adrianne, Adriana, James, Thomas, and Mary-Anne Niall

Fun crazy family picture

Adriana and James with their show goats!
Bl. Pier Giorgio Fassati
St. Elizabeth of Hungry and
St. Martin of Tours
Thomas and James at
Thomas' First Communion

Third Day's goodbye tour with Anne!
Catalina Island Tour
with Lilla Rose and Erin
Mama loves goats too! 
Adriana's first day of High School
Trivium School
Niall Monkeys 
4-H Flexi Girls
                                       
Birthday Girls
                  






December 20, 2014

A Humble Request

Dear Friends
Our lives have been in great turmoil and transition since early in the year.  Many of you know this through Facebook and our blog.  We have tried to make the best decisions for our family but unfortunately, some of the largest ones were not so good.  Our bad business decisions have crippled us financially.  It was the decision of starting and trying to expand our car mechanic business that pushed us into a free fall.  Like many things it was not all bad.  God showed us much through the experience but in the end we lost all of the little money we had.   We have been praying in earnest for months about the next steps we should take and as many of you know, Michael has gone back to school to start a new career in nursing.  This was through a long discernment process during the spring and summer.  We knew this would be a huge sacrifice for our family but we chose it because we knew it would be best in the long run. 
We have to be out of our house by the end of January and are not sure where we will be able to go yet. Adrianne and the children may have to stay with her mother in Maine for a few months so we can save money.  Through our prayer s we have seen that we need to humble ourselves.  So many of you, our friends, have asked what can be done to help.  We didn’t know what we could ask for but we know we needed to ask for help and be willing to take what people could give.  We know many of you are in tight financial situations.  But still we would like to ask you to donate to our family.   No amount is too small in helping to alleviate some of the great pressure we are under.  We would like to at least pay off one of our essential bills: heat, electric, phone or rent (they are sadly beyond our means).  It will help us get a fresh start when we move into a new apartment. 
 
We are so grateful for any help you can give us.  God has always provided for us and we know He will continue to do so.  Please pass this on to as many people as you feel comfortable with in order to help our family.  Thank you and God bless you all.
 
In Gods mercy,
Michael and Adrianne Niall
 
 

April 13, 2014

Easter Can Be Healthy


 Our family loves our family traditions - Easter brunch, baskets, egg hunts. We discovered we could still have a traditions, but make them healthy for our family. We decided to change things for the better this year.

Dried fruits in Easter Basket



What did we do?

We made our Easter Baskets and held an Easter egg hunt with healthy choices. And guess what? Our children loved the Easter Baskets and Easter egg fillings just as much as any other year!





How did we do it? 

We gave them mostly Dollar Tree toys and garden supplies. Yes, they also got treats. What did we add to their baskets? They got dried fruit, a few pieces of dark chocolate covered mango, a Larabar, and fruit leather. (Side note: My children love Larabars and they don't get them because they are too expensive.)  What about Easter eggs? We added stickers, coins (pennies, dimes and nickels), balloons, wrapped prunes, raisins, organic fruit snacks, and a few other toys.


This is what our children's Easter baskets looked like:


 
We did have a little more sweets in the house than normal, and I would have added a chocolate bunny except they got one from a family friend. We decided that we were not going to make the holiday about sweets, because they always stay around longer than we want. We really don't want the children eating sweets. The less there is in the house the better it is for everyone.
 
How did your family do this Easter? Add your comments below and let us know what you did!

April 2, 2014

He is So Cute........ ~Wordless Wednesday

When he is sleeping!!!



He is truly sleeping and so cute! 


Waking up but not fully awake and still cute. 

March 29, 2014

'Tis the Irish Season


The children are a quarter Irish (on daddy's side.)
 

 Early on in our homeschool journey we found Irish Step Dancing. Adriana has been dancing for four year. 

James and his dance partner and friend, Greta
This is James' second year dancing.  
 
Most likely Thomas will begin dancing next year. It is a lot of fun and daddy dances around the house with them.

James and Thomas with some friends. 
This is our dance season. We have a number of shows thought the year but most come around St. Patrick's day. We had 6 shows in two and half weeks. On top of the shows we add extra Irish Step classes to get ready for the shows.


Monica, Greta and James
Last night was our last show. It was a great season.


As always thank you Kathy and the Irish Rhythm School.    



March 27, 2014

Funday Sunday!

{Pretty}


The scenery on our hike

Sundays are sometimes like lent in our house.  Daddy works six days a week and we have one day to reconnect.  By the end of day Sundays Daddy is thinking about work again.  This is not enough time to reconnect never mind get much of anything done. 
 
When we have a Funday Sunday I get so excited.

Tree Tapping

This Sunday was a Funday Sunday.  We enjoyed leaning about maple sugaring at Sweet Water Sugar in Royalston Massachusetts.  James learned that you can use a machine to make (well heat) the sap from the tree.  The sap becomes maple syrup.  Thomas learned you can make maple syrup jelly with the maple syrup.  Adriana learned that you can make maple syrup soda!  She also learned all the steps like tapping the trees and heating the sap until it gets to a certain temperature becoming maple syrup.
 
Can you see the long line coming down the hill into the giant barrel.
(double click the picture to enlarge) 
From tapping to outdoor storage.



Filtering all the bad stuff and dirt out. 

Then heating to 190* and pouring off

 
Finally the pour the filtered syrup into jugs, Yummy! 

Mama loved the whole process.  The farm had a whole line of trees tapped and a huge bucket out side of the shed coming into the shed to heat up.  Watching the whole process was awesome.   

 
{Happy}
 
Adriana's eyes are smiling!  
Tasting the maple syrup! oh-ya

After the maple sugaring we went to the Quabbin for a family hike.  We enjoy Sunday family hikes.  We hiked to a shore where James, Thomas and daddy climbed a dead tree and Adriana through rocks into the water while Mama took picture.


 





It was a beautiful day ended with dinner and a rosary. 

Does your family have any Funday Sunday traditions!
 
 
 
{Real}
James stepped into a puddle on our hike out of the Quabbin.  Their is something dramatic on every Funday trip. 
round button chicken