Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Making House

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We are almost at the one year mark of leaving VA.  I look back at that house and time and have to pinch myself to remember it all really happened.  Living in VA was our shortest "tour".  We meant to stay for 6 years and left after 18 months.

That house in VA was way to big.  I'm sure that sounds out of character for a mom of several kids so say..but the fact that I have those several children is what makes me say that.  They each had their own room..which meant they each had their own room full of STUFF.  We all know that more room means more stuff.  As I have come to discover, stuff does not add to the well being of a family.  I would argue it does the exact opposite.

I had almost 5000 sq. feet to fill.  And fill I did.  With each house I have a vision that I chase and I enjoy the process and progress each time.  I have no problem getting rid of stuff and starting over.  I make mistakes with purchases and they usually have a large price tag attached ...and that can be a bummer.  One of the biggest $$ was the Pottery Barn couch I HAD to have when we left Mobile.  I allowed myself to think that buying the couch of my dreams would some how change my life...

I was more than happy to let our buyer purchase that life changing couch when we sold the house in VA...and it went for a major loss.  But I count the lesson I learned as part of the initial investment.

A couch does not make a home.  A farm table does not make a home.  A perfect kitchen does not make a home.  The outside look is not the home.  I am this home.  Being the mom, making our home...that makes this home.  When I feel good about my state as a mom, I feel good about my home.  It's all part of the bigger picture.

Don't get me wrong, I love a white couch with golden soft blankets draped over the arm and cozy pillows tucked in each corner.  I love the apple green paneling in my kitchen.  I love my big table that seats my family every night.  It makes me feel good to be surrounded by things I like to look at.  But all these things will one day be part of the scene ...not the meaning of the scene.  It's what I put into the people in this house that makes this place home.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lent Checkup 2014










I always want to come up with clever titles for posts, but then I can never remember what I named a specific post when I want to go back later and check on my former self. So, today I bring you a super catchy title to draw you in, and help me find it next year.

According to my journal I had big plans this lent.  And since lent is only 5 weeks old I can recall, without much difficulty, the sacrifices I had intended as  I began this holy season....

Before I proceed I want to take a brief moment to explain the catholic notion of sacrifice.  Like I have said before, I wish the whole world was Catholic but I know that is not true. So, here it goes.

In A Nutshell:

Catholics believe that Christ came to bring us everlasting life. But before we get to the everlasting part, we have the living part to get through.  When Jesus was with us he taught us through His example.  When God created us He knew we needed to see, taste, touch and feel in order to learn and live .  He gave us His son so we could do all of those things within His teaching.  The church helps us live Christ's example by guiding us to live our day to day life in union with Christ. 

We know that Jesus went to the desert for 40 days for fasting and prayer.  Our holy church guides us to do the same union with Christ, to prepare for his death and resurrection. So Catholics "fast" from certain things, which leads us to prayer, which leads us to live our days in union with Jesus.

There are much more in depth things out there...try this and this

Anyway...back to me....

I went into Lent with a way better vision and hope then I entered Advent.  I blew Advent and I did not want to go 2 for 2 as my Alaskan Catholic record .  I know Lent is not over yet...but I can see where it is going and where it has been for me and I see the need for review. 


1. Drink Nothing But Water:

No wine, coffee, milk, juice....nothing but water.



1. I lasted until the Feast of The Annunciation for all of the above.  On the FOA I was a feast day and we kinda had a family party that day and I drank 2 cups of coffee....I allowed myself to think it was a part of the celebrating the feast...but I really just wanted coffee.


2.  Pete and I had a long overdue date this last weekend and I did have a glass of was Sat. night, after sundown so technically it can be counted as Sunday.  But I'm not really into the whole partial sacrifice model.  I struggle with an ALL or NOTHING mentality.  And I either give it up...or  I don't.  Using that very strict guide, all or nothing, I have not succeeded in the only drink water intention. 

Everything Else:

3.  I have not drank any milk or juice...except one slug of OJ this morning because I had that silly notion of..."what the heck...I've already blown it".

And then I realized I do that a lot.  I allow myself to think all or nothing type things in lots of areas....

: it's rainy...It will not be a good day.

: my hair is to short and my bangs are horrid:  I will never look pretty again.

: Pete got annoyed at me:  Our marriage is going in a bad direction.

:  I drank wine once, added coffee back, and drank some juice: Lent is RUINED!!!

But that the point?

Have I felt closer to Christ and our church through these small sufferings??  Yes!!

Have I gained a new understanding of how much wine and coffee effect me?  Do I like those effects? 

All the things I choose to do have an effect on my heart and mind.  When I pray more, go to mass more I truly FEEL different.  I think different and I act different. 

Can I count Lent as a success so far even though some of the lists I made in my journal will go unchecked?  I am tempted to feel the all or nothing ruler be my judge.  But there is so much that happens between All and Nothing....and that is good stuff.

And I realize there is still the last stretch and I don't need to give up...if anything, take a deep breathe and re-commit .  That seems more..hopeful!!

Here's to hope...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Yarn Along -Easter Sunday Sweater Goal




I'm on a mission...2 little girls, 2 little boys, and me, their mom, here in Alaska alone for our first big girls, no Pete.  I needed something to look forward to Easter week...not that Jesus sacrificing His life for us is not something to look forward to...but you know what I mean...

I want to knit both girls Ginny's Sunday sweater pattern.  I knit Priscilla one the first week Ginny released her pattern.  I loved knitting it and Priscilla still LOVES wearing it.  I got the itch last week to stuff the Easter baskets with hand made goodies.  I thought I would create reasonable goals..2 Sunday Sweaters, 2 bird nests filled with knit eggs for the boys...  We will see.

I have been reading anything I can get my hands on recently...I LOVED My Sisters The Saints.  I'm reading Shirt of Flame, and Consoling the Heart of Jesus (slowly).  I also went to the coffee shop yesterday with Emily's kindle and read Jennifer Fulwiler's e-book Family First Creative .  It was SO good.  I can't wait to read her book Something Other Than God.

I actually hate to admit that I enjoyed reading on Emily's kindle.  What does that mean??  Having 24 hr. access to books may not be the best thing for my budget....


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tinker of Many: Master of None

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When Pete and I first started dating I was REALLY into making puffy photo albums.   I would cover the front of cheap photo albums with really lacy material, glue dried flowers and then stuff some fiber fill between the book and the lace to give the book a padded, super puffy feel.  I loved making them.

I moved on from puffy photo book making to stamping.  I would buy stamps, ink and fancy paper and make cards.  I don't think I did much else except create the cards...never actually sending them.  From there I got into scrap booking.  My mom and Aunts all scrapbook-ed and I remember feeling like I was an official married person when I had my very own memories worthy of a scrap book.  I actually stayed with the hobby for awhile.

There have been periods when I had no hobby, or intense interest, but those times were filled with pursuits of other kinds.  I graduated UWF with an elementary education degree that I used for no longer than 18 months before I began the hobby which has stuck the making. Which eventually led to people making.  And this is where I find myself today, deeply interested in helping make my babies into good people.  This is a full time EVERYTHING...but that does not mean that my pursuit of other things has gone dormant.  

Actually, the opposite has occurred.  I now find myself inspired to learn and do more than ever before.  Maybe being in the job of people making gives clarity to all the things possible for people to achieve.

When I started blogging it was to practice with my new camera..I wanted to be a photographer.  I was then led to knitting through finding Ginny's blog.  I wanted to own a knitting store, become a knitting designer, or raise didn't really matter because knitting took over my thoughts for a long time.  I see a good movie about a famous chef, I want to go to Paris to study cooking.  Or at least take classes online.  Either way I suddenly wanted to own a adorable restaurant where all my painted furniture decorates the place. And speaking of decorating with painted furniture....every time I get a Southern Living magazine I decide I need to open up an antique store and paint furniture forever...while knitting, photographing my 6 kids, and cooking great fresh dinners for my classically educated home schooled kids....

That was the vision.  That is still a pretty good peak into my dream life.  But please picture me living in a super cute farm house in the middle of a beautiful green piece of property with trees everywhere and a trickling brook  behind the house.

I get inspired...pretty easily.  I get so excited to try new things.  And when I do try new things I dream big. The word inspired means "God Breathes" .  With this knowledge I don't so much mind tinkering with so many different things.  But should I mind?

Until recently I never considered my constant varying inspiration bouts to have a down side.  Since I can jump from one obsession to the next it can be a challenge to gain any mastery over one specific area.
Consistent practice of tasks typically leads to better results.  Have I ever found something worth struggling through?  Has God Breathed into my heart yet the one thing that I would be willing to be bad at long enough to get better doing??

"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly"...Chesterton.  I have done plenty of good things pretty badly...and I know they were worth doing.....and by doing them I have become who I am.

But now I feel the need to do something...more.  To work towards something.  Take another step...And I think I know what I want that step to be.  I just hope it is what God Breath's....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Right Now:

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Days Filled With:

:  getting a 2 year old to do anything without saying "No"

:  reminding the other people who fill this house that they have not been 2 for a long time....but I promise        each of them were very much 2 at one point.  And I loved them through it.  It's Drew's turn.  It just takes a lot of effort

:  4 kids in school, which leaves me home with 2.  That feels pretty darn easy.  But they LOVE when everyone comes come.  Specially Drew, who adores Jack above all others.  As it should be.

:  I am working on a "quilt" style , which means not exactly perfect or well done.  But I have made 2 other small ones and they bring me such joy when I see kids wrapped up in them.  So it s worth me doing another poorly as I do them.

:  I am trying to knit.  My knitting is less than inspired recently.  The yarn store near me is getting some Mad Tosh and that will probably help.  I love her yarn but I am not a good internet yarn shopper...actually I am not good at internet shopping in any form.

:  The 2 older girls are going to visit my family this April.  Pete has a training course and he is flying the girls to Florida first.  I am so excited they are getting to see family.  I wish it were all of us, but not yet.  They are also getting to go on a cruise with Pete's mom.  They are so excited.  This is the longest I have ever not seen my mom so my heart is super lonely for her...sending the girls in my place is the next best thing.

:  Emily makes her confirmation this May.  I am not sure I have done a very good job of getting her ready.  But there is grace there even if I can't see it yet.  I know there is grace because I am who I am today because of it.

:  I am starting a Catholic Bible study at my church with 4 women...2 are not Catholic.  I feel honored to bring the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith to their heart.  What a gift they are about to receive.  When people want to learn more about the Catholic faith is can seem very overwhelming...there is just so very much.  It can be hard to know where to begin.  I am excited to help them begin.  Will they become Catholic???  I want the whole world to be Catholic I hope so!!

:  Spring is here, bikes are dusted off and we need to upgrade 3 of them.  The kids are dying for a trampoline and I want a outdoor umbrella.  Ours blew away one September windy day when I forgot to shut it.  There is so much to look forward to with Spring...but each season brings..STUFF.  And since I hate online shopping..I get a bit overwhelmed.

:  I read My Sisters The Saints...SOSOSOSOSSOOSSO good.  I have passed it on to 2 people already...both not Catholic. They loved it.  When people just share their story and their story involves The Church it moves them.  It takes the controversy out of all of it.  It is just our Lord, our Faith and the deep tradition that changes your life . People like to change their life. And if they don't know how to they like to read about people who have.  I need to share more.  Not be afraid of it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


..........I would become the person I am quickly becoming.  I started my parenting thinking everything would follow one straight line.  Truth be told, I don't even think I could locate the line I first dreamed of following. Would I want to?  If I remember correctly I began with the notion that 2 kids would make our family complete.  Things have changed in so many ways.

 Mostly what changed that plan was I fell in love with my beautiful faith and saw that God had so much more for me.  I jumped in.  I kinda steam rolled in.  I have a tendency to be super motivated when I want to be...I was super motivated to live my faith in everything I did.  And for that time in my was to be open to life.  And I've never been happier with my rash excitement and the results.


It's not just how many kids I was going to have for was the ideal education I was going to provide.  I was not going to go down the "normal" road with my kids.  I was going to classically educate them,  all the while gaining an education for myself that I found so inspiring. I would be doing all of this while looking adorable, having kept up my running, while living in a house that is kept up with 90% of the time.


But suddenly 2 years ago my desire to home school VANISHED.  Just as quickly as I devoted myself to the whole lifestyle...I abandoned it.  It never felt that swift to me, but time gives you perspective.  My heart was wondering for awhile...."What if I put my kids in school"????  I needed to know...

And here's what I now can clearly say about myself...I'm an ALL or NOTHING type girl.  It's either all the looking back ...or why even bother....

I kept Lucy home this year...until this week.  I have nothing left when it comes to home schooling.  I tried.  I made myself do it.  I can't anymore.  There is this little strip of guilt and grief I have...have I failed?  Did I do something to make all of this go wrong???



Is this wrong?  Is is wrong that I now have 4 school age kids attending school...3 kids swim 3 days a week, my oldest does dance and volleyball, my other does band and dance. We are becoming a busy family.  For 12 years I kept us at a VERY slow answer was always no...little kids needed to sleep and I needed to have a few hours every afternoon that were quiet.  But things are changing...less people need sleep.  More people need more to be engaged in.

I ask Pete..."Are you disappointed that we don't home school anymore?"...I want him to give words to the indescribable confusion I have in regards to that very question...I see him struggle to clarify his own thoughts.

"What we did made us who we are"....that was his answer today...

  Our faith is our constant.  Being Catholic is our rock.  That will never change.  How we school, what sports they play, what hobbies I indulge...all will change.  But loving God is our bottom line.  It is where we begin and end.




I make so many that my shame sometimes feels to much to bare. I recently feel like I made a series of mistakes that have humbled me greatly.  I know there is great grace when things feel like they feel right now and I am grateful for it...I need it.

But for now...all I can do is move forward.  A new season of lent is right before me.  A time of repentance and growth..both things I need.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

End In Mind

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Pete has put 18 years into the Coast Guard. That means we have been married for 18 years this June.  That means I have now lived with him longer than I lived with my parents.  That. Is. Crazy.

When we are in the hard moments of being all to one, two, or six people it is easy to loose sight of the fact that they will spend the majority of their life WITHOUT you.  Parenting with the end in mind is my focus these days.  That does not mean I spend my time only thinking of the end...but the end of each interaction, the end of each moment that passes...all of those small ends that will eventually lead to the big end.

Which, in my heart and faith, means the great big ultimate end...heaven!!

Parenting with heaven in mind helps in the big and small things.

But there are other ends I think about these days.  What if we are at the "end" of our moving around.  Pete and I look at the time when we will not be in the Coast Guard.  Where do we live?  All of our family live in Florida.  I do not see myself in Florida forever..but lately I have been thinking that through a bit harder....

My nieces and nephews are all there.  My family, Pete's family all live in the great big state of VERY hot and HUMID Florida....

We will go where Pete gets a job..I know that will be the ultimate decision maker.  But, where do we begin??

All ends..all good.
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