Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Eleven Years of Easter Memories

I've been posting our Easter memories every year for ... eleven years!  I love seeing the kids grow, and I love observing the additions as we go thru the years! ;-) This is worth it just to see Molly's little smile and wrinkled-up nose as a toddler, and to see how fast our family has grown! Enjoy! :)
Year One: Annapolis, MD
Molly was born in January so she was still a tiny 3 month old munchkin for her first Easter. I remember my Mom sending us this dress.
Year Two: Annapolis, MD
This was our cute apartment near the Naval Academy. Molly was 15 months and my parents came to visit! I don't know why but for some reason I didn't get a picture of her Easter dress that year (although I know we went to church on Easter Sunday) ;-).

Year Three: Annapolis, MD
I remember carefully cropping out her brown shoes because I didn't have time to buy white ones. Molly was 2! I loved that dress, though haha. 
Year Four: Annapolis, MD
Stephen's parents and his sister and her kids came to visit us for Easter. Molly was 3 and Frances (not pictured) was 6 months old. Stephen's Mom Sandy was helping the kids dye Easter eggs.

Year Five: Hyattsville, MD (Washington D.C.)
Molly was 4 and Frances was 18 months. I remember going to the Dollar Store to buy those tiny Easter baskets!

Year Six: Tennessee
Our first year in our "new" house.... Madeleine's first Easter! She was about 11 months old.

Year Seven: Tennessee 
This is at our parish. Anders was about 8 months, Madeleine almost 2, Frances 3, Molly 6.

Year Eight: Tennessee
Molly 7, Frances 4, Madeleine 2, Anders 1

Year Nine: Tennessee
Molly 8, Frances 5, Madeleine 3, Anders 2, Annabel 9 months

Year Ten: Tennessee
ages: Molly 9, Frances 6, Madeleine 4, Anders 3, Annabel 1

Year Eleven: Tennessee
ages: Molly 10, Frances 7, Madeleine 5, Anders 4, Annabel 2, Conrad 10 months

(Also of note: Conrad WAS wearing a bow-tie but you can hardly see it hahaha) ;-)

A lot of people ask me exactly how close together our kids are. The answer:
Molly + Frances > 2 years, 10 months apart
Frances + Madeleine > 19 months apart
Madeleine + Anders>  14 months apart
Anders + Annabel > 2 years, 1 month (25 months) apart
Annabel + Conrad > 20 months apart

The space between Madeleine and Anders, as you can imagine, was the hardest and most stressful scenario. I still remember my shock that they were barely missing coming under the radar for Irish twins. When we found out he was a  boy, we were so shocked but it made all of the suffering so worth it because we were all thrilled and ecstatic. Enough rambling, I know! :)
God bless and see you next year. Haha. :)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Our Spring Break in 7QT

time away

What a refreshing way to spend a week- a free vacay in my parents' cabin on the TN river. This was our view. We saw turtles (1), birds of all varieties, bugs, a huge scorpion, fish, several varieties of butterflies, trees, and flowers.

easter art camp

For art camp this year we did Potato Stamping easter eggs, an egg wreath with washi tape, egg crowns, bunny ears, rock painting, and lots of other random crafts. Consider the craftapalooza for this year's Easter done and done. :)

husband and wife getaway

After spending a week on the TN river with our kids over their spring break, Stephen and I got away from it all by spending the weekend after SB at a KOA campground in Decatur, AL.  It was so fun and just the breath of fresh air I needed. Sadly, the high was 39 degrees while there so we were perpetually freezing. I can't really complain though because staying in a cabin is basically glamping. And I can't think of a better recipe for >>reading 24/7<< than cold weather!!! :)
the kids' absolute favorite treat to make themselves- cotton top cones using cotton candy! (Kids seriously love these!)

homemade robin's nests... we melted the peeps because otherwise GAG 

Conrad... I have never seen him so happy :0) 😘

easter treats to eat!

So far: banana splits, peep s'mores dip, oreos, cotton top cones, homemade robin nests!  View all of our art camp activities and treats on my Pinterest board Art Camp and Holidays (Mostly Easter)! And of course we have been eating lots of nutritious meals and a balanced diet, that goes without saying!

my grandma's funeral

Right smack dab in the middle of the first Easter week, we remembered my grandma's life in nashville. It has been so hard saying goodbye to my grandma. Thankfully, what softens the blow is the beautiful family that stood as testament to the heritage of God's love and his grace.  She had 17 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Here are some attendees from her funeral. Molly, Conrad, and my nephew Aiden.


All of that time driving and camping/glamping last week gave me plenty of time to read. I had mixed feelings about this book. SOCIAL MEDIA interruption reeeeeeal quick: I spoke more about it on instagram stories (I have all of my books reviews saved/highlighted to my profile) so follow me there if you don't already. I"m @tacywb. Come see if I'm being 100% honest about my tech addiction -- or not! :) #noguilt #haha #screentime or #noscreentime

easter sunday!

I'm going to crank out my easter post soon enough. In the mean time, enjoy this little peek at our kids on easter morning!

for further reading: our decision to homeschool our kids next year

Happy Eastertide! (I feel like an ad for a cheesy laundry detergent commercial... why?!)
God bless!
Linking up with Kelly

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pouring My Heart Out About Homeschooling

A few years ago, I wrote this about becoming Catholic:

I feel like if I stay silent about the things that matter most to me,  am I allowing myself to be held hostage by fear? Finding a way to write about it is definitely preferable, from where I'm standing. Finding a way to speak my thoughts is better. But ever, I write. And I have to write about what is important to me, be it motherhood, wifehood, my interests, or my faith. Because I have learned from the past that saying something about prayer is better than saying nothing about prayer. And so, I speak.

I felt the very real tension between honesty and pleasing others.  To me, fear was still a huge determining factor in what I wrote about, particularly and especially concerning Catholicism.  I never, ever wanted to toe the line of "too challenging" or "too offensive."  I didn't want to open up for pangs of nothing more than "Fear itself," and more than that, just because opening up, pouring out something straight from the depths of my heart, seemed offensive in some way.

Unfortunately, this brought me to a very lonely place in my life and in my blogging.  I was living proof that fear of rejection (for the sake of being cool) can hold us hostage, and we're never able to fully bloom without the truth. It led me to this place: What is the point of saying anything at all if we're speaking under false pretenses, or the knowledge that the "heart" isn't in it? That leads me even further, to the question spoken by Pilate to Jesus: "What is truth?"  Without truth, we might be bearing false witness. And... we're on the precipice of veritas?!

The truth is, vulnerability is the closest thing to the truth. And also? The truth is that my heart is re-falling in love with "homeschooling" and in specifically, all told, Classical Unschooling.

The pro's are many, the con's are becoming fewer, and I'm left with a huge mountain of considerations, when all is said and done.  If you feel like someone just sandblasted you and now your hair is flying behind you in a sticky mess, then you know something of how I feel after going from zero to full throttle about homeschooling during 40 days' time.  Because yes, it was during the season of Lent that Stephen and I began praying about the option of homeschooling our kids next year.  After days of fasting, days of seeking the Lord's will, and MANY days of discussion with Stephen (around and around and around) we have so much clarity.  This issue is in my heart in a three-fold layer:  vocation, our hopes vs. our fears, and finally approach to learning.


First, let's talk about vocation.  Pam Barnhill said in episode 28 of The Schole Sisters podcast, "Children somehow are doing this 'education is a life' are doing this anyway, and then school messes it up. It's instinctual- like the way they learn naturally- and then some forms of schooling come along and muck it up a little bit." Very literally, if I become a homeschooling Mama, my vocation will change. I'm not just a party-throwing, van-driving, poop-wiping Mama.  I'll be an educator. (And I don't want to mess that up!) I'll be a lesson-planner, a pre-reader, a Bible-memory-leader, a nature journaler, a motivator.  I want to be sure I'm setting the example that education is an atmosphere, a life.... but I also do not want to raise kids who can't be prepared, on time, and finished with lessons, which is something I fear of homeschooling.

Hopes vs. Fears

Homeschooling  has wonderful and plentiful PRO's-- it is cheaper, we could be more independent, we could travel more.  Homeschooling and "unschooling" is an approach I associate with more creative and inspired learning. We can take a retreat from normal methods, read more, play more, recover more (!!!!) from various outings and agendas.  We can become involved in the co-op at our parish which in turn, means new friendships and new opportunities and outings.

As for the con's.... is it all romaticized? The first thing that comes to mind is long days, being cooped up in the house despite winter, doldrums, and tantrums. I fear losing touch with school and all that goes with that- criss cross applesauce, parties, people, schedules, routines, and the stability that comes with the whole system of Catholic schooling.

What if our kids fall behind?! What if they don't learn to read well?! Or at all?!  To me, mediocre homeschooling is not an option. In fact, after the rigor we have experienced and tasted at Catholic school, poor homeschooling terrifies me.  Bad school is better than terrible homeschooling and mediocre scholarship is better than not learning much at all... that is, no mastery of lessons and worse, feeling uninspired and hopeless at the end of the day. (RIGHT?!)  In my humble (or maybe not - so- humble!) opinion, homeschooling needs to be not only an inspiring, creative experience. It must also be rigorous, serious, and fruitful.

The other huge consideration is my mental illness and my history with breakdowns.  I'm extremely sensitive and I've been hurt by friends and family in the past.  I have suffered with intolerable cruelty, pangs of inadequacy, and waves of rejection and self-doubt.  I have bowed down under the temptation to self-hatred. Hopelessness has become a constant companion.  My ability to "rise above" gets harder as I get older and face the struggles of life.

So, what about that?! What about Stephen? His place in the home? His place in the homeschool room? Stephen got his masters in Classics and Liberal arts from St. John's college. He is planning to help teach. Recently I have gone off anti-depressants, but I'm still taking anti-anxiety meds. What about that?

And what about all of the other fears? Legalism? Prison sentence? Indoctrination? Squashing their dreams or exasperating them? What if I become exasperated? What if I lose my temper -- daily?  Surely I would not be an adequate homeschooling Mama. I'm an introverted, short-tempered, feeling, Enneagram seven. I don't even know Greek. Or Latin.  How is that even remotely an option???


Approach to Learning 

On the one hand, being a genius is of course an intimidating requirement! I have to be myself. I have to know what that is. (I have limits. I have never read Aquinas, but Stephen has... I've read Dante and Shakespeare. The list goes on.... for both sides...) But it quite frankly depresses me when I read about the oft-mentioned approach to homeschooling that champions the other extreme: "taking it easy" and being "restful" and you know the whole taking-today-off because IT! DOESN'T! MATTER!  Just do a puzzle!! Really, guys.  A sticker book maybe? Shake a tambourine? Take the whole day off?

I like the ideal that homeschooling is and should be refreshing. We hold dear the philosophy of having minds inspired to higher things, yada yada. We believe in classic, living literature. We believe books have power insofar as they bring out the life in the youngster. We  believe in an education of distinction and worth. Sooooo, taking it too easy and just going for a daily 'nature walk'? I think and fear that for me, the other extreme comes from a place of sloth.  I don't like the lazy in me, at all, so all told, I don't give that attitude room in my heart or soul.  I don't want my kids falling behind, just because I want to do something such as sleep in, take a day off, or because I don't have the heart to discipline. What if I must face the big issues, such as taking away screens from a child or children for an entire week. (AGH) I can't fear laying down the law- in order to do math. Or reading. Or whatever needs to be done. If it needs to be done, then do it because put simply, it just needs to be done! My approach in a nutshell, is that the results should feel deeply fruitful. Our kids can and should (must!) learn how to learn, do the work, and grow spiritually and intellectually, in measurable amounts.

No I am not everything. But, then I come back to the perks.  After spending an entire Lent in prayer, the Holy Spirit drags me back to the perks, and they've become undeniable. It would have to be a rigorous, meritorious, Catholic education of the highest caliber.  But now, I feel the hope in my spirit. The wings of hope have dampered down my fears, and now I can't say it's impossible, because simply? It feels so. right.

God help us, we're becoming a homeschooling family. In the Fall. (!!!)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Monthly Recap vol. 53~ March 2018

~1 Lately~


Yeah, as I mentioned, we are turning our attic storage into bedrooms for the kiddos. Also, I had a birthday this month. Best night ever.  Also, I gave up shopping for Lent. Here is a visual*

This was my March book stack.

~2 Reading~

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Ooooh I loved this book! 

It reminded me of Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier, because it is a mystery that slowly unravels. Also, urban London and surrounding areas. I die. I love this framework and setting.

It's a pageturner. I would like to say it is also a quick read, but it's actually quite thorough storytelling, so if you are like me (not an incredibly fast reader, more like a little above average) you can read it in a week.

I loved how Hawkins unraveled each character as well. I kept feeling in over my head, then catching up. It was almost like swimming in a narrative so dense I had to come up for air occasionally.

If you complain of not liking dark stories/plots, give this a chance. It is scary but not *too* scary (a la Stephen King), and it is privileged but not too privileged.

SPOILER: I'm kind of afraid to watch the movie!!

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Hmmm... mixed feelings.

I read this book after reading a dense, packed book with a VERY deep plot.

This book goes nowhere.
It is not as profound as people keep saying.
If you want deep, profound characters, I recommend Kristin Hannah.

I might try Olive Kitteridge just because I want to know what all of the fuss is about.
I appreciated that this book was short, because occasionally simplicity and the feeling that you don't have to invest a TON of precious time and energy is very nice.

All in all, I wouldn't say I understood why people say this book is full of jewels. It seems to me full of misguided analogies, and it is rather a snoozer of a plot. Moody. Perhaps slightly twisted.

The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah

What happens when a young girl named Lauren becomes pregnant and she must make some important decisions? A woman named Angie helps her figure out issues of single parenthood ... I love the humor and grace with which this interesting book deals. Hannah always incorporates the zeitgeist of the age with references to pop culture and music. As usual, I loved this book by Kristin Hannah.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

I will have to finish this book in April, as I just started it!

Also finished the book I mentioned last month, Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg.

All in all a good month for reading. I did not read Invisible Man by Ellison, although I dipped into it a time or two.  I've been posting my book "hopefuls" for many months now, but this month the slow, creeping realization that I would not be able to plow through all of them was in stark contrast to my past aspirations.  I did get through *almost* all of them. But that's not ALL of them. I suppose I'll have to do these at the end of the month from now on?!  And also: Why did it take me so long to realize this??  😂

I usually base these estimations on whether or not I presume something to be be an "easy read"? And again the sudden realization that : "How would I know before reading it?!"  comes into focus and I realize I really need to stop being so presumptuous with my reading ambitions. HA!

~3 Listening~

You know how when you use Spotify a lot (Spotify users), you get recommendations from their algorithm? Here is my 

RANDOMLY GENERATED PLAYLIST of such awesome goodness, I couldn't turn down the damn robot.

Honestly, though, for every song they recommended that I liked, I thought of three or several other artists I had to include in this edition of Good Music Tacy recommends.

I loved the mood--  even just analyzing the two Joni Mitchell songs I used, somewhat chilly, hanging onto the breathless sadness of winter (Blue), balanced with nuanced notes of hope (Both Sides Now).

Music can help us cope through even the darkest of moods and moments. I said Goodbye to my Grandma this month, and Bob Dylan's Tangled Up in Blue and REM's Losing My Religion carried me through to the other side of Winter.

As I worked out, I blasted Trampled by Turtles' Codeine and every minute went faster because of the good music.  I finished out a workout with weight lifting to Rut by the Killers and I couldn't believe my luck at how quickly the time passed!  It took 2 Avett Brothers songs to take out the recycling after we emptied our attic for renovations.  Only two bluegrass songs with an upbeat rhythm to do the chore I dreaded all.week.long?  Once again I know it and I can see it--
  Good music is everything.  I have proven my point. I shall move on.



Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Yes. Yes! YES!!!!

4. Kids Are Reading

5. Linking

I can't get enough of Martha Stewart recipes, but when I saw this, I just had to share.  Apparently her bad-assery with dinner parties knows absolutely no bounds!! I guess she *did* learn a thing or two in prison.  (?!)  BAHAHAHA.  Talk about #oddcouple  And you have to check out Snoop Dog's recipe for Lobster Thermidor, AKA Skrilla Godzilla.

6. This 

7. Lent Wrap-Up 
I gave up shopping for Lent, and in the mean time, and it has felt LONG. I have had a little resurrection of sorts in my perceptions toward shopping. I think a lot about the Proverbs 31 woman who considers a field and buys it, who is clothed in purple and silk. Right? RIGHT??  Ha.

Before Lent, I was like: I have so many errands, I am about to pass out. I guess I'll just make it fun and buy myself a present. *Passes out*

And now I'm like, "Let's do this. ... NO I'm always this happy. Why?!"  😂

Have a VERY happy Easter!  😘

Monday, March 26, 2018

Rest in Peace, Grandma Evelyn: Thoughts on a Life Well-Lived and A Wrinkle in Time

On Saturday, March 24th, my grandmother Evelyn passed from this life to the next. As my Mom said, "She graduated to glory, where she received her crown of honor."  Known dearly to us kids as Nana, (Not Nanna, but Na-na) she will be sorely missed this side of Heaven.  I know she is there with Jesus and with Bumpa (Grandpa Kenneth) and all of her other loved ones who were already there waiting for her.

What is better than the specifics of a life to encourage one another and what, I ask you, is more interesting than a life that was lived for God and for his son, Jesus?  Nothing that I can think of, not right now!

Evelyn Holm Johnson was a tender, kind soul.  She was a prayer warrior, and she taught me not to worry, but to present your requests to God in prayer, because he cares for you.  Her loving-kindness was a part of her live-out-loud evangelism, which you can read more about in her obituary, which was written by my dear Mom!

Easter is the perfect time to remember my Grandma. For me, these are powerful memories.

My memories of Grandma include a visit to her mobile home park with Grandpa in Clearwater beach (where they moved from St. Paul Minnesota, after Bumpa's retirement), florida almost every single year for Easter week.  I have the sweetest, fondest memories of those trips.  We would swim in their pool, walk to the gazebo, sing at their Easter sunrise service my Dad always playing the guitar.  We would hunt for Easter eggs and Lizards and real oranges growing on trees in their backyard.  We would ride bikes around their park looking at the lovely street names, which were the names of fine jewels: garnet, crystal, opal, pearl, diamond.

Grandma would tell us in utmost strictness to do the dishes, dry them, and put them away after every meal. She would always serve fresh shrimp cocktail on our first night of the visit.  Delicious, fresh shrimp in Florida, what is better?? Her love of hymns and service to her community was evident by the joy I felt while in their home!

She was a kind soul but also a quiet soul.  While Bumpa told jokes and read us the funny paper, she would often be playing her organ or reading a good book, which she Loved to do. I am sure I got some of my love for reading and playing the piano from her!  She would turn on Lawrence Welk show and patiently and always with kindness, put curlers in our hair, in preparation for Easter, just as she had done with my Mom and her three sisters growing up!

At the 50th wedding anniversary of Grandma and Grandpa, (in middle school for me, I believe) I memorized this short poem and recited it for them at their wedding anniversary party in Clearwater beach, FL:

"What made you partners in the long ago,
When you first met,
Well I think I know!

The best in you, and the best in you (pointing to each person)
Hailed each other,
Because He knew

That always and always,
since life began,
Your being partners
Was part of God's plan."

Their kids got up and sang the song, "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away."  What a memory!

Only a few weeks before she passed, I could not sleep and got up in the middle of the night. I heard God say, "Go see her." I drove to Nashville and back a few Saturdays before her death and am so glad I did. I was so worried because I knew she had been on hospice for nearly 2 years, so I wasn't sure if she would be ok or just wasting away in agony.  I was so surprised when I got there. She was smiling, giving me advice even in her last weeks.  Her witness was, "Life is fragile, handle with prayer." She pointed to the gold cross on the wall and told me the youth pastor at her church in Franklin Pastor Wayne had given it to her, and she had it ever since.

This experience reminded me of the movie I saw recently:  A Wrinkle in Time.  As the children look for their father, they see images of him trapped in a dark web, struggling to get out.  When Meg Murry finally gets to him, he is standing in a glowing orange and red square, and he's not just OK, he is downright happy.  I was shocked that he wasn't trapped in a dark web, suffering and wasting away, as they originally thought him to be.

It reminded me of my recent visit with Grandma Evelyn.  She clearly lived her witness and her legacy:

"Said the robin to the sparrow, I would really like to know
why these anxious human beings rush around and worry so.
Said the sparrow to the robin, I should think that it must be,
that they have no heavenly father, such as cares for you and me."
Evelyn Johnson with her children

I can now continue this legacy of peaceful living, by the power of prayer, by trying with my example always to live for Christ, live for others, and as we may even cry over devotions in the morning, it gives us victory all day long. This is something that ultimately, is her biggest witness:

Teach these things to your children.  Grandma had 17 grandchildren, and she taught us this with her witness most of all.

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and on your gates."

Grandma died on March 24, which just so happens to be the feast day of St. Catherine of Sweden, where my grandmother takes her roots.  She is sure to be considered a saint in heaven!  "How precious in the sight of God are the death of his saints!"

cross-posting at the ACWB

Friday, March 16, 2018

Life Lately (Renovating and Springtime Quick Takes)


Renovating our attic!

As I mentioned, we are renovating our attic-- turning storage and piles of boxes into bedrooms (!!), and we are turning the downstairs bedrooms into a playroom and nursery/gym (?).   The fate of the nursery is still up in the air, but the concept right now is to put down hardwood flooring in the nursery so that we can eventually use it for crafting/supplies and some of Stephen's workout equipment. We are trying to eliminate the need for a gym membership, perhaps in the near future.  My two new favorite things?  This and this.  We have a contractor and his assistant working on the stairs, so when I asked how it was going, they said, "It is a lot of little steps."  😂



Molly joined the volleyball team this Spring, and she is having a total blast and really enjoying the exercise, community, and camaraderie! I think she has found a sport she loves. She seems more focused and I love to see her enjoying it.


St. Patrick's Day!

I totally nailed dinner the other night, (it tasted way better than it looks-- Chicken vermicelli and rice with peas, baked sweet potatoes, and fresh-baked dinner rolls from Niedlov's bakery....)  which is making me excited about the deals at Aldi this weekend, including sales on Corned Beef.... and even cabbage.  I think some Bailey's Irish cream might be in tall order this weekend, what say you??


Art Camp!

I made a "book"!  I have been compiling our family traditions, and this is by no means a professional endeavor, but if you want, maybe I will someday soon even turn it into a google document! :)  haha, mostly I'm just doing this for the kids...we needed a reference manual and this is helping me to commit to memory the traditions and feast days we've adopted since becoming Catholic. Also- did you know.... the difference between Feasts, Memorials, and Solemnities? You probably did. But it was news to me. We have so many reasons to celebrate in the Catholic church! It's all kinds of amazing to me still as a convert!!



I finished a book from 1994 about breast cancer by author Elizabeth Berg and this should be considered a classic. It is called Talk Before Sleep and I was talking on instastories about how her style feels very midwestern to me. Which, by the way, I totally like. Depth of character, ironic, witty, and truly funny moments, real true-to-life events and relatable and even very likable characters.  Normally I stray far away from this type of #trigger, but with fair warning I believe you will not be disappointed by this quick read!



9 months old and 😍

We watched Coco, and I liked it! The kids liked it too, and begged to watch it the next day before our rental time ran out.  We let them watch the first half again.  I think you should see it! I love the perspective of the afterlife and the themes of loved ones who have passed on who ask us to "Remember Me."  Beautiful picture of Mexican humanity and culture!  But what might trump the amazingness of this film is the absolutely incredible twitter handle @ amazonmoviereviews



I've really been enjoying the Criminal podcast. I'm no true crime book fan (at this point), but when I find something that creeps me out without making me feel unsafe, I can enjoy it because I know I'll be able to sleep that night.  It kinds of reminded me of The Girl on the Train... creepy but never the feeling that I'm unsafe in Paula Hawkins' hands. Great read. ha.

linking up with Kelly!


Friday, March 9, 2018

How to be a Semi-Crafty Mama (7QT)

Despite the title, how to be a semi-crafty Mama, this will be somewhat random of a 7 quick takes... bear with me! #ohyeah #sotight

Trip to Nashville

Over the weekend, I surprised my Grandma with a quick trip to her nursing home in Nashville. It is only two hours away, so I went there and back again in one day!  I hit the book jackpot, which I'll tell you about in a minute, but guys, this is just another example of how you 1) give up your agenda and 2) give up shopping...  and God gives back, more abundantly than we deserve and expect and definitely shows up in the resurrection moments of life.  #lenthasaredletterday

Thoughts on Homeschooling

As I mentioned, Stephen and I are spending the season of Lent praying over whether or not to homeschool our kids next year. Right now we're looking into the Seton method.  Avoiding a comedy of errors, there are so many issues to work through, so we continue to crave prayers about it.  Should we keep one in school? Should we do it for one year then re-evaluate?  Should we plan to put them back in next Fall or wait and see? Should we invest in an accredited curriculum program? How will we know how long we'll need it? Should we get uniforms? (Everyone knows this is the most important question when it comes to homeschooling).  My favorite parenting moments have to do with seeing them all playing together and hearing one yell out, "Pause the game! I have to *insert break here*"  It is cute to think of them doing an hour of work and many more hours playtime. :) Again, if you are going through any suffering, it would be SO SO appreciated if you offer it up for us at this time. It feels like a HUGE decision.

Crafting with Kids

Every year during the Easter Octave (the first 8 days of the 50-day period of Easter), I do some Spring and Easter/Egg - themed crafts with my kids.
Last year, we combined the crafts with fun snacks everyday.
This was the first year we did an Easter Art Camp.

Here are some of the ideas I have tucked away for this years' Easter-- I can't wait!  *And neither can my kiddos.*

Washi Tape Butterflies

Easter -themed Dirt Pudding Cups

Embellished Glitter Eggs

Easy Edible Easter Baskets

Banana Split


The Oscars

I have sooooooo many thoughts on the Oscars.  I LOVE watching the Academy Award every year. I find it so tremendously interesting.  But this year seemed to be a bomb and I think the most recent Pop Culture Happy Hour episode from NPR on the awards show confirmed my suspicions that even if we had watched many of the nominated movies, it still wouldn't have been super-interesting to watch this year.

And--- Ya'll.  Hilarious is the name of our game, :)  and that is exactly what it feels like to watch an entire Oscars program with having only seen ONE of the films nominated for Best Picture and maybe three films mentioned at the award ceremony.  Stephen and I saw Dunkirk and found it RIDICULOUSLY funny that they won for sound editing and sound mixing, because we hated the soundtrack.  Stephen liked the movie more than I did... but even he found it boring. Despite being an all-star cast, I thought the acting was weak. It felt so fake to me.  I'm glad to have heard it was well-received by the academy, though, because it tells an important story and Stephen and I were both glad to learn more about this historical event.

I also saw The Greatest Showman and I appreciated the performance of the song from that.  I want to see :  Coco, The Shape of Water, and Ladybird.

Sufjan Stevens

I had to open my hands and release into the world my college-days idolization of Sufjan Stevens' whispery voice and amazing banjo playing skills, when he took the Oscars stage (or rose up from the ashes- HA). I was confused.  Wait-- what is this song about?  So I looked up the lyrics and I have to say


WARNING: honest opinion ahead... Ravi Zacharias has some (good) words about this topic/issue.

 Chris Thile?! Your mandolin sounded so good.


Going back to my trip up to Nashville...  I made a priority and worked out alllll of the logistics to stop at Parnassus Books on Saturday (owned by Ann Patchett) where I bought a signed copy of her book This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.  I then was driving around nearby where my Grandma was staying, and I found a Book Sale just by seeing a sign by the side of the road. I stopped, went in, and I found myself at the Franklin Public Library (Williamson County), where all books were a dollar. I scored- it was literally book heaven - and I felt like I had hit the jackpot and won the lottery... that's how happy books make me!!!
it felt especially SPECIAL since I had been saving myself

Craft Supplies

I gave up shopping for Lent, but it has been a good opportunity to get ourselves organized.  I bought this art bin about a year ago, and I have really enjoyed using my supplies now that they have a modicum of organization. The minutiae of craft supplies has come into glaring focus (I have ten pairs of scissors, for example)  and NOT shopping has been the best thing to ever come along for my crafting habit. #everythingfeelsmoreorganized

Lent is only three more weeks-three weeks from today is Good Friday!  How can you up the ante to make sure you are sacrificing everyday during this penitential season? I have noticed that I have more joy when I work with God rather than against God.  I have to keep rolling with the everyday changes of life- kids getting bigger, seasons changing, myself getting older, demands perhaps getting stronger, the pull of daily mass or holiness becoming irresistible. I have to work *with* God and then I see fruit and bear fruit.  Maybe this book could help our family? (maybe, maybe not?)

What are you must-haves when it comes to crafting and especially if gearing up for a season of heaving craft lifting (aka Easter octave?!)

Mark Bridges... so cheesy and so funny! :)
God bless!

what I found at the book sale in Franklin!
dirt cheap!

Linking up with Kelly