Friday, January 19, 2018

The Journey to Love (with help from applying ye olde theology notes)



The weather is unreliable, we were eager for a heavy snow day with temps warm enough to enjoy it, and instead we got flurries and freezing temps.  In spite of these circumstances, everyday, my goal as I raise my little people, is to truly love them.  It led me to dig through my old notes.... and I came across an almost theological treatise in the pages of my old NKJV Bible.  Now that I'm Catholic, it is fun to apply ye olde theological classes from college to my life now.

We live in an age when "true care" is rare and the computer screen becomes a nice "perfect haven" to hide behind. We can hide our wounds, our true selves, and we can hide from God's call on our life... whatever it may be and wherever it leads us. For me, that looks like joyful motherhood to six and living the happy domestic life.  But instagram and other social media channels can easily steal our joy, or at least threaten it!

St. Therese had something to say about the modernity of her age, and of course she connected it to love, how to love, and this desire to love that she found in her heart.

We are living now in an age of inventions, and we no longer have to take the trouble of climbing stairs … I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. … The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more. 

How do we go about following God's will to love and perfection? And shouldn't this be our aim everyday of our lives?  It may take a minute to read, but let's dig a little and find out what Paul had to say about this!!

(1)  the best place to find discourse on Love is in 1 Corinthians... the "love is patient and calm" verses.  I know that just like St. Therese, I want to find a little way.  God's love is "the bond of perfection." Do you need a hyperlink that will take you straight to God? Look no further than his directions in 1 Corinthians for loving others.

(2) In seeking this "hyperlink" to God, we have directions from the Scriptures.  We go beyond "the moral life" as discussed by Socrates*, and we go further into Spiritual life (life by the Spirit) as according to Jesus, in his Scriptures.  We have to put off covetousness and the evils of living by our flesh, by the meat and muscle.


(3) Galatians is a great book for learning about salvation. Paul has traveled around, he was persecuted by Pharisees who believed in 'salvation through circumcision,' who were peddling the Word of God... !! But Paul tries to tell them that circumcision should be an outward sign of an inward salvation and grace.  The law is a tutor or instrument to bring us to Christ. We are slaves under the law, however, sons of God have identity, family, relationship, and salvation.


(4) Ephesians, in summary is about the abundance of spiritual wisdom (namely, love) that is found in Christ. We should pray for the eyes of our heart to be enlightened with wisdom. We are saved by grace and peace means access to the Father by the Spirit. He is our cornerstone. The 'mystery' of the Spirit is the sheer magnitude of God's love for us: his high, long, wide, and deep love!  Therefore, we must walk worthy of his calling and get along.  We should imitate God, amid works of darkness, and submit to others out of reverence.


(5) Philippians asks the question: (or maybe begs the question):  how do we know God began a good work in us? (AKA: Are we growing in the gospel, or the 'good news'?)  If we are suffering for Christ without fearing our adversaries, if we esteem others better than ourselves, if we are unlike the Pharisees who look to deeds for salvation, if we have the maturity in Christ to be 'of the same mind,' then God will supply all our needs and wants, and we can rejoice as we meditate on whatever is good! This means.... contentment.


(6) Colossians is all about living with our minds on 'things above'--- NOT on earthly things or the outward appearance... but rather the heart.  We must have faith in jesus, we must put off legalism, we must trade angry annoyance for humility/patience, and above all, we must LOVE.


(7) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not pre-judge, it does not boast.... it is truly the bond of perfection, the secret to unity, and the way of truth.


Put off impurity, immorality, all kinds of covetousness, and the wickedness of the flesh. Put on love, the tie that binds us together in community.


How will you seek the hyperlink to God and his love in your life? How about in your day today?

*In my last post I credited "The unexamined life" quote to Aristotle, but it was actually Socrates (from Plato's Apology) who said that! My apologies for the mistake! 

If you made it to the end, CHEERS! 


Adding my link to ACWB and Kelly's !

Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Goals and Word of the Year (expanded)

Well, I already wrote a reflection for the upcoming year, but I only mentioned a few New Years' Resolutions, and I never got into my other hopes, plans, and dreams for 2018. I'm really excited about establishing some goals and my One Word for the year in 2018, so I'm linking up with Kelly again to talk about just that!

My life right now: (except with babies)



via GIPHY

Goals:
(1)

Read 55 books

Naptime, playtime on the playground, after they're in bed.... I read. I love to read, which is why I do it. What I also love is having a goal and a rhythm for those moments I can nab and also harness for myself and my #readinghabit.

(2)
Get  outside, get into nature {become more active as a family}

We just found a new-to-us playground very nearby, and I'm excited about utilizing that as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer. (Although this week the high where we live was 60, so..... #thatsabnormal ... It seems like this past year was the year for very abnormal weather. I hope it is slightly more predictable this year...!!!!)

(3)
Limit screen time and be more creative with kids' activities

One of my goals is to do more pre-school-ish stuff with Annabel, since this is her last year before she starts Pre-K.  I also want to get into the routine we established over winter break, which was doing Chores before any screen time, and making the kids pick up their room and start homework before dinner.  This is our Crafts and Activities page, and I've tried to fill it with *fun* things to do with toddlers.

(4)
Lose 10 lbs.

I still haven't gotten all the baby weight off, so my goal is to get in shape this year.
Ideas:
Hiking and walking
Riding bikes
Just Dance
Danielle Peazer from London, England
The 7 Minute Workout
This Workout for Abs
Treadmill workouts

(5)

Save money

I want to use the library and used bookstores more frequently, since buying books is one of my biggest weaknesses.  I also want to continue my practice and habit of (1) shopping sales and using coupon codes,  (2) not buying retail if I can help it, (3) waiting on the big purchases, and (4) traveling less and eating out less just in general. I can easily save nearly $500 in a month. To me, if you want to save money, shopping shouldn't be a hobby.  I feel like it should be a duty, and beyond that, it gets dangerous.


via GIPHY

(6)
Keep the house cleaner

This speaks for itself. I want to declutter al the things and only keep that which brings me JOY!

(7) Get more done and keep balance

I need to delegate, as this is the year that we Renovate and Redecorate the Upstairs and Attic of our house. We're hopefully starting that little journey this month or as soon as we can get our loan approved. :)



My One Word
Bright

Last year, my word was Struggle. It was SO apropos.  First, we had Conrad.  I was lazy through the entire pregnancy, and I ate a lot of fast food and Subway.  I struggled to the finish line, his due date, with every last ounce of patience I had stored somewhere in my reserve of self-control. I was exhausted by the process. (**It turns out he is an easy, happy baby, so other than being tired and up at night, having him hasn't been too bad. Yay**)

Second, we stopped eating out for dates, and.... that was hard.  We also had some pretty serious crisis-conflict moments, mostly about differing views on travel, leisure, and decisions in regard to both. I really struggled through some family issues head-on, mostly boundaries stuff. I cried countless times and I think MOST of those times had to do with pregnancy hormones and Post-Partum stuff. Now that I'm 8 months out from giving birth, I cringe to think how EMOTIONAL pregnancy made me.  In fact, it has been a few months since I broke down crying.  It hasn't been that long since I had an angry breakdown (something I'm working on in counseling... it usually means yelling about something COMPLETELY random and not using reason to think things through...).  I appreciate those in the blogosphere who remain vulnerable about this type of thing, so I join them in saying I hope 2018 is better in that regard.

So yeah, struggle was real and the word was so perfect for 2017. When I think about politics and the things happening in the world, I think I can safely say it was a hard year for many. #keepitreal #metoo, etc.

This year, I'm focusing on the word Bright.  It serves two purposes. One, it can motivate me to spend more time in the sunshine getting vitamin D.   Second, as Aristotle said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." That is so true, and I think it also serves to remind me to live a well-thought-out life.  I can use my brain, to reason and make good decisions.  I can inspire others to live a bright life, as well. I can keep growing and I can keep my mind sharp.

Only God knows what 2018 has in store... I will love and I almost can't wait to have Hindsight 20/20 about this word as I do now about the word Struggle. #apropos

My Goals 2018 Pinterest Board


via GIPHY

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

How I Fight Depression *and* Seasonal Affective Disorder (And Attend to Serious Boo-Boo's)


These are the months. The months of the year when you listen to James Vincent McMorrow, buy too many books, there is more darkness than light, more cold air than warmth, your 2-year-old gets a severe burn, and maybe more quiet and loneliness than friendly interaction, as well!

I have struggled over the years with Depression, and I want to share with you how I stay attentive, and keep the demonic of comparison at bay in my life, and I'm talking currently. While I'm attending the second or third degree burn from a baby putting her hand on the stove. Yeah.

If you feel like life is hard, remember that stress, demands, challenges, and disappointments are common to all.  Struggling is universal. Being a Mom has its own set of challenges, but that doesn't mean I am undermining whatever it is you are going through-- I do get it. We are all trying to do our best and enjoy life.  We are all trying to live above the circumstances, not because of them.

This goes without saying that a healthy diet is essential to feeling your best, and aloe vera and soaking in egg nog works wonders. Onward.......!

How do I fight depression and seasonal affective disorder, as a Mom to littles and a person with a lot of responsibility? (I can't check out or a baby will fry her hand)

1. Fill your life up with life

It's an understatement that we have a lot of life in our home.  #😂 We have six kids under the age of 9 roaming our halls, and they.are.all. prancing across beige carpet and running slimy hands against beige walls.  But this is actually my happiness and my joy. My baby's giggle can cheer me up any day.   Of course it's my calling, and I'm unbelievably biased, but these people make me happy. :)

Also, don't fill your mind with junk and garbage (can you say Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey?!) ... because out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Maybe fill your mind up with life, as well. 😊😳

2. Stay busier than you would think normal (say it with me: color-coded spreadsheets!!)

If you saw my to-do list, you would think I'm a crazy person.  I'm not OCD, not even close, but I have a million things constantly rotating through my Google Document + Sheets. (This is not Excel, I'm talking --- >  Open Docs, Tap the Upper left corner, you'll see the word "sheets"-- that stands for spreadsheets). I honestly have tired but I don't really use any fancy, expensive apps on my phone. I tried using apps for a while, (I know what you did last Summer), but it can be a time suck and you have to invest precious time that I simply do not have.  Spoiler alert: I cheated ... by searching on the internet for helpful tips.  If you're interesting in using Google Sheets to get organized, this article is a helpful place to start.

I DO use Reminders consistently, but I don't usually print out my to-do list, because if I write it in my planner, I can take photo on my iPhone and that's a lot easier!  BUT-- I do use spreadsheets for my To-Do's, Grocery List/Meal Plan, Book Read for the Year, Recipes, and Budget. I can transfer to my phone after I do a major brain dump in Docs and Sheets.  A great resource for grocery store staples can be found here.

One thing that's really helpful is to denote the difference between expenditures and budget.  You can write down everything or have a million money/finance organizing and to-do apps, but *if you don't set limits,* you still won't be organized, ultimately.  Organization means reaching attainable goals, and so without a real budget, not just jotting down accidentals and expenditures, you can't do that. {preaching to the choir, maybe?} :)  If there is something you really want, you can always wait a month (or longer) and see if you really *need* it. We tithe every month and truly leave our financial peace up to God. Flexing is never going to be more simple than that.... I'm serious :)

But yeah, I'm so very busy. I'm running errands, cleaning like a maniac, folding laundry, doing the dishes, constantly thinking of more I could do, and of course taking care of the kids. Shuttling them around, finding socks and homework and  books and you name it.  My planner is out.of.control! I love my mini happy planner, and I'm not gonna lie, I do love stickers.

The trick here amidst the CRAZY is that I rest on Sundays.  It makes me *more* productive throughout the week.  I'm pretty serious about it. Yeah.....if you're worried about me, you can read more about that manifesto here. (HA!)

3. Have conversations

Yeah, I'm talking IRL conversations, not texting or voxer!!!  :0)  Life isn't perfect. But mostly when I say this, I'm talking about talking to the people you do life with- mainly, for me, that's my husband. Obviously, I need someone to de-stress with. A lot of that is "How was your day" stuff over dinner. I also need someone to rehash situations or experiences with!  He is a good listening ear.  But I also have a tendency to be needy in talking with him.... waiting for him after the kids go to bed to have a "talk."  For those serious conversations,  I also need sisters, friends, Moms, mother-in-laws, grandmas, aunts, uncles, brothers..... you get it.  I have some dear friends who check up on me and whom I check up on, and I see them mainly at Church and Church events.  And, I have a counseling who I see for therapy on the regular.

4. Get fresh air

Even if you walk around the block at 6:30PM... in the dark, in the rain-- that counts!  Of course daylight hours are preferable, but at this stage in my life, I'll take what I can get.  Kids need fresh air, too. Schedule it into your week if it's hard to make it a priority. I'm talking to myself, here.

5. Be involved in a community {Don't make excuses}

I have been blogging for over 10 years, and during that time, I've met some really lonely people.  One specific category seems to be in chat groups on Facebook. I have met people in this subculture who may live in rural locations, or even those who "See" people everyday in a big city, but truly "Know" no one.  Perhaps life is a series of dates and shallow, empty parties or out-to-eat experiences... or the need for friends is "met" online, and so they only interact with their immediate family .... and that's about it. There are those who simply do not have the habit to make a lot of friends, and it concerns me the way the internet seems to make people feel less alone, so they do not reach out to the people in their own locale for x, y, or z reason.

Make friends.  Do it. There will always be bad days. Amidst those, DON'T make excuses, but in a moment of light, reach out. It takes courage- I've been there. But. Really. Make some friends!!! If you don't have an IRL community, you are missing out on alllllll the perks. Help, assistance, honesty, a ride, a listening ear. ALLLL the perks.
 #sufferingiswhenyouneeditmost (!!!)

6. Give feedback and receive it

Community requires work and vulnerability. I'll leave it at that. But don't be too proud to receive the honest truth about yourself.... and never be afraid to offer the truth to someone else. It can be painful. It can be scary. The truth takes work.  Learn how to have a conversation. It will be worth it..... in the end.

7. Receive Christ in his Eucharist

Just sayin.  My faith makes me whole. My faith, I believe, is the fullness of the faith of Christianity. Read more about that here:   A Convert on Mary  // Reading Our Way into Catholicism


8. Keep good parameters

Trite but true.  Boundaries with friends, family, screens, Twitter, Facebookin' and all of the above! Within limits, is always found freedom. It makes life much, much better. 😅

9.  See your family and keep up with them

This has become so special to me over the past 5 years. Even though it has its drawbacks at times, being close with my family is a good that outweighs the bad!  I can reach out if I need a listening ear or a favor. A ride, an errand, a prayer, an answer to a burning question, medical assistance, you name it. I have help and love and that support from my family brightens my day nine times out of ten!

10. Have limits and set limit

Practice giving something up for Lent. I gave up blogging for Lent last year, and it was so very good for me, I'm considering doing that again this year.  We as a family practice "No Screen Sundays" and it is outstanding for letting our kids un-fry and just play!  We can focus on them better, and that always seems to work wonders.

11. Consume Caffeine :)

True, although it can become a crutch and your nasty temper might flare if you can't get your fix (ask me how I know).  I love this nespresso maker and it can work wonders.  We have this milk frothing wand to easily make cappuccinos with our espresso machine.  I love this chocolate and diet cokes. I also love this french press, although ours' is old and missing parts so I haven't used it in ages. We use this pour over method for each cup of coffee. A cheaper espresso maker can be found here.  I love real half and half, and you can even steam it -- called a breve.

If you see me with a smile, usually it's because I am well-caffeinated. HA. 🐡


Set limits for yourself.
Be in community.
Soak in the sunshine.
Read for growth and for fun.
Read to your kiddos.

Oh and pray!

I hope this helps! :)

cross-posting here at the ACWB
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Friday, December 29, 2017

reflection for a new year: and looking back at 2017


Well... I'm no good at intros, but I'm taking a break from my normal "recaps" to do a bit of reflecting on what worked... and what didn't... this past year! I hope you'll join me for a bit of a ride!




~What was your biggest accomplishment this year?

Flying across the country with a young baby just for the sake of a reunion with my sister and her family is in my top five.

Also I would add giving birth to our sixth child, as that humbling accomplishment will be one I'm thankful and grateful for in a deep way for the rest of my life.



~What was your biggest regret?

I didn't share this (till now) but our girls quit Ballet this Fall. They are hoping to join a different company this Spring (or maybe next Fall?).  That was hard for me, because the transition has been gradual. Their desire to be in the Nutcracker with an opposing company has finally trumped their desire to have a break from Ballet classes. Honestly, I'm still holding my breath and crossing my fingers because they all faced some serious burnout after their recital this past Spring.  They have been involved in After School art instead. They have made tie dyed shirts, worked with felting, sculpting with clay, and learned all of the watercolor techniques one can possibly learn!



~What was your biggest obstacle to good health?

Imagine you are home with six kids, two of them are babies with constant needs and daily naps, four of them still need help finding shoes (and putting them on) and all of them need clean laundry everyday.  Imagine that once you get them outside, they want to gather ten bikes and scooters, you still need to put two in the stroller, and you need to put one in the baby carrier.  Can you imagine why we don't go for many walks?  Add to that my husband who doesn't really care for outdoorsy stuff, and we are pretty much screwed on the weekends if we want to do something as a family (that doesn't involve TV, Nintendo, iPads, iPhones, or Kindle Fires).  We are enjoying our backyard when we can (and when it isn't freezing!)



~What was the healthiest thing you did?

Anytime we did get outside was simply lovely.  I have deemed myself "outdoorsy" because I do indeed have a passion for hiking, camping, and swimming/skiing/riding bikes.  But the truth is, I don't do any of it much really at all. I walk. And sometime run-ish.

Seeing my sister and getting outside for long walks and hikes everyday around Seattle was so eye-opening for me. I realized how slothful I have become and I had a renewed appreciation for God's creation and his marvelous FRESH AIR and SUNSHINE and what a gift it is to his people.




~What was the hardest thing you did?

Yeah, it definitely goes without saying that pregnancy and laziness do not go hand in hand.

I had one of those, "moments you will never forget" this winter. I was having weird heart palpitations, so I told Stephen I thought I needed to get out and jog. The only time I could do it was when he was home, so I went out running, and I saw... wait for it.. a real bunny rabbit!  And then, it starting pouring down rain and I was drenched (thankfully I had a good North Face on and I stayed dry *and* toasty. :)



~What "worked" for you in 2016?

-Definitely doing the stairs and as much time on the Riverwalk as I can muster!

-"Organizing" the dishes worked for me.... let me explain.  When you have 6 kids, you have a lot of dishes!  I sometimes run the dishwasher 2 times a day and load it 3 times.  Instead of wasting all of that (Precious!)  water, I figured out that I could fill an empty sink with soapy water, put all of the silverware in a soapy pan, sort the pans, and let the rest soak overnight.  It isn't IDEAL and I don't do it every night.... but otherwise, believe me! Dishes are a nightmare.  When I have a cold or I'm not feeling my best for personal reasons, "organizing" the dishes is a lifesaver.

~ What are your New Years' Resolutions?

-See this little guy as much as I can (that's my new nephew, Aiden Daniel.)  He. is. stinking'. huge.  He was 10 lbs at birth and now he's 8 months but looks and weighs as much as an 18 month old. No lie!

-Keep in touch with family, just in general!

-Continue our habit of keeping eating out to a minimum

-Doing my hair and make-up and looking "put together" as much as I can and as often as I can (just like my resolution for last year)

-Continue growing a following on instagram and stay engaged (without being addicted!)

-Staying organized--- using the happy planner again

-Keep a record of our family, I love this scrapbooking method-- Becky Higgins' Project 'Life'

-Improve my handwriting-- this youtube video on cursive is really helpful!

~ What was your favorite movie this past year?

Oh, definitely The Revenant, although I know we are behind a year on that. Stephen and I were captivated by the cinematography, so much so that we watched it twice before sending it back. Leonardo DiCaprio really redeemed himself in my eyes by traveling to the Canadian Rockies and enduring the freezing cold. The scenes of fire and ice took my breath away countless times. Snuggling up with a good movie and my husband (especially when great food and great wine are involved) is my favorite memory of 2017.

I also have to mention Stranger Things. (TV time) I love it. So creepy and so fantastic. Bob's character, played by Sean Astin was just delectable.  Dustin cracked me up in each scene he played.  I was among those who thought Eleven's storyline in Season 2 was fantastic... don't be a hater.


~ What was the most fun or creative thing you did this past year?

I needed a last hurrah before Conrad was born, so I went to Florida with my family.  It was a lovely trip and just what I needed- swimming in the ocean and in a real pool. The best part? We brought our dear and sweet babysitter Mackenzie and she made it so relaxing on us.




~ What was your favorite book?

I read The Graveyard Book on our trip to Birmingham for Fall Break and I just fell in love with it.  I've been on a creepy kick this year but really guys, you just have to read some Neil Gaiman for yourself to understand the charming British creepiness and fantastic pacing for what it is!  You can hear (and see!) Neil Gaiman read the first chapter of th ebook, here, if the idea of a boy called "Bod" being raised by the dead of a graveyard, and learning about the history of the dead, intrigues you!

~ What was the best thing you ate this past year?

No doubt about it, the delicious spring rolls and pho with Kira in Seattle. Also, if you are in my area, I think the best restaurant in town (aside from Two Ten Jack) is Sitar for Indian cuisine.  Ridiculously delicious. Try the stuffed naan and Lamb Biryani and tell them Tacy sent you> :)


~ What album did you listen to most this year?

Joseph:  I'm Alone, No You're Not


~ What was the most expensive thing you "bought" this year?

Plane ticket to Seattle

Baby


~ What are you most proud of?

My sweet kiddos.... need I say more? ^^^^ No really, Molly with her obsessive Percy Jackson reading and (outgoing personality and) love for friends and family, Frances with her meticulous, slow and calculating gingerbread house skills (and many others!) and wit, Madeleine with her detail-oriented hysterical commentary and an eye for order, Anders and his jolly, happy soul and fiery determination and intelligence, Annabel with her sweet, sensitive spirit and love for singing and dancing.... and even little Conrad, who is already the sweetest baby alive.... I'm astounded at God's love that he would give me and Stephen these *gifts*.



~ What do you want to do better or differently in 2018?

I want to grow closer to God this year, but I am praying for *joy* and *peace* and merriment, despite trials, all the year through.

Soli deo gloria!



~ What is ONE way that you can make your life better (What's missing in your life?)

Definitely more time with my niece and nephew, Ivey and Grey. :0)

I need for the "hustle" and also the "bustle" to stop.  I think more than anything else, deep and abiding peace is missing from my life. I'm too quick with the coffee and the tongue... I need to chill. out. and I'm not just talking take a chill pill. ha.



~ saint, posts, word:

My saint for the year is St Teresa of Avila-- which is apropos because I love her! :)

My favorite posts for the year were:

My word for the year is BRIGHT.  I need sunshine like I need God. So much. This year I am devoted to doing more out of doors. For pushing myself out of my comfort zone. For extending myself and stretching myself in humbling ways.)


Outtakes from 2017....


Me with my dear friend, Libba at Ikea! 💕💗

My very handsome husband :) 💙

Molly Jane in her "Annabeth Chase" costume 🙏🌟

Sweet sisters before Ballet class

Siblings... brothers only 3 days after Conrad was born ⭐

Annabel going for a bike ride with Daddy 😘

Conrad Eugene in his brand new highchair 😍



What are your favorite things from 2016?  Bee honest!

I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I'm Into and Kelly for 7QT

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Another "Recap!" Adventure~ Advent Week One and Two~ 2017




Ohhhh... the Christmas season. Yes, we may have lit the candles on our Advent wreath....
but this has been a different Advent for me. I have had *plenty* of parenting and Adventing fails this year. Believe me, it all came too fast, and I celebrated feast days on the wrong days, completely forgot Santa Lucia this year, and I just feel so behind. :(  I think having a newborn(ish) baby may have something to do with it!


That's ok, guys!  Don't reach for perfection in the blogosphere or in your decorating at the expense of your family and/or kids. It's not worth the stress! #tired #sotired

And maybe for some of you, this is an error, but we actually got an Elf on the Shelf this year (!!!) Named Johnny Jingle or Jingle Johnny... I can never quite remember which one. :-)~



We "bought in"f! Oh nooooooo! haha. :)  The funny thing is, it has been really fun.  Stephen and I have really gotten into the creative antics, hiding him each night, and our kids are very conscious of good behavior because "the elf is watching" (shhhhh!). Ha.  I sewed him some jammies and I think he's cozy!

Jingle Johnny has a surprise...

Picture with Santa...
Standard fare for our annual traditions of Breakfast with Santa!

Our conscientious objector, who was "Shy of Santa Claus" :)

All in all, we had a fun "Breakfast with Santa" event at our school this year, with bean bag toss, coloring contest (fun!), and making REINDEER FOOD! (scooping oatmeal, sprinkles, glitter, etc into festive bags with a cute tag- the kids fall for this every year so. hard.). 

Added to that event was the Book Fair.... my favorite part of having kids in school. 
#notshythen #notshyatall
We have it every year on Christmas with Santa and it is so fun! :-)~




Feast Days~ St. Nick and St. Lucy

Can we say "Low-key" feast day celebrations using our Santa Plate?! Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas? More like.... HA HA HA. Recipe for mint chocolate sauce here


Our Lady of Guadalupe

Rice, refried beans + cheese, tortillas, grilled chicken, quesadillas, guacamole= feast! :)


Decorations


I love this book... highly recommend it - it's like a huge Advent calendar with doors on each page, Which, open to tell the Christmas story.  We love Advent and we are advent-people, but we're are anticipating Christmas day and the 12 days of Christmas!  Bring on the cookies, Christmas music overload, merry and bright lights, and playing with our new toys. :)

I have loved getting my hygge on, getting cozy and snuggly warm by our Christmas tree. That is definitely *one* piece to the puzzle! Reading this lovely book as the kids nap/rest and I have loved it.  I'm hoping to sew a Christmas skirt before Christmas day is here. I love being Catholic. Why? There is absolutely no pressure to do any of this until the day comes. Bring on the merry!!!! 😅

We rotate out hot cocoa with green smoothies- my favorite is with spinach or kale! :0) Gotta love peppermint whipped cream season!



Our December looks more like many people's October. Oh well. ha.

Brrr...... :)


We have loved enjoying the decor around town... both in the art district, and here, at our local creperie!




We have gone for several hikes and walks to collect glittery greenery! We particularly love: cyprus, pine, rosemary, magnolia, and holly!  This is proving to be my most favorite tradition. I have loved passing this to my girls. They love going for nature walks to clip their wreath supplies from the bountiful supply in nature nearby!  I love how cozy it looks all around our house!  Hurray!

Kids' Activities
After many years of baking salt dough ornaments, we have finally gotten into air-dry clay, and I have to say, I'm enjoying it! I might even love it a little. I think it looks more classy than salt dough ornaments, and I would be lying if I said we didn't already have a few of those on our Christmas tree... :)



Need another as-we-wait idea for your kiddos? Pick some play-doh up at your nearest Tarjay and... (duh...!) bring on the festive!
Turns out we didn't really hang any of these on the tree, but they're still fun as an activity, and glitter + glue is the new cool thing, guys. :)  Actually, the reason the yellow play-doh looks brown isn't germs, my fellow germaphobes. That's cinnamon.


Random~ re-entering the workforce (not really, but sort-of)


Goodnews and goodness: I have become a seller at a locally owned CONSIGNMENT STORE. I feel like this has been coming for a while, and I am so glad and thankful to be working with some very professional ladies reselling kids' clothing here in town.  #loveandpeacecometoyou Hurray!


Music with the theme of "snow"

Thoughts on instagram:  does anyone else feel an encumbrance to be perfect? Particularly this time of year, in the already-but-not-yet that is the waiting and anticipating?  Let's learn to view our photos as "Where can I improve" rather than, "I have everything, I'm done, look at me shine!"  We all feel the pressure, the heavy crushing stress, to make sure we have everything, have everything looking perfecto before we take a pic. Hey, I'm here to say it's ok to be in process, it's ok to do a little... and then stop haha... that's what I love about Advent.   You can quote me on that. :)

This has been a really wonderful Advent. I love being able to share pictures of our life with you here.  Thank you for patronizing me our crazy traditions and antics, friends!  #nerdalert


<3 Tacy  ;)


P.S.  Kendra Tierney recently posted about a family who lost their home in the Montecito, CA area "Thomas Fire"  I attended Westmont College for 2 years, which is located in Montecito near Santa Barbara, CA (and transferred to Covenant College because of theological differences), but I can vouch that they are a praying people. Consider supporting all of those who have been affected by these fires. My heart goes out to them and hurts for them at this time. Here is a news story about Westmont being a hub for fighting this fire.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

My Yearly Book & Reading Recap 2017



Welcome to my annual book post-- the time when I recap all that I've read for the year, and I give out awards!  This is the third year and counting that I have read 50 books. Four years ago, I started writing down how many books and which exactly I read, and I read 30 books.  I actually upped the ante, this year, and was hoping to read 60 books. Although I didn't go up in my grand total {this year}, instead, I feel like I blew the goal of 50 to smithereens. Which is fine. Just fine with me.  :0)  It is exciting to think that I have read 180 books in total in 4 years! :)  To check out my reviews and see my reading challenge in total, click here.

On to the awards.... just FYI, I love to read! These award categories are self-created and designed, and based on the types of books I *want* to read. (so important).  If I'm interested in a book, that's either because (a) it's brand new (Not all of these are, FYI),  (b) it's a great story from the get-go, (c) it's simply a fascinating work of nonfiction, (d) it's a quick read, (e) it's heartwarming, or (f) everyone is saying it's awesome and it just is awesome from page one.  So on that note, and with that in mind, aaaaaand without further ado, here they are... my awards for the best books I read this year!

Best Nonfiction Book of the Year:

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Although this isn't new, this is the best book (by far) that I have read in years. I'm giving it the award for best nonfiction because I've read a considerable amount of great fiction this year. But, listen: I have read a lot of mediocre books. Take my advice and drive right past them. You can go straight here and you won't be disappointed or led astray. :)  Louie Zamperini lived an endlessly fascinating life. It's a true story and it will suck you right in.


Best Fiction read of the Year:

Rebecca  by Daphne Du Maurier

I had been wanting to read this classic for a while, and folks, it is a hyped classic for a reason.  It is about the mystery behind a woman's older but new husband: Who was his wife, why and how did she die, and what is Rebecca's role in all of this. (???) The book has a twisty plot, a mysterious but satisfying ending, and it absolutely lives up to its promotion!  I definitely hope to re-read this someday.

Most Readable (Quick Read):

Hillbilly Elegy  by J.D. Vance

I enjoyed this autobiography, and I found it immensely readable and even absorbing.  I could relate, being from the South, and yet I felt like an outsider looking in because I simply wasn't raised this way. (For various reasons).   I loved following his story into the military, into grad school Ivy League, and what he came away with from his roundabout journey to success.  I give it 5 stars because he is able to explain the upward-downward mobility and how many of his peers are trapped by poor, rural education  (and I sincerely agree) do not even glance at the type of lifestyle he ends up leading/living.

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard 

I almost didn't pick up this memoir, but I bought it in the Spring and fell in love with this sequel to her first book Lunch in Paris.  I'm so glad I gave it a chance: her honesty, humility, and vulnerability are just so relatable, and her recipes do not dash hopes.  She touches on some deep notes of humanity and parenting that are rarely explained with such profound wisdom and truth.

Honorable Mention: Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

I loved this memoir, and I had to mention it.  I unintentionally read it in a day. Wasn't this such a fun year when Gilmore Girls reunion show came out?!  She may not be master of her craft, but Lauren Graham is a GREAT author-- give her a chance. :0)

All in all, this category was a toss-up.


Award for Feel-Good and Heartwarming:


Toss up: between Summer Island by Kristin Hannah and The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella.

I just love books that are absorbing and fun, and both of these fit the bill. I can unconscionably recommend these without reservation. Kinsella can crack me right up. Hannah has a soft and special place in my heart because not only is she a great writer, her novels take place in the Pacific NW where my sister lives - good memories. They both have the skill of writing and wrapping up an amazing, true-to-life story that hooks you from the get-go.  If you're looking for a bit of fun in your reading life, let the others in my list fall to the curb as compared with these!


Best Book of Faith: 

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

I am adding a new category of awards this year, and I hope to keep up with it in the future! This book was stunning. I love love love his unguarded tone. As much as we need wisdom, intelligence, and people who are highly educated and well-spoken (Like Pope Francis), we also need people who are real and profoundly vulnerable.  You see the fruit of the holy spirit in his life and story. (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness... etc.)  These people are the ones who are growing. These people are the ones who have many friends. These are the people who love unapologetically.  I have read other memoirs. Let this one by Brennan Manning take the cake. :)  Buy it now, and love it!

Favorite Book of the Year:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Underrated (I feel, don't you find?), but just so amazingly good! :)  This was a hard choice, and I easily could have gone with something by Nick Hornby or played it safe and said Rebecca again.  I'm choosy and I just think Gaiman is brilliant with ideas, contemporary society, and the mind of children.  He captures the childlike imagination with spotless, imaginative, and memorable prose. He is able to cross between literature for children *and* adults with unique wit (I think it may be that he is British and just so very charming!?), and he creeps me out (as he did in Coraline) without making me feel unsafe or betrayed in any way. Let's put it this way: I don't feel like I'm making a compromise when reading his work.  Rare find, and so gratifying when you're looking for something a little thrilling.


Reading Challenge 2017 (for more info, see this)

A Book You Chose For the Cover ~ Idaho
A Book With a Reputation For Being Unputdownable~ Talking As Fast As I Can
A Book Set Somewhere You've Never Been But Would Like to Visit~ Winter Garden
A Book You've Already Read ~ Hinds' Feet On High Places
A Juicy Memoir~ All is Grace
A Book About Books or Reading~ The Writing Life
A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid~ Gift From the Sea
A Book You Don't Want to Admit You're Dying to Read~ Seriously, I'm Kidding
A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author~ Truly Madly Guilty
A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste~ Crossing to Safety// Winter Garden
A Book You Were Excited to Buy or Borrow But Had Not Read Yet~ Graveyard Book
A Book About a Topic or Subject You Already Love~  Tender at the Bone

books from the "reading for growth" category 
A Newbery Award Winner~ The Giver
A Book of poetry, play or an essay collection~ The View From the Cheap Seats
A Book of any genre that addresses current events~ They Say We Are Infidels
A Book Published before you were born~ Rebecca
A Book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending~ The Graveyard Book
Best Beach read book ~  Summer Island   👍

What I read, and when.... :

January

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

A Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl



February

Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

The Hypnotists' Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier


March

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

Roots and Sky by Christie Purifoy

The Revenant by Michael Punke

April

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

Talking as Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

May

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself by Judy Blume

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Best. State. Ever. by Dave Barry 

June

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides 

Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

High Fidelity  by Nick Hornby

About a Boy by Nick Hornby

July

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

August

Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall

They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

September

Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Home by Toni Morrison

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
October

Bridget Jones' Diary  AND >> Bridget Jones' Baby (!!!!) by Helen Fielding

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Summer Island by Kristin Hannah

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

November

Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg

Possession by A.S. Byatt

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver



December

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan{not done yet}

Gift From the Sea -Anne Morrow Lindbergh (reread)

Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (reread)

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard (re-read!)

reading challenge on goodreads

What I Read 2016
What I Read 2015
What I Read 2014
What I Read 2013

One quick last note, on audiobooks:  I am, by nature not really an auditory learner. I have bad hearing from too many college-days concerts, and I'm often cupping my ears during movies so that I don't miss a line.  I do enjoy the occasional classic on audiobook, (I adore my classic app), but I'm often bored and lost if a book is too slow. I will say I've "read" it and listened to the entire audiobook, but often I end up cheating (skipping some of the book, or the ending, etc) and I just don't like myself if I don't understand a book or didn't finish it because I tried it on audiobook.  I say that because I don't tell you I read a book unless I really actually read and understood the whole book. :)

Linking up with MMD's >> Quick Lit <<  :0)

Have you read any of these books? Any you want to read? Let's chat new books in the comments!