Friday, January 29, 2016

Monthly Recap vol. 29 with Funny Things They Say and Links ~ January 2016

Every time I do a monthly recap, I always feel a little sad that another month has come to a close. It seems that time flies and babies grow oh so fast. This is going to be long, friends! It will be like jogging downhill and coming to those huge orange and white cones and veering either into the street or tiptoeing on the corners of asphalt that backs up to a huge hole in the sidewalk. You're fearing for your life. Actually... it will be nothing like that. But it will be long. So. You've had fair warning.;)

Links and Reading:

I'm a long-time fan of Jen Mackintosh, author of the blog Wildflowers and Marbles. A fellow Catholic recommended her right after my conversion, and I have been following her blog ever since. She is a faithful follower of the liturgical year, and was interviewed along with for Mystie Winckler's website along with a new-to-me but interesting blogger, Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight. Take some time and listen to the conversation about planning. They have so much spot-on wisdom to share with us/me/you!!!  (Especially if you are homeschooling, even if it takes a few goes, it is really, really worth listening to all the way through!;)

Announcing my new podcast What Should I Read Next @ Modern Mrs. Darcy
Schwat?! I'm so excited! And let's be honest, I've already listened to all of her episodes! #nopressureanne < that's a thing, right?!

New to me blog but really interesting for sure~ Michelle DeRusha and especially this post, Listening to the Woods on a Snowy Afternoon.  I like her perspective ~ what is God saying to me today? Sometimes, it isn't anything necessarily. But a good posture, nonetheless.

A Mother's Panic Attack @ Fountains of Home
Really enjoyed this post from Christy. Lots of spot-on wisdom, again!

As for reading, I'm sad to say Let's Pretend This Never Happened hit the recycle bin, and I was a little less than halfway through reading it.  The language was a bit much for me. Some of the sordid music I listened to in college came back as I was reading, and it hurts my ears now, to be honest. I don't really like my children having trashy influences with tons of dirty words. I'm sad to say even some of my old favorites such as Ben Folds, and some R&B just rub me the wrong way, and letting my kids hear those things really does bother me. (I have a CD with some of the stuff I listened to in college, and I am sorry, there is NO WAY my kids are listening to "Perfect Gentleman" by Wyclef Jean, because I will NOT be the one to explain what "I'm in love with a ho" means, to them).

I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and because it is so sensitively written, I can say I completely loved it. If you haven't read it, give yourself a good chunk of time (maybe a long road trip?), and be patient. The whole thing is so sweet and beautiful, and really readable. It reminded me a little bit of Angela's Ashes (one of my all-time favorite books) and sort of an American Tolstoy, but Catholic.  So much beauty.

Of Kindle Deals, I downloaded The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner, and Make it Happen by Lara Casey. Two blogger-turned authors! Really enjoyed The Fringe Hours and recommend it to you. It will be a quick read and worth it.

A few notes about Make it Happen.  While I recognize the fine line between "laying into someone" and just giving a few honest critique (read: honest skepticism), I really hated this memoir/self-help style book.  I'm using that word in conjunction with the "three books you loved, one book you hated" trope.  I honestly, honestly felt that this book laid out exactly what bothers me about present-day American Protestantism.  In it, Lara Casey lays out her theories and philosophies for "making it happen." Truly, it was a journey. She lays out, memoir style, her experience of having a picture-perfect wedding, then seeing it destroyed by divorce, then running off to Vegas within the year to marry her new beau. She confesses to having marital struggles, mainly because her husband isn't a Christian (he's a Jew), but she also confesses to her desires for the fancy car and the pretty house.  She then starts "Southern Weddings," and the book is full to the brim of "Christian advice" about how to take your goals by the horns while also "following Jesus." You know the cliche: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." and then she unpacks it for a few paragraphs and explains how it fits in with her philosophy of life. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed..." and then she unpacks it for a few paragraphs, again, tying it into her philosophy.

Friends, greed and Christianity too often go hand in hand in our materialistic culture, and unfortunately, I felt that "vibe" in her book. Her book has received rave reviews, and it is a quick read with some good ideas. She was a powerful NYC personal trainer, so she does indeed have the credentials for her topic. However, you can't just slap on a Bible verse and continue in a philosophy promoting sinful selfishness. "Southern Weddings"- that idol might just take the cake and Lord knows I had one and I'm guilty of the slam-bang picture perfect wedding philosophy. The culture at large is suffering from the Christian American dream. Or is it the American Christian dream? I wonder what our non-American friends think of books like this? I'm looking at you, Christy.

Note: I enjoy Lara Casey's website and I think her #socialmediafreeweekends idea is genius. I also recognize that her writing and many of her ideas are fabulous.

I'm currently trying to finish I finished The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith before it's overdue at the library and another month rolls around! yay for the library!!! ;)  That makes 4.5 books for this month! ;)

Funny Things They Say:

Madeleine: When the decorations go up (for Molly's birthday party), the house will be complicated and beautiful.

Molly: What are you doing?
Stephen: Reading a magazine. (Holds up First Things)
Molly: That's not a magazine. (Holds up American Girl catalogue) THIS is a magazine.

Madeleine: (Talking about some kiddos at Library and at Church) She talks like a toddler. (Almost spewed my coffee at that).
Me: So, Madeleine.... you're not a toddler?
Madeleine: Molly's a kid, Frances is a kid, Anders is a toddler, and Annabel is a baby.
Me: So what does that make you?
Madeleine: I'm a wittle kid.

Anders: (ruminating on his visit to Grandma's house) I wike Grandma's house. I play with her tows (toys)? Too cool... all kinds of fings!
Anders:  (to me) You look like Grandma (my Mom).

Stephen: (Smelling cats) I'm gonna light a ... bonfire.

Anders: Mommy...I have a jolly, happy soul... like Frosty the Newman!

Madeleine: (Looking at Annabel's paci) This paci has some really nice details.

Me: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.... is really good, and really long.
Stephen: Like watching a tree grow?
Me: Baha. yes!!!
(But really, seriously, guys- read it, because it's gorgeous).

Lately on the blog...

Did you see my New Years' Resolution post and my new Pinterest board New Year/New Me/You?
For some last-minute January inspiration, check it out!

I also waxed political for the second time ever.
Mr. Obama's Shining Moment

Church Calendar~ Did you know that Lent begins on February 10th? It's really coming up. What are you going to give up this year? So far, for my 'fast,' I am thinking I'll give up all dairy, as well as doing the #socialmediafreeweekend idea (and yes I see the oxymoron in that!).


just funny... actually, yeah. I laughed until I cried. I've tried to make jokes about Michael Buble, but I think this joke just takes the cake.

I've really been wanting to get into a good audiobook, but for now I'm settling for Podcasts galore. I'm listening to a whole bunch, so don't recommend any new ones! Actually, do! (audiobooks and/or podcasts that you love?) Tsh Oxenreider talked about how to "manage the internet" recently on her podcast "The Simple Show."

Speaking of podcasts, I'm loving the app PodCruncher. is limited in how many podcasts it downloads at once. Lots of other reasons to love it, but if you are interested, check out the reviews in the App Store.

I also need music to listen to by the by, so comment away! I finally found a good one in the "Veronica Mars" soundtrack. I'm a long time fan of OTR and the Once soundtrack. Peter and the Wolf. Anything with harmonica.... Go!

And JUST in case you've never heard my favorite song...
words and music: Bergquist
recording: Good Dog Bad Dog

I thought I'd go up Poughkeepsie,
look out o'er the Hudson,
and I'd throw my body down on the river.
And I'd know no more sorrow,
I'd fly like the sparrow
and I'd ride on the backs of the angels tonight...

Adding my link to This Ain't the Lyceum

Thursday, January 28, 2016

PHFR~ DIY: Redecorate the Girls' Room


Stephen bought this crucifix at the Basilica (National Shrine at Catholic U), and I love it.

My new Valentine mug for our red hutch. From... you guessed it!*

Dear Aunt Leila wanted us to share pictures of our bookshelves; it just so happens I very recently shared this picture over on instagram! Stephen ordered and put together these bookshelves from Ikea. It was a late Christmas present to us. :0)  I am graduaaaallly catching up with his massive book collection from St. John's College Annapolis and Catholic University in D.C. (Because the man happens to have two masters with plans to do his Ph.D... crazy, crazy I tell you!).


Molly made this adorable painting at her after school art class. 

I have been wanting to frame it since she brought it home.
I decided to stencil her initials in the same orange that she painted the cat. I then hung it in her room!
I love how it turned out!

If you want to make it:
~I used these stencils (from Amazon)
~I used the orange from this pack of pens to trace the letters. (I love pens!)
~I found the poster frame at Walgreen's.
~I used a basic watercolor set (we already had on hand) to fill in the letters.

Snow!!!! :-D

My parents got about 2 inches of snow this past weekend, so the kids built a snowman!

My brother got this shot of Molly throwing a huge snowball. He took about three or four all at once to capture this one. I love it! It's funny, the snowball almost looks like the beginnings of a snowman in the distance.

A funny moment!

My kids love our kitties so much. Although while Yo-Yo has been trying to run away ever since the day we found him after his 6-week jaunt around our neighborhood and a little beyond, white Sneaky hides under beds and Anders draws with marker on him. (ok, twice. But still).


It took me a couple of tries to get it right!

Working on a new one.

Working on one I can frame for Frances.

She actually made this in art class. I am kind of loving it right now. We'll see.

Add to the laundry list: MEB and ACB



There were never such devoted sisters.

Sigh, I'm so glad we had another girl. She is such a little pumpkin!

*AKA ahem, the Dollar Store of course :-D ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DIY: Make a Great 5 &10 yr. Photo Collage

First off, let me say that home decor is not my specialty. I have no formal training, and I have no special gift in decorating. But, it has been driving me crazy how many pictures I have been wanting to display that I just haven't gotten around to buying a frame for. We had all of these lovely photos taken from our wedding, and most of them ended up in a brown leather box, where no one could see any of them.  I ended up blowing up two beautifully gorgeous black and white photos from our wedding, and framing those. Later, I replaced one of them with a photo of Molly.  And... you guessed it, never got around to displaying any of the others.

I mean, I did frame some photos for our little red hutch, but... other than that, nothing much.

Enter: five year anniversary.  Five years ago, when Stephen and I had our five year anniversary, my present to him was a collage of the best pictures from the first five years. I was really happy with it. It marked time in a really special way!

Fun fact: we got engaged the same Spring that I was graduating from college in 2006. We were married November of 2006. Thus, this year is not only my 10 year anniversary from graduating college, but it will also be our 10 year wedding anniversary.  In lieu of that, I decided to make another, even bigger collage of our first 10 years together.

It turned out really nice, and I couldn't be happier with how it fills the empty space on our downstairs hallway.

Here's how they look hanging on our wall.

To make these, I found a high quality poster frame at Walgreens.  I had a pile of pictures that I really, really loved, that were collecting in my closet.  I went through that brown leather box and pulled out some of our family that I had been wanting to display all these years.

And... done! Yay!!;)

If you do this, here are a few tips:

~Make sure the frame is high quality. I can tell the difference between the ones I bought at the Dollar Store and the ones from Walgreens. I'm sure there are even fancier ones somewhere... someday! Someday I tell you. ;)

~Lay out your favorite photos, then wait about a week. Don't rush it. A few extra ideas for what I wanted to display most from our first ten years popped into my head, after letting the project sit in my closet for a while.

~Always use tape when you're putting pictures into picture frames! (I know that is so obvious it might be painful to you, but hey... it can never hurt to have the reminder!)

~A photo collage makes a fabulous present... birthday, anniversary, what have you!

~Since gallery walls are becoming trite, this might be a fun alternative... maybe? ;)

Have fun!

Adding my link to Tuesday Talk

Thursday, January 21, 2016

PHFR~ Molly's 8th Birthday

I only have a few pictures of ~everyday contentment~ today, but I thought "Why not" and I'm joining the link-up over at Like Mother Like Daughter for a little pretty happy funny real.


Molly is 8. So hard to believe.

She is most definitely our artist. :-)

sweet friends... and siblings. :-)
I am not giving names, to protect privacy.
The gift she wanted, she received from Grammy! 

I took the littlest girls to see "The Good Dinosaur" and snapped this picture right after the show ended. Can you tell how happy and excited they were to be at a REAL movie? It was awesome. So much fun, you guys.


my sweet little helper:)

yummy, yummy, yummy. Recipe here (my recipe, btw)
There were really only three that looked "perfect enough" for instagram. ha. ;)

Hiding under a round glass bowl, because I didn't have a plastic cake holder!

joining Like Mother, Like Daughter today!

P.S. Stick around, for I have some State-of-the-blog news.;) woop woop.;)

What's coming up:

I really enjoyed writing the "Advent Week-by-Week" series, so I'm excited about two forthcoming series on this blog this winter! I really, really hope you follow along, friends!

~Next week, I will be rolling out a new series of DIY (crossing fingers, but I hope to do a little decor DIY around the house).  Yay!

~ Also, I am extremely excited to tell you that in February, I'll be doing a substantial series called "Beautiful Souls," all about Catholic Parenting.  I have some "deep stuff" to share with you, and a few apples concerning parenting, in particular, and I can't wait to share it with my awesome readers!

~I am hoping to eventually turn my writing for this series into an e-book.            
Stay tuned, and please share and subscribe to my blog in your feed reader of choice (I really like feedly), if you haven't already!!!

~Nota Bene: I now have "share" buttons down below, so do share (in the future)! {to be honest- I think following me on Twitter is the best way to not miss a post, if you are *not* inclined to do Feedly. The algorithms at FB bother me tremendously. Grrr....}

~Finally, I *finally* added a What I Read tab at the top of the blog. Click on it to see my book lists.

Phew! That was a lot. Thanks for sticking around, friends. ;)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday

These thoughts are off the cuff, but hey... I think that every once in a while, we need a random thought or two!;) And just so you know, this post was not rehearsed, heavily edited, or scheduled. It's just a random thoughts on a Tuesday kind of day. :-) So....  what is it you want to ramble about today, Tacy? Stay with me.

Well, I've heard a lot of talk in the media about "true crime," or that which the "Serial" podcast is based off of.  I've listened to a couple episodes of "Serial," and I found it interesting and intriguing. I could see why it's of interest to so many, and I am thoroughly aware of this trend in our culture today. Honestly, if I had to share my true thoughts with you, it makes me a little concerned about where the general public has chosen to rest their thoughts.

Rather than this be our ideology, I think we can look to the wisdom of the Church and change our paradigm. Rather than think heavy thoughts, let's have a paradigm shift. Let's go a little deeper. Rather than focusing on death, we should focus on what it means to pass into eternal life! Despite our cause of death, we should look at it as a passage into light, a way to healing. We must look past the grave, and see the hope of being reborn!

My Dad's first cousin who recently died after living a very long and full life, was famous for saying, "You never know!"  I thought it apropos that while there were jokes about some of his missteps in life at his funeral, such as having an occasional drink with his friends, he died of a stroke, and his cause of death had nothing to do with drinking.

"You never know!" That's a pretty good motto. A friend came up to me at the reception for the family and quoted those words to me again, reiterating his line for my memory. "You never know..."

"You never know..." so why worry about it?
"You never know..." so why spend any of your precious time in life thinking dark, unfortunate thoughts and spend your days worrying ugly worries?

Let the light shine into these dark thoughts, and if dwelling on them means another season of "Serial," or another episode of some "amazing" true crime, I would suggest just letting those pass you right on by.

In his beautiful book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, St. Pope John Paul II wrote about the cross as the answer to our human suffering on earth. Why is there suffering and why are there these hopeless cases?;) Much of the sadness in the world is the result of nothing more than original sin combined with free choice.  It's ugly (and that's that.;) Move on. I'm not on a high horse: I struggle with both anxiety and depression! But is there a bright side? Yes. God has solidarity in our suffering in that, while he allows suffering, he also met it with an answer. He willingly suffered, too.

I don't know exactly why he allows and does not magically intervene when things go wrong, but I do know this: he is above all things, and we "never know."

We do know one thing for dang sure, though: he's coming back, and perhaps soon. If he does not come back in our lifetime, we do not have to fear death, but we should see it as our passage and our ticket to eternity with him. And as for all the other details, pray pray pray and pray with full peace and full knowledge that he knows our hearts, he knows our strengths and weaknesses, and he knows the future. He holds it in his hands. Meditate on his promise- daily!-  that he knows what we can handle and he will not go out of his way to harm us or punish us, especially if we are following in his ways, and if we are being obedient to his commands.

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Thursday, January 14, 2016

PHFR~ Lately and Happenings

Life lately... capturing the context of contentment in everyday life...

Frances and Annabel are #2 and #5, and are most definitely sibling twins if there ever were any.

She loves her hands, her thumb, anything... teething rings, etc.


Sporting his new boots and new Thomas PJ's.

Also new boots for Christmas for the girls. I'm hoping they will double as snow boots here in the South, with some thick socks.

We're praying for snow, anyway. ;)

This just sums up her personality. Happiness incarnate.

Molly playing with my old Felicity doll. Her birthday is tomorrow. So hard to believe she will be 8! Sniff.

Dapper Dan. Going to get his community on at the Christmas Eve Mass.

Playin' outside.

I shared this over on the instagram, but see the sweater Annabel is wearing? All four girls have worn it. It was made by one of my Mom's dearest childhood friends for Molly! It is pilling already, but I still love it so much. 

I'm a fan of coloring.. with these pens. ;)


They found the sandbox covered in ice one morning. It was frozen solid. So we went back outside that afternoon and found this arrangement.... there was a sand toy frozen into the ice- the shape of a perfect palm tree with coconuts was in the ice. I ran to get my camera, and when I came back out, they had already broken that half into shattered pieces on the sidewalk. Alas... this was the only picture I got.

On Christmas Eve, it was warm and in the 70's. The kids were playing outside barefoot, if that tells you how warm it was! The big activity that day? Drawing on the toy elephant with sidewalk chalk, then giving him a bath in our dirty sandbox! ;0)
This incident and the photo can be completely and totally blamed on Stephen. ;)

Annabel looks happy... Molly looks like a dazed and confused college student, with a hangover. ;)


Painting in her tutu on Christmas day... because, of course.

And ~real~ 
Mommy finally got organized enough to put newspaper under the painting projects. :0)