Friday, May 11, 2018

What Do You Want, Besides The Love of God in You? (7QT)


Right now I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love. This is the famous book from the early oughts, (2006) about Elizabeth Gilbert's journey to three countries in search of balance between pleasure and prayer.  I have seen the movie and I know how influential this memoir was back in the day, and how it continues to be pervasive in our culture. I'm just glad I'm not in the dark about it anymore.

It has me thinking about how a) someone should write a Catholic version of this book. Instead of meditating, yoga, and Hindu religious practice, a person could write about growing in spiritual faith as a Catholic  and b) how we all have something in common as humans and that is our desire to learn how to love.  Often, like Gilbert writes about learning to meditate and pray to Hindu gods, I have trouble with self-control because I must figure out what I want, how to ask God, how to pray and ask, and then how to act on that.  If I named to you all of the things I want (perfect body, perfect soul, perfect patience, to name a few), I would probably go on so long I'd catch cancer and die before finishing my list.  Before I die, I want to travel! see the world! again!  I want a perfect house!  A mansion! perfect furnishing and seasonal decor!  I want x number of kids and this many boys and girls! I want to be more fit with bags of money and a large bank account! I want, I want, I want.

I hear God speaking in the midst of all of this, and I hear him audibly asking me Tacy: "What do you *want*?"  What do you really want, my daughter Tacy? And I think the biggest thing that comes to mind is to be consumed by the fire of your love.  Maybe this: "Communion with God through Jesus Christ, which can be found in the Eucharist."  I want holiness, because if I have the self-control of holiness, that will give me things I think I want (I will be more healthy, happy, and whole).  Loving God and loving my neighbor- these things sum up the 10 commandments. Eastern religions water down the truths of the Bible, but ultimately Gurus in India are like any other guru in the U.S.  Often they're hard-working, they teach universal truths, and perhaps they are even called by God (Gilbert makes this case) they get people in good shape. (And, of course, make money out of the whole deal!) But obviously, they are missing the direct link to God which is Jesus Christ.

(Why would you want or prefer the watered down version when you can have The Real Thing? I'll never know).

Blogging Agenda

My craft-blogging (soon to be obsession- just you wait and watch!) has been put on hold.  I was so excited about my first crafty item in the plan or works.... sewing a pillow cover for the new kids' bunkrooms in our attic.  I bought the fabric, cut it, and pinned it.... then I looked around for the plug for my sewing machine, and I could not find it anywhere. This may have something to do with has everything to do with the fact that all of our CLUTTER is out of storage.

So, what should I do? My dilemma is: buy a new cord for my Brother machine, or wait until I can look more thoroughly for the cord I'm assuming is hiding somewhere in my bedroom!



It was Madeleine's 6th birthday this week, and Conrad is TURNING ONE on Sunday.  My how time flies!!!  We had an immediate family-only party on Madeleine's actual birthday (Monday) and we plan to celebrate with bigger bash (double birthday party)with extended family from around our town, this weekend.

Renovations & Plans

I think we'll be done renovating our attic in early June.  It has been very slow going which is to be expected, but also humbling.  If I had to sum it up in a word I would say "DISTRESSING" because.... we lost our storage space and we lost two closets.  We had no home for ANYTHING. We got rid of bags and bags of stuff, and yet we have plastic bins of off-season clothing and decor, as well as camping stuff, sheets, and towels, and anything else you might imagine being held in storage, PLUS Stephen's clothes.... and it is invading all of our upstairs bedrooms.

As soon as the contractors finish our attic, it turns out there was enough space to create a large storage closet.  As soon as they are done, we can move all of the CLUTTER back up into that closet. Until then... I CAN'T FIND ANYTHING.  And it is really hard and annoying. Especially when you want to sew.

just a super cute baby!


You all know the song from Bye Bye Birdie "We Love You Conrad"?  You can go watch it here. The funny thing is, I met some friends of friends.... the husband was a newly hired English professor at my alma mater Covenant College.. Really nice, super nice couple.  His wife thought my name was Tancy and I just could not stop laughing about that.... I have gotten everything from Stacy to Tracey to Casey but never  Tancy.  Then she started singing a passionate rendition of the Conrad song from the musical, and it cracked him up! Now when he's eating I'll pull it up on my laptop and we watch it together.  He loves the song (and he loves music - maybe more than any of my other kids have!)

A really funny interview


If you haven't seen Jimmy Fallon's interview with Blake Shelton where he does his own version of "I'll Name the Dogs," you need to go see it.  Skip to near the end to see him sing the song.  I guarantee this is the funniest thing you will see all week. ever see in your life.  I just can't explain the whole Jimmy making fun of country music, but this song just begs to be mocked, don't you find??

(various types of) interlocking seams! :0)

One More Blog post over at Lavender's Blue

Hey what would I do without my friends at Kelly's to help me be patient by giving me a friendly ear while I RANT about all things renovation and staying patient in the midst of distressing and humbling (very humbling) circumstances.


 I Will Be Strong (and one of these days I'll stop complaining like a woman in her third trimester).

#tiredofthecomplainingyet #iwillhangon

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Monthly Recap vol. 54~ April 2018


The BEST smelling bouquet of roses, lavender and lily of the valley from my April garden.

Progress on our attic storage renovations (we are turning it into bedrooms for the kiddos.) The drywall is done! We've seen so much progress with construction generally as well as electrical. We - meaning contractors--- they're awesome if slow, but it takes time !!!!-- still have to put in hardwood flooring and (white) paint ... plus install light fixtures and getting everything ready bedding-wise. I'm guessing another month at least. That would put us at early June, here's hoping (cheers)!  But if you want to see what we have picked out you can view the Attic color scheme on Pinterest; you can see the sconces we picked (LOVE)  one will go over each bed. The quilts we picked are from clementine kids: he basic breakdown: Boys: Mint Sconces/Grey Quilts Girls: Mint Sconces/Peach Quilt. Pillows will tie their color schemes together.


I tore through my stack this month!


1. you should read this essay collection by Ann Patchett. It is that good.
2. You should read Station Eleven.  I'm starstruck by her sci-fi storytelling and it has a nice subtle twist that kept me guessing until the end.
3. You should read Bookshop on the Corner. my Scottish happy place. clean/fun/gorgeous writing/ adorably lovable characters / protagonist.
4. You should read Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. It is SO good. Oxford bred writer with fantastic taste - fun storyline and hysterical if moody storytelling. #LOVE

I pretty much nailed it when it came to my selections this month! Hurray!


My Spring playlist May She Will Stay

Also: Beach House concert with Stephen my love! :)


Saw The Big Sick with Stephen, starring Kumail Nanjani (from Portlandia fame) and we both thought it was hilarious. It had triggers but honestly I thought the way the doctors dealt with the illness by medically-induced coma was somewhat hopeful in a strange way.  I know if you have medical triggers I just hit them all with that synopsis, probably (AND I DO) but it was dealt with in such a real, emotionally raw way and I say see it!! It is sooooo funny.

~Kids Are Reading~

raisin' em right

We went back to Parnassus Books in Nashville, this time Molly and Conrad came with me!



This is how you pronounce Prince Louis @ Harpers Bazaar

Alfie Evans' Dad to Prosecute for Murder @ The Daily Wire

"Italy gave baby Alfie citizenship and upon the request of Pope Francis there is a helicopter ready to take the baby to seek treatment if the courts allow. Baby Alfie is currently off his life-support and fighting for his life as medical staff is instructed to not help, but let him die."

Quit Social Media. Your Career Might Depend on It @ The NY Times (by Cal Newport, author of Deep Work)

I have a lot of thoughts about this article.  What do you all think about the points he makes? We can chat in the comments, as I know this is soooooooo controversial and thought-provoking.  :0)


my snobbery has been fulfilled at last

For me, the warmer months always scream "ice-cream." I happen to be terribly picky about ice-cream and I pretty much won't eat it or order it unless it's chocolate chip cookie dough, from a fro-yo place, or from Coldstone or that type of place. To me ice-cream is like eating a plain avocado vs. guacamole. It has to have big (I want to say chunks of but that just sounds nasty) flavor. But when I saw this, I knew I would have to get on that train and try it asap.  The gourmet guacamole of ice-cream.



I finally got my hair done for the Summer!

My new craft blog, which you can read here

I'll be posting there every Wednesday.

Follow me on Insta, Twitter, on Pinterest, or Google Plus if you want! Enter to win This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.  Giveaway began with my last post. Let me know you followed me all around the web in a comment and you might win! Let's hang out!

This post is definitely short for a monthly recap. I'm putting more energy into my Lavender's Blue community!

Friday, April 27, 2018

On Writing and Let's Talk About S@% Baby + A Giveaway! (7QT)

fika : a social institution in Sweden, meaning to have a coffee break :)

On Writing


I've been reading an essay collection by Ann Patchett, and it has me thinking about the various types of essays one can read.   I rifled and surfed and turned pages intangible, fanning the ones I held loosely in my hands feverishly.  So here are the categories I compiled (of course and as always, off the top of my head:) and perhaps this could give the "non-mathy" peeps some strategies to carry as they go.

Narrative (literary, not strictly or as a rule) essay , you could think Ann Patchett, because the writing is organized, beautifully structured, literary, and truly a lovely experience.  Then, 5 Paragraph (Intellectual or Scholarly) Essay, you could think First Things articles and it is so organized, you can almost skip around and find what you need.  Then, there's Modern Stream-of-Consciousness Essay, you could think Ann Lamott which is not (really that) organized, but you can read it one gulp-- or at least one sitting. Then we have the organized and Scholarly Long-form essay Think Philosophers such as Euclid....  And I'd say this is for the mathematicians and the left-brained among us, who enjoy piecing together a complicated puzzle as they read, and they enjoy doing it. (so not me!!!!) :)  All of this to say: the reason I was an English major and not a Philosophy major in college, maybe!

Not all writing forms come in takes! Shocker! I know...  I have been enjoying some non-fiction of late, and these categories are helping me discern books that are "So! For! Me!" and those that I'd rather just as soon leave by the wayside. For someone else to grab. At a used bookstore. Or wherever you find or buy your books... bargain, or not.  It has also helped me to discern what kind of writer I am and who I aspire to be.  Oh and then you have to talk about the writing, in each category, that is good or slobby (slobbish?).



So, yea, on that note, I'm scrawlin' myself a novel.  At first, it started as a way to burn off some steam. I would turn on good music and anything by Sam Beam or Band of Horses or this and just get cracking.  Eventually it also turned into a literal remedy as I deal with some things I'm experiencing in life. Who knew it would also a) become just the escape I needed from days full to the brim with kiddos and kiddo stuff and the stress of all that and b) become catharsis for a tangled tall glass of feelings I was carrying around. Bonus that my love of writing also re-inspired me to be involved on Twitter. Here's a deal: want a free book? I will send you a free Ann Patchett collection of essays- it is sitting here right beside me- if you go like me over on Twitter, perhaps my second novel could use a hand, and come back and comment here.

I'm loving Twitter lately.

On Sex and Marriage


The longest I have ever not been pregnant since Stephen and I were wed was between Molly and Frances, which is 2 years and 10 months.  If you calculate how many months I have been pregnant (fifty-four months) during our MARRIAGE, I would say that is how long we have had fearless time to be intimate. Sure I've had plenty of my share of morning sickness, but let's look on the bright side. Not only does NFP lead to a healthier and more *natural,* obviously, relationship with you to your body, it also gives you FREEDOM in the bedroom and thus a more natural relationship with your spouse.  We have not sworn off another baby entirely (although we feel very happy where we are), but we have all the peace in the world- so much peace about the way we have chosen to do family life. >>Why? << Think of all that time that instead of avoiding or fearing pregnancy, we gave our pleasure and intimacy free reign?  As we are open to life, and natural family planning, so too it is stunning for our wedding vows and our relationship.

Any time you combine the sanguine with the fearless,  you might find your backbone. Bonus points for incalculable joy at having children and being able to have intercourse without fear.  (or painful, unnaturally serious surgeries).  Oh and yes, by fearlessness I do mean TRUST without borders.

Catholicism for this reason alone rocks in my humble opinion.

On Music


I feel like the best music can really move you, such as the post-rock band Explosions in the Sky. (recommend)  Then I think Country music is there for those times when you just want to have fun.  But in terms of *the best* and *my favorite,* well.... I'm picky I guess?

The best cover every night  THIS  >>SO actually GOOD<< (how to understand portlandia i guess?)

I have always and forever loved The Innocence Mission. So, when I found this cover I knew I was ready for heaven. I was right. The lyrics: (for your *pleasure,* because all of TIM lyrics are so awesome).

Old days, don't come to find me
The sun is just about to climb up over there
'While my heart is sinking I do not want my voice
To go out into the air'
Did you leave the darkness without me?
You're always miles ahead
And you're standing in tomorrow on the runway

Oh be the music in my head
The air around my bed, oh be my rest
Replace the small disgraces of
The times and places that I never really left
Did you leave the darkness without me?
You're always miles ahead
And you're standing in tomorrow on the runway

Oh I want to fly, fly forward into the light
Be alive, to come alive
On the leaf-bright Friday drive
Sudden horses at the red light
Turn around, see clearer ways to go now

The song "Every Moment" needs to be on Spotify.

So I discovered this amazing song when I was in college. I always wanted to find *this* rogue wave. Apparently they are only this stripped down for soundtracks. I found the rock version on their first album on Spotify. When I searched on and clicked the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack I did not see this. This made me very sad, to say the least, as this has allllllways been my favorite song by Rogue Wave, and I was just sorta hoping for an entire acoustic album?!  Also, am I dating myself by telling you that Napoleon Dynamite came out when I was in COLLEGE?!

On Getting Ready for Mass


So let's talk about a tip for making getting ready for Mass (or Church) a bit easier.  A few weeks ago amidst the Easter craziness frenzy to make it to Mass on time wearing our spic and span gear, appropriate for weather, the occasion, and the MANY ages of our children, I was explaining to Stephen my very FALLACIOUS theory of getting ready.

Ok, here's my very faulty opinion/theory/ idea on the matter (s) and many things at hand:

"Sometimes you can find everything you need in 15 minutes. That's called grace. Sometimes you will spend hours getting ready, and you still can't find the appropriate sandals for the season. I say maybe God is trying to teach you humility and you should just go with the flow. Or maybe he is trying to use you for the blessing of others- to show them that black shoes in April is fine. It's totally fine."

His response (which I found witty, brilliant, and gracious):

"Or maybe you could start the night before."

And my thought, after further reflection was:

"Or even just 30 minutes before. Instead of 5 minutes or 15 minutes, on a good day."

Because I was thinking about it, and I KNOW he's right. But when I was meeting my friend at the playground, I was able to find all of the shoes easily in 10 minutes. Why does God choose to give me grace in that scenario? Could he not easily give me just as much grace on Sunday morning? But- let me interject this thought right here-- with all that is going on on Sundays (spiritual warfare? Lazy weekend and no one doing their normal week-time chores? an extra beer on Saturday night perrrrrrhaps?), I make excuses, and we are ALWAYS scattered, flitting about like fairies fighting dragons in neverland, spinning into --Internal Anger/Chaos- and HELL NO we aren't ready for Mass on time. If we are we look like unbrushed crazies beings shoved out of the third layer of Mordor.

"But maybe you could start the night before."

Then my argument with him was: "Well, God gave you the grace to say that to me, which means it took me until now to have the grace to hear it/learn it/realize it. And there is absolutely nothing I could have done until now to have known to do that.  Great factoid, but Stephen, it is allllll always about timing.  And grace."

Now you understand why my twisted mind is full of tormented thoughts that fill me with guilt more regularly than "on occasion." More like constant anxiety and if I'm lucky, no panic attacks.

**Bonus Take**


So, in my (very limited) spare time, I started a Arts and Craft Blog. It is called Lavender's Blue after the well-known song, and truthfully, I'm super excited about it. So excited, in fact, that I have decided to devote every Wednesday to writing a post there.  The design is simple as ever but that's what I love about Blogger! Seriously, so easy to start and maintain a blog and I'll be a devotee for life. :) I mean it took an afternoon. HA.  Why arts and crafts blogging? I love art: Painting with Watercolor, etc. and I love working with paper crafts like making cards and scrapbooking! Bonus points if I pull out the third sewing machine I have bought since I was a newlywed. Yes, sewing,too  of course! :) I love exploring every corner and aisle of Michaels and deciding which projects to try. Stay tuned! And perhaps do not be surprised if I only post once a week here just to keep ya'll in the know.... for the foreseeable future! I'm excited!

You can follow me on Twitter for updates on my arts and crafts blog!
Also, my Pinterest account name has changed to Lavender's Blue and I'll focus more on arts over there, so come be a friend there, too. :)  I might take off from social media on the weekends to focus more on my other endeavors.  #beafriend #yay

I will leave you with this blessing.

linking up with Kelly

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!