Friday, August 17, 2018

Seven *Quick* Quick Takes (7QT)

Church Scandal

NPR covered the church scandal and I have so many thoughts (too many, really) to address this in totality here.

Needless to say, it is painful as a Catholic to hear this news.

I think I have surpassed my "honeymoon phase" with Catholicism and my Catholic faith. I suffered the seven year itch, and came out stronger in my faith in the end.  I was really struggling with anger for a while toward what I felt was some backwardness in the South (in general and in the Church) including political views held and mediocrity in regards to faithful Catholic living in a practical, pragmatic sense.

I can't imagine being betrayed by my priest or bishop or in any way feeling mistrust in those in leadership over me. Despite my frustrations with Catholicism in the American South, I have never had a reason to dislike my own priests or leaders in our parish community.

I am hoping that this challenge makes us stronger.  I think we are growing and we can come out flourishing and much stronger on the other side.  In the mean time, we need to pray - I recommend and suggest praying a nightly rosary for as many nights as you can in an effort to bring peace to an extremely sad situation.

New job

In other, more happy news..... Stephen got a new job! He basically got a promotion and raise, and we feel really successful when you consider that the company that hired him, Carbon Five, does work for Disney, Conan O'Brien, etc. and has offices in NYC, San Fran, and LA.  We feel surprised and blessed at this God-given task he has before him.  I'm really proud of him.

Upcoming Travels

That said, we will be traveling together to Santa Monica, California in a few weeks for his training. I can't wait!  But it does make me feel a bit busy and overwhelmed what with homeschool, his job and responsibilities, and general busyness of packing and arranging childcare and other arrangements for us to leave.

Upcoming on the blog

I am probably going to be taking an extended break from blogging until mid to late September.  I feel as though I need to focus on homeschooling, and with our travels coming up, I have a feeling I will be a little less than focused.  Follow along with our fun adventures on instagram. also have a Facebook page.


An Open Letter From Young Catholics @ First Things

~6 &7~
TV shows

We have been watching the show New Girl with Zooey Deschanel on Netflix.  We laugh hysterically at the antics (especially that of Max Greenfield), but sadly it is *not* edifying in the least. Frustrating when something that makes you laugh also offends you.  Our culture is-- and can be-- so backwards.


linking up with Kelly

Friday, August 10, 2018

Setting Up Our Homeschool Space and Rhythm (7QT)

Yes, we are now officially homeschoolers.  (yay!!!!) We started on Monday!  :))  Leading up to the day, I kept wondering if it would feel horribly stressful or peaceful having all the kids at home with me. So far, it has felt very peaceful to get into the new rhythm and enjoy our new (5 bedroom!) space!

Here are some thoughts I have had this past week.... some relate to homeschooling and some are just thoughts from my random stockpile of ideas, opinions, wax on, wax off.


An unlikely friendship can be life-giving. This article from Buzzfeed "This Guy formed a real, heartwarming friendship with a woman who did his nails for 3 years and people are touched."  I love reading the back and forth texts, and I love hearing how this boy became more confident in himself as the friendship blossomed and they both found their voice.  It just proves and goes to show that the touch of human kindness never goes wasted.


David Sedaris is funnier than you.  Seriously though, his essays in his new book Calypso had me heartily chuckling out loud. He has many jokes in each short, readable essay.  I loved the origin of the title and his fiasco with the turtle (won't spoil it for you but rest assured I will be thinking of Grandaddy for a long time to come.... and spitting out my wine in comical laughter every.single.time). Sedaris is so funny, I think he could easily spend more than 2 hours talking without repeating himself a dozen times and on top of that, easily send me into hysterics. Did I mention David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" as a live performance was my (very) first date with Stephen?!  We laughed at the exact same things-- the best sign. :)


Our new space doesn't cure everything that ails us.  You can still hear Conrad screaming in his new bedroom. He was formerly sleeping in a large closet, in a pack n play, so I'd say it is an improvement in our way of life, though. Nothing will ever cure what is ultimately my feelings of inadequacy.  That kind of faith in this choice has to come from God.  Material things, possessions, a large bank account, etc do not provide peace of mind and I think that lesson was a long time coming but it's definitely one I've accrued over this past year.


I learn some new significant life lesson every decade of my life.  In my childhood, I learned to trust God. In my teens, I learned how to recover from heartbreak.  In my twenties, setting out on the adventure of life with a husband and new baby, I learned how to trust my own thoughts and beliefs and establish them apart from my parents. Now in my thirties, I'm learned how to relax and trust more in relationships. I was hashing this out recently with Stephen,  and I realized that in my twenties, I was very suspicious of people and I would confront them for their sins and problems (in particular, Stephen) and in doing so, I forced them to admit or confess to something they weren't necessarily guilty of. Now I'm learning that all of those accusations and suspicions were rooted in fear.  Stephen really does love me.  I've stopped trying to convict him (and others!) and I am so much happier than I used to be.


Homeschooling really does make more time for the things we love to do.  In particular, read. Frances has a new-found interest in Shakespeare.  Molly spends hours everyday in the afternoon and evening reading and reading and plowing through books. She is interested in honest Abe Lincoln! Going to the library has become an adventure and a delight. If the rest of the year is anything like this first week, it is going to be great.


It works well to split up the classes almost evenly between me and Stephen.  I'm teaching English, Religion, and History according to the Seton method. We do classes. This youtube channel has been a challenge to me as a homeschool Mom.  Here is her first day back. We weren't sure how we would spilt it, but we decided to have Stephen do Science and Math classes at night. I do read-alouds and foster a reading-friendly environment during the day. The kids have an hour of educational screen time (they can do Xtra math, Bob Books, and ask me if you have any other apps in mind).
Gingko fruit


There is no doubt that homeschooling is saving us money, but that's not why we're doing it. Listen: we prayed about this decision for months before withdrawing our kids from a parochial school that we loved. It is true that tuition would be more costly than paying for curriculum from Seton.  Ultimately, though, in praying together intimately for about 6 months, Stephen and I longed for our kids to do things like fall in love with reading, get along better with each other, grow in the love of God and the nurture of the Holy Spirit. And it doesn't hurt to have more time and freedom to travel and do field trips. But that is precisely where we are saving.  I won't be running nearly as many errands and doing as many outings, because my days are spent with fulfilling, exciting work as I educate my kids in academics as well as the wisdom of God and the foraging of nuts and seeds. (completely free!!!!) So win, win.

Linking up with Kelly what what

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

monthly recap vol 57~ July 2018 Reno is done!

My new (FREE)  e-book, see below for details!


Lately, I've been thinking about and pondering our decision to homeschool and I HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS(!!!!). As you will see in the following long paragraph.   This fall everything is going to change. I know it would be so easy to put our kids in school. That's because I know that life well now. Molly will be in fifth grade this year.  I know how I would get it all done. I would be planning Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner a month in advance.  I would drive, keep the littles busy, do homework, bed routine, and early wake-up and get dressed calls. There would be involvement in school activities and extracurriculars.... picnics and meetings and meet-and-greets.  And that feels .... SAFE.  But what my heart of hearts says is that life should not be safe. "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing" says Helen Keller and this has been our chalkboard all Summer. I keep feeling a thought: "Get rid of all your crutches, Tacy."  It is too easy to let others' take my children's education into their own hands. I have to do hard things for me and for our family.  The time has come, and now for us that means homeschooling. I'm nervous-- super nervous!-- because it is a huge deal. But as our plans come into clear focus, I'm more excited than anything else. More excited than ever before. More devoted and on board for this decision than ever before.

We're treading in deep water, but in the midst of murky doubt, here are the things keeping me afloat- more than a lifejacket-- my lifeboat if you will.  As I've prayed, these thoughts have bubbled to the surface of the tide pool of doubt.  First, God is in control. Second, I believe God supplies grace. Third, I believe that when we delight ourselves in God he gives us the desires of our heart. If we give, receive, and depend on help of those available -- our co-op, our priests, tutors, babysitters, church, friends, and family--- then we will be fine. God is love and he loves us. "O Israel hope in the Lord," for there is nothing to fear and so much to hope in!  And more than that (depending on those around me) homeschooling is fulfilling work. Preparing a space for my kids to learn, feeling able to influence them, and planning lessons to seep and steep into their hearts is rewarding! For a shot of encouragement, check out the Google Docs I have attached below in links.


This month was AMAZING for my reading life, and that is in large part because I read two books on the way down to FL and two on the way back. (7 hour drive, plus more with stops for little bladders). I am trying to meet my goal to read a little over a book a week this year.  See my goodreads reading challenge here.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
5/5 stars
Satisfying, interesting, delightful read and I definitely recommend it!

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
4/5 stars
Confusing, but interesting look at the Tulsa, OK race riots of 1921.  I learned a lot and it stretched me intellectually with plot twists and many characters. I recommend it!

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
3/5 stars
I wanted to absolutely love this. It was a very quick read, and the shortness appealed to me.  I also enjoyed the easy-reading style since I read it in a noisy car on a road trip.  All in all the storyline seemed a little less than amazing, I suppose.

One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler
4/5 stars
This was great and I didn't have anything bad to say about it by the end. For some reason it left me with a weird and completely and utterly random hankering for hot dog powder.  Or queso. It was like a shot in the arm of encouragement for following your dreams while raising a family. Like Jen I have six kids, I'm Catholic, and I love to write. I had all the feels many times while reading, because it resonated so much with me. Also, quick and easy read and perfect for a road trip.

I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa De Los Santos
4/5 stars
I wanted to be over the moon about this book, but it hit me and I was hoping it would smack me in just the right angle.  The mystery wasn't coming through me for me.  It was a little too trendy in style for me to get wrapped up in either the writing or the plot.  Still worth reading, though and pick it up if you're at all interested.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
5/5 stars
This book of fantasy just made me happy. It is not as thrilling as his other books, but it is just as fantastical.  His writing is dense, creatively charged, and inspiring.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Started this but have not finished it yet! :/  I read about 1/4 and while it is very fast-paced and intricately written, the premise of a psychopath wife ultimately scared me away! lol :0))

Dance Camp! :)


The Great British Baking Show

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with baking, but when I'm on, I'm passionate and on-fire! This show is the perfect kindling for that inspiration!

The Shape of Water

This academy-award winning movie was fantastic.  I have a little bit of a sci-fi streak but what I liked about it was the old-school film feel it had with a fresh, new perspective and twist throughout. I didn't expect to like the main character, but honestly by the end I thought she was absolutely fantastic.

A Wrinkle in Time

We watched this as a family on vacation, and Molly teared up at the end of the movie. I turned to Stephen and said, We're doing something right. She was nervous that she wouldn't understand the movie but she absolutely did and by the end, she was begging to re-watch it.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

This movie is definitely not for everyone, but the acting is STELLAR. I have been a longtime fan of Frances McDormand so for me = no brainer. Beware of language.



I don't have anything specific to mention about these, but they are all so good and they help me unwind or inspire me while I'm driving or doing housework!  I will say something in general about podcasts. Two of my friends asked me about podcasts this month, interested in starting to listen.  All you need is a podcast app and a pair of headphones.  THAT'S it! I use Podcruncher and love it, but I have also tried other various apps and they all work fine. Then be sure to look up the following because they are all great.  I know you can also listen to most podcasts in Spotify and Stitcher as well.

Smartest Person in the Room

Song Exploder

Sorta Awesome

Fresh Air with Terry Gross

The Jennifer Fulwiler show 

I love the gray/blue ! 

--Renovating the Attic--

The kids are actually, finally sleeping in the attic (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  The process has taken since before Spring Break, but now that it is done, honestly I'm overwhelmingly thankful and all of the time we waited to use our space feels SO worth it. We have repainted the nursery and homeschool room blue and grey respectively. They have also been rearranged for the new set-up. The funny thing is that the day we moved into the upstairs, our church began renovations and we must now meet for Mass in the basement of our church. As soon as life is rearranged correctly at home, it feels discombobulated elsewhere. So it goes!!

No more tan rooms!
A place for read-aclouds... and again no more tan! (Did I mention no more tan?)
Throwback to ballet babes, clutter, and .... tan! :0)


Organize Your Life and Organize Your Homeschool (My NEW, FREE e-book!) This printable google docs comes in cool fonts and colors, and it is sure to get you excited and motivated for a new school year, and in particular, a new homeschool year.  I truly believe it will be helpful to anyone who is a homemaker: SAHM, working mom, Mom with kids in school, Mom with kids who homeschool. ETC!  Get re-inspired to meal plan, prepare for your week, and more.
Also check out my...

Very Productive Daily Docket

linking up with Leigh

Friday, July 27, 2018

Have Diapers, (And Books) Will Travel (7QT)


Lately the weather has been very rainy and hot.  Luckily we escaped while we could, but I was a bit nervous about our trip to Florida, because I worried it would be even hotter, perhaps even rainier, and we also were not sure if we would have a pool at the Air BnB where we were planning to stay.  We signed up for this condo because it had enough beds and the owner had said in his ad for his condo, "Fish and turtles swim right outside your window-- it is like having your own private aquarium."  It is so funny now that that was our selling point.

Our trip

When we finally made it to our Air bnb, in Panama City FL yes there were turtles.... but/ and we were simply, absolutely shocked at how nice it was. The condo was part of a very nice resort with access to several pools, an activity island pool, hot tub, and splash pad, which a private store and restaurant. The resort set-up reminded us of Disney World.  They even had a trolley system, which was basically large 12 passenger go-carts that took you over a tiny go-cart sized bridge to the beach and pool.  The kids literally thought they had died and gone to Daniel Tiger heaven.  Also, the weather was PERFECT. It never felt much hotter than Tennessee to me, except when we were swimming in the ocean and got pretty tanned playing on the beach.  So win!


Of course in the car I had to listen to some podcasts. This podcast episode with Hollywood star Dax Shepard (of Crosby from Parenthood fame, Punk'd)  reignited my love for vulnerable midwestern conversations.  After losing my faith in my broken side of self (and consequently all humanity, in the process), this conversation with his mother is invaluable.  It reminded me of my days at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA.  We started visiting the Juvenile Hall as a ministry, and my dear friend Meredith and I made a sign in the chapel saying, "Get Re-Juvy-nated" to promote the ministry.  I think you will certainly get rejuvenated if you listen to this podcast episode in its entirety.  I've gotten burned on being vulnerable but I am reminded that we should keep having these conversations so that people walking through suffering feel less alone.  Coincidentally, she references the movie Boyhood, which I have not seen but have now bumped to the top of my list for Must-See TBW movies.

Speaking of vulnerable topics, let's talk about mental illness for a minute. Travel- even day trips- has been known to cure my anxiety.  But even with the time to re-coup and refresh in Florida, I almost had a panic attack earlier this week after we had gotten back from our trip.   I had had an espresso semi-late in the day (about 4PM), and as I was trying to fall asleep that night, I lay awake in bed and my heart was racing. I prayed a rosary, and as much as sacramentals help, medicine works wonders. I took a double dose of both my anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicine and I definitely slept like a baby. When mental illness is aggrieved and acting up (and who knows how much sugar and caffeine play into this scenario), meds are very nice. I know it also has something to do with protein intake, snacks, etc.... BUT when you are regularly having panic attacks, I really think a reset button is one of the wisest things you can do.  It always takes a few days, but the memory of vacation and much less responsibility can really go along way in relaxing you in your mental space as well as physical.

I'm currently reading Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham.  This illuminated for me a subject which I previously did not know much about, namely the race riots of Tulsa, OK in 1921. My first complaint of this book was that it seemed to have been published - in part- because this gives voice to the minority. Then, I found out the author was white, and I was blown away (not least because the cover and premise - told from the voice of a young black girl- is confusing and there is no author picture on the book jacket).   Sometimes -- and this is going to be dicey, so bear with me-- a minority gets a job simply for diversity, not necessarily because of their skill set.  Consequentially, some of black culture, specifically writers, get(s) a bad rap.  This books takes a lot of twists and turns and you have to be really patient with the amount of detail she incorporates in all 300 or so pages of heavy dialogue and the introduction of many characters. Altogether the book did a very good job of illuminating the subject. I just couldn't believe how dense I was. Oh well, I'm just thankful to have  enough time to have read this and several other books while on vacation.

My article for Dappled Things is finally live!

Flannery O'Connor's Humorous Conception of Racism 

short but helpful (i feel) article on how O'Connor's stories illuminate the prejudice of the lower class in the South. I tried to incorporate as many details, quotations, and "Flannery-isms" if you will, from the story as I could in a short form essay.  Go take a gander.... if you dare. :)

An article worth your time

Pope Francis and Spiritual Virtuosos @ Word on Fire

linking up with Kelly as per usual!!!

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Youtube video, Summer Lessons, and Something Worth Reading (7QT)

I love this quote, and I have found it particularly inspiring this Summer!

In the mean time, I will try to keep this Post short, because I know where you all would rather be! Not inside reading blogs, that is for sure.


It is safe to say I'm obsessed with botany.  I have gotten into the habit of going on a regular 3 mile route for my walks for the nights when I do not go to the gym. I can be found stopping every few feet or so to examine a tree or plant. I may take a photograph of a leaf only so that I can plug it into my Picture This app when I get home to find out the Latin scientific name and sometimes the English name as well.

I am compiling all of the leaves and trees I have discovered, and I'm analyzing the differences using the handbook from Audubon- the guide to North American trees, Eastern region. I am fascinated in particular by the 'fruit' of trees, which varies from berries to acorns, to helicopters and spiky balls, to beanpods and the technical name for a magnolia pinecone, which is "aggregate of capsules." The flowers of trees include pollen. (according to the Audubon guide). Molly took this picture of me as I was retrieving a leaf from a very tall mulberry tree. The branch was just out of reach!

This {...} Youtube video

I am totally not into beauty videos on youtube (I'm being completely honest here) but this video on makeup by Emily Noel absolutely captivated me!  A review of ten items bought at Dollar Tree... and I love her conclusion so very much! Borderline hot mess, but you have to watch the video to find out if there is anything worth owning from a Cheap-y standpoint!


It has been broiling, cruel, sweltering her in the American South.  It has been hot.  Our car was in the shop for a couple of days, and I had had high hopes of taking the kiddos to the splash pad to cool off one morning. Instead, we ventured to *walk* to the nearest playground. Yes, me and 6 kiddos crossing busy streets and all of that jazz. A total of 1/2 mile there, an back.  Chugging water and seeking out shade were the things that saved us, but to be honest, the heat index of over 100 wiped me of all energy for the rest of that day.  The only thing I could do was make some cornbread and watch the great british baking show.... and I think I heated up some chili.

Lesson learned: Water and Shade, my friends. Water and shade.



We are headed out of town! IN the near future. Stephen's words: "Well, we're leaving on a Sunday, but we can still go to the early Mass."

MAN THE DUDE NEVER MISSES CHURCH.  I'm serious.  #sonofapreacherman #apostolicsuccession


I have heard from our contractor that by the time we are back from vacation, our attic will be DONE and USABLE.  Cue the choirs singing!!!! We will have a usable attic space before July is over and done!!!  They are currently: Building the railing for the stairs, finishing the white painted edging from when the stain was done, and installing lights. Hallelujah chorus.



I was hoping to be able to direct you to my latest post for Dappled Things today (on Flannery! Hurrah... ! And if not cliche, exciting), but unfortunately as we prepare to leave for the beach on Sunday, I was not able to get the last edits in in time! We will be spending a week poolside with the beach close at hand, so outdoorsy it is and writerly it is not, this week.... I suppose? Stay tuned....
teatime in progress....

{insert a preternatural "MORE?!" here}

My Recent Reading Progress

So far this month, I have been taking my time with Neil Gaiman's Stardust.   In my quest for intrigue, I'm quite happy.  This book is about witches, falling in love, innocence, and the quest that will lead one young man into close contact with a fallen star, who is actually a female character- a kind woman with I suppose you could call it, star power.  It has inspired me to believe that everything Gaiman writes is worthy of belonging on my TBR list.  And it just makes me soooooo  happy.

All in all, grateful for this Season, my friends, my family, and this sweet upcoming journey of homeschooling looming soon for us in the Fall.  #grateful #grace  #godisverygood
linking up with kelly

Friday, June 29, 2018

Monthly Recap~ vol. 56~ June 2018


Summer in the American South has been HOT and very rainy this year!  Wow June you delivered on some fantastic, beautiful, awe-inspiring Summer storms.  One thunderstorm had such intense wind that a gigantic tree on our street fell over (I think it was rotten).

I have loved watching storms roll in and agitate the trees in our yard. Did you know that watching a tree can lower your blood pressure?  (cool, huh).  Speaking of lately, we are still obsessed with the specifics of nature and botany over here!  Some trees we have discovered recently on walks nearby:

And plants/trees: this is a different variety of magnolia with smaller "pinecones":) I have loved learning alongside my kids. I'm still using the free "Picture This" app, BUT hit me up if you have a good one to recommend! :) I can't wait to start drawing them, as I have heard it improves attention span and helps you to remember the names.

And onto what I'm into.... Summer is such a great time for media. The days are longer and I feel so much more in the mood to be entertained especially with this scorcher we're currently experiencing. Hopefully that means at least a few people in the world are still reading blogs (right now!).


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This may have been my favorite book this month, maybe my favorite book in some time.  The writing was like a mouth-wateringly delicious meal of black Southern comfort food, with pain, sadness, and brokenness thrown in.  I would not read this if you do not want to feel the strain and heartache that is the Black American experience. But if you want a gorgeous look at marriage, life, and race, then READ IT.

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

I will always have good associations with this book, because I finished it the same night Stephen and I went out for Thai food. I had a huge Thai tea with dinner, so I was wide awake to finish the last fourth of the book.  I should have been eating and drinking Sicilian food like pizza and granitas (Almond granitas!!!!!)

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

To be honest, I liked so many things about this book more than I enjoyed the experience of reading it. I enjoyed the musical vocabulary and jargon, rooted in her real experiences of playing competitive cello.  There is a good podcast episode with an interview with the author.  Worth checking out.  I found the writing very beautiful and the mood very San Francisco.  I might not read anything else by this author though because it felt slow and stilted at times.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This was a fast-paced YA romance about a Korean boy and Jamaican American girl who fall in love one day, when the issue of immigration threatens to tear them apart.  Very of-the-moment, very cheesy and YA-ish, and a simplistic almost childish style, but with a lot of heart. A sweet look at a contemporary romance with modern themes thrown in for good measure.

You can see my goodreads challenge here (and please don't ask me why Ariel's Birthday Surprise is included in my books. Because I couldn't figure out how to delete it. πŸ˜‚)


Portlandia (some episodes are good and worth watching) There is a new season and I admit Fred Armisen is one of my favorite comedians living today. Just be careful of the "overboard" episodes (unmentionable much).  haha

The Greatest Showman I think this movie is underrated by critics. My family has seen it numerous times and not only that, my daughters are obsessed with the soundtrack.  I love Michelle Williams in this movie- she has a beautiful voice and she can dance.  Neither of which I would have known if I hadn't seen this movie.

Chef's Table This is my favorite show on Netflix.  I devour every episode, wishing I could taste the things I see on the screen.  It is so artful... watch all the way to the end of the season; the last episode is innovative, intense, inspiring, incredible.  Episodes in Sicily* and Indonesia were favorites.

Part Unknown with Anthony Bourdain  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Bourdain when he died.  I enjoyed watching some of this series... I think I watched about half of the episodes of the first season.  (I'm not sure if there are more seasons off the top of my head).  I loved the episode on Canada (although the food they eat is INTENSE), and the one on the Congo was FASCINATING.  Bourdain was a passionate, interesting person with a gift for storytelling and understanding history and politics and making them accessible. He lended an ear and in turn was able to really hear the issues of countries, especially those "not on the map" culturally speaking.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt  Again, I devoured the new season of this show. I love it so much.  I just wish there were more episodes. As I said on Twitter, just think about how cool Tituss Andromedas is and make a show about that. I love him.


Fountains of Carrots

The Catholic Momcast

Art of Simple

Women's Work

Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

How I Built This NPR

My June Tunes Playlist! :)


My Goodreads Reading Challenge (Come be a friend!)

Linda Holmes' piece on Anthony Bourdain @ Monkey See

Ben Folds is writing a book!

Great Summer Reading @ Catholic Mom

I am also deeply saddened and troubled by the news coming out of Annapolis. Stephen and I lived there for 6 years, and I started my first blog there. I was a writer in Annapolis, so I am very heartbroken to think about writers in Annapolis getting murdered. To all of my friends in that community-- I am praying for you right now. 😒😞

linking up with Leigh


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

America's Mental Health Crisis: Stop Saying 'Reach Out'

In the wake of the two prominent figures' suicides, an entire nation is alert to the issue of mental health.  Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain ushered in- for better and/or for worse- a discussion of mental health- its ramifications and effects.  I noticed that people within the subculture of Twitter were all over the map. Some seemed shocked that those with wealth, power, and fame could feel such despair. Many spoke out by saying, "If you are hurting, reach out to those around you."  Platitudes flowed aplenty wherever news and extemporaneous thoughts were shared.

The frustration I had as someone who indeed struggles with mental illness- -and I like to call myself a "functional, sorta healthy person with mental illness"- somewhat in between the two extremes of institutionalized, definitely struggling, but also semi-healthy for the most part-- was that we do need to stop issuing platitudes.  Insiders to mental illness do not appreciate condescension, let me tell you.  If outsiders claim that those suffering are simply lonely and need to reach out to those around them, they sidestep the biggest issue in this epidemic:  they don't know that often, mental illness is about despair.

A mental health crisis is complicated. Yes, suicide and suicidal thoughts fall into this category, but it is not only the suicidal who need to 'reach out.'  And The truth is, humility about the grey area in mental illness may be the only answer to this far-reaching disease.  In order for those who are suffering to really feel healthy, they need medication, faith, and a safe place to talk about their issues-- IN THAT ORDER.  A hurting person who is suffering from severe depression, anxiety, and even delusional thoughts needs to be taken seriously, and they need to take themselves seriously.  They do not need to hear "You can tell me if you are hurting."  Often, that's because a person with deep depression is feeling something more like pervasive despair.  They do not need to "open up and have a sweet and sappy heart-to-heart."  More likely, they need a heavier prescription and they need it immediately.  The answer lies in a humility that penetrates both those who seek to be healed, and those who hope to heal the hurting. Healing doesn't happen from a place of condescension, much like the poor who aren't helped by handouts from the prosperous.

Self-care should be seen as an extremely serious route to healing.  No one is allowed to skip the steps that will lead them into a healthy lifestyle in a life or death situation.  Insiders to mental illness- myself being one- know that mental illness is about despair, and therefore 1) Platitudes don't work and 2) It is hard to be humble enough to accept the serious help they need. This means visiting a counselor and a psychiatrist as soon as possible. Outsiders don't understand this depth of struggle, so they offer euphemisms.  Instead they should be more firm and confrontational, but in a loving, patient manner.  Actually, sometimes patience is the last thing a care-provider needs.

To conclude, I have been at the door of despair. I was suicidal at one point after our fourth child was born. Postpartum depression and poor health reached a climax and I drove around in circles in my car to abate my panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.  In a recent song, Carrie Underwood sings this line: "Falling apart is as human as it gets."  Friends, do we believe this?  If so, then the humility needed to GET HELP (meaning, a better prescription) and GIVE HELP (meaning, a humble and non-condescending approach)  might finally be found. As we can see from Bourdain and Spade, when the lives of those suffering are on the line, there is literally no gray area.

cross-posting at the ACWB

Friday, June 15, 2018

Summer is Busy/Fun...& more thoughts on homeschool (not quite 7QT!)

Summer Busyness

The Summer always shakes up our routine quite a bit, and honestly I'm not sure who is around to read blogs any more - or at least in this season- so, I'm keeping it short. As usual we have been keeping busy and jumping in plenty of rivers and pools. :)

I parked the stroller and let the kids play .... Conrad was not happy to be parked! As long as he is moving, he's fine. :o)

Hey, I recognize that dress!!!! :-D

We did our annual Staycation and it was as fun as it was frugal.  Highly recommend and you can read more about ALL of that here.

I myself fell off my workout-at-the-gym routine and missed my regular exercise. I tried to go running but I could tell I wasn't really burning the calories like I do at the gym.  I try to go M,W, and Th nights at 7:30 and workout for an hour.  I do the bike or treadmill, then lift weights and do the kettle bell.  I know it gets my heart rate up and as I am faithful, I'm able to increase the amount of weights and I try to push myself to burn more calories each time I go.

Homeschool Plans

We are planning to start Seton in August.  I am eager to get rolling. I can't wait to have more time for nature walks, reading, and playing.  I will admit to nerves and the occasional fear, but mostly I'm excited and it grows as the time grows nearer. Annabel is potty training which may sound random, but young mothers probably know it isn't. Having to change half the diapers will change my life completely.

I think homeschooling should/ will help connection between me and Stephen, because he is planning to do the majority of teaching, and I will make sure (enforce) they do their lessons. He is very eager to start serious Latin lessons with them.  We will try to attend daily mass as much as possible, go to the library and nature center as much as possible, also visit places around town, travel, and we'll have co-op on Fridays.

I have help in the form of a mother's helper this Summer. She goes to school so in the fall I want to find someone else like her.  She is Molly's age, so young and a companion but she also is very helpful. She comes to help to do the chores around the house. Last time, she cleaned windows, folded clothes, and made a smoothie for the littles. She also did some art projects with the littles.

I am crossing fingers, but I think we will survive with lots of prayer and hopefully some help from my older girls specifically with dishes and diapers. :0)


Renovation Progress

Our attic is almost totally renovated. It is exciting. I can't wait to start using it, living in it, and making it beautiful.  Right now, they need to install light fixtures and stain the hardwood floors. The floors were finally installed 2 weeks ago!  I have been updating in my instal-stories so follow there if you are interested! Would love to have you friend!! :)


Halfway through the month and halfway through this month's reading. Summer vibes in full effect. I will try to bulk up my reading list in July, as we will be traveling a bit and I can pack it into the driving hours.  What is better than kids in the sprinkler and relaxing with a marg and book??

I have so far read An American Marriage and Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions.   Absolutely loved this second book about the culture of Sicily and a mishmash of funny dialogue, witty plot, and absolutely unbeatable setting.  Fabulous prose/references to classic lit as well.  But let me back up. Reading about black culture in the former has been heart-wrenching... it made me start wondering about statistics.  Without spoiling the plot, AAM deals with a false accusation which results in jail.  It would lead one to assume that the trials of the African American experience would lead to despair. However...  observe:

I think the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain rattled me and many of us because these people had no reason for despair from the outside: success, beauty, fame.  But privilege and leisure can lead to its own form of restlessness and purposelessness.  We can have a million pity parties for the less fortunate, (as well we should- and grow awareness of the bias and the detrimental cycles of these cultures-- I'm the first to get worked up about this).  But I think the news and these stories, as well as the statistics show that the true poverty of spirit lies (SURPRISE!) with the rich and famous.

Botany and Discovery of Nature with Kids

I just had to mention this because its awesomeness is tip top.  the >>>Picture This<<< app! I love it. You can photograph any plant- be it flower, tree leaf, or small plant, and it will identify it by name.

We went on a hike at Raccoon Mountain and made all of these discoveries while walking. I seriously cannot wait to more hikes and discover more nature and botany. I plan to purchase nature journals for most of my kids for the Fall. I think this app is sure to help!

Yay! :)

linking up with Kelly


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Monthly Recap ~ vol. 55 ~ May 2018


The end of school is always a crazy time. We had graduations from Pre-K and Kindergarten and we are gearing up for homeschool in the fall. May in TN has been beautiful. We had a *very* mild spring and rather than complain (about how we went from winter to summer) I will just say I enjoyed all of the extra cool days this year.   I won't talk about how hot and humid it is now. haha.  LOVE rain though.


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

When I was in high school,  I remember my friend Susan musing, "Don't you wish you could go back in time and read Jane Eyre for the first time, again?" Never, ever forgot her saying that or the subsequent gushing.  I think this book is up there for me. The experience of reading it for the first time was like, "OH YAY.. tonight I get to read some more of that book." I was constantly eagerly anticipating reading it.  It did not disappoint in the least and I easily give it 5 stars.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was glad to finally read this.  Mixed reviews. I don't agree with Gilbert's worldview, but I think she is a good writer and has an insightful intelligence. Do I recommend the book or movie?  I mean, I'm glad I heard this story and the travels are exciting and inspiring.  That being said, her new age ideas have probably and will probably steer people wrong.  Be aware of the lurking evangelism underneath the exciting adventures.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

I had mixed feelings about this book. What if Monica Lewinsky changed her name and moved cities after the scandal, is kinda the premise of this book.  She milks the scandal element quite a bit. I mean, I would give this book 3 stars because it is a quick read, but it feels like a filler novel in Zevin's repertoire. Start with The Storied Life.

Rosie by Anne Lamott

Each time I read Lamott, I think, "Can this book really be as good as her other books? Probably not." But then by the end, I'm like... YEP YAY. Lamott has done it again. Despite salty language and extreme politics (not so much in this book though regarding the latter, but definitely the former), she is SO GOOD. Such a good writer. I think she is still standing at number one for favorite author.
FIVE stars.
riding bikes to the library!


The Good Place

Heard about this in the blogosphere and Kristen Bell stars.  I liked it! I could see why it only got one season, but on the other hand, I enjoyed almost every episode immensely and it had many genuinely funny and crack-up worthy moments.

Father Figures

I got this fast paced Owen Wilson comedy at the redbox and watched it alone. However, when I recapped it to Stephen, he said he wished he watched it with me. It really was so funny I was wiping tears.  Multiple times. Choo Choo train!  HAHAHA sooooo funny.

New Eyes Art lessons   this is my friend who has her own art lessons on youtube. it is a great channel, go subscribe! :)

May was also a good month for us in terms of "Live Art." We went to see Cirque du Soleil and saw Beach House in concert.


I am brewing and stewing and brainstorming about a post or a book or some type of thing concerning Kids + Summer...  I think we have something planned every week this Summer... travel, VBS, Camp(s), my sister's visit. It is going to be insanity. But fun insanity!

in the mean time:

Posts About Taking Care of Kids in the Summer:

Staycation 2.0- Tips and Tricks

{Interested in planning all the ins and outs of an awesome staycation with your kids? Look no farther!}

101 Things to Do This Summer, Besides Take a Cat Nap

{Brainstorm your way into Success; I guarantee this post has a ton of fodder for your own session :)}

Crafting Our Way Through Summer

{This has Summer-specific Crafts and Art, also explaining "art station"s so that the kids stay busy while you're doing the Craft of the Day}

Preparing Our Home For Summer Crafting and Art

{This Post is Very Helpful, as it has links to all of my supply lists for building a Craft Cabinet on a Dime!}

Just for Fun:

If you are on the fence about using instagram, or if you're in the market for photo-editing apps, I wrote a post about that and you can read it here:

How I Edit Photos (And Make Graphics) Using Apps on my iPhone

My New blog:

As I told ya'll I started an Arts and Crafts blog...... you can read my Embroidery post here.

Linking up with Leigh!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Teaching Self-Control to Children

Just popping in here because God has laid some things on my heart, and I thought it would be better to share than to pretend that this isn't going on.

Every time we go to the doctor, the kids are given a check-up, and I am given a form to fill out to give the doctor some idea of their development.

My Dad is a doctor, but the funny thing is, I have always been irked by "Physicals." What about have a Spiritual check-up?

The reason I am bothered by the concept of only checking the child's physical health (or even some woo-woo 'holistic' healthcare), is that I think certain concepts should be rote in a child's mind and heart by a certain age.

Your child is "Developmentally Delayed" if they do not understand the following concepts:

1.  Self-control

You know the one marshmallow now or two marshmallows later?  Our kids get a treat after Mass if they're good.  They have been known to hold the bag of candy all through Mass.  I don't think I would have been able to do that as a child, but I'm glad my children are learning how to sit still and kneel by going to weekly Mass.  Does your example of self-control rub off on your children? :)

2. Telling the truth

The conscience is the most important thing that develops in a child.  If they do not learn to tell the truth, and to let their conscience be their guide, they are emotionally immature.  A child must have a yearning for the truth at a very early age, or they are missing something essential in their make-up.

3. Patience

Children should learn to be calm, wait out a conversation if provoked, count to 10 if angry.  If impatience crops up again and again, or if anger gets a foothold, a priest may be seen for the casting out of demons. Counseling is always a good idea as well. (I have been to many counseling sessions- it is good for everyone!)

4. Sharing and Getting Along With Others

Your child may not be up to speed with peers if he or she is unable to take turns, be generous, kind and unselfish.

All in all, learning to wait with peace and joy and live life with the fruit of the Spirit is the best way to raise your children.  {Correct me if I'm wrong}

If your negative attitude is rubbing off on your children or the people around you, I strongly urge you to get counseling.  Your children are too precious to hinder in any way, most especially in this way.

If someone tries to tell you that you are immature, delayed, or behind in some way, don't let them bully you.  God judges the heart.  He sees what is inside.  I wish someone had told me that I would be bullied as a young Mom by other mothers who thought they had this parenting game figured out better than I do (Even mothers with children who are younger than mine).

"Do NOT let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith, and PURITY."  1 tim. 4:12

~God Bless~

Friday, May 25, 2018

How We Are Surviving the Summer So Far (Art camp, Pets, and General Insanity) 7QT


Art Stations

Today is the last day of school! We are gearing up for a fun Summer. I talked about doing art stations last Summer, but when I wrote that post it was "sort of" working, but not really.. I'm happy to report that with more practice (a little...) it is working very well for us now. We had been doing it slowly, and that's fun, but Frances had the idea to do it fast, and that was a lot of fun!  Don't worry about the kids doing art for a second then asking to move onto something else.... even though it says "fast" this will keep them busy with art for quite a while.

How Fast Stations works:

Make an example piece of art using multi-media. I used pens, markers, stickers, paint, and repurposed crayons.

Set up the stations for each type of media.  A station for pens, one for markers, one for stickers, one for paint, and one for repurposed crayons.  Have the kids use the same piece of paper, and rotate around the table, quickly adding decoration to their art using the art supplies from that station.

Ask them to think of their own version of "art stations." I'm sure there are a million ways to do this! ;)

Usually we do a main "craft of the day" and this time, it was melted crayons made into repurposed crayons using a regular ol' muffin tin! Easy peasy....

to make NEW crayons, out of old, peel paper, break up into pieces, spray muffin tin with cooking spray, and bake on 275 for 10 min. Let cool at least 10 min.  Remove.  To give your art that melty look, use a hairdryer! :)


Our new pet gerbil

We got a gerbil!  After the turtle fun we had over Spring Break, I realized how much entertainment a pet provides, so we were in the market for a pet.  I was worried because we do have two cats. With Summer coming I was willing to take a risk and I knew it would be a source of good fun entertainment from my own good experiences as a child. Considering that the kids were entertained for a solid 48 hours with petting, feeding, watching, and taking him for 'walks' in his hamster ball, I suppose I was right.

Copernicus- "Copper" was a good pet. BUT _-- this story is a bit sad, but it has a happy ending.  Suffice it to say.... YEAH, Hint hint it has something to do with cats.  We may or may have had a cat tip over the cage. Copper was gone for 24 hours but we found him under the oven and put him back.πŸΎπŸ˜‚

Our contractor Bob Demarco installing a 3rd story window

Renovation Progress

The painting of walls has commenced.  They installed windows as part of fire code. This photo was taken whilst I was trying to keep little people from walking anywhere near the ladder. Mostly my general insanity could be chalked up to our lack of storage space and the fact that we can't put any.thing. away without an attic and two closets. Brush? Random linens? Medicine? As I have mentioned.  They finally cleaned it out, though, and although it doesn't yet have a door, we were still able to utilize it for our bajillion and two bins of stuff-ola. :) But that doesn't mean that our other spaces are not filled to capacity with all of our junk that has yet to be rearranged with the attic being unfinished.

We now have to wait for Stephen's new closet to have shelves!  In the mean time, please don't ask me to do any extra chores. My life is waaaaaaay too complicated right now to stress about extra things. With painters in the way as extra guests as well as contractor, his assistant carpenter, etc. it is just still too cray cray for me to think straight, much less push myself in any capacity. I keep thinking about Anger (the character) in inside out and I mentally blow fumes out the top of my head as I ask myself over and over again all day long.... "where should I put this???"

By the way, change another dirty diaper!!!!! #wrath #gotoconfessiontacy

Reviving Ye Olde  Art Cabinet

We used up the last of the paint from our Spring Art Camp.  Every year my "art supply list on a dime"  changes a little bit, but that always depends on what we plan to make.  This year it holds:

-crayola tempera paint
-shaving cream
-sharpies and scented markers
-glitter glue
-paper- regular and cardstock
-popsicle sticks
-puff paint

Here's the eternal conundrum: Over-plan and then stress when you lose control (fail to plan, plan to fail) or fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, AKA let the Spirit lead ... and feel more peaceful, but by 4pm you are so frantic at the prospect of boredom that you breakdown mentally?

I vote Make a Plan. It's so much more fun that way, too.  Build into your schedule times to "let the spirit lead" and "practice the peaceful presence of Jesus" and you can have the best of both worlds.  (This is hypothetical of course).


Poetry and Drawing Books with Shakespeare

In preparation for homeschool, and inspired by Celeste Cruz, I loved this instagram from my friend Rochelle. (IRL) I am gearing up and hoping we will be doing some Shakespearean memorization combined with art this fall in our homeschool curriculum.

meanwhile this girly pie is full of silly humor and cuteness :0)


Playing Outside & Molly's veggie garden

Playing outside has been the biggest lifesaver for living life as a family of 8.  I can just say go to the front or back yard and the kids will find something to do, be it swimming, bug-hunting, or games.  Usually it is imagination games, but I have NOTHING wrong with that!  They are so much happier when we play outside. The best part is, I'm finally not pregnant, so I took Frances on a bike ride to the library and that was so much fun.  A sign of many to come, I"m sure!

Life hasn't been easy with a pre-toddler aka one-year-old and I'm feeling the middle-age burnout really deeply and probably semi- for the first time. It is so humbling.  BUT Molly has become quite the gardener, in spite of my failings! She is growing lettuce, morning glories, and radishes. Golly gee, I'm so proud of her. I mean look at what she can do. She could do anything!


My Reading Progress

Reading has been a wee bit slow this month.  I"ll talk more about that in monthly recap, but I'll just say this: every year before the MMD reading list comes out, I experience a dry spell. I can't tell you how eagerly I anticipate her reading suggestions for the Summer each year.  I finished two books, then I tried reading two of the books on my list for the month, but they were too slow. When I have some money saved up, I'm going to go buy everything on THE list.

linking up with Kelly