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

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