Friday, April 27, 2018

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

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

On Writing


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

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

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



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

I'm loving Twitter lately.

On Sex and Marriage


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

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

Catholicism for this reason alone rocks in my humble opinion.

On Music


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Getting Ready for Mass


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

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

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

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

"Or maybe you could start the night before."

And my thought, after further reflection was:

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

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

"But maybe you could start the night before."

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

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

**Bonus Take**


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

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

I will leave you with this blessing.

linking up with Kelly

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Eleven Years of Easter Memories

I've been posting our Easter memories every year for ... eleven years!  I love seeing the kids grow, and I love observing the additions as we go thru the years! ;-) This is worth it just to see Molly's little smile and wrinkled-up nose as a toddler, and to see how fast our family has grown! Enjoy! :)
Year One: Annapolis, MD
Molly was born in January so she was still a tiny 3 month old munchkin for her first Easter. I remember my Mom sending us this dress.
Year Two: Annapolis, MD
This was our cute apartment near the Naval Academy. Molly was 15 months and my parents came to visit! I don't know why but for some reason I didn't get a picture of her Easter dress that year (although I know we went to church on Easter Sunday) ;-).

Year Three: Annapolis, MD
I remember carefully cropping out her brown shoes because I didn't have time to buy white ones. Molly was 2! I loved that dress, though haha. 
Year Four: Annapolis, MD
Stephen's parents and his sister and her kids came to visit us for Easter. Molly was 3 and Frances (not pictured) was 6 months old. Stephen's Mom Sandy was helping the kids dye Easter eggs.

Year Five: Hyattsville, MD (Washington D.C.)
Molly was 4 and Frances was 18 months. I remember going to the Dollar Store to buy those tiny Easter baskets!

Year Six: Tennessee
Our first year in our "new" house.... Madeleine's first Easter! She was about 11 months old.

Year Seven: Tennessee 
This is at our parish. Anders was about 8 months, Madeleine almost 2, Frances 3, Molly 6.

Year Eight: Tennessee
Molly 7, Frances 4, Madeleine 2, Anders 1

Year Nine: Tennessee
Molly 8, Frances 5, Madeleine 3, Anders 2, Annabel 9 months

Year Ten: Tennessee
ages: Molly 9, Frances 6, Madeleine 4, Anders 3, Annabel 1

Year Eleven: Tennessee
ages: Molly 10, Frances 7, Madeleine 5, Anders 4, Annabel 2, Conrad 10 months

(Also of note: Conrad WAS wearing a bow-tie but you can hardly see it hahaha) ;-)

A lot of people ask me exactly how close together our kids are. The answer:
Molly + Frances > 2 years, 10 months apart
Frances + Madeleine > 19 months apart
Madeleine + Anders>  14 months apart
Anders + Annabel > 2 years, 1 month (25 months) apart
Annabel + Conrad > 20 months apart

The space between Madeleine and Anders, as you can imagine, was the hardest and most stressful scenario. I still remember my shock that they were barely missing coming under the radar for Irish twins. When we found out he was a  boy, we were so shocked but it made all of the suffering so worth it because we were all thrilled and ecstatic. Enough rambling, I know! :)
God bless and see you next year. Haha. :)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Our Spring Break in 7QT

time away

What a refreshing way to spend a week- a free vacay in my parents' cabin on the TN river. This was our view. We saw turtles (1), birds of all varieties, bugs, a huge scorpion, fish, several varieties of butterflies, trees, and flowers.

easter art camp

For art camp this year we did Potato Stamping easter eggs, an egg wreath with washi tape, egg crowns, bunny ears, rock painting, and lots of other random crafts. Consider the craftapalooza for this year's Easter done and done. :)

husband and wife getaway

After spending a week on the TN river with our kids over their spring break, Stephen and I got away from it all by spending the weekend after SB at a KOA campground in Decatur, AL.  It was so fun and just the breath of fresh air I needed. Sadly, the high was 39 degrees while there so we were perpetually freezing. I can't really complain though because staying in a cabin is basically glamping. And I can't think of a better recipe for >>reading 24/7<< than cold weather!!! :)
the kids' absolute favorite treat to make themselves- cotton top cones using cotton candy! (Kids seriously love these!)

homemade robin's nests... we melted the peeps because otherwise GAG 

Conrad... I have never seen him so happy :0) 😘

easter treats to eat!

So far: banana splits, peep s'mores dip, oreos, cotton top cones, homemade robin nests!  View all of our art camp activities and treats on my Pinterest board Art Camp and Holidays (Mostly Easter)! And of course we have been eating lots of nutritious meals and a balanced diet, that goes without saying!

my grandma's funeral

Right smack dab in the middle of the first Easter week, we remembered my grandma's life in nashville. It has been so hard saying goodbye to my grandma. Thankfully, what softens the blow is the beautiful family that stood as testament to the heritage of God's love and his grace.  She had 17 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Here are some attendees from her funeral. Molly, Conrad, and my nephew Aiden.


All of that time driving and camping/glamping last week gave me plenty of time to read. I had mixed feelings about this book. SOCIAL MEDIA interruption reeeeeeal quick: I spoke more about it on instagram stories (I have all of my books reviews saved/highlighted to my profile) so follow me there if you don't already. I"m @tacywb. Come see if I'm being 100% honest about my tech addiction -- or not! :) #noguilt #haha #screentime or #noscreentime

easter sunday!

I'm going to crank out my easter post soon enough. In the mean time, enjoy this little peek at our kids on easter morning!

for further reading: our decision to homeschool our kids next year

Happy Eastertide! (I feel like an ad for a cheesy laundry detergent commercial... why?!)
God bless!
Linking up with Kelly

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pouring My Heart Out About Homeschooling

A few years ago, I wrote this about becoming Catholic:

I feel like if I stay silent about the things that matter most to me,  am I allowing myself to be held hostage by fear? Finding a way to write about it is definitely preferable, from where I'm standing. Finding a way to speak my thoughts is better. But ever, I write. And I have to write about what is important to me, be it motherhood, wifehood, my interests, or my faith. Because I have learned from the past that saying something about prayer is better than saying nothing about prayer. And so, I speak.

I felt the very real tension between honesty and pleasing others.  To me, fear was still a huge determining factor in what I wrote about, particularly and especially concerning Catholicism.  I never, ever wanted to toe the line of "too challenging" or "too offensive."  I didn't want to open up for pangs of nothing more than "Fear itself," and more than that, just because opening up, pouring out something straight from the depths of my heart, seemed offensive in some way.

Unfortunately, this brought me to a very lonely place in my life and in my blogging.  I was living proof that fear of rejection (for the sake of being cool) can hold us hostage, and we're never able to fully bloom without the truth. It led me to this place: What is the point of saying anything at all if we're speaking under false pretenses, or the knowledge that the "heart" isn't in it? That leads me even further, to the question spoken by Pilate to Jesus: "What is truth?"  Without truth, we might be bearing false witness. And... we're on the precipice of veritas?!

The truth is, vulnerability is the closest thing to the truth. And also? The truth is that my heart is re-falling in love with "homeschooling" and in specifically, all told, Classical Unschooling.

The pro's are many, the con's are becoming fewer, and I'm left with a huge mountain of considerations, when all is said and done.  If you feel like someone just sandblasted you and now your hair is flying behind you in a sticky mess, then you know something of how I feel after going from zero to full throttle about homeschooling during 40 days' time.  Because yes, it was during the season of Lent that Stephen and I began praying about the option of homeschooling our kids next year.  After days of fasting, days of seeking the Lord's will, and MANY days of discussion with Stephen (around and around and around) we have so much clarity.  This issue is in my heart in a three-fold layer:  vocation, our hopes vs. our fears, and finally approach to learning.


First, let's talk about vocation.  Pam Barnhill said in episode 28 of The Schole Sisters podcast, "Children somehow are doing this 'education is a life' are doing this anyway, and then school messes it up. It's instinctual- like the way they learn naturally- and then some forms of schooling come along and muck it up a little bit." Very literally, if I become a homeschooling Mama, my vocation will change. I'm not just a party-throwing, van-driving, poop-wiping Mama.  I'll be an educator. (And I don't want to mess that up!) I'll be a lesson-planner, a pre-reader, a Bible-memory-leader, a nature journaler, a motivator.  I want to be sure I'm setting the example that education is an atmosphere, a life.... but I also do not want to raise kids who can't be prepared, on time, and finished with lessons, which is something I fear of homeschooling.

Hopes vs. Fears

Homeschooling  has wonderful and plentiful PRO's-- it is cheaper, we could be more independent, we could travel more.  Homeschooling and "unschooling" is an approach I associate with more creative and inspired learning. We can take a retreat from normal methods, read more, play more, recover more (!!!!) from various outings and agendas.  We can become involved in the co-op at our parish which in turn, means new friendships and new opportunities and outings.

As for the con's.... is it all romaticized? The first thing that comes to mind is long days, being cooped up in the house despite winter, doldrums, and tantrums. I fear losing touch with school and all that goes with that- criss cross applesauce, parties, people, schedules, routines, and the stability that comes with the whole system of Catholic schooling.

What if our kids fall behind?! What if they don't learn to read well?! Or at all?!  To me, mediocre homeschooling is not an option. In fact, after the rigor we have experienced and tasted at Catholic school, poor homeschooling terrifies me.  Bad school is better than terrible homeschooling and mediocre scholarship is better than not learning much at all... that is, no mastery of lessons and worse, feeling uninspired and hopeless at the end of the day. (RIGHT?!)  In my humble (or maybe not - so- humble!) opinion, homeschooling needs to be not only an inspiring, creative experience. It must also be rigorous, serious, and fruitful.

The other huge consideration is my mental illness and my history with breakdowns.  I'm extremely sensitive and I've been hurt by friends and family in the past.  I have suffered with intolerable cruelty, pangs of inadequacy, and waves of rejection and self-doubt.  I have bowed down under the temptation to self-hatred. Hopelessness has become a constant companion.  My ability to "rise above" gets harder as I get older and face the struggles of life.

So, what about that?! What about Stephen? His place in the home? His place in the homeschool room? Stephen got his masters in Classics and Liberal arts from St. John's college. He is planning to help teach. Recently I have gone off anti-depressants, but I'm still taking anti-anxiety meds. What about that?

And what about all of the other fears? Legalism? Prison sentence? Indoctrination? Squashing their dreams or exasperating them? What if I become exasperated? What if I lose my temper -- daily?  Surely I would not be an adequate homeschooling Mama. I'm an introverted, short-tempered, feeling, Enneagram seven. I don't even know Greek. Or Latin.  How is that even remotely an option???


Approach to Learning 

On the one hand, being a genius is of course an intimidating requirement! I have to be myself. I have to know what that is. (I have limits. I have never read Aquinas, but Stephen has... I've read Dante and Shakespeare. The list goes on.... for both sides...) But it quite frankly depresses me when I read about the oft-mentioned approach to homeschooling that champions the other extreme: "taking it easy" and being "restful" and you know the whole taking-today-off because IT! DOESN'T! MATTER!  Just do a puzzle!! Really, guys.  A sticker book maybe? Shake a tambourine? Take the whole day off?

I like the ideal that homeschooling is and should be refreshing. We hold dear the philosophy of having minds inspired to higher things, yada yada. We believe in classic, living literature. We believe books have power insofar as they bring out the life in the youngster. We  believe in an education of distinction and worth. Sooooo, taking it too easy and just going for a daily 'nature walk'? I think and fear that for me, the other extreme comes from a place of sloth.  I don't like the lazy in me, at all, so all told, I don't give that attitude room in my heart or soul.  I don't want my kids falling behind, just because I want to do something such as sleep in, take a day off, or because I don't have the heart to discipline. What if I must face the big issues, such as taking away screens from a child or children for an entire week. (AGH) I can't fear laying down the law- in order to do math. Or reading. Or whatever needs to be done. If it needs to be done, then do it because put simply, it just needs to be done! My approach in a nutshell, is that the results should feel deeply fruitful. Our kids can and should (must!) learn how to learn, do the work, and grow spiritually and intellectually, in measurable amounts.

No I am not everything. But, then I come back to the perks.  After spending an entire Lent in prayer, the Holy Spirit drags me back to the perks, and they've become undeniable. It would have to be a rigorous, meritorious, Catholic education of the highest caliber.  But now, I feel the hope in my spirit. The wings of hope have dampered down my fears, and now I can't say it's impossible, because simply? It feels so. right.

God help us, we're becoming a homeschooling family. In the Fall. (!!!)