Ordinary Time

I’m currently staring at an unfolded load of laundry and two plastic sacks of baby boy clothes. This is not normal conditions  for my ability to write a blog post, or to think straight at all (clutter makes me semi-non-functional). However, sometimes when a thought stews a long long while in your mind and finally crystallizes itself, even clutter can’t slow it down.

We packed up our Christmas stuffs the day before yesterday, and as usual, it had me all kinds of sappy introspective. Normally I get pretty melancholy over boxing my beloved twinkle lights, but this year I felt ready. Ready for normal to return. Ready for ordinary.

One of the things I love most about the Church is the liturgical calendar – the rhythms of feast and fast and fortitude-in-between are so soothing to me. I can’t say I’ve ever particularly looked forward to Ordinary Time before. Isn’t that just what we do while we wait for the Next Big Thing? Excuse me, Mama Church, but…booooring.

Not this year. 

This year I was craving it. Not bored by it. Not dreading it. Craving it. 

Why?

We got a big year comin’ up here, folks. My little set of people and I, we got a big year. 

Most of you know by now about our April baby being a boy. A boy! Good grief. What do you do with a boy? I have a girl, and I always felt like I knew what to do with her. I’m a girl. I know what girls are like. But a BOY…I was a little freaked out about this until I recalled two important facts:

  1. Easy. I grow him, I give birth to him, I nurse him and cuddle him and sniff his iddy widdy widdle newborn yummy head, and then I plot my next move while inhaling the intoxicating scent of fresh baby. Yum.
  2. Better yet, I do all the above BUT I leave the plotting of moves to the studly genius I married, who is expert in boys and I will therefore simply follow all his advice. This is after all why I married him.  One reason why, anyway. One of many, many, many reasons: to replicate his amazingness as many times as possible. Having a baby boy is therefore a most excellent idea. Good job on that, God. 
  3. This is more than two facts but the first two reminded me – just pray a lot. This has worked for every saint ever and so it is a good plan for me. The end.

Still, after all this, a boy is still a boy and different and exciting as he is, DIFFERENT. New. Not my ordinary. 

Not yet.

The end of 2016 felt like revving up to 2017. It felt like a whirlwind and looking back on it, it seems like a whirlwind. For example, we sort-of-last-minute took a week-long road trip to Tennessee.


Which is a breath-taking place in November, I must say. And since it was kinda sudden, we had several friends looking surprised and asking, “Tennessee? What for?”

At the time we mostly said we were just taking advantage of Alex’s work vacation, which was partly true. The rest of true being: it was a scouting expedition. 

He got a job offer.

A really lovely one. A looks-like-a-perfect-fit kind of one. 

So we went to check it out, up close and personal like.

Also not my ordinary: living anywhere besides Texas. 

For reals, you guys, I am fifth-generation hard-core Texan. When I got married and moved to San Antonio it seemed like a major departure from normal to not be on the Gulf Coast. 

Tennessee is a lot to wrap my head around. 

Because we took the job. 

I say “we” because that’s how my sweet, sweet husband constantly viewed the whole process. He didn’t let his eye get caught by the bling of a sparkly new job that seemed custom-made for his (incredibly impressive) skill set. “Do WE want this?” he asked over and over. “Will this be a good fit for US? Is this what WE have in mind for our family? Do WE hear God calling our family to this place?”

Girls, marry yourself one of those. 

We did. We did hear God calling us to that place. To a tiny, rural corner of Northwest Tennessee. (I am not even kidding about rural you guys, I have no idea where the closest Target is and we don’t even have a stoplight.)

You know what? I freaked out. I did. I freaked out good. But now with a few months of thinking about it under my belt, a lot of praying, the dearest of husbands, and a good good Father liberally sprinkling Morning Prayer with the most reassuring of Psalms, I’m getting excited. Slowly but surely. All you need is a great family, a God with big ideas, and a spirit of adventure, right? 

I just need to work on my spirit of adventure. But we’re getting there. 

I’m thinking Ordinary Time is the perfect time to do just that: get there. To the next thing. 

Not so boring after all. 

The Annual Advent Spaz

I emerge from my blogging retirement to talk to you about my third-favorite subject. (Second being my completely perfect children, first being the major-brilliant totally-awesome arm-candy Man I Married.)

Third being Advent.


YOU GUYS. I luuuuv it so muuuuch.

In spite of my undying fandom of Advent, I will now attempt to write like an Actual Adult. 

Confession: not to spark a major controversy here or anything, but I actually really like seeing Christmas thingies appearing everywhere. I like it a super lot. I wander around gleefully ogling aisle upon aisle of glittering red and green stuffs, and I’m not particular about where. Well, okay, maybe slight preference to Hobby Lobby, (okay maybe major preference to Hobby Lobby) but I am not above something like the HEB Christmas section either. This is partly because I hate nasty Halloween creeper mask thingies and crap (sorry, Mom) hanging around everywhere and I SHOULD BE ABLE TO GO TO COSTCO WTHOUT A SPECIAL TRIP AROUND THE CACKLING WTCHES THAT FREAK MY TODDLER OUT and I am so glad they are GONE and replaced by all the pretty things and also partly because I! Love! Advent!

Oh, right, I was going to be an Actual Adult. 

Now that I’ve alienated half my meager readership by an appreciation for Christmas being out before Thansgiving and also hating on Halloween.

I’ve started lining up some activities and devotionals for my own personal most wonderful time of the year, and it occurred to me that if anybody else was looking around now might be a good time to start planning ahead. So I’ll share with the class like I know what’s up with Advent. I don’t, but I am a professional fan, so, there is that. 

Advent Calendar 2016

November 27th – First Sunday of Advent

  • We’ll start our Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath this day. This year Christmas Day is a Sunday, which means four full, complete, perfect weeks of Advent. If you don’t already have a Jesse Tree set, I definitely recommend looking around as there are loads of beautiful options. My mama bought and laminated this set I’m not sure how long ago, and it is still my favorite one out there. However, we use one I got free with my Waiting in the Word Scripture Study last year. It was a printable coloring set for children, and since my kiddo was 6 months old and didn’t care, I printed them out on purple cardstock and painted them with gold leaf and a darker purple. They turned out to be fairly grown-up looking and are working well for right now. Alex reads us the accompanying Sripture verses for each evening and we hang our ornament and light our candle/s and it was wondrous last year. 

December 1st – St. Edmund Campion

  • Working on this one, but I LOVE THIS SAINT and I always wish I had thought of something to do. Maybe this is the year…

December 5th and 6th – St. Nicholas day

  • What we do instead of Santa Claus on Christmas Day. I grew up with this tradition and loved it. We put shoes out by the fireplace on the evening of the 5th, then they are filled with presents the next morning, on his feast day. My mom had a movie about St. Nicholas that we watched and we had parties and cookie decorating and it was super fabulous. My mom was always so good at these things. I aspire to her awesomeness.

December 8th – The Immaculate Conception

  • HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION. Anybody have good ideas to celebrate Mama Mary after we go to Mass?

December 11th – Gaudete Sunday

  • Or, as you may know it, The Pink Sunday! (For the record: it’s rose.) We have worked on ironing out our Christmas traditions since we were married, and while we previously attempted saving our Christmas Tree for Christmas Eve, that got gnarly and unworkable. Read: you maybe cannot find a tree on Christmas Eve. We decided this year, we’ll go for the tree on this Rejoicing Sunday, bring it home, but not decorate it…yet.

December 12th – Our Lady of Guadalupe

  • Mama Mary again! I am working on making this a good celebration in our little family, but I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas and this feast day is a big freaking deal. Maybe this year is the year I nail it. 

December 13th – Santa Lucia

  • !!!!! I love this one. We started this last year with Adeline and I’ve been looking forward to it since December 14th of last year. We dress her in a fairly-traditional Santa Lucia costume, minus the candles on her head, invite some friends over for a small dessert party, and turn on the Christmas lights! Last year that meant our apartment patio, this year it will include our otherwise-undecorated Christmas tree. Since her name means “light”, it seems like an appropriate way to celebrate. I think her costume may actually become Adeline’s St. Nicholas day gift. 

December 24th – Christmas Eve

  • Decorate the Tree! Maybe help decorate the Church! Maybe make it to Midnight Mass!  Maybe do all the things! Maybe get sick like last year! The possibilities are endless. *wink wink*

Did I miss any big days? What about you?  Any big ideas for the pleasantest penitential season in the liturgical year?

Sunday Stroll

We’ve been trying to cut back on screen time around here. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes not. One of the things we like doing when we’re succeeding at this is to take little evening saunters around our neighborhood. All the rain lately has really cooled things off and yesterday it was so pleasant…the breeze even felt vaguely (dare I say it) autumnal.

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Ha ha. Don’t worry, Texas, I know you’re only teasing.

My sweet peeps are so much fun. They always seem to be so entertained with one another. For example: Alex gave Miss A one of these little purple Dr. Seuss flowers and she didn’t seem to be sure if she liked it or not.

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But they made friends.

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I used to offer to bring the backpack or the stroller for these walks, but Alex always said no, he wanted to carry her.

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And she always wants to be carried by him, so it works out well.

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They’re usually chatting away about something. He hands her things and she considers them, and tells us her thoughts in baby babble. Sometimes her thoughts are very serious.

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That actually just makes it funnier, usually. Daddy is very good at keeping a straight face, though. The two of them just melt my heart.

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I get so much fun out of imagining how she’ll remember him when she’s older and looking back on her childhood…he makes everything so exciting. They don’t just walk under the tree that hasn’t been trimmed, they bravely plunge in to exploreΒ the untamed suburbian wilds.

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He’s always telling her how sweet and delightful she is, even when she’s being silly.

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I can’t help feeling she’s going to see her childhood as one long adventure with a Daddy like this.

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She’s always a pretty bold little lady, but I love how especially brave she gets when he’s around.

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I think she knows he’s right there, and she can be fearless because when he is, nothing can touch her.

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Miscellany

1. I’m always so surprised when I wake up thinking, “I have so much to do!” And then then baby actually sleep long enough for me to make a dent in my list. We’ll see how far we get here.  It’s 7:45am and I feel so alarmingly productive I think she will be forced to wake up in an impossible mood so that nothing else happens all day except whatever she happens to have in mind. The mamas know what I’m talkin’ about.

2. One of our longtime family friends did the sweetest thing and sent Adeline a fun NASA shirt. 


This is not only adorable but also kind of sentimental, because most of the sweethearting Alex and I did took place in that part of the world. He used to joke about how much money the guys sitting in the jets at the entrance must make (they’re mannequins in model planes.) He still does it when we go back to visit and the first times he did it I thought he actually thought they were real people and now he thinks it’s funny to remind me.


So I get a kick out of this little cutie pie tee because it reminds me what a funny charmer this kid’s daddy is.


We put a little knot in the back because Lisa brilliantly sent a few sizes up, which means Miss A will be rockin’ this awesomeness for a nice long time. Those NASA people clearly know what’s up. I think it’s just too cute and Adeline loves it. Winner.

3. I love putting Adeline’s hair up. Adeline loves pulling her hair out. If I see her do it, she immediately makes this shocked face like, “I have no idea what happened, Mom, it just EXPLODED whaaaaaaaat.” I actually managed to capture this face with a grainy iPhone snap and it’s my blog and I think it’s hilarious so I will now inflict it on you.


You’re welcome.

4. Back in January, Alex and I used our Goodreads apps to set “Reading Goals” for 2016. I dreamt big (real big) and punched in 30. Thirty books. I just finished #16, so…I’m behind. I blame The Betrothed. I just got all the Penderwicks books from the library though and I think that will give me a good boost. They’re technically children’s books but I heard them recommended so I am…checking them out for Adeline. They remind me a lot of Canadian Summer and the other Mitchell books, if you’re familiar with those. 

5. I do also read actual adult books. I just finished Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, which I was in line for on the library app for about six months. Worth the wait. It’s a WWII novel, so there are some brutal moments, HOWEVER Doerr isn’t gratuitous with his violence. I think overall, I’d recommend it for fellow adults. His writing is gorgeous.

6. They let us take flowers from the arrangements at Grandmama’s funeral and besides the massive blooming bouquet of stock in shades of purple on my table, I’m really enjoying this sweet little bunch.


It reminds me a lot of the kinds of things Grandmama and I used to arrange with random stuff from her yard. Makes me smile.

7. Baby’s awake. TTFN.

My Mama’s Mama


She used to be a runner. I remember seeing pictures of her doing races. More than the pictures, though, I remember how she’d take the race t-shirts and turn them into bric brac edged nightgowns for my sisters and I. They were such cool nightgowns. One of them was from a Schlotzky’s run and amidst all the sponsors it said: “Run Your Bunz Off.” I think I must have been six, and reading this aloud to our four- and three-year-old sisters was frowned upon, adding much to our general hilarity. I can easily imagine why my parents would prefer not to have four giggling small girls repeating that phrase at who knows what random awkward moment, even now it makes me want to giggle.

About that same age, I lost my first tooth. Grandmama happened to be visiting us, which was a really good thing because the dental loss turned out to be a traumatic event. My prized loose tooth got swallowed without me even realizing it while eating noodles for lunch.  I was heartbroken. Grandmama and Maureen teamed up to assure me that the tooth fairy would not abandon me in spite of my inability to produce the goods. Grandmama cut a tiny tooth out of white cardstock, and Maureen wrote an explanatory note. The dollar arrived duly the next morning, and for several years Grandmama assured me that the tooth fairy put the paper article to good use. 

We loved her visiting when we were little – she traveled a lot and she had this red case with all her makeup. She’d let us crowd in the doorway or perch on the counter and watch her get ready in the morning. I remember liking the smell of all her pretty things and the funny things she’d say to entertain us as we observed the great event. 


She also let us help sort her vitamins – she had this fantastic vitamin container with a twisting top and we’d twist around to the different sections and she’d say, “Two greens. One tiny brown. Two white.”  And so on until we collected the whole array, upon which she would swallow them all in one gulp. I was always deeply impressed by this strong-minded efficiency. I still can’t swallow more than two.

In the years before she died, Parkinson’s changed her hands. I remember when Mom told me Grandmama wouldn’t be able to do anything that required coordinating her hands movements together. I looked at Mom blankly and said,”But what is she going to do?” Because she was always doing something. She was a gardener, with the best tomatoes you ever tasted in your life. Even at our Farmer’s Market I can’t find tomatoes that taste “right” to me. She was a maker: blackberry jam from the bags full of foraged berries I brought her, cross-stitched masterpieces of angels in golden thread, a long medieval gown in drapey black fabric when I was thirteen and wanted to dress up as Eowyn for the Lord of the Rings premiere.  


Always doing something with her hands, or showing me how to do something with mine. She’d put things in my hands – the papery skins of ground cherries, the bumpy boll of cotton from the side of the highway, the prickly giant sunflower head she hung in the trees so we could watch the birds eat the seeds out, the smooth pebbles of her driveway when she found one with a hole through it, the lavender satin of a pillowcase she embroidered with my initial, the piles of fabric she kept folded so carefully. She taught me to get the heft and feel of something and think about how to use as it lay there waiting in my fingers.

We used to take turns during the summer to go spend a week with her. “Bring me a list,” she’d say. We’d stop at the Wal-Mart before her house and get the necessary supplies: potato wedges, Klondike bars, and whatever caught our fancy in the craft section. We made pajamas, waffles, tea parties, expeditions to bookstores and museums and caves.  I found a corner in the woods on her property and called it my hideout, she got me two ferns and some plastic furniture to dress it up. Whatever I currently wanted my future career to be, she found a way to encourage. When I wanted to be a journalist she got me a how-to book. When I wanted to be a florist she’d take me on long walks, help me find every different flower, and then cheer me on as I arranged blooms in every spare jar she had. I loved seeing how her collection of heirloom dolls grew with every visit. She let me assign names and remembered them. But she also helped me make my own dolls. Every summer I’d have a new one to try. The pioneer doll, the wooden spool doll, the fairy dolls, the sock doll, the mop doll, the corn husk doll. 


When we were little, she’d read us the Wizard of Oz during her visits. My mom gave me that book a while back and as I turned the pages I could hear her voice saying the words. I loved the way she said “Kansas” and “Toto” and “Emerald.” They all sounded so round and real. The first summer I stayed with her she got me a giant book of fairy tales and wrote a note in it for me every summer I stayed with her after that. She’d read to me every night to help me fall asleep. 

Our shared genes gave me her nose, her cheekbones, her stubbornness, and her inability to consistently use measuring utensils while cooking. (“Eyeballing” always works better.) I got her love of kombucha, though I told her in no uncertain terms that if my kombucha ever grew mushrooms like her kombucha, I was not eating them and I didn’t care how good for you they were. She just smirked. 

Gardener. Maker of Things. Goer and Doer. Supporter. Cheerleader. 

Grandmama.

Monday Musings

Several of you have already seen from my family’s posts that my mom’s mother, Grandmama, passed away on Sunday.

This got me thinking about a lot of different things – I made notes on all of them but I’m waiting for the right moment to write an actual piece. I have lots and lots of sparkling Grandmama-made memories, and I’m pretty eager to get everything set down, not just for me but for Adeline to have someday. I also happen to think all of you may enjoy seeing a record of some of my memories of the delightful lady, because she was a very fun person. 

It being a rainy Monday today, it’s pretty introspective around here. I have bone broth simmering, my teapot brewing, my lamp is lit and all my window shades open. I love rain. It even says so on my bookshelf, and I will show you with the grainy iPad because the laptop needed to show you with my camera is at work with my studly husband.


I love having quiet, homey days when it’s raining. 


We just got back from Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption. Adeline wore a little onesie with stars on it, because in the first reading it talks about the crown of twelve stars. I didn’t  actually know that was the first reading when I was dressing her, I was thinking of Our Lady being the Star of Sea. I guess my guardian angel worked it all out though. So, that’s my shot at liturgical living for the day. 

With school starting up for Alex and all the great feast days lately, we’ve been having many cozy chats about what we want education and liturgical living to look like for our little family. I’ve been reading a few different books lately, but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Charlotte Mason and her approach. Based on my reading so far she seems to articulate beautifully what I’d hope for and encompass the whole approach I wasn’t sure existed. 


I’ve been reading When Children Love to Learn and I’m never quite ready to put it down when it’s time for doing the next thing. For example:

“If we want our children to stay hungry for knowledge, remain interested and questioning, enjoy the wonder of discovery, then we must leave them some clutter-free hours for friendship, the great out-of-doors, the rich world of imagination, and the satisfaction of the skilled use of art supplies, music, dance, wood, and clay. Charlotte mason tells us rightly that we should see that this is the birthright of a child, just as a plant should have soil, sun, and water. We must not quench the joy of living.” – SSM, When Children Love to Learn


“Clutter-free hours.” So much yes. This reminds me of what I remember loving most about being homeschooled, and what I feel like my mom did so well for us. I think it’s such a gift for our kids not be too over-burdened with activities and “stuff.” Which will, of course, look different for each child in each family, but…goals. 

Besides having my nose stuck in that book I’m working on meal-planning (starting our second Whole30 on Saturday, I’m so looking forward to it) and Latin-learning, at least until the baby wakes up from her currently-very-sound-sleeps. After a fiasco trying to get chicken in the crockpot this morning, the day appears to be smoothing out. 

Dawning of a New Era

Well, folks – something spectacular has happened.

I was given a camera.

That looks so calm all typed out, but in person you would see I am FUHrEaKiNg out about this. Beside myself. Having fits. Totally blissed. My sweet sweet friend gave me this incredible anniversary present and I. Am. Psyched. A real camera. A gorgeous, hefty, actual Nikon. Smitten, is what I am.

What this means for all of you is more of your favorite thing about this blog, just in bigger brighter higher resolution than previously known through the iPhone:

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This is Miss A, showing you how she feels about not being able to go on our back porch. We’re on the second floor and the bars of the railing are so far apart she could slip right through. Hence, mommy nightmares and panic and BABYGATE.

Yesterday, though, I got brave and decided to line the railing with chairs to buy her a little time for a get-dirty-fun-project. I set everything up very carefully and lifted her over the baby gate.

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She was in shock. She sat there staring at dirt and pots and everything in disbelief until the “project” was pretty much done. Then she stuck her little fist right into the pot. Then she rubbed a handful of soil right onto her little face.

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After that she was pretty into it.

One of the most fun things about parenthood is how everything can be Just! So! Exciting! Nobody even gets to judge you for it, and if they do judge you then you get to be judgey to them like, dude, I’m with my kid.
Exciting. And Miss A was aaaall about the back porch once she smeared on her soil-y war paint. She was impressed by her custom-made barrier of chairs.

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She was chatting about everything.

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She wanted to touch all the leaves (and roots, but we drew the line there) of Daddy’s potted plants.

dirt7The amount of dirt she was able to get her fingers into seemed like it was pretty satisfying to her.

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Watching the traffic turned out to be fairly enjoyable, as well.

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You can imagine what she felt when I told her it was time to head in.

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So, Adeline got to dig in dirt and Mommy got to revel in being a for-real-legit-camera-owning paparazza.

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A good time was had by all.