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 explore 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.

 

 

 

 

The Betrothed

Several years ago I requested to be taken by my parents to a Catholic bookstore for my birthday. Because I am cool like that. The bookstore was nearly an hour from our house so it was kind of an event. We went to Mass and ate kolaches and bought books. One of those books was Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed.

I did not read that book. 

I meant to read it, obviously, but you maybe know how that can go. I ended up clearing off my small bookshelf at some point and The Betrothed ended up in the pile of books to be given away.

About six or so months ago, I told Alex I had been seeing quotes from The Betrothed everywhere (Anthony Esolen seems like a big fan) and had decided to give it another go. 

“We pray to Thee also for the poor wretch who has brought us to this pass. We should be unworthy of Thy mercy, if we did not heartily beg it for him also, knowing how sorely he needs it…Have pity on him, O Lord; touch his heart, return him to Thy friendship, and grant him all the good things that we wish for ourselves.” – AM, The Betrothed

“Oh, you will love it,” my sweet husband said. “You should definitely read it.”

So I go it from the library. 

I did not love it.

I did not love the first chapter. Or the second. Or the third.

“Aaaaaalehhhhhx,” I moaned. “What in the actual world?!?”

Alex: “What do you mean you don’t like it? I thought you would love Fra Cristophoro!”

Me: “Who?”

Alex: “You haven’t even gotten to Fra Cristophoro? Well, you have to keep reading then.”

In the fourth chapter, which incidentally began on page seventy-freaking-five, you meet Fra Cristophoro. Finally.

Then I was interested. 

“One of the strangest faculties of the Christian religion, and one of the hardest to understand, is her power of giving direction and consolation to everyone who has recourse to her, in no matter what circumstances, at no matter what time…She is like a great road, which a man may find after wandering in the most tangled labyrinth, amid the most dangerous precipices, and once he has taken one stride along it, he can walk on safely and gladly, and be sure of a happy end to his journey.” – AM, The Betrothed

I got bogged down again when there was a lot of story without Fra Cristophoro.

“Aaaaaalehhhhhx,” I moaned.

Alex: “You have to keep going until you get to the Cardinal. You’ll love him.”

He was right. And after a few conversations of this nature, Alex ended up talking me through the whole book. All seven hundred and twenty pages. 

“How have you failed to reflect that there is One Who will infallibly give you courage when you ask Him for it? Do you believe that all the millions of martyrs who died for our faith had natural courage, or that they had no natural concern for their lives? All those young people…all those old men…all those maidens, wives, mothers…? Yet they all had courage, for courage was necessary, and they had faith.” – AM, The Betrothed

Alex: “Did you love it? Was it so wonderful?”

Me: “It was wonderful. But I don’t know if I loved it.”

Alex: “WHAT?!?”

Now, after a few weeks to mull it over, I have decided that I do love it. I have even decided that I would recommend it. I have further decided that since you may possibly (probably) need somebody to talk you through it like Alex did to me, I hereby volunteer myself.

“You must pray again for the divine grace that you prayed for in the beginning, to help you to be a holy wife. You must have faith that He will grant you that grace in even fuller measure. Love each other as fellow-travelers on that road, remembering that you must part some day, and hoping to be reunited later for all time.” -AM, The Betrothed 

It wasn’t always “fun” to read. But it was often achingly beautiful. It took me a while to get into it, but it stuck with me long after I put it down. I’ve found myself mulling it over as I did dishes, ran errands, drifted off to sleep. And I found that it drove home to my heart a truth I’ve known in my head my whole life: nothing is more extreme than God’s provision. Nothing is so terrible or evil or unthinkable that God in His wisdom and mercy cannot build a new road for us over the ruins of human interference. God not only makes all things new, He makes them beautiful. And if you need that truth to echo a little louder in your heart, nothing can repeat the message for you quite like The Betrothed.

Photo Dump

Martha said I needed to get back to blogging so…Hi, Mart. *kiss kiss*

I always have the very best of intentions about sticking to blogging schedules and then, LIFE. Which is no excuse I suppose, but when it comes to choosing between husband/baby time and homemaking stuffs versus bloggin’ the blog loses miserably Every. Single. Time. Maybe someday I will be better at balancing all my things like some of the lovely lady bloggers I know. 

For now, I thought I’d show you what it is we been up to. 

 

We hang out, me and the baby. We call it Smishin’. The reason why we call it that is not complicated. In the midst of the myriad nonsense my daughter and I babble to each other, I somehow came to call her Smish. This nickname stuck, for some mysterious reason. We now generally call her Smish. We use this word in various ways. If she’s being silly, we call her Smishy or tell her she’s being smishy. If she’s being crazy, we call her Smisha. (Pronounced Smeeesha, for your info). If you’re spending time with her doing any activity at all or no activity in particular, you’re Smishin’. I spend a very pleasurable amount of time Smishin’.

As an aside, one of the many benefits of Smishin’ is that whenever you have the opportunity to acquire Dollar Tree fairy wings or jumbo crayons, you should go for it because these things will benefit your life and generally improve the quality of your everyday activities.

On to more specific life events: the studly hubs took the week of our second anniversary off and swept me off my feet in the direction of the Magnolia Silos. I do not fangirl often but when I do, Joanna Gaines is probably involved. Or her shiplap or her subway tiles or her cotton bolls or…anyway.


We left early to get there, stopping in Austin for a cozy Central Market breakfast, where my cutie pies proceeded to ham it up for my ever-ready iPhone camera.


We arrived to Waco in not-exactly-good-because-traffic but also not-awful time, and after browsing the Magnolia market we hit up the bakery, Magnolia Flour.


Which is fabulous but also difficult, because you have to choose from a card and not a display, so I got a Cup o’ Jo cupcake and not a cinnamon roll. Once I saw the cinnamon roll AFTER ORDERING A CUPCAKE I felt like the cinnamon roll and I were star-crossed lovers, but the cupcake was an incredibly delightful consolation and in the end I forgave it for jumping off the menu card at me before the cinnamon roll and I had a chance to lock eyes.


We wandered around the grounds and ate from food trucks and ambled through the garden and took more pictures.


Adeline had many admirers who stopped to awkwardly observe this mini-shoot. Always entertaining.


As you can see from her sweet rosy cheeks, it was hot.

The next big event was going to Houston later that same week for a brief visit with my awesome-sauce family, and returning accompanied by the shining light of the Marty Party. 


With whom we had an outrageous amount of fun for four blissful days, during which we did many fabulous things, including eating great quantities of delicious food and pretending to talk on restaurant buzzers like cell phones.


Until she went back to work, leaving us utterly bereft of sunshine and happiness. 

Well, not quite. 

But it was a pretty close shave. 

After all these excitements there were some days of catching up, but we have now managed to settle back in to our “routine” and I am loving it. I relish my sweet, quiet days of making and doing and homey-ness. 

And Smishin’. Lots of Smishin’.