{JEI} Pets….or do chickens count?

Luckily no one has probably noticed, but my #write31days lasted, um, six days? Maybe? 

But moving on, I am here for the Thusday JEI linkup. (Although it is Saturday, but still in the same week, right?) And we’re talking about pets. 

1. Did you have a favourite pet when you were younger?

When I was a kid, we had rabbits and chickens; for food. One of the breeding rabbits was mine and I named her Nosy. I did love playing with the baby rabbits, but I wouldn’t say any of them were a favorite pet. 

First egg from our chickens.


2. Do you have pets now? If so, what?

Now, I have chickens again, for the eggs, and two cats. I always wanted a cat, and we got one about three months after we were married. But he doesn’t seem to like kids. After our second daughter started chasing him, he started doing his business on the floor from time to time. But after our third daughter was born this spring, he totally stopped using the litter box and started peeing on the kids toys. Soooo, he got chucked outside with our other, always outdoor cat. He seems much happier outside, and I’m definitely happier! 

And did I mention, his name is Mr. Chesterton? 

When he still lived inside. doesnt look too happy aboit the girls!


3. Have your kids eaten dog or cat food (either at your house or someone elseโ€™s)?

Oh yeah! It has always been hard to find a place for the cat food that wasn’t kid accessible, and they always eat it. But it was the dumping the cat’s water bowl on themselves that I always found more annoying. 

 

{JEI}: Welcome, Fall! Or….Can Trader Joes find anything else to make in a pumpkin flavor?

Virginia is so different in fall from upstate New York (where I grew up). It’s mid October  but still in the 70s, and the leave are barely beginning to change. Happily, there are still apples to pick and fresh cider here! There’s actually a lot I could say about fall, but here’s “Just Enough Info” for you. 

Apple picking!

 

1. Best fall flavor: apple or pumpkin?

Apple. As I said, it comes from growing up in New York apple country. I love crispy, sweet apples, hot cider with brandy, apple pie and apples and cheese (TJ toscano with cinnamon, mmm). 

I like pumpkin pie, and certain TJ pumpkin products, but not all of them. The pumpkin waffles and oatmeal are my favorites. (Yes, I love Trader Joes and was just there today ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

View from Shenandoah National Park last weekend. as you can see, the trees have hardly changed, even in the mountains.

2. The leaves are changing colors, and the air is crisp. What are you looking forward to about fall?

I like the cozy robes and soft blankets and wearing slippers. I’m glad to be done with the summer heat and humidity. I’ve also started drinking tea again, after just depending on coffee for the summer. I needed the caffeine but I only enjoy tea in the cool weather. 

And adorable fuzzies for the girls!


But fall has both good and bad for me. School starts for my teacher husband, and I started homeschooling this year. Our first daughter’s birthday to eternal life is September 19, and I kinda hate September. But there is also the yearly farm tour we enjoy, this year I went to Homecoming at my alma mater (which is just down the road) and then there’s getting ready for Thanksgiving and Gracie’s birthday in November. 

Rappahannock Farm Tour. The first farm had cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and dogs.

3. Do you decorate for the season (and which is it: fall or autumn?)


Here is the extent of my FALL decorating. Yes, I use fall. Autumn sounds too pretentious. I am adamantly against Halloween decor, although my husband likes it (shudder). But as I’m the one who decorated, I get to decide. 

Check out the other JEI linkups hosted at Sweeping Up Joy. 

31 Days of Travel {5 & 6}: Bahamas

Yesterday we went apple picking and last night I was too tired to write. C’est la vie. So as Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc in the Bahamas, I’ll write about two visits to a Bahama island, and ask you to say a prayer with me for those affected by this storm. 

1) Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos: December 2007

Beach-pool-Margaritaville. Basically, my favorite place. (Except Rome. But you know, for vacation ๐Ÿ˜‰  The first time I visited on a cruise, with my parents and sister. We did off shore snorkeling in the clear, warm water. Since we took a boat to a reef in the far side of the island, we were able to see how big the cruise ship is compared to the island. The ship rises far above the low island, and dominates the little jetty. 

After snorkeling we had Margaritas at Margaritaville (of course). The bartender told me, “I like to make them strong so the young ladies get tipsy!” Well I wasn’t exactly tipsy, but I fell fast asleep on the beach until it was time to go! 

2) Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos: February 2015

I went to Grand Turk again on my third cruise, but this time with parents, husband and two daughters (3 and 7 months then). Very different, but still awesome! This time, we played in the beach by the jetty and swam in the crystal clear water that is impossibly blue. Grace loved the large chess set on the beach, as well as the hammocks hung between the trees. 

We didn’t have drinks but we played in the Margaritaville pool, then this time, my girls fell asleep on the beach. Grace still asks when we will go on the “big boat” again. 

Gathering My Thoughts as October 2015 Begins {Throwback Thursday}

Outside my window:  Wet, cold, cloudy.  It’s been cloudy for the better part of two weeks (though the sun shined on the Pope when he was close by in D.C.!), and it’s been raining for six days straight.  I hope the sun comes out tomorrow, as I’m so tired of the dreariness.

  Listening to: Children’s toys playing little jingles, the dryer going (so my husband can have clean clothes for work tomorrow), daughter asking for ice-cream (although it’s about 60 degrees) and Bobby grading Latin tests.

Clothing myself in:  Yoga pants, college sweatshirt, warm slippers.  I’m not particularly happy about the cold weather arriving, but I do like my cozy clothes.   

Talking with my children about these books: The last time we went to the library we got out some books on autumn.   We’ve read Winter is Coming and It’s Fall!  Ironically, the leaves haven’t even started to change, but we’re talking about fall and Grace is looking forward to the snow. 

 In my own reading: Sadly, I haven’t read anything for quite awhile, except to try and squeeze in the daily readings and Blessed Is She meditation.  Oh, and do blog posts count?

Thinking and thinking: About being a better wife.  I feel like a read so much and seek so much encouragement for mothering, but don’t spend nearly enough time working on my primary vocation as a wife.

Pondering:  “Nothing great ever comes about without great desires.”

Carefully cultivating rhythm: Always working on this.  Right now, a consistent dinner, evening and bedtime routine has been my main focus. 

 Creating by hand: There doesn’t seem to be any time these days for myself.  Dishes, laundry, cleaning, and then reading, playing, crafting, going out with the girls fills up the day.  Maybe some things will be done for Christmas.  We’ll see.

Learning lessons in: Being little, entrusting myself to Mother Mary for the smallest needs of my day, because I just can’t do anything on my own.  Finding a balance of rest, work, prayer and time with the girls, and my husband.

Encouraging learning in: Crafts and working on writing letters.  Grace has begun to show a lot of interest in “craps” (crafts!) and will paint/glue/tape quite happily be herself.  We’ve been enjoying our once a week pre-school co-op, working through Catholic Icing, and I’ve been working on writing letters with her.  So exciting that she has begun to write!!

  Keeping house: It’s been hard.  I need to figure out some way to consistently keep the house straightened out, instead of needing to do major cleaning every week or two.  Just so discouraged by how big the house is, and how quickly every room because covered with toys on the floor.  Not sure how to contain them…

Crafting in the kitchen: Happily, I have been baking again, and enjoying autumn bounty.  We went apple picking last weekend, so there was apple pie.  I also made these yummy Pumpkin Pecan Scones and applesauce and more scones on in the future.  Time to start baking my own bread again, too.  

 To be fit and happy: So looking forward to getting back outside, after all this rain.  I’ve also really noticed lately how quiet, peaceful and beautiful it is to be at church for Mass.  Even with the kids, being at my beloved college chapel has lately been very calming to my soul.  I feel the need to prioritize daily Mass twice a week again, especially since 4:45 Mass is back, which is great when I miss 8:30 and 11:30.  Prayer with little kids around, especially ones who rarely nap simultaneously, isn’t easy.  But just being at church is so good for me, and probably them too. 

Giving thanks: For a snug house and warm clothes, and no flooding in the basement, despite all the rain.  Praying for the people down South who are dealing with such terrible flooding. 

 Loving the moments: Last weekend we attended our favorite Rappahannock Farm Tour, when farms and such all around Rappahannock county are open to the public.  This was our third year, and we revisited some old favorites, and checked out a few new places.  Some of the best moments were Grace’s first ride on a horse, Theresa playing in the apple orchard, taking fruit in and out of the baskets, the miniature donkeys and horses (so much cuteness!), and Grace feeding a goat.  We also saw miniature goats, including one that followed people around like a dog, nudging them to be pet, as well as two fluffy puppies who loved Theresa and kept licking and playing with her.  And to finish off the day, dinner at our favorite Griffin Tavern. 

 Living the liturgy: Mass, pizza for dinner, and reading about St. Therese accompanied her feast day.  And saying at least a decade of the Rosary every day as a family is my goal for October, and maybe it will establish a habit. 

 Planning for the week ahead: Hoping, hoping, the clouds will clear and the grass will dry out, and we can get outside!  Kids and mom are going crazy here!  Also, plans to visit friends, to get out of the house, and maybe something special for Our Lady of the Rosary.

31 Days of Travel {4}: Assisi

Today is the feast of St. Francis, so naturally I will write about Assisi, Italy. 

Assisi

I spent four days in Assisi, mostly on silent retreat. So I walked the cobblestone streets and visited all the holy sights in silent contemplation. Assisi is a medieval town. Built on a hill, with narrow streets and old stone buildings. At every corner there are spots from the lives of Francis, Clare and other Franciscans. 

Steep, narrow, conblestone streets! Positively Medieval!

The old church in the town contains the famous Life of St. Francis frescoes by Giotto, while the huge “newer” church in the valley contains the original chapel, the Porziuncola, of St. Francis. 

Basilica of St. Francis

Then there are the numerous other chapels and churches, like the convent of the Poor Clare’s and San Damiano. 

San Damiano


One of my favorite memories of my time in Assisi was during dinner at our hotel. There were 29 college students all eating in silence, and we took turns reading from the book “Little Flowers of St. Francis.” Now St. Francis was incredibly holy, but he was eccentric, and some of the stories about him are downright hilarious. So sometimes we would all laugh out loud, then get quiet again. The other diners would give us really strange looks!

Sunset from our hotel.

Assisi was a lot of uphill and downhill walking, but the views from above were amazing. 

Umbria. The whiteness is cloud in the valley.

So happy feast of St. Francis. 

One last picture. All photos were taken 11 years ago by me.

31 Days of Travel {3}: Prince Edward Island

When I was 17, our family drove north (from New York), up through Maine, to Prince Edward Island. I have always loved the Anne of Green Gables books, and this trip was very special. 

We stayed on the north shore, in Cavendish, where the Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery sites are located. We camped near the shore, although even in July the water was too cold for much swimming! Somewhere during the trip, I heard the island described as a place like jewels, emeralds, sapphires, rubies. And it is. Brilliant green hills, deep red sand ringing the shore, blue water glistening all around. On Prince Edwsrd Island, you’re never far from the sea. 

I remember visiting Green Gables and the Avonlea village recreation, where the books are recreated. We also visited the Lucy Maud Montgomery home. And in Charlottesville, we saw the Anne musical. I still have the soundtrack I bought then, and it was great fun. 

This trip I also experienced the biggest accident in all my travels. While running down a sandbank I tripped and twisted my ankle. So, the rest of the trip I hobbled around with crutches! 

But my enduring memory of Prince Edward Island is the beauty. The hills, the sea, the little farms and villages, unmarried by huge sprawling cities. A brilliant blue sky and dull red cliffs, that’s what has stayed with me. I understood why Anne and Montgomery loved this place. One day, I hope to return. 

31 Days of Travel {2}: Virginia Beach

I have vacationed in Virginia Beach since I was about six years old. But now, it’s the one beach we have most frequently been to with our girls, owing to very hospitable friends who have a beach house in Sandbridge. 


When I was younger, the book meant books, body surfing and building sand castles. Now, it means watching little girls play in the sand, endlessly running back and forth in the surf, and rare moments in the waves. Reading only happens if the kids nap. 

This summer, Sandbridge was the first beach we brought Cecilia to. She mostly slept. 

Another fun activity these days is exploring the channel behind our friends house, in their boat. This channel makes the area a sort of barrier island, and doesn’t flow into the ocean until North Carolina. Of course, we don’t go very far, but we all enjoy the boat rides!

We’re hoping to get to the beach one more time this fall. It won’t be hot, but the waves will still be soothing in their murmur and the breezes blowing fresh and salty. If ever I could live by the sea, this is where I’d choose.