7 Quick {Change} Takes

Linking up with Kelly this week to share a bit about our new home and all the changes that have taken place for us in the last four months!

1) New House.  We bought our first home in May.  It’s a four bedroom 2 bathroom ranch, with a partially finished basement.  The unfinished part of the basement has a large glass door that opens out to the backyard, and I have fixed it up as a school room.  The yard is sloped, but a large swing set came with the house, and there’s lots of room for the kids to play, so that was a huge selling point!  The tiny kitchen presents a challenge, but overall I like living in a smaller house with smaller rooms, because it is much easier to control the mess and keep it clean.  The third bedroom upstairs has also been a blessing, as we finally have a nursery and can better sleep train our youngest.


2) New town.  In order to be closer to my husband’s job, the new house is 70 miles from our old home, and we are in a new town.  We have visited here several times over the years, and are thrilled to live here now.  Fredericksburg is an old, historic Virginia town, Southern in tradition, and the sight of numerous Civil Wars battles.  At least once a week, we pass the large Confederate cemetery downtown.  While it has a small town feel, there a myriad of activities and stores and historic sites and playgrounds and pools.  We try to get out and explore a new place each week.


3) New parish.  Moving from a small “country” parish to one of the largest parishes in the diocese has been a positive and exciting experience.  There are dozens of activities, ministries, group and activities at church every week, four priests and two deacons, as well as a parish school.  The first event we attended (not including Mass which we of course started attending right away) was the parish picnic.  There were half a dozen bounce houses for the kids, craft beer on tap, live music, a magician, and tons of food and tents.  The kids were thrilled and Bobby and I were stunned (in a good way 😉  With the start of September I have been able to join a women’s Scripture Study, Grace has begun religious education classes once a week and we are exploring other ministries.  Liturgies with Latin is probably the one thing I miss most here, as well as silence during Communion.  All the priests are very reverent and homilies are good, but the choir always sings all through Communion on Sundays.


4) Grad school.  In July, my husband started a second Masters program in education, with a focus on becoming a Catholic school principal.  This meant he was gone for two weeks over the summer, and now works online several nights a week doing online courses.  He really seems to enjoy the new academic challenge, and I hope it opens doors for his career advancement.

5) Homeschool.  Although I’ve sporadically done preschool with Gracie for the last two years, this year I bought a real curriculum and intend to do kindergarten 3-4 days a week.  We are using the Catholic Heritage Curricula, and God willing, we will get through a whole year!  Although the school room is in our unfinished basement, I think it will work out well.


6) No job.  After frustrations and difficulties increased regarding my work-from-home job, and I knew I could not both homeschool and do this job, I quit in August.  Slowly, the stress and affronts of that job have faded, and I’ve realized that the constant feelings of failure and being overwhelmed have subsided.  I am struggling to find a good way to replace that lost income, but reveling in the freedom from a difficult boss.

7) New friends.  My overview of recent changes would not be complete without mentioning the new friends we have been meeting.  I have already met several lovely moms with kids of various ages, and look forward to getting to know them better.  Old friends reading this, I still miss you very much, and I hope you will come visit soon!

Everyday Gratitude: wk. 2

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings of this past week:

  • The week started with a “date” with Gracie.  We shopped for winter clothes at a kids’ consignment sale and went out for ice-cream.
  • My computer suddenly started acting strange, and I was sure it was dying and I would lose all my files.  After about five calls to the service center, and a call back from a level 2 technician, a fix was found that actually worked!  Considering my past computer issues, this seemed almost miraculous.
  • A visit with my sister and my niece and nephew.  We hung out in our pajamas, talked lots, and the kids played relatively well together.
  • Sis helped me do some more unpacking, purging, and organizing.  We now have a playroom cleaned and set up!
  • While Sis was here we enjoyed our last day out at a local pool, where Gracie is doing better and better at swimming confidently!
  • Cecilia talks more and more.  Recently, she started saying “thank you” when given something.  It’s so sweet!
  • I am grateful none of my friends were displaced by Hurricane Harvey, and hope to be able to help others less fortunate.
  • Had a “date” with Theresa too.  She came with me to drop of her aunt and cousins at the airport, and enjoyed the escalators and shuttles, and then we shopped at Trader Joe’s and had ice cream.
  • Our health.  I am so grateful no one has been sick this summer.
  • Unexpected messages from friends, and the prospect of seeing lots of dear college friends at 10 year homecoming next month!

Finally, thank you Lord for those things that are so hard to be grateful for; the crosses, trials, and difficulties of life:

  • Financial strains since I had to quit my job.
  • A very unexpected and untimely large bill.
  • The hole in the basement ceiling, which costs too much to fix anytime soon.
  • The unkindness and contempt of several people in the last few months.
  • The uncertainty of which job to pursue, what interests to cultivate, what charism to discern.


 

 

Everyday Gratitude: wk. 1

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thank you, dear Lord, for the many blessings recently received from your hands:

  • A few days of family vacation at the Outer Banks
  • Attendance, with my husband, at the Called and Gifted Conference, and the challenge to discern and use my gifts from You
  • Attendance the following weekend at the Catholic Women’s Blogging Conference;
  • Visit with my sister and nephew and niece, and more time with them this week!
  • For quitting a job that was draining my joy, energy, and time with my family
  • For a fast and painless car inspection at an auto body shop with a playground around the corner, where the kids could play while we waited
  • Resolution to a major computer problem; after I though my computer was dying and all my files lost, Microsoft Support actually helped me fix it!!!
  • More boxes unpacked and cabinets arranged
  • Important lost mail finally arrived
  • The excitement (and savings!) of the fall kids’ consignment sale
  • Cuddles and playtime with three sweet daughters
  • A summer of extra time with my husband before he returned to work last week
  • Sunshine on the ocean, pools to splash in on a hot day, cakes for birthdays, friends to chat with and clean water to drink
  • Daily Mass several times last week.

Amen.

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CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference {Recap}

This past Saturday I was privileged to attend, for the second year in a row, a blogging conference for Catholic women.  When my husband asked how the conference went, I gave him three highlights: there were drinks (mimosas and sangria), Mary Lenaburg told us to go to Confession, and Kelly Mantoan jumped on the trampoline!  But seriously, the weather was perfect, a miracle for late August in Virginia, and it was wonderful to connect with old and new friends.  Some of my favorite ladies (who also blog) were there to speak and participate.  Because the talks were so awesome, I’m just going to give a quick recap here, for my future reference.

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First, Elizabeth Foss gave the keynote.  She had many words of encouragement and advice, but here’s what struck me the most: be authentic and tell your own story, because you never know how God intends to use your words to reach other people. Even if I only write about little things in every day life, even if I seem very insignificant, my story, my witness, can bring others to Christ, although I probably won’t know it until Heaven.

Next up, Kelly Mantoan spoke about “finding your blogging mojito mojo.”  Decide why you are blogging, have a mission statement, and then be true to that.  When you don’t want to write, or you’re no longer enjoying blogging, go back to that and decide if your why has changed, or if you have to get back to it.  Kelly also mentioned an idea I was talking about during lunch, with our small group discussion.  A lovely lady at our table, Carey, asked why we read certain blogs or posts.  I responded that I find people whose stories I enjoy, and then read whatever they blog about.  Kelly mentioned this also, that a “niche” is not as important as writing well and being authentic.

The final talk was “Choosing Joy,” brought to us by Mary Lenaburg.  She offered five steps to choosing and living with joy, which were the most profound spiritual reflection I have heard in a long time.  I intend to type these up and remind myself of them every day, as I needed to hear this so much.

1) Go to Confession.
2) Prayer/conversation with God.
3) Learn what redemptive suffering is, then offer up my own.
4) Stay in the present moment and wait with patience.
5) Jesus, I trust in You.

Living this takes a lifetime of practice, but oh, to radiate true joy!  That would such a blessing!

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Found a picture of myself 🙂

Last, and very important, a heartfelt thanks to Ana Hahn for hosting this lovely event, and to Rosie Hill for various organizational details, including the beautiful vases of flowers all around.

Looking forward to next year!

 

 

 

 

 

My Sunday Best {2017}: New Dress on the Narrow Way

Sunshine after the rains! It’s a beautiful Sunday here in Virginia!  We were in Maryland visiting my in-laws, and we went to Mass at the church where Grace was baptized.  She was very excited to see the Baptismal Font where she became a member of the Body of Christ!  We took a picture, and in humility I decided to post it, since it didn’t turn out very well!  I’m wearing my favorite new LulaRoe dress!  Gracie wanted a picture of her too!

I don’t usually share a reflection on the Gospel and homily, but something really struck me this week.  The priest spoke on seeking the narrow way, searching for the pearl of great price, and not being distracted by the world (screens, sins, etc.)  And that Christ promises that when we seek, we will find.

However.

What about when we find the narrow way?  What about when we have sold everything to obtain the pearl of great price?  What then?

Then, we need to walk the narrow way, persevering through the brambles, rocks, hills, valleys, deserts, crossing rivers and get up again when we falter, stumble, fall.  We may hold the pearl of great price, but if we gave up much to obtain it, we have to figure out how to live with that loss of income, position, perhaps relationships or opportunities or favorite sins or failings.  Stepping onto the narrow way only begins the journey.

So often, it seems homilies just scratch the surface, inviting people to the seeking, to the searching, hoping to inspire an encounter with the person of Christ, or to open eyes to the very real encounter with Christ that will come just a little later at Mass, in the Eucharist.  Therefore, my conclusion, the reminder I needed, was that I need to take the initiate to cultivate, nurture, work on my Faith and relationship with Christ.  Sunday Mass, a brief homily, and prayers before meals should be a beginning.  Daily prayer, spiritual reading, retreats, study groups, Confession, Adoration, daily Mass; there are so many other ways I need to walk along the narrow way.   Every day, I need to seek, knock, ask for grace to live this life in Christ.

Several days late, but I’m joining Rosie this week for My Sunday Best.  Visit My Sunday Best, Volume 65: Old Favorites for more linkups!

It’s not at Mass, but here’s my favorite picture from this past Sunday, as we enjoyed the gorgeous weather at the splash pad!

My Sunday Best {2017}: New Church and Unplanned Haircuts

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Back to blogging!  My husband is away for two weeks, starting another Masters program with an intensive 6 credit session!  So, my evenings are free and what better way to get back into blogging than with a link-up!  Joining Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best, and hoping to post regularly again.  So I’m starting the weekly count again, although I have a few past posts in this category.

We moved seven weeks ago, and our new church is both great, and an adjustment!  The priests are all reverent and good homilists, but the church is more casual than our last parish, with no Latin.  Besides, we’d been going regularly to the Extraordinary Form Low Mass, which is very quiet, and I miss the silence.  Still, the parish is very large with lots of ministries, and I’m hopeful we will find the right groups to be involved with!  If by chance you read this and you go to St. Mary’s in Fredericksburg, I’d love to connect with you!

I have to give my daughter credit for finally getting a Sunday Best picture.  There are gorgeous flowering trees outside of church, as well as flower beds, and she asked to take a picture with the flowers.  You can’t really see them, but it was a cute picture of all us girls!  This skirt is the first LulaRoe I ever picked out, and I love it!  I think of it as my Lady of Guadalupe skirt, although it’s technically covered in flowers, not stars.

If you notice Theresa’s bangs look rather short, that’s because she decided to give herself a haircut this morning!

The trim I gave her looks a but silly, but I guess it fits her!

On a reflective note, the readings today reminded me of how I’m trying to plow, water, and rejuvenate the soil of my soul.  I’ve been reading a new book out called Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life.   Right now, for me, its amazing!  Just what a need to hear and reflect on and work on, in terms of seeking God’s will for my life and learning to cultivate and thrive in the life I’ve been given.  The author relies on a lot of garden analogies, and also says she learned many of these lessons from having a garden, and so today’s readings really spoke to me.

What I took away today was that I need, through God’s grace, to cultivate the soil of my soul and heart and mind to that it is the “good soil.”  And not only does the word need to fall on good soil, but the Word itself creates the good soil!  Finally, I loved what our pastor said about the harvest: the “hundredfold” harvest Christ speaks of is a miracle, more than those seeds would produce on their own.

Maybe I’ll write more about this book, definitely a new house post in the works!  Until next week!

 

Theresa Rose, age 3

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A beautiful smile.

Happy birthday to my Rosie Roo.  My precious third daughter turned three today, and I’m so proud of this sweet little girl.  She is different from her older and younger sisters, and its amazing to watch her and wonder what is going on in her little head.  Although she talked sooner and better than Grace, she is much more quiet and reflective.  I suspect she is partially melancholic.  For the first time, I think I understand why temperment books describe melancholic children as having “old souls.”  Often, she seems much older that just turned three, and she’s definitely more serious that her sisters.  But she also has a very silly, spunky side, and will run and jump (often on Daddy!) and laugh and giggle and give big hugs.


So far, Theresa has been our only child who resembles me.  Her brown eyes and hair and sweet pointed chin look a lot like me or my sister when we were little.  But her brown eyes are wide and clear, like her Daddy’s.  Theresa has always been the most independent little girl, playing well and happily by herself even before she could crawl.  She loves her baby dolls, blankets, and finding and gathering all sorts of things, then leaving them in piles around the house.  Her favorite drop spots being the middle of my kitchen and her bed.

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Dressed up and carrying a baby doll.

Theresa goes here and there around the house and yard, wandering around the yard or swinging by herself on the swing set.  When she visits other people’s houses, she often finds a spot by herself to play there too.  She can sit and amuse herself for hours, and has a short attention span for books, but she still will rarely sit still to watch TV or a movie.  I suspect she has her own world in her head, and doesn’t need to see one playing out on a screen.

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First haircut from Ms. Shoanna.

Theresa loves babies.  Whether she sees a picture, a baby in an advertisement, or whether we’re at the store, she will always spot the babies and want to go see them.  She is generally gentle with babies, and now that her own baby sister is big enough to play, loves hugging and coddling her.  Of course, she is a good mommy to her baby dolls, and loves putting them to bed, nursing them, and singing to them.

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Although Theresa likes to play by herself, she also spends a lot of time playing with her sisters.  They do argue and clash quite a bit, largely because Theresa has a hard time communicating to her big sister that she needs space, and because her little sister is always grabbing stuff.  However, many days Theresa and Grace will get busy playing together for long periods of time.  They love the swing set in the new backyard, and recently have been making “tents” in their bunk bed and in their playhouse, every day.  Yesterday I went outside, and was told they had a “stable” and Theresa was Joseph.  So I guessed Grace was Mother Mary and the doll was Baby Jesus.

This summer, there has been no doubt that Theresa loves the water! She enjoys jumping and splashing in the waves, playing in the sand, and walking out into the gentle surf.  At the pool, she prefers to not wear a floatie, even if it means dunking under and getting her head wet sometimes.  She likes jumping off  the side and going down little slides.  Happily, she has very little fear of the water and I wonder if she will learn to swim before Gracie (hope to get them both in swim lessons this fall).

Most of the time, Theresa is a great eater, and we call her the “stomach”!  If asked, she’ll say her favorite food is chocolate, but she also loves fruit and pasta, but will eat just about anything.  She will occasionally help with baking, and especially likes to lick spoons!  Sometimes, she will help sweep or clean up, but this takes a good bit of prompting.  Theresa is also a night owl.  While she hasn’t napped regularly in a year, she will still fall asleep in the car or when she is very tired.  But then, she can’t fall asleep.  Even on most nights, she takes awhile to toss and turn before drifting off, while Grace lays her head down and goes right to sleep.  Sometimes, Theresa will cover her bed with books she gets out to look at, probably falling asleep an hour after we leave her room.  On the flip side, she’s the only one who sleeps in!  If not woken up by a sister, Theresa will sleep until 8 or 9, and if she comes into bed with me, that’s the only time of day she is really snugly.IMG_5313

She communicates much better at this age than her older sister did, which has been wonderful for me to hear her little words and also be able to communicate better with her! I was very excited to be able to do the “Birthday Quiz” with Theresa, and actually get answers!  (Borrowed this from Rosie at A Blog for My Mom.)

1. What is your favorite color?    Rainbow.

2. What is your favorite toy?    Penguin, baby doll.

3. What is your favorite fruit?   Strawberries.

4. What is your favorite television show?   Tinkerbell.

5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?   Nut-ting! (Nothing) (Then she started answering nothing to everything, so we finished later 🙂

6. What is your favorite outfit?    The pink dress she is wearing, that she picked out this morning.

7. What is your favorite game?  Birthday.

8. What is your favorite snack?   Chocolate.

9. What is your favorite animal?  Cat.

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10. What is your favorite song?  *Vocalizes at a high pitch*

11. What is your favorite book?  Baby books.

12. Who is your best friend?  Daddy

13. What is your favorite cereal?  Joes Os

14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?  Play with her new water table.

15. What is your favorite drink?    Water.

16. What is your favorite holiday?  Easter.

17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?   Baby doll.

18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?   Joe-joes and oatmeal.

19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?   Nothing.

20. What do you want to be when you grow up?  Like Daddy.

Bonus: What’s your favorite vacation place?  Outside.

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Of all my children, Theresa sort of fascinates me the most.  I often wonder what she is thinking or pretending.  Although she looks like me, I think she is quite unlike me, and I hope that I can be a good mom to her and treat her with a great deal of love and understanding.  Because she is smart and quick and clever, its so easy to think of her as older that she actually is, and underneath her independence, I know she is also sensitive.  When she smiles, I see a dear, sweet soul, one who will hopefully grow into a beautiful and smart girl.  I love you, my daughter.

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