Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Musings: Thankfulness

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

I struggle with gratefulness.  It's not that I'm not thankful, it's that I don't always take the time to really consider the blessings that God heaps upon my head.  I get through thanking God for my husband, my kid, my family, my faith, my house, my husband's job, the car.....and then it's a little

I work with teenagers at church.  They drive me crazy.  They make me want to pull my hair out.  But I love them.  And just when I want to smack them upside the head (I don't), they say something really profound.  One of my teens once said,  

"Imagine that all of the things that you did not thank God for today, were gone tomorrow."

.... and suddenly, my "umms, errs, and hmmms" become "I'm thankful for the screws that hold my house together, and I'm thankful for the roads, I'm thankful for our yard, my church, stores, kind people, turkeys, holidays, sushi, jeans, pajama pants, dogs, grass, clouds.....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ A Matthan Post

We've been pretty busy around here.  Not super busy where I can really complain about being busy, but busy enough where I realized, while looking over recent pictures, that the only thing I've taken the time to photograph is Matthan... 

... I'm sure that you'll forgive me.


We've had some beautiful fall weather that has allowed us to get outside in the afternoon sun and play.  I have to say, I totally understand hibernation and would really support a movement for human hibernation if anyone wants to start it.  But for the sake of my little guy, I force myself out into the sunshine.

Redneck slide

Such a pretty smile

I text a picture to my sister or The Hubs every now and then, but sometimes Matthan blocks me out of the picture.


I've heard several times that if you give a kid a present, they will play with the box and wrapping.  But if you make the box the present ...

My little guy is still content with his books.  His little outfit makes me happy.

I should write a book entitled "How to Entertain Your One-Year-Old".  It would go something like this:  1.  Place a paper clip in an old film canister  2.  Your child is now entertained.  All day.


Look out ladies, my son does the best duck face around! 

Last week I noticed that the letter magnets were looking a little scarce.  The alphabet was only containing about ten letters.  When I got down on the floor to play with Matthan, I noticed something funny looking under the fridge.  I stuck our yard stick under the fridge, and about 2/3 of an alphabet came shooting out ... along with a lot of nasty dirt.  


Matthan is growing up so fast.  He is learning new words every day.  He had his first scissor haircut (we trimmed the mullet with clippers before his first birthday). 

Baby Signing Time + cheerios = sitting still...for the moment

I'm blown away by how much he is learning and interacting with us.  I savor getting to watch him accomplish each bit of development.  He is a such a ball of joy for us.  Pictures and videos do not do him justice.  It is all bittersweet though.  I mean, I don't want to carry my child to his first college class, but can't I freeze him at this stage for a few more years?

round button chicken

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Musings (vol. 9): G.K., Ramsey, and Sundays...

... i.e. Part 1 of something with an unknown amount of total parts at this time.

"Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly."  ~ G. K. Chesterton

Ages ago, I read a blog post about making Sundays a day of rest.  And then I forgot about it.

Some of you know that we have been on a "keeping Sunday holy kick" around here (for anyone new around here (Welcome!) you can read more about this here, here, here, and here).  Recently, I stumbled on that blog post again (mentioned above), and in it, the author says, that if you make Sundays a day of rest "you will see God's blessings showering on you and your family".  And so, I want to share with you where this journey has taken us... the struggles... and the blessings.

All journeys have a beginning.  And a few months ago, when we decided to start being intentional about Sundays, we were suffering from roommate-itis.  The three of us had many days where we went about our business in a parallel manner, but never really intersecting.  Sure, the usual duties were getting accomplished, but we weren't really connecting.  I would be playing with Matthan, and be too quick to answer a phone call or post a cute picture of Matthan on Facebook.  We would be at dinner, and one of us would be too quick to look something up on our phone and then get distracted by emails.... Matthan especially needs to work on this (insert sarcasm sign here).  There was a lack of intentional time being spent and a lack of meaningful conversations being had.  We were missing each other, sort of passing each other like roommates.  We weren't fully engaged with or fully present to the other two.


There are several things that we have discussed changing or improving in our family, but we have had little progress and many failed attempts.  It is in my nature to want to do something perfectly the first time.  And when I fail (because, Hello!, I'm not perfect), I wallow and decide that it can't be obtained so it's not worth doing.  Here's where G. K. and Ramsey come in.

I found this G.K. Chesterton quote: "Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.", and I felt like I had been set free!!  I needed someone to give me permission to try...and to fail.  And to try again.    This quote has had a profound effect on me (maybe I'll write about that at some point...).  Now I've never read Dave Ramsey's book (books?), but I have been told of his method of having people pay off debt starting with the smallest debts and working their way up to the biggest debts.  I argued with someone that this idea did not make sense to me because it seemed like people would pay more money in the long run because of interest building up on the bigger amounts of money (pretend that my argument sounded really eloquent and I used a lot of large financial words, okay?).  But I was told that it's more about the small accomplishment and the feeling of success with the little debts that help people work towards paying off the bigger debts.  And that is a concept that can be applied to our lives in general (I could write a blog post about just this idea... I might).  

So, while there were several things that we wanted to change in our family, I kept coming across the concept of keeping Sunday holy in the things that I was reading and listening to, and decided to follow this prompting, even if it meant doing it badly.  I took a deep breath, let go of my perfectionist tendencies, and decided to go where I had gone and failed before (changing something in our family), and decided to start small.  I really really wanted to rush it and strive for all the ways that I had in mind to make Sundays holy for our family... but again, I had to start small.  With the big picture of what we wanted in mind, The Hubs and I discussed what one thing we could change that was 1. something that we could change now, in this stage of life, 2. a truly attainable goal,  3. would make an almost instant impact.

And that is how we decided on putting up the cell phones on Sunday.  Have I failed?  Yep.  Have I given up?  Nope!!  One small step for our family, one huge flippin'-ly-ginormous mega step for me and the development of my perseverance!!

Stay tuned for Part 2.

"I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  ~Thomas A. Edison

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes (vol. 7) ~ Exploding Pressure Cookers and "Oh-wee-oh"

My husband is a DIY type of guy.  He has made his own camping stoves, freezer bag meals, pasta, and a bread bag for me to hold homemade bread...just to name a few.  He is currently working on making his own flies for fly fishing.

He is convinced that there are few things that he can't learn off of YouTube.  And almost all things have gone really well.  (The bread bag didn't work super great, but that wasn't to his lack of skill in making it).  As a wife to a DIY guy, when he tells me that he's going to make/build/fix something himself, I simply respond with a nonchalant "ok" having full trust that he knows what he's doing, will figure out how to do it, or bring in someone that knows how to do it if he finds he's in over his head.

So the other day* when he approached me and said "I think I want to build a pressure cooker", he was surprised when I responded with an emphatic "No!".  I think he questioned me about my answer with something like "It can't be that hard to make one" to which I replied "NO!  Good, factory-made pressure cookers can explode.  You're not messing with a homemade one!"  He wasn't totally convinced.  And in case you're not either, I support my claim with YouTube.

(the real action happens at second 27)

He never made the pressure cooker.

Speaking of DIY... our office/art studio (sounds cooler than craft room?) is currently taken over with dead animal furs and feathers.  The Hubs is tying his own flies which means I have to view dead rabbit head furs on his desk.  There is also bright-colored and sometimes glittery threads and beads that go along with this project..... and boys make fun of us for our craft stuff.  Sheesh.

Notice YouTube on the iPad

My dad treated us to a day at Rock Ranch this past weekend (thanks Dad!).  I was hoping to have a full post up this week about it, but a certain sister, eckhem, has yet to consolidate her photos with mine in Dropbox.  So here is a sneak preview.

Matthan, Grandpa Jim, Lailey, Aunt Sarah, Maddox

I've been searching for quick recipes that I can make on Sundays so that I can spend more time with my boys and less time in the kitchen.  This one was super yummy.  Combine bread, mozzarella cheese, pesto, and tomatoes for a very scrumptious sandwich.  If you want to put it over the top, broil the tomatoes (sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper first) for a few minutes on each side.  I highly recommend this step.

Matthan amazes me every day with a new trick or a new word.  His newest word is "bunny", although it comes out "nunny" most of the time.


Our fish, Guido, gets fed on a regular schedule now because Matthan reminds us by saying his name "oh-wee-oh-wee-oh", sometimes shortened to "oh-wee-oh" and signing "fish" and pointing to Guido's bowl.

Public Service Announcement:  If any of your material goods, especially your machines, make an odd noise, record the noise so that you can play it back for the repairman who thinks you're crazy when you try to describe the noise.

In a matter of a week, our immersion blender died, our toilet broke (quick $1, easy fix), and our washing machine broke (not quick, not $1, not easy fix).

Ever wanted to know what the inside of your washer looks like?

Last week the washer started making some slamming/sluggish/"kuh-CHUGG-ing" noises (that last one is a technical term in case you didn't know). Then, on Thursday night of last week it proceeded to make a screaming/screeching noise that made me question whether to call a washer repairman to fix it or our priest to come perform an exorcism on it.

the culprit

Of course it died with a load of diapers in it.  You learn the value of friendship when you have friends on call in case you need to use their washer for dirty diaper loads.  So almost a week and several greenbacks later, we're back in business.

Gutted and wash basin flipped upside-down

~ Quotables ~

Me:  "Matthan!  GoooooooOOOO DAWGS!  Sic 'em!  Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!   Woof!"
Matthan:  "Puppy!!"

Me:  "So, how long do you think you're going to grow your beard this time?"
Tim:  "'Til I can throw it over my shoulder like a continental soldier."

Happy Friday Everyone!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

*"the other day" in my blog world could have meant any amount of time ago within the last five years.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Musings (vol. 8): Obligation

The word "obligation" carries a negative connotation with it in the modern American usage.  It brings to mind taxes, bills, middle-of-the-night feedings, or other tasks that bring about a groan.  Washing dishes also comes to mind (anybody with me on this?).  

Okay, okay, washing dishes does not technically fall under the proper definition of "obligation" (as in the one I found on the internet):

"noun  1. an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment."

One of the things that irked me when I was learning about the Catholic faith were the Holy Days of Obligation.    

Just so we're clear, a Holy Day of Obligation is a feast day on which Catholics are obligated to go to mass and refrain from any work or activity that hinders the worship owed to God.  An example is the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, or more commonly known as Christmas.

I don't like being told what to do, or that I have to do something.  

Holy Days of Obligation are part of the Sunday obligation (Catholics are obligated to go to mass on Sundays).  There are weekends where we're very busy and I wake up on Sunday not wanting to go to mass.  I groan about having to get myself ready and dress and feed my toddler and get our family to church at a set time, while kicking myself for not packing the diaper bag the night before.  Not to mention toddlers have a knack for pooping as you're about to walk out the door to get to anywhere with a set time (How do they do this?).  I admit, there are Sundays where I make it to mass simply because I'm obligated.  

But, there are Sundays where I make it to mass despite the hinderances because I love God and I yearn to please Him.  I'm free from the obligation because I'm doing it for the relationship.  

I dug a little deeper into the word "obligation".  Since the 1560's, the main modern meaning of the word "oblige" is "to make (someone) indebted by conferring a benefit or kindness"

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, so that everyone that believes in him, might not perish but might have eternal life."  John 3:16

I'd say that God has conferred a great kindness upon me, and that I'm indebted to Him.  

I still groan sometimes about getting to mass on Holy Days of Obligation, and those are the days that the obligation feels like a heavy weight.  And I use to argue that those days had no meaning.  That there was no meaning in me simply going out of obligation, going through the motions; that it was all just ritualistic (as if rituals are a bad thing, a topic for another day).  But there is meaning.  And usually, it is those days that I need to go the most.  That my heart and attitude clearly need adjustment, and when I "just show up", God always meets me where I am.

There are some days where just showing up is all I can muster.  But what I've learned is that the just showing up can be the most important choice of my day.  And it is a choice.  While I am morally obligated to get to mass if I am able, no one is holding a gun to my head forcing me to go.  It is still my choice whether or not I go.  And although it is small, and God deserves better, it is in that small choice to just show up, that I'm saying "yes" to God.  And He can use that.  In even the smallest of ways I'm choosing to turn my heart to God when I could have said no to Him and just stayed in bed.

And I continue going through the motions until I get to those days when I go out of love, out of my relationship with God, out of gratefulness for what my Lord has done for me.  And I do not bear the weight of the obligation.  In fact, I am thankful for it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes (vol. 6) ~ A Busy Week, Ole' Bessie, and Lavender Chickens

Do you remember the day where you decided to feed your child lunch before heading to the grocery store, and the shopping trip was quick and easy, and you didn't have to call your very wise sister-in-law (who knows where everything is in the grocery store) in a panic because you actually found the beans-that-no-one-has-ever-heard-of-but-is-in-your-recipe, and she didn't have to advise you to get and open a toddler snack and feed your poor squirming child (and to make sure you remember to pay for said snack), and you didn't leave the store with 1/3 of your list not taken care of because you found everything and the store had everything you needed, and you left without a big giant tension headache???

Yeah... me neither.

While "I finally went to the grocery store" is safely under the category of "Nobody Cares", it is simply a symptom of trying to recover from the previous week and weekend.  Which was all awesome and fun, but when we (and by we, I mean The Hubs) don't go shopping on the weekend, the whole week just seems to fall apart.  But like I said, nobody cares, so moving on to tell you about all the great things that have kept us busy.  I have a few pics from the weekend that I managed to snap on my phone sprinkled into this post.  So, I'm not leaving you completely picture-less...just "picture may not apply to the said quick take".  Got it?

On the front porch of the cabin

The first item on the agenda of last week was a mommy group...hosted by me.  For anyone that knows me well, knows that this was a big deal.  It was me trying to get over the combination of my introverted-awkward-at-small-talk-ness and hospitality anxiety in one fell swoop.  And you know what?  It was really fun and went off without a hitch...eckhem...except for me tripping over my friend's one-month-old baby*... but MOVING ON!

Denise and Jacquie in the hammock

The next item immediately following the mommy group was a dinner with friends.  We hosted it at our house for the ease of being able to put Matthan to bed.  A dinner of homemade fried rice and spring rolls was made by our friend and we were supposed to eat at 6:30, then it got pushed to 7:00 then I think we ate somewhere around 8:30 (after the guys got back from a cigar run), and the movie we were supposed to watch didn't get watched because we were having too much chatting and catching up.  It was awesome!  And the food was great!

Jill, Marissa, Matthan, and Sarah - terrible picture by me

Last week, Matthan and I traveled two hours (one way) to see a friend and her girls.  Of course, I didn't realize that it took two hours when I committed to going, but it was worth it.  We chatted, and made pancakes for lunch for the kids, and got to see their lavender chicken and the largest swarm of lady bugs I've ever seen.

Matthan and Jacquie

A friend of mine had planned a girl's getaway weekend up in Helen for this past weekend...which of course fell on the same weekend as our youth group's guy's retreat that Tim was chaperoning.  So, the girl's getaway weekend turned into girls + Matthan.

The cabin was up this crazy 3 mile, steep road on the side of the mountain.  Ole' Bessie** made it.  It was gorgeous!  I got to hang out with amazing women, eat delicious food, and sit by a fire.  The women just loved all over Matthan.  He charmed every single one.

We went for a walk down the road and enjoyed the gorgeous weather...until it started to rain.  Jacquie, Matthan, and I immediately turned around to head back.  A nice couple in an SUV picked us up and dropped us off at the driveway.  When we hit the driveway (this was no ordinary driveway, imagine the most intense painful cardio workout up a steep, steep, STEEP hill), it had started to hail.  Jacquie, who was carrying Matthan, wisely left me in her dust and got him inside while I huffed and puffed it up to the cabin.

Back porch of cabin

Matthan had a grand 'ole time because everyone let him play with their iPhones and iPads.  There supposedly wasn't any internet but he ended up posting "s" on someone's Facebook profile.  This started a slew of responses from her Facebook friends all trying to guess what the "s" meant.  LOL.

It has been a busy but wonderful week of great friends and good conversation.

Me and My Little Man

Happy Friday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!  At least click over there and watch the video on her 7th take; you will not be disappointed.  If you are, you can leave your disappointment in my comments section.

*No babies were harmed during the writing of this blog post
**After owning my one-and-only car for several years, it was finally dubbed "Ole Bessie" by a friend this weekend

Thursday, November 7, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} - Pictures From A Real Camera

I know I've been a little quiet over here in our corner of the internet, but between technical difficulties and a very busy week, I just haven't been able to keep up.  And since my growing boy likes to eat multiple times a day, the posting had to take a backseat.  But I'm back!  At least for today... no promises... still recovering from the last week... as in, I need to go to the grocery store... but I'm setting that aside for my adoring blog fans (all five of you).  Check in tomorrow for the few pictures that I managed to snap over the last week....if I get to it.  But, I told you that I was attempting to learn how to use our camera and to venture out from the world of taking pictures with my phone, so here are some of the promised pictures.  


There is a cold chill in the air here that's bringing the promise of apple cider, blankets, sweaters, and my favorite liturgical season (can anyone guess which one?  Anyone?).  I love the fall colors, but I do start to miss the pretty plants that are all dying away.  The Hubs brought me this yesterday.  It is supposed to continue blooming through the winter (you know, if I don't kill it).  

A gift from The Hubs

This was another gift from The Hubs from several months ago.  It was all dead and gone, but the surge of rain we had revived it and it just perked back up.  Please ignore the overgrowth and weeds around it... again... we know I do not have the gardening skill....yet.


I think that I have finally decided that fall is my favorite season.  I've always wanted to decorate for fall, and so I finally bought a few little things at a farm we were visiting.  I played with the spots of sunlight coming in the window. 

Fall decorations

I suppose that this picture doesn't need an explanation as to why it is under the "happy" category.  I love our wedding cake topper and purchased it with the intent of using it as a decoration.  It has survived every move, and the moment that I put it up in our new place, that place immediately feels like home.  Unfortunately, I got "delete-happy" and accidentally deleted the really good shot that was in focus with good lighting, so here's what was left.

Matthan's enthusiasm for books has not wained.  A coworker gave a whole bag of books and puzzles to Tim for Matthan.  I didn't even give them to Matthan, he just dragged them out of the bag himself and I found him like this.  :)

My little reader

Fall is definitely upon us and our yard is covered in leaves.  The nest (bottom left) is a mourning dove nest, I'm pretty sure, but it is currently abandoned.  I really hope they come back.


My boy is eating the equivalent of grown-up sized meals and is back to sleeping twice a day.  I think somebody is growing.  


Ah...weeds...and lack of TLC for the garden beds.  One day this will become a priority... one day... but not today.

More evidence of my sad gardening skills.  I've heard you're supposed to water your plants... I think that I need to take this to heart.

With our busy schedule and overall lack of time to just keep up with the every day duties, the painting that I had been working on has fallen down on the priority list.  At this rate, it may not be finished until after the new year, but I'll get back to it eventually.  

Until then, I'm content with the dishes in the sink, the laundry building up, and the weeds that taunt me, because I've got a Little Man and a Big Man who care little about my homemaking inadequacies but care a lot that I shower them with hugs and smiles.  I'm a lucky woman.  

Hope you liked my amateur attempts at photography with a real camera!

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round button chicken