Gathering my thoughts on the cusp of summer

Outside my window:  Virginia is in full bloom. And it is utterly breathtaking.


Listening to: the sounds of the orthodontist’s office on a very crowded morning. Wow. A lot of people here. Let’s see how well I can filter out the competing noises.


Clothing myself in: White shirt. Bright blue (borrowed) capris. I have a lot of white shirts. Actually, almost all my shirts are white. I love them. However. Big sigh. I have nearly nothing to wear. I stopped running regularly around mid-March. Then there was some sort of thyroid storm. The combination was lethal. As in none of my clothes fit. For me, this is a hard reality. I’m super sensitive about body image. Back out to run. Early and often. When no one’s watching, because it's not going to be pretty.

Talking with my children about these books:  I’m kind of holding my breath. Nick has moments to go before he’s depleted all the Percy Jackson stories. And I know there will be mourning. I think back to the books that have become beloved for my kids. Michael loved Redwall—all of them. Both of those series are amazing audio books. Redwall is read by the author who wrote it originally for his radio show. Christian loved Harry Potter. Patrick is still waiting to fall in love with a book and is still a reluctant reader. But we know that once upon a time, Anne made an impact on him. Mary Beth first fell in love with The Penderwicks. Stephen’s favorite series was also Harry Potter. The Harry Potter fan club is curious considering Michael's adamant opposition to it. Katie would rather listen to Adventures in Odyssey than read. Karoline is a Shakespeare fan. It’s hilarious to hear an 8-year-old drop the Bard into everyday conversations. (She has some of these books memorized. I'm surprised to see they're only available from third-party sellers. Snatch them up; you won't be sorry!). 

In my own reading: Every year, when I go to the garden store near our house, I take these books off the shelves. They are nestled next to books about  herbs (that's a really good one). Tom DeBaggio founded this store. When my big kids were little, he’d come out and chat with them while I browsed the lavender plants. He’d teach them a thing or two about plants (or about airplanes, depending on the day and what struck his fancy). He was always very kind. His son is rather brusque with the kids, but Tom never was. Those were the early days of his journey with Alzheimers. Without fail, each spring, I pick up his books, which are memoirs of his time with the disease. And then I put them back. I like remembering him my way. The other reality is not so pretty. This year, though, I picked up a book, put it back, and then went back later and picked it up again. Kristin noticed the second time.

            “I have that book,” she said. “I own it.”

I guess this is the year that I will read it. 


Thinking and thinking: Last week, after I posted these pictures, Jen asked on Facebook, "Do you have so much fun with your life? I mean, I'm sure it's not always great, but you must wake up sometimes and be like, "I love my life". So much love and joy!"

To which I replied, "There are times when I do, but in all honesty they are often embedded in times of just plain hard. These pictures are fun and the night *was* fun, but some things to remember: I was coming off some extreme logistical (and emotional) nightmares (for about 8 weeks). I spent the day in the ER with Katie and it wasn't fun at all. These pictures were taken in the middle of the night. I stayed up until 4:30 and got up again at 6:30. The day that followed this night was yuck. Also, my husband was home for this night. He was not home the week before it or the week after it...My point is that it is fun and I do love this life, but it's not all moonlight and movies;-). Another thing that comes to mind here is that I don't often blog when things are hard. (Notice how little I've blogged in recent months?) I tend to put my head down and focus on the task at hand. I like to blog. It's a great creative outlet, but I haven't had a whole lot of time for fun creative outlets. The hard things get blogged much less frequently because if things are hard, then they take my full time and attention and tapping away at the keyboard isn't a priority.

It’s kind of a vicious cycle. I’m happier when I write, but I don’t write when I’m unhappy. Chicken or egg? Whichever it is, I'm going to try to break the cycle this summer. I need to find a way to write every day, much like I need to run or walk every day. I've learned the hard way (again) what happens when I don't.


Pondering: In matters that are obscure and far beyond our vision, even in such as we may find treated in Holy Scripture, different Interpretations are sometimes possible without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture. -St. Augustine

Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: The new summer schedule was to begin today. I was going to get up and run at 5:30. Be back and showered by 7. Then something domestic until 8. Then kids up and breakfast. School kinds of things until 11:00. Then Mom ducks out to get some work done for a couple hours (also known as writing therapy). Then summer fun. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Today was the first day. Kari woke up at 4:30--totally awake and wanting to chat. About life. So, we had about 5 quality hours of one-on-one time. I’m not kidding. I dragged everyone else out of bed at 9:30. We were late to the orthodontist at 10. Le sigh.


Creating By Hand:  Those afternoon summer fun hours? I’m calling them “swim and sew.” And it’s totally going to happen.


Learning lessons In: Apology. I’ve decided that one of the most important things we can teach our children is how to sincerely examine one’s conscience and then to apologize honestly and promptly. I am very serious about how much I think this matters. This article is a good one on the topic, though I think it’s message is not at all limited to marriage, and certainly not limited to men. All relationships would benefit tremendously if we become a community of humility.


Encouraging learning in: Math. We’re going to hyperfocus on math this summer. This and this and this and these. Oh, and Karoline has announced her plans to write and entire Bible story book.


Keeping house: In late March or maybe it was early April I registered for The Nester’s Cozy Minimalist course. Around the second week, I found myself reluctantly begging to withdraw. Life was kicking my butt and I couldn‘t even begin to keep up. Further, it’s hard to take a class in homemaking when you’re not there. I was gone so much of April.  So, to console myself, I’m going to really dig into The Nesting Place and Love the Home You Have this summer. I’m pretty happy with my house (well except for my perennial basement issues) but, I think it will be nice to use that part of my brain a bit as I consider how to nurture myself. I’m super sensitive to environment. Home needs to be a sanctuary. I think I’ll enjoy considering how to make it so.

Crafting in the kitchen: Whole 30. I was one of the first people to review It Starts with Food on Amazon. And I wrote:

One quote that keeps popping up is "this is not hard compared to birthing a baby, quitting heroin, or beating cancer." Actually, it is. I haven't got any experience with heroin, but I had 7 unmedicated births, 2 c-sections, and I beat cancer. Those things are hard, too but that doesn't make this easy. This is hard. It's hard to eat this way in a world that doesn't. It's hard to cook for a big family -- either all eating this way, or them eating this way and me not eating what they're eating. It's hard to stick with it day in and day out. It's not too terribly hard for a few weeks, but it is hard as a lifestyle. I feel anti-social. I know my eating habits put a damper on others' enjoyment when our eating out choices are dictated by my "can'ts." I know I've offended more than one gracious hostess with my polite, "No thank you." And I do miss crafting a perfect loaf of artisan bread or making my grandmother's homemade pasta. I miss tomatoes fresh from the garden with olive oil and fresh mozzarella. I miss handing on food traditions of generations to my own children. I couldn't care less about sugar and I'm not lamenting processed foods at all. They were never in my diet. I'm struggling with the limited choices of real food left for me...I still think this is a valuable resource, but for most folks, longterm success with eating this way is going to take more than, "You can do it. It's not as hard as childbirth or cancer."

They addressed those things in the new book! I think that’s pretty cool. Actually, I think that's really cool. They‘ve also included white potatoes in the plan this time. For me, that’s not good. I love potatoes, but they don’t love me. So, I think I’ll just keep kicking it old school. I like this new book a lot. I thought it would be redundant and it’s not.  Instead, I think it’s more measured, more practical, maybe just a little more compassionate. It’s good. Back on the wagon. I’ll never be a giant meat eater. But I know that the principles in Whole 30 are likely the most anti-inflammatory way to eat. So, I’m not a bacon and duck fat paleo person (actually, there’s no bacon in the new book), but I am fill-the-plate-with-veggies, skip the sugar and grains, eat real food person. I need to be a no dairy person. And I’d probably be a good deal happier if I could kick this stupid coffee habit again.

To be fit and happy: lacing up and heading out. My Fitbit wasn’t working; I couldn’t get it to record my steps. Then I lost it.  Then my Fitbit friends applauded me for getting back after it. That was hilarious, because I wasn’t wearing a Fitbit. They saw my step count increase, but I still have no idea where it is. Somebody is getting some exercise on my behalf, but I don’t think it’s actually overcoming my inertia. I need to solve this problem, because I’ve discovered that I really am motivated by my Fitbit .

Giving thanks: For the intercession of wee saint Bryce. It’s his birthday today. He would have been six. Say a prayer for his mama?

Loving the moments: when my backyard is full of teenagers gathered around a bonfire, philosophizing late into the night. Pretty magical childhood.


Living the Liturgy: I’m praying Divine Office on my morning run. Also, I’m also listening to this new album. She Reads Truth is taking this week to look at five hymns. Yesterday’s post really hit home for me. So good. And so is the album.

Planning for the week ahead: Nick Foss plays in the State Cup semi-final this weekend. Some of you might remember the agonizing decision I made to move him to new team---just after he won State Cup two years ago. (That's a favorite post of mine.) It’s been a hard couple of years for him, no lie. He misses his friends. It’s been hard to watch that team win more than his present team. And it’s been super hard to be the new kid (for two years). But he’s just on the cusp of something good. Pray this weekend is one of victories? One on Saturday and then—big miracle needed warning—one on Sunday, too? That would be good. Really good.

All photos courtesy of Kristin Foss