Gathering my Thoughts After a Weekend Away

I find myself:

::noticing God's glory

I'm in Charlottesville for a few days and it's always so easy to be swept up in the beauty of creation here. We picked peaches in an orchard on a mountain yesterday. It was 95 degrees and the peaches were fuzzy, but oh! the views. Worth every bead of sweat. 

{The view from Carter Mountain Orchard}

I head home this morning. It's hot there, too, so maybe I won't miss here;-)

::listening to 

The whirring of the ceiling fan.


::clothing myself in 

Yellow polo shirt and white capris. I am desperately in need of clothing.


::talking with my children about these books

G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet. I'm a big fan of the Sleeping Bear Press Alphabet books. Michael will soon be off to spend nearly a month in London covering the Summer Olympics for USAToday. This is our week to get in the spirit.

I did a terrible job packing: no bathing suits for little girls, no special pillow for Karoline, no toothbrush, no nebulizer... the list goes on. I don't know where my brain was. And I left a stack of books at home, waiting to become my summer reading in the sunroom in Charlottesville. Where I am. And they are not. These books:

Beauty in the World: Rethinking the Foundations of Education  (This one is really good and I'm really sorry it's sitting there by the front steps at home.)

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

Talking Back to Facebook



::thinking and thinking

about being 20-something. While I was sick last week, I stumbled onto a long list of 20-something blogs. And I read through them all (or so it seemed). I'm so glad there was no internet when I was a 20-something mom. I'm so glad I wasn't tempted to preserve in words my every whine. It's a good thing I couldn't record every time my husband worked long hours, every poop, vomit, or runny nose, every last little moment of discouragement or loneliness that comes with being home alone with little ones. I'm glad that wasn't the brand I put on how I lived my vocation. I'm glad my husband wasn't forced to see grumbling in print every time he logged on hoping to see sweet pictures of his kids and the wife for whom he was working so hard. I'm so glad my complaining doesn't still stand as a testimony for my children to read. And I'm glad because, in the moment, I was forced to talk to a friend instead of sending missives into cyberspace. I could pick up the phone at naptime and spend no more than a few minutes relating a hard day. She'd be empathetic and share her trials, too. (Bonus: I wasn't reading everyone else's whining and propogating an entire network of discontent.) And then we'd move on, usually outside. I didn't have a car of my own. I was limited to my own small neighborhood. I wasn't looking in anyone's windows, especially carefully edited windows in far off places. I spent a lot of time walking to the park with my kids. I spent a lot of time talking to other women while we pushed swings and with our kids slid down the slides. You can do that when you don't have a smart phone in your hand.

We didn't wallow.

But maybe that's because by the time I was a 20-something with two children, my friends and I had had occasion to think a little differently about what a hard day is. When I was 24, God hit the "pause" button. After reading those blogs, I think that cancer might have been a bigger blessing than previously considered. God said, "Those ordinary days filled with diapers and diaper pails and blueberries all over the floor and a really heavy toddler who wants to be held--do you want to keep living them? That man who leaves here every morning and often works late into the night, the one who travels several times a month and leaves you to fend for yourself with these small people, do you want to keep building this life with him? The ability to conceive babies, are you going to continue to take that for granted? Do you want to think big thoughts, to look beyond today to a future that stretches full of hope? Do you want to believe in something worth fighting for, worth suffering for? Or do you just want hang out and keep whining about dirty carpet and tiny paychecks and babies who won't sleep through the night? Do you want to keep clicking aimlessly and tweeting discontent?"

He didn't actually say it. But He meant it. And after reading what might have been if there had been the Internet and if there hadn't been cancer, I'm glad it was the way it was. I'm glad my friends lived around the corner and came over to wrap arms around my shoulders while my hair fell out, to gather up my little boy and take him to her house while I was in the hospital. I was a better mother before the Internet. And after cancer. (But I don't want to learn lessons that way again, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Just being clear, there.) In the midst of my 20-something whiny blog reading binge, I heard from a mom diagnosed with cancer 10 days after learning she is pregnant. She's 20 weeks along. Please pray for her. Pray hard. Those are some challenging days.

 I'm told it's a generation gap. That I don't understand how that generation thinks and how they communicate. Maybe. But I find myself wanting to beg the woman in the screen: Before you log on to record forever how grumpy you feel in this moment, cup the face of your child in your hands. Think to yourself: I don't have to worry that her runny nose is a virus that could kill me because I have no white blood cells. I don't have to run and grab a bandana to cover my bald head when the UPS man comes to the door. I can take this sweet face and kiss that forehead and dance around my living room. I can throw up the window and seize the day and head outside for a long stroller walk. I can snuggle with them at naptime and then slip away while they sleep to get online scrub the kitchen floor and get a head start on a yummy meal. I can gather myself as evening comes to whine on Facebook pray Vespers with the universal church and count my blessings aloud to God. I can take a few minutes before the love of my life gets home to tell Twitter how I'm a single parent brush my hair and pull on a clean shirt and smile when I greet the man who sacrifices for me and parents with me. I can live every single moment like the gift it is because I have traded a valuable day of my life for it and I don't know how many of those I have to live. 

End of rant. Next time I'm sick with a cold, I promise to read light fiction instead of marathon surfing (Grace Livingston Hill anyone?), but really, I'm sort of glad for the reminder myself.

::giving thanks for

a couple days in a home away from home, with people I love, and mountains that never fail to restore my spirit.


{Queen Anne's Lace. Rotting Peaches. You can overlook the smelly bad and delight in the beautiful, no?}


::pondering prayerfully

Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you, remember Christ crucified and be silent. ~St. John of the Cross

Also really praying about the content in the sidebar links week.

::carefully cultivating rhythm

I don't know why I thought we'd have all kinds of free time and boundless energy this summer. That has not been the case at all. This week has promise for lots of quiet and some sleep, though. Ever hopeful, right?

::creating by hand

Sundresses to finish and some quilts to sew.




::learning lessons in

making jam. We picked 24 pounds of peaches. I'm planning to experiment with a couple types of jam. Suggestions gratefully welcomed:-)


::encouraging learning 

I'm going to clean out school baskets this week and polish up the plans a bit. Most of my students are off on adventures.

::begging prayers

for all the people who have joined our weekend prayer community. I carried your requests with me to Mass and I will keep a candle lit for you throughout the week.

for Jessica.

{tea in the sunroom}

:keeping house

I have some decisions to make ASAP about paint colors in, oh, pretty much the whole house.


::crafting in the kitchen 

Still fine-tuning a solid three week paleo meal plan. So far, sweet potato and sausage hash and bacon-wrapped asparagus have been big hits. There will be far fewer people around the table this week. Not as many palates to please:  Good time to experiment!


::loving the moments

Nicholas played nine holes of golf at my father's club yesterday. My dad can't golf any more. But he passed along his love for the game to Nicholas a few years ago. Then, he invested in it last year. (Click; it's cool.) Nick has been faithfully practicing at the course near our house. So, my dad took him out in the sweltering heat yesterday and he watched while Nicky shone. They both came home beaming. I'm just so happy they got to share it.


::living the liturgy

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Children with me at home this afternoon will probably be able to persuade me to make something with caramel, even though we all know that caramel has absolutely nothing to do with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.


::planning for the week ahead

Patrick and Mary Beth are in Ocean City at a dance competition. (Mary Beth is dancing. Paddy is just along for the ride. I'm certain he'd want me to clarify that.)

Katie and Nicky are staying in Charlottesville for the week. Katie will go to pony camp and Nicky will go to golf camp. And they'll get plenty spoiled by grandparents along the way.

Mike is back in Coral Gables. 

Michael is leaving for London.

At the end of the week, when Mike returns, we're going to go visit him in his DC office and play tourist at the Smithsonian. Ride the Metro. Cool stuff that is easier with only 4 kids.

It's going to be quieter at our house with only 4 kids at home. Ought to impact the grocery bill significantly, too. I will miss the other five. I won't miss the laundry. 

Oh, and we're going to fingerpaint with our feet outside