Apr 3, 2020

March: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Coronavirus

I have no sunny outlook on the thing that is THE THING right now, so I'm just going to share some pictures of our blooming flowers. I'm identifying strongly of late to Eeyore, and Randy in A Christmas Story- the part with Scut Farkus (btw who is totally Moody Spurgeon in Anne of Green Gables!) when, "Randy lay there like a slug. It was his only defense". Pretty much me right now.

I *am* very grateful that we've had flowers in bloom because looking back it's been April before lots of flowers started coming up!


















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Some quarantine this and that:

I read on the internet that you can easily make iced coffee with instant coffee, so I've been enjoying that many afternoons. (I just use the quantities on my instant coffee jar) I add 1 tsp. granules to 1 cup of cold water, stir and let it dissolve a minute. Then I add ice, a little agave, and some of my creamer (which I bought several bottles of the week of The Hoarding- because it was on sale and it's never on sale, and not in the name of panic buying! (I wanted to tell everyone in the line behind me)).

Have you tried Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce? It is one of those recipes where the tiny ingredient list does not seem to match how good it tastes!

Listening to some praise and worship music while doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen helps boost my spirits. Some of my favorites really applicable to now:
Matt Maher's "Alive and Breathing"- favorite lyrics:
"Joy still comes in the morning
Hope still walks with the hurting"

Lauren Daigle's "O' Lord"- favorite lyrics:
"I will stand my ground where hope can be found"

Lauren Daigle's "Come Alive"- favorite lyrics:
"Up out of the ashes let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive"

Jeremy Camp's "Everlasting God"- favorite lyrics:
"Strength will rise
As we wait upon the Lord"

Matt Maher's "Come As You Are"- favorite lyrics:
"Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can't heal"

That's all for now- Happy Friday!

Feb 20, 2020

2019 Books

Here's the rundown of the books I finished in 2019!

Really enjoyed:

Whiskey In a Teacup- an enjoyable read with some recipes that I'd like to try.
The Trumpeter of Krakow- my Grandpa suggested this book to one of my siblings years ago; I decided it was high time I read it. Such a great piece of historical fiction!
Catholic Baby Names for Boys and Girls: 250 Ways to Honor Mary
Make My Life Simple: Bringing Peace to Heart and Home- I would love to have coffee with Rachel Balducci, pick her brain, and have a nice, long chat.
Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom- I find Colleen so relatable and encouraging! I highly suggest this one.
Cozy Minimalist Home- Myquillyn Smith's writing so enjoyable, and I really like her design aesthetic.
The Gown
The Great Influenza- long but super compelling, especially with how much WWI & influenza were tied together.
The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic-- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World- kind of slow in parts but interesting overall. I found the author's opinions at the end a bit eye-rolling- 'family planning clinics are good things to have in cities!', while simultaneously acknowledging the birth rates of many countries being below replacement levels.
Hey Ladies! The Story of 8 Best Friends, 1 Year, and Way, Way Too Many Emails- I LOVED every bit of this satire!
The Egg and I- Betty MacDonald's humor is just so good.
Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta- really good but honestly painful to see how long she experienced the dark night of the soul!
Black and Pro-life in America: The Incarceration and Exoneration of Walter B. Hoye II- a very good read, plus heartening to hear about strides being made to spread the pro-life message in black communities.
The Highly Sensitive Person- I wanted to cry while reading this! I never thought HSP applied to me until I read Anne Bogel's "Reading People" and could relate to her experiences being a HSP. There are some kooky ideas sprinkled in, but overall so helpful for me and glad I picked it up.
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency- fun first book of the series; definitely reading more.
Be Brave in the Scared: How I Learned to Trust God During the Most Difficult Days of My Life
Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir- love all of Ruth Reichl's books!
Things You Save in a Fire- definitely a good chick-lit/ beach read.
The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good- I'm not one to turn down a book that discusses style or personal wardrobes, so I eagerly picked this up when it came to our library! I thought there was a really good balance between practical tips (basic mending techniques, how to wash things properly) and eye-opening information about the clothing industry.
Tears of the Giraffe- second book of No. 1 Ladies' series.
When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People
Audrey Style- covers Audrey Hepburn's life. So many great photos!
The Happy Prince and Other Tales
Christmas Shopaholic
Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I- this is written all in letters; good absorbing, historical fiction.




Liked:

One Day in December- I loved that this took place in Britain but really struggled with the main love interest. I just did not find him really decent or likeable.
The Printed Letter Book Shop- does there exist a book about bookish things that does not reference  or quote Pride & Prejudice to the hilt, like it is the sole identifying book of bibliophiles? (And I completely love P&P!) It just feels like some books (about bookish things, like this one) reference it quite a bit and therefore use it as a crutch.
The Accidental Beauty Queen- fun chick-lit, but kinda the same deal as above (with Harry Potter and P&P).
China Rich Girlfriend
Evvie Drake Starts Over
Summer of '69- I really enjoyed all the historical events that played out in this read. Didn't *love* the characters but liked it overall. So much really did happen that year!
Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave
Can You Keep a Secret?
Live Big, Love Bigger: Getting Real with BBQ, Sweet Tea, and a Whole Lotta Jesus
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time



Meh:

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes- a bit too melancholic for my taste.
My Italian Bulldozer- just placing this here because when I finished I truly felt like, "What even happened in this book?".
Becoming Us
The Hating Game- Yikes. I liked the story over all, but way too much sexual stuff.

Jan 30, 2020

An Unexpected Start to Our Year: A Surgery and a Five Hour Drive for Milkshakes

So, Christmas happened and then the day after we flew out to Oregon for a family wedding!
How do families regularly travel around the holidays?? All the packing and planning + crowded airport jostling is madness. I just kept telling myself ,"This is a singular occurrence. It won't be like this every year". Exhale.


We took an evening non-stop flight and while long, was uneventful. (Also, so glad I packed our Dramamine for kids- we used it up!)
The day after we arrived was the rehearsal dinner, and the day after that was the wedding of Tim's youngest sister.
All the nieces were flower girls.:)

These two were so cute together


It was also Audrey's 7th birthday! I had made her a photo book and brought it with us so she had a little something to open. She was surprised at the reception with a cake just for her and we all sang "Happy Birthday".



The cousins had so much fun together

On New Year's Eve we had planned to leave in the morning and drive down to Northern California to visit my sister and her family. Well, the night before we were to leave Audrey started vomiting, which continued into the night eventually with complaints of stomach pains. We thought it was most likely a stomach bug and while poor timing since she didn't look well, we went ahead with the drive in the morning as her vomiting had ceased.

A token In-N-Out visit

The seven hour drive was pretty winding (albeit scenic) at the end and we were all so relieved to finally arrive at our rental house. My sister had graciously left a thermometer and children's Motrin in our rental and when I checked Audrey's temperature she had a high fever. She went right to her bed and fell asleep, so I took the other three girls to my sister's house for dinner while Tim stayed with her.

Just around 7pm Tim called my sister's phone to get in touch with me (I hadn't heard my phone ring- scenarios like this always make me panic!). He told me Audrey was awake and complaining of acute pain in her right lower quadrant. I immediately looked at my sister (also a nurse) and said, "Oh my gosh, it's her appendix. We have to take her to the hospital." Tim had had his appendix out during our first year of marriage and I am SO thankful he knew immediately what Audrey's pain meant! My sister and brother-in-law are so wonderful in an emergency and jumped right in deciding what hospital would be best and asking how they could help. We halted the cousin play and herded the girls into our rental minivan. My sister graciously offered to lead us back to our rental (which was 17 minutes away), and then led the way to the hospital, which was thankfully close by.

The ER was a different experience. You entered into a hallway and then had to push a buzzer outside a door to talk to the staff. Poor Audrey was in so much pain and kept saying she just wanted to lie down. It was a small hospital and we could tell they just didn't get many pediatric cases. The person taking our information had a computer glitch and made me repeat all the information I had already given her before they took Audrey back to a bed; I tried to be as polite as possible but was willing the woman to get us moving along!

Once we were taken back things started to progress. Flu swab. Chest x-ray. Labs. IV fluids running. Abdominal ultrasound. And so much poking and prodding and Audrey crying out with each, "Here?" on the right side of her abdomen. A surgeon came, brought Audrey some heated blankets, and told my sister and I it was probably her appendix and that more time is just more time, so he was going to assemble the surgical team as soon as he could. My head started to spin a bit when I learned that if Audrey's appendix had burst, she'd need to stay in the hospital until Friday (this was Tuesday). Our flights back to Virginia were scheduled for Friday night.

If ever I felt like I had no control over a chain of events, this was it.

We had arrived at the ER at about 7:40PM and sometime after eleven we were taken to large room where the anesthesiologist introduced himself. Audrey had drifted off to sleep sometime before. I was standing by her side when a nurse came and offered to show us where the waiting room was. It wasn't until she was relating to me the timeline we could expect that I realized this was it- we wouldn't be going back into that room and the surgery was starting imminently. I felt panic start to rise, as I hadn't even kissed her goodbye, and I worried she would wake up to strangers before they put her under, but I knew there was nothing I could do and I decided I was going to be at peace about it. I had been praying all day; God was handling everything.

There we were- my sister and I (she's pregnant with her 5th and was a saint to stay with me!) sitting in a waiting room of a community hospital in a place I've never been, talking while Food Network played in the background, while the new year rang in, while my seven-year-old was being operated on. It was a surreal experience! I kept feeling this nudge like I *should* worry, and I knew if I stopped and really thought about it I would cry, so I just kept letting go and trusting it was in God's hands.

Sometime after midnight the surgeon came and told me Audrey's appendix had perforated but the surgery went well. I stayed in the waiting room until after 3AM, when a nurse came to bring me to see Audrey. The next couple of days were a bit of a blur- Tim took most of the hospital "duty", and my sister and BIL did a lot with the girls, visited Audrey, and graciously hosted us for several meals. During this time all our family was so great- offers to come down from Oregon, and lots of support and prayers.





Our little bungalow rental


On Friday morning Audrey was discharged, much to her delight (the difference between her in the hospital and her playing outside that afternoon was like night and day!), and she was cleared to fly, so we went ahead with our plans to catch our flight that night. The only slightly daunting thing was that our flights were going out of Sacramento, which was five hours away. The night before I had told Tim I wanted to punch our past selves for making that decision! At the time of our ticket purchase, Sacramento offered a good non-stop flight time and we thought it would be great to visit with nearby friends that day. Little did we know we'd end up with a small window to make that drive.


After having lunch and some play time at my sister's house we made the five hour trek of mostly winding mountain, middle-of-nowhere roads to Sacramento. The *lone* bright spot about it was that it gave each of the girls a chance to sleep, so they weren't zombies once we arrived at the airport. Once we had an emergency stop on the side of the road for a (false alarm) bathroom break, which was well timed as someone else got carsick. It was so middle-of-nowhere that I was looking out for snakes in the brush / sensed this would end up being our own "Foresic Files" episode (I've watched too many). It felt like we were crawling back to VA.
We made in to Sacramento with about fifteen minutes to meet up at In-N-Out for milkshakes with Tim's good friend from college. It was disappointing we didn't have more time but the best laid plans...
Avenue of the Giants

Anyway, we had an uneventful flight back home and Audrey recovered well from her surgery. We're hoping the rest of 2020 is low-key!

Jan 18, 2020

Life Lately {Thanksgiving + Christmas}

The big thing about our Thanksgiving this year was that it was the last one we were celebrating in my parent's house! My family moved there when I was in fourth grade, and my parents recently bought a smaller house in the same area but closer to our church. We ended the holiday festivities there with a bang (of dessert).


Thanksgiving morning we went to mass and then over to my sister's for donuts, hot cider, and flag football. 

(I need to write these posts sooner because it's hard to remember the little things that happen in a month!)

The day after Thanksgiving we had family over for cookie decorating. We're always trying to think of things to do over the long weekend, so I figured that Friday was a good day to do this with the girls! It was chaotic and messy but I think everyone had fun and the girls and their cousins loved picking out cookie cutters from my mom's years-old stash and pressing them into the dough.:)


And the next day we picked out our tree! A local Knights of Columbus council sells Christmas trees but they usually go quickly, so we snatched one up and decorated it a couple of weeks later.


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In December Evie had her first three basketball games for CYO! They were all about an hour away but the parish was my Grandpa & great-aunt's longtime parish, so that's kind of neat. One of the days I drove Evie and Audrey past his old house and the hill where my siblings and I used to sled. 
I think Evie's discovered shooting baskets in our driveway is more than a little different from actual basketball games, but Tim and I told her we'd like her to finish the season; you live and learn.;)
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After mass one Sunday I grabbed my sister and asked her to take a family photo of us for our Christmas cards. Of course(!) someone was already crying about something unrelated to the photo shoot but I thought we'd still manage one decent-ish shot to mail out. Well, we didn't. Not even one passable one! They were all so terrible (not the photographer's fault).



Next year we are so getting professional family photos taken and there will be repercussions for those who do not uphold my standards for family photo conduct! (Also, why is a basic smile such a foreign concept?!)
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This was the first year I went to Lessons and Carols! It's something I've wanted to attend for several years, and Evie and Audrey joined me for the beautiful service. We left just before the sixth carol because it was after bedtime, but hopefully next time we'll stay for the entirety!


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Cora sang her in school pageant.:)



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We celebrated Audrey's birthday a week early, as we were going to be out of town on her birthday. She opened her presents and we ate pizza and brownie sundaes.

A big seven-year-old!




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Breakfast with Santa



Evie sang with the Children's Choir this year at the 4pm mass on Christmas Eve, so we all attended that mass. We had to get there forty minutes early, as the church fills up to the gills FAST, and all the girls did so well; I was so proud of them! Cora slept on my shoulder for a chunk of the mass, too, which was a good thing for both of us.:) Afterwards we hosted my family for dinner- everyone contributed with lots of delicious finger foods/ appetizers and cookies for dessert!



















Late that afternoon we headed to my brother and SIL's new house for Christmas dinner with family.
All in all it was a wonderful Christmas!

*Caveat: To be honest, in mid-December I was just hit with this feeling of weariness. As a mom I *love* thinking up gifts for my family, decorating the house, and following our Advent and Christmas traditions. It's something I look for to each year and really enjoy doing. I feel I usually know when to hold back from an activity or tradition if it's going to be too much, and I am typically one tends to do less (calendar-wise), as I can get overwhelmed when I feel things starting to snowball. For whatever reason (and at the risk of sounding completely self-absorbed) I felt so strongly that I just wanted someone to pamper me for a bit! There's so many people to think about in December- teachers and kids and husband, and while I love to do it, it's all on me and that starts to feel kind of heavy! Luckily my birthday falls the week before Christmas and one night my mom babysat so Tim and I could go out to dinner and the next my mom and sister took me out. That helped a good bit to fill my energy tank. At any rate- moms at Christmas, I see you!

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