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Monday, December 31, 2012

threshold of hope



(image: environmentdebate.wordpress.com  kids in Calcutta)

An old year is ending. We can't help but reflect over it and what it held for us, and how it affected us. Perhaps you lost someone achingly dear. Perhaps you held your child for the first time. Maybe you are happy professionally, or maybe not. Maybe you are in the midst of figuring things out..

But life is beautiful. No matter our circumstances, we have the power to chose who we will be in the end. So many have given us excellent examples of the human spirit. As long as there is life, there is hope.

So cheers, my friends, to the hope of a New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

what's for dinner?



I am cooking dinner, smelling the red wine mingling with the ham and tomato paste and seeing the chunks of carrots and a feeling of satisfaction comes over me. I love Coq Au Vin ( I use the Cooking Light recipe) for the taste and hearty flavors and textures, but also for the way it looks. I am a chunky food girl. I think we all have our preferences for what we like to cook and eat. I am a baker by nature, so getting excited and finding time to cook things I like doesn't come as naturally for me.

Among other things, a good meal satisfies the soul. This kind of meal makes me feel like I'm here:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

charm



( image:anettte.wordpress.com)

Charm. We know it when we see it. And it's not something false or fake. Otherwise, we wouldn't call it that or be drawn to it. Charm draws us in and keeps us there.

I think so many of us would like our homes to be charming. At least, I do! Too fancy, and you loose something. The same goes for entertaining, for friendship, and for conversations.


                            ( photos snapped in the grocery isle, maybe from house and home? )

This last picture is perfection as far as a charming kitchen goes. The chair placement is perfect for a tete et tete or for the kids to chill while someone is cooking. I could see myself never wanting to leave those chairs, sipping coffee and reading or writing. They invite you to spend time comfortably in the heart of the home. I love that little fur bench throw, too. If there is a built in bookshelf behind the two armchairs, I am moving in! There is a reason why Audrey's fashion style never died and keeps getting honored. It is timeless. I hope you are having fun striking that balance in your life!

Have a wonderful day, friends!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

let it be done

These words spoken by Mary to the angle Gabriel brought Jesus into our world as one of us. These  words usher in our salvation and give us much to ponder in the days following Chrismas. They are nothing short of abandoning her whole life and plans to God. And look at the outcome!

Do we trust in that same way? When we fully give ourselves to our present reality, our lives will be fully fruitful! What an excellent idea!

Have a wonderful day! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

countdown

There are so many ideas filling my mind this morning. What to share? What to hold back? I hope you aren't tired of it all. Yes, we go through phases of that because it is HARD WORK! (Mom, you always made it look so relaxing!) On top of that, I have been sick, and nursing sick children. You too I am sure. My house is a disaster because of it. You too? :) I'm so very glad to have a day to do the best of things: listen to Classical Christmas music on pandora, bake cookies, have a present wrapping date with my husband tonight with wine! It reminds me of the song, People Look East one of my favorite Advent ( season before Christmas) songs. Yes, I prefer Classical music still, although I am in good company because I also love Feliz Navidad, a local favorite. :) I've been looking at house tours for Christmas and like to find people whose style I admire and see what they do. So, why not share some of mine? Luckily, close-ups don't show the toys I've moved aside. haha!

This is a wonderfully cool wooden puzzle and if you look closely, some of the pieces are carved into little figures like reindeer, a toy soldier and santa's sleigh.


My tweaked mantle. Wish me luck because we are doing the Nativity play at our friends' house for Christmas Eve with Carols intertwined and I have some practicing to do! :)



And lastly, a place to have sugar plums dance in my head.




But, the along with the mirth, I've been thinking of a present decorating trend. Words. Haven't you seen  more meaningful words framed, on pillows, for the home? St. John, the youngest Apostle, the one whom Jesus loved, writes, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him... What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race ( Jn 1:1-4). So on Christmas, we will celebrate this everlasting Word, the first and last Word, the Alpha and the Omega, the definitive Word, the only one with meaning and truth in its completeness that illumines our minds and inflames our hearts. As we draw nearer to words that help to give meaning to our lives, we draw nearer to the Word, who became flesh, and dwelt among us ( Angelus, traditional Noontime Catholic prayer). What will the Word say to each of us on Christmas. Let's take time to listen.

Have a wonderful day and Merry Christmas friends!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

tale of two cities

Washington DC Capital Christmas





























(starsandstripestours.com)

Beautiful, isn't it? I grew up with this pristine feeling of Christmas. For some reason, the buildings on The Mall of DC play so prominently in the experience. It is serious. It is stately. It is magnificent. But it has been two years since we will have spent Christmas there. 

(noveladventures.blogspot.com)

It is absolutely different here. It is clean, simple, free, and wistful. I am so glad to soak up the feelings of both. They each have something to say, enriching the spirit of Christmas.

Hope you're hanging in there! 


Monday, December 17, 2012

why?

I feel remiss at not having talked about the shootings on Friday. I am not really sure of what to say, nor do I have an answer I am confident in. I think we can all recognize that this is a trend in our country. We need to bravely recognize there is a sickness in our nation, in our culture, that is worth exploring. Love starts in the home, extends to all in our immediate community, and to the world. How are we doing in each of these areas? Let's get moving, with the help of the Christ Child.

Heartfelt prayers are accompanying those families.

needing rest























                                  ( image: castfx.com)


We are tired, am I right? My whole self was needing some major rest this past weekend, and even when I heard about the pasados party ( it is a traditional latin ( not the language, the culture;) Christmas song sung by 2 groups, one representing Joseph and Mary with child and one the innkeeper saying there is no room, go away), I didn't want to go. I just wasn't in the mood. In fact, I was thinking of how I was going to make the most of the craziness of this week with one last trip to the store for gifts, school plays and parties, and that I would write about it. But, off we went.

We sang some carols, both in Spanish and English, had some amazing food, including something wrapped in corn husk ( native to the Mayans (?) from Mexico) and tostadas. Masses of kids were running down hills and swinging a rickety rope swing over the lake as we watched the sun set. It reminded me of my childhood and the reckless abandon you feel when you are surrounded by a ton of kids you don't know but you're all having the time of your life. A priest friend did the honors of getting the kids to smash not one, not two, but three pinatas, fitting for the exuberance of Christmas!

I have a simple menu for the week based on the food served at the party. I'll take a picture of the ingredients for another post this week in case you feel inspired by Mexican cuisine that is SUPER easy.

I left the party last night no longer needing rest. It had found me.

Have a marvelous day! Here is one of my new favorite carols I heard for the first time yesterday. It is phenomenal! el burrito sabanero

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

guadalupe

Today is December 12th, or, the day that we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, a pregnant Mary. It is a relevant feast to commemorate, no? It is a special day for me because it marks the 5th year of my treatment for cancer, a powerful dose of nuclear radiation given once. At the time I had two small children and placed myself under Mary's care. She took great care!



And this reminds me of all of the women I have seen pregnant lately. What is pregnancy after all? It's an intimate connection between two people, a pure gift on the part of one and ultimate reliance on the part of the other. It is a time of unhindered growth, of unhindered protection. It is the beginning of the passing on of what life is all about from one to another. The passing of traits and characteristics, but also of values and ideals. 

What a beautiful day to think of Mary carrying Jesus like the rest carry our children.

Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

christmas in seattle

Christmas isn't always cold and possibly snowy. It can be strange to shift gears when you grow up in that environment. Just like if you grow up going to the beach on Christmas and no longer live near it, it would feel different. In Miami, I don't want to create the feeling of being cozy by a fire because, well, it was around 75 degrees yesterday. So less is definitely more, here. And what if you live in a rainy place? Something needs to brighten the gloom. There's something we all crave about light... ahem.. the meaning of Christmas... the light came into the world... brilliant. This one is for my Latin friend in Seattle!


(www(
(       (Relaxing during a rainy Christmas season -- cat kitten rain pet kitty chat animal gato feline water drops droplets


Sweet Home Christmas Baubles - Christmas Wallpapers -  Little Rain shoes Christmas Gift Photo Wallpaper 19

Indonesia Christmas Pictures & Photos





The photos are from these sites, in order: miss-sweetie.com, photoree.com, wallcoo.net, newshopper.sulekha.com, loveyourplace.blogspot.com

Have a wonderful day, friends!

Friday, December 7, 2012

hope



I have two stories to share this morning. They concern my dear friends, Elena and Jenny. Here are their stories.

Elena gave birth to a son one year ago who literally has no muscles and is thus, very sick. She and her husband had to fight for proper treatment, treatment worthy of a human being. They did, they have, and they are enjoying the gift he is to their family and friends. Loving him is not especially easy, but love doesn't count the cost.

Jenny has a baby in her womb who also is very sick with a bleak prognosis. She is joyfully carrying him until it is time to give birth, and although they do not know what the future holds, she and her husband feel blessed.

I share these stories because these women and their families are beacons of hope in a world that measures people's worth so calculatingly. And I don't mean hope just for those who need it the most, but hope for all of us. Don't we all want to be loved so unconditionally? Wouldn't we be frightened to the core if we saw that no one loved without counting the cost? After all, no one is perfect.

This reminds me of a song by Whitney, rest in peace!, my love is your love.

Have a wonderful day, friends!




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

anna in the spotlight


                                       (image: www.variety.com)

You know I must. I can't let the release of Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightly go ignored because it is one of my all-time favorite novels. An interesting note is that once philosophy stopped being based on reality with the coming of the modern philosophers ( think "I think therefore I am"; that is, I only know I exist because of my ability to think. The problem? All of reality is then created by each individual, not reality studied by the individual so as to understand it and how one fits in.), the true philosophers turned to writing novels to explore reality. So we get great novelists like Tolstoy and Walker Percy (who I must admit is not one of my favorites. My husband loves him!). The digression is owed to a conversation between my husband and I a little while ago- so smart that man;)!

Why did I digress my friends? Because I think it is so vital to understand Tolstoy and what he is doing in Anna Karenina because otherwise, we get it so very wrong. Everyone thinks it is the ultimate love story. And yes, there is an element of attraction and passion between a man and a woman, written in the simplest and tasteful way possible, I might add. He doesn't want to distract us from the focus.

Anna is a woman torn by her upbringing and her lack of a fulfilling and mutually loving marriage. Going with a modernist approach, one would think she would find happiness once she is adored and starts over with her young officer, Vronsky. After all, she is creating her reality anew. But the reality is that she can't start over. She misses her son and she finds she cannot function as a mistress. They get tired of each other as unmarried lovers, and she looses all sense of self. 

Is that the ultimate love story, friends? Is that what we all long for? Or is it rather the kind of real and forgiving love between Kitty and Levin? These characters are directly juxtaposed to Anna and Vronsky.

I haven't seen the movie and will wait until it comes out on video. Another digression, but I have so many today I might as well add this one. It is necessary to filter what we see, even as adults. I am not a Peeping Tom, and watching this movie unfiltered would sure make me feel like one. And what happens to Peeping Toms? Do we find them fulfilled and psychologically sound...? It is time to reconsider what is normal in movie-going these days, my friends!


Lots of digressions today! My recommendations is to read the book, at least 2 or 3 times. Tolstoy's mind has so much more to offer than what meets the eye.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

as you like it


I love this arrangement for Christmas. I snapped a shot of it while I was standing in the grocery isle and think it came from House and Home. There are dark purple flowers or fruit of some sort in it as well. It isn't typical for a Christmas arrangement, but I like it, tweaking it a bit here and there. It is freeing and more relaxing to go with what I like and what will be festive for us for decorations! Here is my "mantle."


Enjoy what you are about this month! It is a beautiful time to reflect and await the coming of the Lord!

Have a wonderful day, friends!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

using our talents

What is it to raise kids if we do not instill our beliefs and values in them? And how do we know we are in fact instilling them? By making it a part of their lives. Kids will never learn to swim or ride a bike unless time is dedicated to these pursuits. They are not a given.

It has been slowly dawning on me ( I don't need a picture for this one, Dad ;)!) that our efforts at teaching our kids about the big picture of life and the details of our Catholic Faith need to go to the next level. We integrate our faith in God with our day and our kids get some education, but I realized there were some gaps forming. Thus, our family Sunday school with Dad. :)

This morning my husband started going through the history of salvation, that is, the Bible. We have a beautifully written kids version which helps. But, here is the kicker: my husband is a philosophy major. This was something I wanted him to do with them because I spend more time with them and so, they get more of the integrating part from me. With this new forum, they get the benefit of Dad's knowledge and we are setting up a habit where we talk about the detailed fullness of our Catholic Faith so that as they get older and have more questions, it will seem normal to bring them up. We all know we cannot love something or someone we don't know.

So often we think of using our talents for the greater good of society which is a beautiful thing. But if we neglect using them for our children, who are our greatest gift and responsibility, we need to redirect them! My husband has a beautiful mind. It is one of the things I love about him and which set him apart for me. I am so glad he is sharing it with our kids.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

too many condiments, and they are trying to hide something

These are the words of my postmaster about the empanadas of a certain restaurant down here. As an aside, each store owner is like an establishment down here. They are part of the place, just as much as the blue skies and the ocean breezes. And he was referring to the better choice of real and few ingredients to get the best empanadas. I got it.

And this morning as I was sitting in my newly- made-over bedroom, I thought about how that applies to so much of life. Right? I love my bedroom for its simple but thought out arrangement of colors and art. Not too many condiments. And isn't life better when we have fewer things, and better priorities?

We were not able to get to family this Thanksgiving day. But we are celebrating and spending the time we have together. Not too many condiments.

Have a wonderful day!

PS There is a wonderful movie my husband and I watched recently that I recommend for all adults: Opening Night. It goes beautifully with this theme, and quite literally, too! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

love my bedroom makeover


Some of you may remember I have been planning to update my bedroom for some time. It's amazing what a few changes will do! Why was the change necessary? Well, my bedroom takes up almost 1/3 of my apartment, and it became one of the least inviting places to be. Isn't it true that so often we put more time, money and energy into the more lived in and visible spaces and neglect the ones that should be most dear?

It has been a long process of clearing out kid toys, unused furniture, painting frames, net-searching for the right duvet cover and sunburst mirror, covering created storage areas, and here you have a peek.

It is crisp, welcoming, the gold accents of the frames make it bright, and I LOVE BEING HERE.

The mirror is from Ballard Home and the duvet cover is from Overstock.com, in case you are wondering.

Have a wonderful day, and I will try to get something up on that wonderful day coming up this week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

in light of our current situation...


Every day we "battle" for what we believe is right. It is right to be respected, it is right to be fair, it is right to be responsible, etc. We can't be surprised that when it comes to the public sphere, to the society we share in common, we will be acting with the same motives: to establish and even fight for what is right. 


What is interesting is that there are such diverging notions of what is right. And so a non-bloody battle occurs. We battle about what is right in science, in history, and in culture. And this battle is good, Because it is a battle for nothing less than the truth. We are promised that the truth will set us free (John 8!) and there cannot be two opposing truths. That would be illogical. But, also because the Truth is a person, it is Christ. Why? because he tells us so.

Thus, Christianity has the ability to make society better. So we battle on with sound reason until we are all set free by Truth. 

Have a wonderful Friday! Thanks for hanging with me while I was out of town! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

going black?


Black-nails-favim.com-464190_large
(from weheartit.com)
Yes, our country is on the verge of an election, but why not think about nails for a minute? I tried dark green ( basically black) on both hands and feet a couple of weeks ago. My vote? It works for my feet, but my hands just looked goth. :)

Have a wonderful Sunday! I think we will head to the beach! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

this time of year

It's there just something about this time of year? The weather turns cooler ( even down here!) and we turn inward. We think of memories, of creating memories, of reconnecting, of hunkering down in our own little nest.

And we take the time to just be. This can be a challenge when one dear little one is sick and hubby is out of town for business and there is no backyard to send the others out to for physical relief. ;) But that desire is still there, reminding us of the grand fact of existence. Being.

In the midst of this being, the boys and I worked on some house (ghosts)





and school projects.


(sorry that's sideways. I'm technically challenged)
That painting has been an eye sore to me for years because there was just something about the black rim that drove me nuts. So, I am painting the entire thing gold, and boy does it lighten it up and really make it pop! Yay for finally working toward a resolution to THAT problem. ( I am working at lightening up my long-neglected bedroom with new colors that really invite and cheer. More on that to come as Christmas rolls around when I can put my plans into action.)
This turkey is made of things my son is grateful for, and it was fun to not only take time to think of these things, but to take the time to put them in art form. There are so many things to be thankful for!

Have a wonderful Sunday of just being. It's one of the best part of life!

Friday, October 19, 2012

follow up

So, I proposed some big questions last time. I thought I'd better follow up rather than leave that one isolated.

I pray every day. And what I mean by this is talking to God, one-on-one. I find that without this dialogue, my mind gets crowded; I start acting according to inertia rather than putting the values I hold dear into practice.

If you don't pray, I hope you give it a try. And if you want to but don't know how, just tell Him. He's part of the conversation, too. :)

Have a wonderful day, friends!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

its always been a matter of trust

Hello my friends.
How much do we trust the closest people in our lives? I don't mean the base-line of trust; for example, fidelity between spouses. I mean the kind of trust where we are able to tell someone what we are thinking or feeling at a given moment with no fear of embarrassment or of a lack of loyalty. And are there people who can come to us with that same type of privileged and intimate information?

As some of you know, relationships are my thing. They are fascinating. Because they are everything. Friendship has an inherent power in it. In being known and understood, it frees one to be oneself. It gives confidence to chase dreams and address reality.

The depth of our human friendships can also tell us about another friendship, that which we have with God. Chances are if we are hiding from others, we are hiding from Him. Why would we do that? What is the image we hold of Him? It musn't be the one of Him on the Cross...

Off to soccer! Have a great day!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

warmth of home


fireplace mantel in clear finish

(source: invitinghome.com)

Self-sacrifice is the fuel one must burn to keep a home warm.
Juan Luis Lorda


Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

decisions and more

This is a quick post, sharing a gem of a book with you all. It is called The Four Cardinal Virtues and the link to it is here . I've not only read this book many times, I have studied it for a book club, and I find it in my path once again. There are so very many well-informed people who still struggle with making decisions. There are, after all, so many factors, and very real consequences. I think this alone makes the book worth reading because it starts with a chapter on Prudence, the virtue of being able to make a good decision ( not cowardliness, which it is often equated with nowadays). I must mention, though, that it doesn't give you examples or a check-list, which frustrates some people. It is more of the over-arching theory, but it is wonderful. The other virtues are obviously important, too. ;)

I find the study and practice of universal virtues making a come-back. After all, they direct ones life and interactions with others. I was just talking with an acquaintance who is now communicating this need as a career and am myself on the verge of breaking them down for children. I think if real goodness isn't presented at a young age, the glittering trinkets of young adulthood are taken for goodness itself. It's my way of engaging the intelligence of young people in considering their own actions, a tool they will need far more than the knowledge of subjects.

Ok, the teacher ;) needs to get to today's homework. Haha! Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

love of reading

There has been a lot of reading going around in this house lately. All have joined in, and it has been a wonderful thing.

In fact, I can tell there is a significant change in the house when reading is the form of relaxation over TV and movies. It makes sense, but I'll write about it anyway. :) Movies keep us entertained and occasionally we come across one that makes us think a little while watching or a little more once it has finished. But a good book? And I'm not talking about ones like the adult equivalent of George Brown Class Clown who has a magical super burp for adults, ( Come one, school! Why are we highlighting and celebrating a book like this? THAT is the behavior I want my kids to be encouraged in and then get in trouble for...) but a book that has really has something to say. These kinds of books mean the author themselves have something to say. As an aside, my husband has informed me that the novel was created when philosophy morphed into proving things mathematically, effectively forcing philosophers to get their ideas across by creating worlds that we could relate to through novels. He's a philosophy/math major, so he has an objective perspective. ;)

So, back to reading. My husband and I share the hobby of reading. We don't always like the same authors and it has become a source of friendly bantering. Nerds? Yes, we are. ;) But reading engages one's mind throughout, gives one something to chew on long past the story is over, and perhaps glean some lessons about life that one has been searching for.

I think if we all took to reading more as a society, we'd have a lot more to say and we'd see a change in human interactions. Am I dreaming? Perhaps, but one has to dream a little.

Have a great day, friends!

Friday, September 21, 2012

environment and clothes

I know I have touched on living in a tropical place ( I know, tough life) and how it has affected what I want surrounding us in our home. I will show you yet another change :) another day. Today, I'll just talk about how much it affects the fashion down here and how I want to dress on a particular day.

I know I have also mentioned I have always liked the tailored, classic look. It suits me well, and without entirely leaving it behind, I have embraced what living here has done to my broadened horizons. Although this is not one of those outfit blogs ( which don't get me wrong I enjoy looking at), here is what I am wearing today.




Woah, close up! Check out those hoops! ( thanks, Mom:) I don't know why, but I really felt the need to combine these colors today. Colors really inspire me, I must say. Anyone else? There is a flowering bush down here whose flower is the exact color of these shorts; not quite red, but bold and strong and oh so tropical. Women wear flowing pants and shirts, and it reminds me of the ocean breezes. I would not ever have worn those in DC. There is a bohemian element there, but the norm is more of the structured type, mirroring the seriousness of politics and the columns of the Capital. It, too, is beautiful.

So, does what I am saying resonate? How many of you are influenced and inspired by the environment in which you live? Enjoy a few pics of mine! :)

                                 


Monday, September 17, 2012

kudos

From the outset, I was struck with the song Somebody That I Used to Know. The chorus melody is really creative and I thought it was coming from Sting. So, after downloading it and listening to the actual words and getting a feel for what the song is saying, I appreciate it more.

And here's why: I find the honesty refreshing. (Maroon 5 has a similar song out, though not as gripping or soul-searching. I am just not a big fan of the band, so I won't focus on it.) I think we have definitely hit an era when people are told to not take dating seriously, their feelings or other's, and to just run around and have "fun." But, that is simply not reality, no? How many times do girls stay up talking about heartaches? How many guys when they find a girl they really admire are blind-sided when she is gone? There is a reason why getting married is still on people's minds, albeit later in life.

So, thank you, Gotye, for hopefully bringing reality back into the picture and making people think about the choices they make! ( disclaimer, I don't find his video appropriate, but the itunes sample is here.

Have a wonderful day!


Friday, September 14, 2012

entertaining with ease

On a lighter note, I've been getting excited about little things, like finding a gift for a teacher's birthday ( super fun for me! haha!) and rethinking my readiness for visits from friends. Here are a couple of pictures I have had stowed away that have drawn me in: 
                        (from Traditional Home July/August 2011)

                             (Domino November 2008)

I love the attention to detail to make things beautiful and easy for friends. They are obviously showing set-ups for more formal events, but there are some practical things I have learned from these magazines for more casual, everyday gatherings.

Anyone out there fans of the old Domino magazine? LONNY is a spin-off of it, but I remember an article about entertaining, and how some people are ready at a moments notice, and how welcomed it really makes a guest feel. It is all about having the basics at hand rather than stowed away so that it is effortless. Spurred on by the fact that I had to offer my friend a jar of water ( all of my glasses had broken, one by one), my cupboards recently got an inventory check ;) and interior make-over. One side of the sink is now devoted to everyday, kid-friendly items and the other side is devoted to the not fancy but ordinary items I'd like to have on hand (ahem, water glasses!) for an impromptu visit. 

Establishing order is actually something I get a kick out of, so it was a win-win activity. But now, I can make my friends feel taken care of after a day spent taking care of others. After all, they do the same for me! 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

safely say

Two Kids Drawing Together

This is something I have been thinking for quite awhile. Since last summer, to be precise. But some time spent just watching the interactions of my children has confirmed what I "noticed" ( although I think that is not strong enough a word. Maybe "was struck by; got" would be more descriptive) last summer.

Each of my children would not be the same with the absence of any one of them. They bring out something different in each other that one would not accomplish ( although unknowingly) on their own.  This makes such common sense that it may be silly to write about, but so it goes today! :) One of my kids would still be ready for fun, but perhaps not to the same degree as he is to date without the presence of each sibling. I can't scientifically prove this, but only intuit it, but this is none-the-less true. I just know it.

Last summer, I watched as one of my children literally embody the confidence that radiates more naturally from their sibling. As they say, "monkey say, monkey do." It was a beautiful sight.

Does this not happen to adults? Do we not learn from our friends and perhaps emulate some of their outstanding traits, even unknowingly? I know I am influenced by some of the terrific characters of my friends.

And it all starts in the beginning with our siblings, but perhaps more intensely and lastingly. What a beautiful built-in gift family is.

In War and Peace, Tolstoy talks about Russians not doing the one thing that can save them from the  French  invasion. Its funny that maybe we, too, avoid the one thing that can help to bring us closer to our own humanity; humans.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

Friday, August 31, 2012

don't forget to laugh...

stock photo : Baby laughing, lying on the grass

AT YOURSELF!

I'm bringing back an oldie but goodie for the weekend, These are Days. Not so sure about the somewhat nutty video, but the song?, fabulous.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

after the hurricane


I am thankful that we had it relatively easy and that many are still experiencing the aftermath of Isaac. Our clean-up crews have done an amazing job, we have natural light in our home again, and life is basically back to normal.

Which made me think of the daily hurricane we face as mothers. This happened in about 10 non-consecutive minutes. I think most of you are not surprised. The whole playing with something and then putting it back in its place before getting another toy didn't quite stick in our house! HAHA! And that is just fine, but as I walked in this morning from dropping my kids off at school, I realized this had to be put in order before I could get to other matters. (As an aside, I have often wondered what would have been a more helpful degree in college for my life right now. I loved Economics and it has served my thinking well, but perhaps business management would have given me more of the skills I need?:) This need for order got me thinking about physical order and how much we need it as human beings. Otherwise, I would have jumped to do the more time-sensitive things I need to do. I can't put my finger on it, so if any of you have something to add, please jump in. Yes yes, sometimes physical order to the perfect degree is impossible and aiming for it could really reveal some sort of disorder in us, that we couldn't give the proper priority to something/one that has a higher claim on us. But a general sense of order gives us something not only to us but to our entire family, and it is something very human.

I am running out of time, so have a great day!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

hurricane watch


Or rather not-watch. Almost everything has been shuttered, so we are hunkered in. There is one window we cannot shutter because my husband insists that he is not spiderman and maintenance is only here Monday-Friday. This is our first hurricane ( or tropical storm- we shall see!) since we moved here. Thankfully, I have some friends who are experienced in these matters and have assured us that we need not worry. What a difference a shuttered window makes! It sure makes you appreciate the view we normally have! Aggh!

In other news, we are in school full-swing down here. It starts super early! Which makes me realize I need to hone my managing skills! We have done montessori for the most part for early education. One day I will sing its praises and try to explain it to all the skeptics, whose company I used to keep. Now that we are doing traditional schooling, I have failed not once but twice in filling out paper work promptly and returning it! What am I doing?! I did not realize how much management goes on each day after school. I need to put my game face on and listen to the pre-game song from my volleyball days, Eye of the Tiger. HA! But seriously, we are building organizational skills, study habits, and this is real. 

Have a great day, and I will be in touch after the storm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

building community

Boy, do I have massive hands. HAHA! I talked to my doctor about how they have gotten bigger and do you know what he said? "Too much work!" HAHA! No princess here.

So, this post is not about my hands, as you know. The cubans have a custom down here that they really do. If someone gets a cuban coffee, they also bring a stack of these tiny sip-size cups from the cafe and share it. Isn't that nice? I was included in this custom once at my hair dressers' and felt very welcomed.

As the new school year is about to begin for us down here - yes, very early! - I am not only thinking of getting all of the supplies, but of the community that it naturally expands. I sometimes think there is a lost art to building community, as if people don't really want smiling faces around. Back to Minnesota for a moment: I remember as a child seeing people driving by and waving to you from their car, whether they knew you or not. It was surprising because no one did that in Maryland. Community! The cuban coffee thing, community!

So, I don't know exactly what I will contribute to community building, but it is something I need to think about. It leads me to a deeper topic.. you knew it was coming!:)...

I was on a theology course a few years ago and something the professor said I had never heard before but made quite an impression on me so I will share it. He said that in heaven, your charity, or love for others, or heart ( however you put it that it makes sense) does not grow in heaven. The maximization occurs here. Which means there are different expansions possible. It is up to me, and God's grace, to love my neighbor. Time takes on a whole new meaning when given that tidbit of information, no? :)
It also reminds me of more common wisdom saying it doesn't matter how many degrees or awards you got in life or how intelligent you are. What matters is what you do with what you've been given, your talents. If you're smart, do you use that intelligence to serve God and neighbor? If not, it's wasted.

Which leads me to my final thought this morning, which is how we frame schooling and success to our children. I tutor kids in Algebra and some are terrified with failure. There is so much pressure to succeed and get into the right schools, job, etc. I remember that feeling, too. But what if we put education in the context of it being for a higher purpose? That way, Algebra is not just "a waste of time because I'll never use it in real life," but it becomes something to train my brain to think logically so that I can really do something great for God later in life.

Have a wonderful day, friends! And thanks for reading! This is an outlet for me as much as it may be for you. :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

looking ahead


Can you guess her age? 75-80 maybe? See her style with the ruffle on her shirt?

My grandma is nearing 91 this Fall. Can you believe it? I took this picture during my last visit to Md, although she lives in Minnesota. 

Lineage, example, and family love is so intriguing. I am sure that I not only absorbed what life was about from my parents, but also from my grandparents, especially my grandma. 

Summers were spent camping, fishing, riding bikes to the general store and visiting friends' farms. Winters were spent indoors eating the best homemade cookies known to man, hosting the stream of pop-in visitors of all ages, and preparing for celebrations like Christmas, all of which my grandma took a leading role. She still she fills her days with purpose and helping others.

God came into the world not to be served, but to serve. Looking at someone who has lived their life by this precept has taught me what my life is worth. Looking ahead can tell us much about the truth of our lives. What is it all about? If I land somewhere near my grandma, I will have run the race well.

Have a marvelous day, friends!

Monday, August 6, 2012

r & r











(newspaper.li/beach/)
I'm not sure where each of you is coming from as far as your thoughts on rest and relaxation. For some, they may get too much (mere speculation because I don't personally know anyone who does), for some, too little. I will put myself in this second camp, merely to set the scene and create a true picture for you. Although, I know people who get far less than me.

But this morning, I feel like I am running on a full tank of gas, which makes me think my weekend had something to do with it! I won't walk you through the entire weekend, just point out some highlights. My husband and I went to a wonderful wedding uniting a wonderful couple on Saturday. It had been some time since we've gone to one, and I got to get dolled up, too. :) I'll add that he doesn't really like to dance, but danced more at this wedding than any other! It must be the latin music. ;) Having that adult time and date time was great.



(This is the only picture I took from the wedding- shame on me. But it is a nice story. I know this woman from MD and was celebrating my BF's next baby coming with her and we were talking about each of us going to a wedding in Miami but didn't check to see if it was the same one!Who sits in the row in front of me? The very same!)

On Sunday, we went to Mass as a family ( our usual) and met some friends at the beach. We all went out to eat at a relaxed restaurant ( for you Marylanders, think Annapolis but more casual- remember, water is everywhere here) and the kids ended the evening dancing together.

Sounds great, no? It was. I didn't cook much, we had family time and adult time, a true break from the norm. I am thinking we need to think more about r & r. Pieper has a book entitled Leisure, the Basis of Culture. I haven't read it despite a strong recommendation. I think the premise is something like you can tell a lot about a people by the way they spend their leisure time. I also think it can be applied on a more micro scale to the family and even the individual, but I'd have to read it to be able to really say. ;)

Have a wonderful day, friends, and here is a little music from my childhood I STILL like :)-
Celebrate ! Go ahead, Dad! Get your dance on!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

personal style

I know I am not alone in constantly tweaking the house, so I won't feel bad about writing about decorating and my living room.... again! :) I came across this picture and liked what it said to me:


(source unknown, designed by someone with the last name of Berkley)

"I like color, I like classic and girly things, but I am most comfortable in jeans." A room with this combination is hard to come by in decorating magazines. I find most either formal or casual. I think it is so interesting because it falls just short of bohemian, definitely can't be called formal, but is definitely styled with precision. I think I remember reading from the article that this decorator uses the philosophy of using things you love and making it work.

I didn't plan to imitate it, but as I was home for most of last week, I naturally felt the need to rearrange
things. :) I wasn't feeling what I'll call my 'piano wall,' and I also didn't like the view from the entrance. I knew I wanted one of my buttoned chairs with a fun pillow to be the first thing I saw when I walked in, but remembering the picture above ( not actually looking at it, but the feel of it), I set to work looking around the house to fill the space in more during nap time.



The space used to be purely formal because I do like that refined feel, but it is a better and true mix, now. I think my favorite things are the cow pillow and the slightly edgy printed sign. They relax the space and the formal piano and clock so much, and the pillow reminds me of my wild horseback riding days through field and forest. Because I am a precise math teacher and classical pianist and sports player and lover of the great outdoors. And this is my house, and it has to reflect me. I think this is why we all change our homes so much. We want it to really reflect us, not just represent more or less our taste, just like an outfit does:


(Talbots)

And is there anything wrong with that? I don't think so. We are, after all, the heart of the home. So we need to be comfortable there, and in our own clothes. ;) I feel a song coming on: phil collins' version of true colors. I just love those bagpipes!

Have a good day, friends!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mom and Me

I recently got off the phone with my mom. In our conversation, we came to the conclusion that taste combined works wonders for both of us. For example, the things i get complimented on are the things my mom has given me. See below:





My taste is more tailored, so adding a bit of trendiness is just the right finish to the look I like. Funnily enough, her home decor is very formal, which she is not. So over the months, via picture texts, I've been suggesting certain purchases and colors complimenting what she has. I've been looking at enough decorating magazines that the information needs to get put to use! During my recent visit, we could really fine tune it and here is what her living room now looks like:







Beautiful, fun, unique, no? Just like her. :)

I hear there is a navy jumpsuit headed my way. Thanks mom! :)

Have a great day, friends!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

what a week!

I just wanted to say a quick hello there! I'll be posting more this week. FYI- recovery for tonsils and adenoid surgery is rough! Thankfully, my little guy is over the hump.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

child o' mine


Counting when I had to have surgery with my second still inside of me, yesterday's surgery for my youngest is number 4 for us to accompany our children into. Those of you who have experienced this can commiserate. 


What does it feel like? It feels like you are stripped from your customary way of thinking that you can control things for your kids. And you enter into reality; that ultimately, their life is not in your hands alone. And you hand them over to God and Mary, His Mother and Ours, and await them in the waiting room. In a way, it is not only a precursor to them growing up and leading their own life, but something to remember every day. As Catholics, we asked the Church to make our children a priest (shared common priesthood, not ministerial), prophet, and king through the sacrament of Baptism. They become real Children of God. And their entire life is the unfolding of this drama.

Now we are onto the next trial- taking care that he recovers well. Wish me luck and say a prayer!