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Friday, December 26, 2014

well done, friends

Cheers! Salud! Or whatever your toast of choice may be. We did it! Congratulate yourself for giving it all you had to make the ones you love have a wonderful day. I know you did a lot. And now its time to enjoy your tree with your wine and favorite book. Mine will be War and Peace ( I know that sounds snobby but you should give it a try. No one understands women better than Leo.).

And as you rest, I am sure the refrain is re-echoing Gloria, in excelsis Deo...


Saturday, December 20, 2014

its beginning to look a lot like christmas!


Ok, but truly, it is. I hope you are enjoying it and taking it in. I hope that the stress has subdued and that you are coasting into the last week and actually able to have some quiet, reflective time; something we all crave. It is part of how we are made. It is that restless yearning in us that longs for something more. Make no mistake. :)

Besides striped sweaters and skinny jeans; caramel macciattos, boots and bags; the idea of a shimmery olive table cloth for Christmas dinner with bits of red, coral and peacock thrown in; and black nail polish with gold glitter for Christmas I can't get enough of relationships. It is such an honor to be mom. The one the kids confide their deepest secrets in. The one the baby looks to and checks for affirmation from. The one who holds court and hears both sides before making the sentence.  WHAT?!?! Back the truck up! ;)

A young family has all the opportunity of the world. From the very beginning, we show our kids life and frame their viewpoint of it. We show them what is normal, what is special, and what is most important by what we say, but mostly by what we do. For better or worse. And therein lies my gratitude. Yes, we all make mistakes daily. I am not living in the clouds. But, we have the opportunity to reflect and grow in our understanding and in our lives along with our children. We have the chance to help them to speak to each other and listen to each other. When there is a conflict, which there always will be because as a favorite Saint says, stones are polished with stones and souls with souls ( St. Josemaria), it is a great opportunity to promote communication skills. That sounds so trite, but aren't relationships the things that really matter in the end? And the kids will grow up and form close bonds of their own one day. They will have learned that not everyone thinks and feels like them. And they will have learned to respect that and cherish it.

So, my prayer for my family and yours is that we make the most of the break and truly enjoy each other's company, seeing each one for who they really are. Each person is an entity unto themselves and is part of making the tapestry more beautiful.

Have a great day, my friends!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

on the road with Mary

There are 2 very diverging topics on my mind today. Let's see if at the end, they connect somehow. :)

I have two very beautiful friends who are always dressed smashingly. They have two very different styles. One is very classic European who wears blazers better than anyone I know. The other rocks bohemian pants and shirts with the best of them. But fashion sense is not the only thing I have learned about them. I know their clothes, meaning, I could count their go-to outfits or pieces that they wear in different combinations. For them, looking good isn't about quantity but quality. And they just don't buy a lot of clothes because that just isn't a part of their culture. They buy clothes that they truly like, that express themselves, and they wear them. They aren't the least bit concerned about people seeing them in the same thing in a week's time. It's actually quite normal.

Our culture, on the other hand, puts so much stock in what we have, including what we wear. We loose sight of dressing in what we like and instead, try to keep up with what is on trend. And this season the buying craze gets in our psyche.

So instead of showing you outfits that look great or things you can buy others ( which I love as much as the next gal!), I'm going to propose making the most of what is already in your closet. Making the most of the gifts you give. It is rewarding in its own way to use what we have and buy smartly, only purchasing the special thing that would make something put together.

I felt this way when I was trying to figure out what my boys were going to wear for a more dressy Christmas party recently. They had pants and these cute blue checked shirts they wore for Easter with these adorable mint green bow ties. How could I recycle these outfits? The idea of hot-pink suspenders came to mind.. but I then realized that may not go over too well. :) So, I went for red suspenders and THEY LOOKED SPECTACULAR, if I do say so myself. I was so proud of this little accomplishment that made so much sense.

So, I didn't get to Mary yet, but I am thinking more about her as our friend as we approach Christmas.  What was she thinking? What was she feeling? She new she was on the way to a crowded city and was probably going to give birth there. Did she know she was going to be flying to Egypt soon to save the life of her son? Did she know they wouldn't find a room in an Inn? Being closer friends to this holy, marvelous, beautiful woman will teach us many things just by being in her presence...

Have a wonderful day, my friends!
I am off to enjoy some gift wrapping later in the day.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

why i love florida

Growing up stays with us. It seems like childhood is always our frame of reference for much of our lives, and we measure other experiences according to the norm of our childhood. This goes for customs, surroundings, smells, and culture. I know the smell and feel of a Maryland Fall day, the barrenness of winter, the feel of our ocean condo and the beach in the early evening when we were all cleaned up from the salt water. These are all part of me now, and I love them.

If you asked me five years ago whether I saw Florida in our future, I would have definitely said NO. But as the saying goes, some doors were closed and a window that was Miami was opened and we took the leap of Faith. And those of you who have read this for over a year know how much Miami will be in my heart. But we weren't meant to be for forever.

So here we are on the West Coast, and I have had time to reflect about my own kids and what their childhood is like. I used to lament that they wouldn't remember or for the youngest ones, know what a snow day was. They wouldn't smell Fall and feel the change of Seasons. They wouldn't know the Mall ( which is the place where all of the monuments are in DC) and the grandeur of our Capitol City each Christmas.

But they have seen an armadillo in our backyard. Instead of a million squirrels, they can catch lizards and make them their pets. Instead of robins, bluejays are the norm, and dolphins are their deer. They swim all winter; they go to the beach whenever we feel the whim. Nature is a part of you down here. I see them commune with it. A tangible manifestation of this was when we visited my parents last Christmas and a bird got into the house. The frightened bird found friends in them and proceeded to let ALL THREE of them hold it in their palms without flinching or flying away.

And what about the seasons? The other day, just as I was feeling a bit remorseful over the kids not experiencing Fall, my daughter turned to me after taking a break from swimming and said, "Mom, it's Fall! I can smell it!" Their childhood will be it's own thing, just as their lives will be.

Have a great weekend, my friends!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

'tis the season


for what?

I am not being facetious. We are meant to be waiting, searching internally for something, for Someone that the ancient hebrews were awaiting quite literally. Maybe we are not waiting at all, except for the gifts we are going to give and get; for the festivities. We feel no need to be redeemed from ourselves, no inner longing for something more.

Those gifts and parties are all fine and good, but Advent is supposed to be about something more. About something deeply personal and communal.

I'm not complaining. Or maybe I am. I am getting ready to throw a great birthday bash for my little guy and this is something I love to do. But hovering over my head and all around me are the demands: the Christmas play outfits that haven't come from direct channels so that I'm not sure what the requirements actually are and so the certain knowledge I will be scrambling around town looking for an all-red shirt at the last minute, infant in tow; the gifts for family members near and far, ready and wrapped and sent on time if far because no one wants to wrap extra presents sent to their home from Amazon; the idea that I will be making countless trips to Target or Walmart because I have forgotten something each time or they don't have that certain toy; the family picture that hasn't been taken for the Christmas cards that haven't been bought.


It's so funny, I could cry..


So, what am I going to do about it? Nothing for now. I'm just putting it out there because I know you all feel the same way. Sometimes just sharing makes it better.

Have a great day you all. And perhaps if we embrace our inability to do everything perfectly this season, we will have made a small start toward letting a Savior in.

Friday, November 7, 2014

chug chug putt putt


Sometimes I am with ya! I feel great, healthy, energized, ready to take on the world! It's almost Thanksgiving, and then Christmas! It's a magical time of year! Bring on the laundry. The meals. The shopping. The homework. The sports. The reading. The tantrums! I'm ready!

Now is not that time. It's amazing how I forget how much my thyroid, or lack of, affects me. Pregnancy and post-partum changes affect me dramatically. I was talking with a friend who also has young kids who just got part of hers removed and we could totally relate to each other. Anxiety runs high, patience runs low, and you can feel like crying altogether too often all the while wondering why your body keeps chugging along to climb the mountain only to sputter out once you're at the top. Blood draws show levels of functionality, but the feeling of being "off" is something you just can't put your finger on or entirely explain. As a woman waiting for the doctor the other day put it, "it's (thyroid) where your emotions are." And emotions are (almost) everything.

So we try to fight it. Try to fix it. And it's a losing battle. And so finally, I decide to just lose. I am not ready to take on the world right now. But I sure as hell can relish the little joys of life. In the end, those are the big things anyway. Sometimes when you lose, you win.

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

fall's happy thoughts

chunky white sweaters




kids eating candy apples


playing on a much cooler beach


And more magic to come


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

mustard done right

It's October, and while others are seeing ORANGE, I see MUSTARD.



Can you imagine the above dining room with a graphic black and white pendant lamp?


Mustard looks polished and complete all by itself but it also goes so beautifully with other color combinations. It moves easily from Fall to Winter (think greens or reds or even deep fuchsia, depending on your taste).  It can even transition to Spring, which visually speaking, is always my pull...


I think mustard is calling my name.

And the CUTEST mustard of all?

Have a great day!

Friday, October 17, 2014

chubby hands and cheeks

I never felt drawn to this image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Until lately. It's in our "study," a room I am more and more grateful for. It's small, off the kitchen, is more serious in nature with a bookshelf and a couch that can unfold when guests come. It's where I pray best when I can't go to a chapel.

I will leave the contemplation of the expression of her eyes to you. 

If you look closely, you can see baby Jesus' hands wrapped around Our Lady's neck. I never saw that before. It's such a real position, as my baby reminds me of daily. He needs her. He loves her. She makes him safe. And he chooses her, too, not just her, him. 

The time when my daughter's chubby  baby fingers cling to me and she presses her cheeks against mine will not last forever. She will grow and she won't cling to me so literally. For now, I am reminded of the greatness of this tiny gift.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


So, I normally check out decor blogs when I have 5 minutes. But, this morning, I was in some major need of inspiration for style ideas for MYSELF. You see, I keep telling myself when I look in the mirror that that isn't really what I look like. I mean, my stomach and hips just aren't that big.

Do you ever look in the mirror and think the same things? It's hard to come to terms with the less-than-ideal you. And I know I just had a beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful baby. I KNOW! But, I want to feel good about myself, too, now, and not a year from now ( fingers crossed! HAHA).

I am being brutally honest today, my friends! So, after searching for "mom style blogs" I came across the pleated poppy and stacey thacker (through the pleated poppy) "what I am wearing wednesdays." They were fun, spurred my imagination a little, and gave me access to a bunch of pictures of women who have similar problem spots as I do in their own outfits so I could judge what styles best flattered them, and therefore me, before I started out on my shopping day. When I am my best weight, I can get away with a lot. Now? Almost nothing;) ;). I have to be really choosy, I realized.

I stopped by my favorite Marshalls ( a funny aside: my bf Michelle in Md counts the number of times I say Marshalls when we talk) this morning and after trying on 12 pieces, only came out with one. BUT, I educated myself on what looks flattering on me right now so that I present the best me I can. AND, I picked up some Tahari leopard dress shoes with a low heel ( so I don't end up taller than my hubs) for $40.. instead of $250!! That was an investment because I haven't bought dressy shoes in who knows how long and also a nod to my femininity.

Days like these are so vital to us women, and especially moms. I have learned over the years what the job description of a mom entails, and one of the parts we downplay is taking care of ourselves. Part of our job is exercising, pampering ( within the budget), and yes, shopping for clothes that suit us. It's all a part of life.

Have a great day!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

things i'm loving

So, when I look at other blogs, I notice a couple of things I like.
1) Presentation
2) Soul
3) Subject Matter
I am hopeless at number one for the time being. My pictures look fuzzy and my layout is pretty standard. For that, I am sorry, because I know how nice it is to have a clean finish!

But I hope to deliver both 2 and 3. At least, that is why I am here. I like to see personality come through other blogs. If it is flat, no matter how pretty the pictures or how good the subject matter, I have a hard time coming back. It's like having a conversation with someone who just won't take it a step further and keeps everything at arms length. I don't want to invade privacy, I just want to know there is a human being in there, you know? Unfortunately, Americans ( in general!) have perfected the art of hiding themselves from the world. Eyes that look out and will stare you down 'til the cows come home, but won't let you in. There is a woman who worked at one of my favorite stores on the Key that I got to know. One day we were talking about different cultures and she related that while vacationing in Spain, she met someone and knew instantly that he was Cuban by his eyes. Sure enough, she was right. In the words of Michael Franti, "can you say what you mean, can you mean what you say, every single day?"

And here are some pics of things that really caught my eye ( the reason I began this post in the first place! haha). I love to see some recaps of what other bloggers are liking for fun so I thought I would do it, too! I can't remember the sources, but check out the yellow door, the dark blue dining room ( gonna keep that in the back of the mind for the future), and gold grout (and her printed blouse while you are at it)! Awesome!

Have a great day, friends!

Monday, September 8, 2014

things you don't see every day

I was flipping through some magazines and a few things caught my eye. I think they were from Southern Living, but I can't remember. By now you know I am technologically challenged and I can't flip the pictures the right way. I keep forgetting to ask hubby, but wanted to post since its been awhile!

1. The covered desk.

And why not? It is a beautiful way to work, and can be really cost-effective if you buy a sturdy but cheap table.

2. The living nook.

Sometimes living rooms are beautiful but rarely can you imagine yourself really lingering there. But this one is completely surrounded, making it so inviting!! It's like the window seat, only way better. Well done.

3. The cluster room.

You know how family room/kitchens are the catch all but also the places that are seen by everyone? That always bothers me. But this house plan allows for a cluster room off the kitchen and part of the mud room- think grocery bags, laundry baskets waiting to be washed or folded, things you dump from the car like pool toys and backpacks- all this stuff that is too much for the typical mudroom to hold and that ends up in the kitchen. I hope the future of home building takes this route!!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

sad funny man


Like you, I have been checking out Robin Williams clips on Youtube. Watching his breadth of material, especially live, reminds us of the depth of his talent. He is a household name. And all of us wish he had had a better end.

I came across this in one of my favorite books by Josef Pieper entitled A Brief Reader on the Virtues of the Human Heart.

... a person, who in the final analysis is in despair, can appear to be a thorough-going optimist in the penultimate concerns of existence, such as the naturally cultural, to others and to himself, so long as he is able to seal off radically the innermost chamber of despair, so that no cry of pain can erupt outward ( and it speaks volumes that the contemporary man of the world has made a real art of this).

I am not smugly sitting in judgement of Robin Williams. I know he suffered more than I will ever know. Pieper's line, "no cry of pain erupt(ing)" reveals something of the physical/emotional/mental agony a despairing person feels. I am merely suggesting that this is occurring more than we realize in the people around us, perhaps even in ourselves.

Leo Tolstoy is probably my favorite author for many reasons. One of the things he highlights in his books is the living on the surface and according to very nuanced but real social rules required by the Russian upper class. This unnatural way of behaving is pitted against some very natural people who either don't know the rules or know the rules and follow them, but loathingly. Anyway, I bring this up because I see the same thing every day in the world around us. We are not dealing with a war at our doorstep or an outbreak in Ebola ( and lets all stop a moment to pray for these people!), but we are dealing with something just as deadly: the lack of a whole, unified existence.

Ok, so that is sad. What to do? Well, if you haven't read the above mentioned book, start there! I am reminded of the inner order we are created to have by reading things like this. Its not a self-help book. Rather, it is an intellectual study of how man is created within himself. And then, as a good friend put it, "spend time in prayer each day, getting to know God and yourself."

I hope you have a thoroughly happy day, my friends!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

using what i got

So, my eldest daughter suggested the name for this post. :) I love sharing this idea with her~ being creative and frugal. I don't know what it is, but I have a mini obsession with decorating, but doing it as cheaply as I can. There are just so many deals to be found!! The only things I got new are the lemon branches ( Target, <$10), the goldish butler tray table next to the couch ( about $80), and the two peacock lamp things on the table that I can't remember what you call~ ha!~ ($20 each).  

I had to add these next two pictures because I swapped things around after sitting on my couch while nursing for a good month. Something wasn't bright enough so that plant and silver framed picture got put there along with that pewter tray from my wedding. Below, I put the chair with the pillow and shaw there to fill out that space until we save for a buffet. There are just more important things on our list right now.

I think I love to decorate my home so much because its my "place." Its where I live, "work," and spend most of my time. I want it to be happy and lovely. It has to have color but also show a bit of seriousness, combining all of the aesthetics of the places I've called home: stately DC, breezy and bright Miami.

How about you?
Have a great day!

Monday, July 21, 2014

then vs now


The arrival of our fourth occurred last month! In the first couple of weeks, I couldn't help but compare welcoming my first 9 years ago with welcoming our 4th most recently. And none of these has to so with them, but more with myself.

At times I wonder if I'm being the mom I want to be. Am I there for my kids emotionally? Am I teaching the necessary values and virtues? Do I show loyalty to my husband, their father, so that they know the meaning of obedience? Do I keep up with the house, providing a pleasant environment for them to call home? All of these things require a self-mastery I didn't easily recognize in myself at the outset.

Nine years ago, I had one child, and yet I had all of the challenges of experiencing motherhood for the first time; the complete sacrifice of my time, my sleep, and even my meals until a later time. In the past 9 months, people have looked at me funny but also with respect that I was soon to have my fourth. They said they could never do that. I can understand them. I remember that time of initiation into motherhood and how hard it was for me, too, simply because of a lack of experience of giving up many of my own ways and plans, something we all go through. But what I recently came to realize with the arrival of our fourth is how after all of these years, I don't mind as much  all of those little sacrifices. It does indeed get easier in some respects.

The fact that I do all of the same things this time around as I have done with each and every baby I've been so very fortunate to have, but with the ease and peace that comes with experience shows that I have made some  progress toward being the kind of mother I want to be. It isn't as hard for me in many ways which means it's become more of a habit to perform all of these little tasks of love.

None of us will be perfect except in heaven. All we can do is try to give of ourselves the best we know how. It is funny how being open to life's experiences, which for me has meant having four children, helps you on toward your goal, naturally. But that must have be God's plan all along. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

music to my ears

Hello everyone! I am taking a little break while the kids have "rest time" ;) during Spring Break. I happen to have Pandora on the Van Morrison station while catching up on some lovely, eye-catching blogs. But I'm most glad that I happened to let my ear follow Ben E King singing Stand by Me, a song we all know and love, because for a moment I heard Beauty. The melody is nice, the words are wonderful, but what I heard was a soulful voice that can inject meaning by the way a note is sung. What a gift music is to us! I hope you listen to some today that give you that glimpse of heaven!

Up next I'll show you what I've been up to around the house as far as decorating. I think I'm making some headway! Have a great day!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

stuck in a moment

Hello there:). I have friends up North suffering from too much snow and cold. They are literally stuck in their house. Yes, snow can be beautiful, but I feel their pain. I, on the other hand, have warm, sunny days that makes it always feel like Spring. But, my health is such with this pregnancy that I find myself counting down to when life can become more normal again and I can do everything I want and need to again.

Don't we all do that? When we are faced with a situation that stifles our freedom, we balk, we look ahead. I've written about this once a long time ago regarding my cancer experience because it crystallized my feelings and reactions when something greatly limited me. Now my experience is much smaller, and has a happy package growing inside:), but some of the feelings are the same; isolation, frustration, boredom.

So what do you do when you are stuck in a moment? Close your eyes and make a wish that it will end soon? Plow through as best as you can, day after day? I think not, because these are moments when we can really connect with life and the people around us because we are stopped in our tracks and knocked off of our horse, per se.

So, lets:

1. Work. Putting off little things that mount up is a big no no! Do what you can and tell yourself you've done well, even if it is far less than a "normal you" could accomplish.

2. Plan. Make a list of essentials and stick to it. Do what is on the list so you can check it off!

3. Take time to just be with others. You have to just hang out, anyway, right? Might as well make that quality time and enter into another's story and get out of your own.

4. Get creative. My husband has been insisting on my practicing piano more. When I actually follow his advice, it pays off. ;) ;)

Off and running. Hope this is something you can relate to. It's where I am at, so that's what I've got. Besides ordering new short green goblet water glasses ( we don't have a set anymore) from OneKingsLane! HAHA.

Have a great day and have a listen! Stuck in a Moment, U2

Sunday, February 16, 2014

accessories I'd spring for

Spring comes with the new fashion and I spent a few minutes seeing what is out there. I am not looking too much at clothes because I will be buying from different venues this year. ;) But, accessories are something we all can fit into! And I don't buy them unless they really say something. That's what they are for anyway, right? So I saw a few things that I think would fit in any locale - east or west, bohemian or preppy ( the town we live in now is VERY preppy).

( earrings and shoes: Ann Taylor. scarf: Banana Republic)

Many times the necklaces I love are too heavy for my neck. So the next best option is scarves!

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

taking time for baby


I have veracose (sp?) veins running down my legs. I huff and puff getting up the stairs. I loathe to bend over to pick up something because it cuts off my breathing for a second. My hormones have gone hay-wire.

So, before working out, I took a minute for my baby. I checked out what is going on in utero this week ( 21!!) and thought back to her second ultrasound. She was playing with her umbilical cord at 18 weeks- actually swatting it! I had never seen one of my children do that. When she hears the kids in the car after school, she starts kicking around, already a part of the group. We have very strong personalities in this house and she is not one to let herself go unnoticed. She is one special little lady.

Life is hectic, whether you are having your first or 10th child. It involves different stresses and different demands, but the feeling of being stretched beyond our capacity is there, none-the-less. And thats ok. It's time to sit down, think about the reality of your life, and come to the acute awareness that all that really matters right now is the loves you have in your life; the people and those precious relationships you have with them. You'll figure everything else out.

Have a great day.

Monday, January 27, 2014


These antlers have been on my mind for about 3 years and have been in my possession for almost one year. They have finally been put up in my home! So I think I can mark that as an accomplishment! Now for creating memories and a life here.
You can see a bit of streamers on the piano for my husband's birthday. We are having a couple of new neighbors over for dessert tonight to start warming the house up. I decided that rather than wait to be who we are until we are all more comfortable, just jump right in. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time. Another thing I bring from Miami...

Have a great day!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

stuck in a moment

We are on the Gulf of Mexico! We've been here for a week + 1 day and I can already feel the pace slowing and life becoming more simple. Partly because I have no friends here ;). HAHA! But partly because this move is so different from the last one. I don't know what it was about Key Biscayne, but it shored me up and got me fit for.. anything.

Do I recommend moving? If you don't have to, there is no need. But if you have to, welcome it. God has a plan and reason for moving us here. I don't know what it is entirely, but the smooth gulf and white sands stretching for miles tell me its alright.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

brighter than the sun

We are all prone to certain things. It's just how we are made. And it's not bad.

I'm prone to reflection. I remember being a child and young adult with a certain restlessness. Not the type that appears externally, but entirely in my own inner world. There was a seeking, but toward what? I wanted to be enveloped in the security of a world where the whole and all of its parts were understood and supporting me in my journey.

I thank God that I have that now. What an incredible gift we are given to discover Truth. It's a life's work and the best one we will ever have,  ending in the basking of His light, warm, sure, and full.

Happy new year.