Sunday, September 29, 2013

This Year's Michaelmas and Feast of the Archangels

Thank you all so much for the prayers.  Brian came home a few days ago.  I so so appreciate all the prayers you are offering and I have been praying for your intentions as well.

Rather than the devil's food cake we've traditionally had to celebrate Michaelmas (and our Michael's name day) I decided to switch things up this year and do an apple cake.  The apple is often used as a symbol of sin and the fall in Eden and who was the creep behind all that?  The devil, of course.  The one who gets it handed to him by Michael.  Besides, end of September?  Apples.  So after seeing Julia's beautiful Upside Down Pear Gingerbread Cake pop up in my feed in the morning, I knew it would be the perfect feast day treat.  I substituted apples and upped the spices a bit because that's how I do and my first attempt at an upside down cake was a relative success!

St. Michael is totally taking charge of this cake.  The statue to cake ratio does seem a bit unbalanced but it certainly makes St. Michael look more powerful.  We don't always do feast day gifts but once in a while we pick out something special.

And I didn't want to forget the other archangels because they rock and St. Raphael and I are tight so get ready for a catechetical culinary stretch.  We topped the cake with homemade vanilla ice cream to represent Gabriel being sent to Mary (who was most pure) and salted caramel sauce to represent Raphael being the patron of Marriage and the sweetness (and saltiness :) of married life.  I know.  Total stretch but you guys, a stretch never tasted So. Good.

Food photographer I am not.  But oh my goodness, it tasted like fall was having a party in my mouth.

Earlier in the day we took a quick hike after Mass at a nearby trail and then had a bonfire.  It sort of goes with St. Michael and the casting into hell thing, right?  Michael picked out hamburgers and corn and really wanted to eat them outside by the fire and so that's what we did.  

And if you're picturing some grand picturesque outdoor tablescape, this is what it actually looked like:

Michael was having too much fun with the fire to notice our lack of aesthetics and was just over the moon excited all day that it was his day.  We had to go inside for the cake which we enjoyed after washing off the permeating reek of smoke emanating from our children.

Seeing his cake

Realizing the statue is for him

We didn't use a sword this year but Michael still got to be the one who cut the cake.  
(Ha, St. Michel photobomb!)

We ended the night with our normal prayers but it turned into an impromptu and incredibly grace-filled moment where we all laid hands on Michael and took turns thanking God for him and praying for him individually. It was so beautiful and definitely something I want to repeat for other name days and birthdays.  

Ss. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, please pray for us!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Prayer Request and a Little Harvesty {phfr} - volume 33


Out of all the sunflowers we planted this year, one survived.  It was one of the ones that John Paul had intended to sell at his pear/lemonade/tomato/sunflower stand so he considers it "his sunflower" and is quite proud.  It's an Autumn Beauty so it has several blooms all over and though the bugs and deer have been coveting it, so far it remains alive.

Also, it's my submission on Cari's theme today of "out."  Is there any flower that holds less shame than the sunflower?  It just bursts out, unafraid and unembarrassed to be what it is.  I could take a lesson, I think.


These are dragon tongue beans a variety we bought at our seed supplier simply because they looked neat and had a great name.  They ended up also being our tastiest bean we grew this year and there are plans to plant more next year.


We harvested two edible and tasty cantaloupes a few weeks ago and this munchkin version also got picked.  It shriveled up in the fridge before I noticed that we should've cracked it open right away.  


No pic of this this week but could I ask you a huge favor?  Would you please pray with us for a very special intention?  Brian is out of town again unexpectedly to be with his family.  I wish it were possible to share my heart here but I'm hoping you will understand and simply pray for Brian's family without knowing the details.  Would you do that please right now?  Thank you so so much, friends.  It means more than you know.

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter and Cari's Theme Thursday.  Hope you're having a great day!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Morning Musings (Included: Why We Are Nothing Short of CRAZY)

I'm feeling very much compelled to write a post even if I don't say all that much for the simple reason that all my morbid self can picture is something tragic happening to me and it'll be all "and her last post was about the plans for her funeral..." and I can't have that.  So it's a Monday morning and we survived our camping trip (Take that, bears!) and I'm going to write so that my last thoughts are random and not creepily foreshadowing and such.  Besides, I really need to get off the idea that I must have The Perfect Topic in order to write.  I can just...write.  And we'll see how that goes.

Yes, we went camping and instead of glorious hikes through the majesty of God's nature we got this:

It rained the entiiiiiire day on Saturday.  Which was a bummer.  The kids still had a blast getting soaked and playing with fire and wading in the creek and going on a treasure hunt planned by my super fun brother in law and sister.  It ended with a piƱata filled with smoke bombs and those snapper thingies so you know, that was pretty much the coolest thing ever.   Most of us adults spent out time all huddled in the one cabin or trying to keep the littlest ones from slipping in the mud and/or falling into the fire.  Except, of course, for some dancing to Michael Jackson by the light of the evening fire which is a requirement of any good camping trip, obviously.  And I spent most of the weekend avoiding both liquids (because outhouse) and looking into a mirror.

We left early Sunday morning because we were pretty done and the campsite was still completely soaked and muddy.  Today the five loads of laundry are already done, Luke slept until after 5 a.m. (!), and I already know what's for dinner so it's going to be a good day.

Oh, and we came home to two emails informing me that we sold two books on Amazon!  Did you know I did that?  Sold books on Amazon?  It's not really a thing, in fact it's been almost a year since one sold, but we have a bunch of totes in our loft of rare books that we listed on Amazon years ago (that we got for freeeee!) and once in a great while we sell something and it's fun.  So we sold two books and if you ever need extremely obscure books on Shakespeare, English theatre, or Joseph Conrad, I'm your girl.  I should tell you about that story of how all that happened sometime.  God always provides even if it's in unconventional ways.  He totally does.

What else?  John Paul has been waiting and waiting to go on a date with me.  We had big plans last week for a trip to get ice cream, go to Dick's (for arrows and baseballs), get some much needed clothes because he insists on growing, and go to Lowe's (I'm not sure what he needs there but it is VERY important).  My client called an hour before we were supposed to go last time and she was in labor so our plans got diverted for a bit.  I'm hoping this weekend will work.  That boy is growing up and it is all so crazy wonderful and can I tell you how much it rocks having a big kid?  It is so neat to have conversations with him and watch him figure out the world and I am so excited to see what God has planned for him. He reminds me so much of his namesake.  I always think of him as our little Renaissance child.  He's one of those kids that no matter what he does, he can be good at it.  It's going to be hard for him, I think, to figure out just what gifts he wants to refine, you know?  I picture the late JPII during his growing up years like that kid in school that you want to not like because they are good at everything but it's impossible not to like him because they are really genuinely nice and friendly and open and unassuming about it all?  Anyway, it's pretty amazing seeing your kids develop their own personalities and coming into their own a bit and with that comes a whole new world of parenting to navigate.

 Oh.  SPEAKING OF BLESSED JOHN PAUL II and sort of the entire point of this post because I just realized I can't keep it in anymore and I need to share it with you.  Can I tell you why we are the most absolutely insane and yet crazy blessed family in the world right now????  The other night we bought. tickets. to. Rome.  


ROME.  I mean, I don't guys, ROME.  Hold on, while I breathe in my paper bag again.  
But really.  ROME.  For realz!!!!!!!   FOR EASTER AND THE CANONIZATION.  Totally the most insane thing to do with four kids and all but ROME.  
Do you know we have dreamed of going to Rome since we met?  And then we made the super most regretted decision ever and cheaped out and went to Maine of all places for our honeymoon.  (Not that there's anything wrong with Maine, of course, but neither of us had ever really thought about going there and it's. not. ROME.)  That's one time when a little bit of debt would have been SOOO worth it.  But at the time the tickets were thousands of dollars and you know, Theology degrees.  We got an awesome deal on airfare and you guys, we clicked the button and now  
We've watched friends and other people go and have always been so happy for them and NOW WE GET TO GO, TOO!!  We are totally viewing this as a pilgrimage.  It will be insane and difficult and amazing and borderline terrifying and crowded and we're going to need to give up a lot of other things in order to make this work and I will totally need to bring my paper bag to deal with the craziness but from what we can tell, 
God wants us there, you guys.  
And it's ROME.


Breathe.  Okay.  Monday, lessons, dinner, children, must tend to these things still.  In the meantime, more pictures of camping:

Also, ROME:


Friday, September 20, 2013

Seven Quick Rules for my Funeral

So like I told you in my heavy and ultra-serious post of yesterday, I realized I am, in fact, going to die someday.  In light of that realization, I thought I would write out some rules for whomever will be tasked with planning my arrangements.  Blog posts are legally binding, right?

As mentioned yesterday, you may under no circumstances play On Eagle's Wings, Be Not Afraid, I am the Bread of Life, Amazing Grace, or for the love of God, All I Ask of You.  If upon reading any of these titles you are thinking to yourself, "Oh, I love that song!  What is wrong with that song?  It is so touching." then you are not the proper person for choosing my funeral music.  You can be in charge of sandwiches.

My most pressing requirement in choosing a funeral parlor is that the mortician (Is that p.c.?  I feel like that may be an offensive word or something.) be skilled in knowing how to properly present a female face.  No hideous shades of lipstick, no caked on foundation and - this is important - the mortician must be aware of the critical importance of facial hair removal.  I learned once that your hair continues to grow after you die for some time.  That little factoid has sufficiently scared me out of ever dying and I have been on the perpetual quest to find a friend I can trust with the task of postmortem plucking.*  Upon reading this, you are now hereby legally required that if attending my wake you immediately and inconspicuously pluck out any unsightly hairs you may notice with the tweezers you will have at the ready in your pocket.**  I trust you can disguise this compassionate work of mercy with some clever prayer form as you kneel in front of my perfectly made up face.

*Also applies to comas.
**Bring a razor, too, just in case.

Also, find someone who will make my hair look fabulous.  For once in my life (ha!) I'd like to have great hair.

No eulogy at the Mass.  Just no.  This has less to do with my profound humility as it does that it's not really a part of the funeral liturgy and this is the one time other than my wedding Mass that I get to insist on the rubrics.  I'm dead, you're not allowed to be mad at me or roll your eyes.  I do fully expect and invite many odes of praise and adulation, tears and anecdote sharing during the wake and at the luncheon afterwards.

There must be great food at the luncheon (or dinner, whatever you decide) afterwards.  Or maybe just pizza.  There should definitely be chicken wings.

Put something cool on my prayer cards and pick great readings.

If you spend ghastly amounts on flowers, you obviously did not know me and my cheapskate tendencies well.  I will haunt you and instead of leaving dimes or pennies (that's a thing I've heard of) I will take them away.  You'll be all, "Where did that money go?" and I'll be all "Hahaha!  I'm bringing it to people who know how to use their money well!"  (This is getting ridiculous.)  Pick a few daisies if you must and give the money to something good.

On a related note, get me one of these things from the monks:

But if for some reason that doesn't work out, this will do:

It's a basket casket!  A basket casket.  That is totally me.

Or you could always send me out a la Boromir:

Which I'm guessing is probably illegal.

  Have I sufficiently freaked you out yet?  Fear not.  Because while we Catholics take death seriously we also at the same time get to laugh in its face.  Another one of those fun Christian dichotomies.  Yay!  We'll be heading out camping this weekend so this information may come in handy quite soon because bears.

Now get on over to Jen's where you are guaranteed takes of the way less morbid variety.  And don't worry, I shall be switching topics soon so as not to worry my husband any further.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turns Out I'm Going to Die.

 Move along if you wanted something lighthearted and fluffy on this Thursday afternoon.  Because the past few weeks something has been slowly dawning on me.  I'm dying.  And soon.  I haven't been diagnosed with any terrible disease and I don't have a premonition of some awful accident.  (Well, sometimes I do, but that's just normal paranoia, right?  I'm gonna pretend my chronic envisioning of us plunging over the bridge we have to drive over or of the oncoming truck veering into my lane as completely normal for the moment, kay?)  I really am going to die.  You are, too.  Whether it's tomorrow or a few years from now or when I'm old and wrinkly and clinging to a hospital bed, it's going to happen, guaranteed.  And then it's just going to be me, my choices, my state of heart, and...Him.  

I don't know if He'll let me dribble on my excuses or if they'll be some infused knowledge of all. the. things. and where I stand in all of it (likely the latter, I suppose) but in the end, this is all going to end.  It's a sobering yet freeing thought.  These struggles, the crosses, the drama, the decisions over which I agonize?  They'll end and in the big ol' scheme of things, they will pass away.  They do matter, oh yes they do.  It is those decisions and crosses and our state of heart in the way we respond to them that are of huge importance to the state of our souls.  We have the capability of rejecting Him for all eternity with some of these choices.  God is not some sadistic practical joker orchestrating some elaborate plot on us only to reel us in at the end with a big noogie and a "ha!  Got 'ya!"  These things matter.  But they will end.  We will die.  And then the truer reality begins.

Our crosses and struggles seem so big in the moment.  They seem to be everything and sometimes they threaten to swallow us whole.  But if we can step back and with the help of a big ol' helping of grace see them for what they truly are?  We would love them for cleansing our souls and preparing us for heaven.  We would embrace them.  We would thank God for showering us with the mercy of a cross to carry.

One of the things I love about our parish is that we have a cemetery in the backyard.  We Catholics are constantly reminded about death and we think about it a lot.  Or at least we should.  We remember those who have died at every Mass, we talk constantly about the saints in heaven and celebrate those who were martyred in gruesome hideous ways, and at the front of every church we even dare to display a man dead and mangled hanging on a cross.  We are often reminded about our earthly death and rightly so.  In a culture that seeks to glorify the young and live forever, the Church (sometimes appearing to be a cranky old killjoy) bids us gently to see the big picture.  That cemetery in our churchyard is a constant reminder to me that that will, in fact, be me and sooner rather than later.  My name will be on a stone just like that.  That's enough to shake me into making damn sure that my soul is right with Him.  To remind me that the time I have here is precious and valuable and I will have to account for what I did with it.  It's enough (or it should be) to make me pause before making a dumb or selfish decision.  A flimsy lazy Christianity would bid me to take no mind and to do what feels right and make the ultimate snub toward the Lover of our souls and presume upon His mercy.  As long as I don't kill anyone, right?  (For some reason that is the one offense that remains wrong in the lukewarm heart, isn't it?)  God doesn't care about that little thing, right?  Or He loves me know matter what so He will forgive me this thing I am about to do or as long as you have warm fuzzy feelings about Jesus and are His "friend" (whatever that means), you'll be good.  In that we make a mockery of the Blood He spilled and sadden His heart often worse than by the original offense planned.  We are called to be saints, called to a heroic virtue that is completely possible by His grace.  We are called to a total, faithful, fruitful LOVE.  I can make excuses to others or myself but in the end He sees right through it and that is what will matter in the end.  That and His inexhaustible mercy. 

So I'm going to die.  My body will be in a casket and my name on a stone.  There will hopefully be a funeral Mass for me.  (P.S. to my funeral planners:  If you dare have them play On Eagle's Wings or Be Not Afraid I will retract all of this, beg an exemption from God and haunt you forever and ever.  You've been warned.)  The things I fretted over will be long gone.  There will come a day when I will have to answer for my life and I pray that my answer will be sufficient.  Then all of this, the pain, the effort, the crosses, the dying to self, the choice to love even when it will all be so worth it.  I want love to be my legacy and I have so very far to go.  I pray when the day arrives that I die, I will be ready.  I pray that I will hear the words that we all long to hear as He pulls that cross off my bloodied weary shoulders, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  That day is coming and soon.  My choice today is what I will make of that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Late September Daybook

Outside my window...
Dark.  The sun hasn't even peeked up yet and the house is so quiet.  I love the morning.  By the time this thing gets published it'll probably be much much later in the day because that's the way blogging works lately.  (True.)

Thankful for...
Brian.  Friends.  Fall.  Health.  A new baby boy born to a client Saturday night.

Thinking about...
Balancing the internet world with a real life world.  I'm noticing a lot of bloggers lately struggling with this and with what they call "blog envy" and not feeling good enough or feeling pressure to perform.  I've dealt with that as well but can I tell you?  I got off Facebook a few weeks ago and poof.  Gone.  All that static, that noise in my head just...gone.  It's been so very good.  I am such a fan of social media for many things but I have to wonder if many of us are way over stretching ourselves and trying to be in all. the. places. and in the process taxing our families and spirits as well.  I know I was.

I realize I'm risking something by saying this but our year has gotten off to a really strong start.  I'm happy with our plans and so far, I've been keeping my discipline up to get the core done.  We do core subjects in the morning and I bounce like a ping pong ball from one boy to the next tending to whoever has the moment's greatest need.  Afternoons have been getting a little bit more structured as the weather has started cooling but I've still been lax about pulling them inside if they are happily playing out there.  Once the colder cozier weather hits, we'll set aside more of the afternoon for history and read alouds.    They'll be winter enough for all that.

From the kitchen...
I'm not a fancy cook by any means.  Breakfast and lunch are pretty much the same every single day.  And dinners are simple but (I think) relatively healthy.  My current meal planning system is simply to figure it out a month at a time and write it on a dry erase calendar attached to the fridge.  I don't always follow it but like many of my systems, it just eliminates so much stress if I have a plan to fall back on if needed.  It works for me.

Oh, and hopefully a new sink soon!  We found one on Craigslist and Brian picked it up a few weeks ago.  But things have been more than a bit crazy with lots of things going on so who knows when we'll get that baby installed.

 I asked for blog printing money for my birthday and got it so I've been spending time fixing up a whole bunch of old posts from this here blog where the formatting went wonky.   I'm really excited to get it printed out year by year and have a tangible chronicle of this here little life of ours.  Problem is there are only two services I can find that specialize in blog printing, Blog2print and Blurb, and they both pretty much stink.  Seriously, why is this market so untapped and why are more printing companies not doing this??  Blog2print is extremely limited in formatting choices and every choice I tried just looked silly (they separate pictures from text so if your text is about your pictures it no longer makes sense) and Blurb you have to reformat every. single. post. yourself.  Why can't they just print it like it is right on the original?  Anyhoo, if anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know!

Camping this weekend!  My brother-in-law took the lead back in the spring and organized a  family camping trip.  Just a couple of days but I'm looking forward to it.  And praying that the little ones are able to sleep there.  I'm a little nervous that the cabins lack electricity so there will be none of my fancy sound machines happening and it could get interesting.  But we shall overcome and prove that we are strong and brave and can camp with four children like the pioneer people we wish to (not really) be.

To keep this simplicity thing up that I've had going on.  It feels good and right.  Back to the basics.
And for a very very very cool thing that may be happening.  But I can't tell you yet :)

Katie graciously sent me her copy of Hiking the Camino and I cracked it open to read the first few chapters and am looking forward to finishing it maybe this weekend.  

John Paul and I finished reading the first book of The Mysterious Benedict Society and my thoughts are mixed.  He loved it.  There were several times I questioned the writing and plot line and it's not likely to become one of the ones I'll encourage but not likely one I'll discourage.  Thoughts?

For my father-in-law and mother-in-law.  Can I beg prayers please?

For discernment with some really big things.

For abused children and those who have no family.  My heart aches for them.

For Mary and Kate and always for Nella.

Around the house...
There has been so much going on lately that I haven't had much time for house projects.  But there's been lots of learning and playing and reading and organizing.  

Worth a click... 
A Healthy Dose of Birth Fear (Sarah Clark)  "Birth is big and it is wonderful and it will probably bring you to you knees."  Yes.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Recuperating the family from a little cold and camping.  Which is enough.

Picture thoughts to share...

The boy likes his pasta.

Monday, September 16, 2013

This Month in Boys - September 2013

(Pictures taken from our ride on a real steam engine train yesterday, a birthday gift for David from Grandpa and Grandma that we finally got to enjoy!)

John Paul

-has taught himself Morse code.  His day was made last week when Grandpa Frank sent him a postcard all in code.
-after noticing the Ten Ways to Destroy Your Child's Imagination book sitting in our house asked with just the teensiest bit of apprehension while driving in the car, "Mama, why would you want to read a book about that?"  (Commence discussion of the definition of satire.)
-is on the last song from Suzuki Piano Book One!
-can make tacos for dinner almost completely on his own.
-loves his new chemistry DVDs.
-has taken to carrying around a bag with various survival tools inside a la Kate Weatherall in our just finished read aloud The Mysterious Benedict Society.
-is working on designing a new gun this time powered by baking soda and vinegar.
-has been asking for "a date with Mama" for weeks now and will hopefully be getting one soon.
-says chemistry is his current favorite thing to learn.


-has had a bit of a regression in the thumb department that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
-breaks your heart with sweetness with his singing of the Gloria at Mass.
-while explaining to us the next morning why he called for Papa in the middle of the night said "It was just that I couldn't figure out where I was in my bed!"  He had flipped around and apparently couldn't find his way back...
-is obsessed with time.  Actually all the older boys are.  Anytime the clock says something crazy like 1:11 or 12:34 or 5:55 and it is noticed there is much exclaiming and rejoicing.
-is doing a phenomenal job memorizing poems, Scripture, history, and science.  It's amazing what they can retain at this age and I want to deposit as much goodness as I can into that head while it is so ripe.
-knows most of the story of The Fellowship of the Ring but only because John Paul gives him a summary each morning while they are in bed waking up.
-claims grammar as his current favorite subject.


-while listening to It's a Beautiful Day by U2 in the car: "Hey!  They just said it's a beautiful day and it IS a beautiful day!!"
-has finished half of the one dollar math book I bought for him and loves it.
-is the first of my boys to love coloring at this age and is pretty darn good at it.
-could barely let Papa go after he came back from his retreat.  He clung like a little monkey for several hours.
-and on a related note is still the best snuggler.  Physical touch is totally that boy's love language.
-has been doing a a very impressive amount of the memorizing that the older boys are doing.
-chooses reading (i.e. learning letters) as his favorite.


-seems to have started working on that second round of molars.
-has started to have to show you anything and everything he does.  Just like the big kids.
-can identify all the beginning body parts and loves to tell you what sounds the animals make.
-loves being outside.
-and spraying with the spray bottle.  Everything.
-still has the most hilarious positioning when he is getting ready to bat or run.  He is very meticulous with proper form.
-has started waving to everyone, man and beast alike.
-is already showing signs and motivation for being ready to get rid of those diapers even doing the big job THREE times on his own initiative.  Here's hoping that's his new favorite thing to learn.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - volume 32


The fields around here have been covered with these beautiful flowers and the boys have been bringing me bunches.  Anyone know what they are?  They don't last long and I didn't think to take a picture when there were vases of these all over the downstairs before they wilted but it did look so pretty!  These ones pictured are the last (sort of) hanging on.


A trip to the park from a few weeks ago...

Luke was thrilled by the ducks and slightly shocked that one grabbed his snack from him!


I let Luke outside with the boys for a bit the other day and asked them to watch him.  When I looked outside a few minutes later I saw this:

We had Brian's truck for the day since our van needed brakes and it served as the perfect Luke container.  He LOVED it!  He stayed in there happily and safely for a good hour just throwing a ball and watching the boys play!  And I got a much needed break since round two of molars has officially begun.

So basically I should just get the pretty shiny truck and he should take the decrepit rusty van, right?


I got those window seats done just in time for them to serve as the perfect David-size sick bed.  He woke up this morning feeling off and I have been, too, but I think it's already passing through, and for that I'm very very grateful!

Linking up once again with the gals at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekend Project: Super Simple Window Seat Cushions

I do this funny thing sometimes when Brian has to be out of town.  I decide that it would be the perfect time to get a project done.  Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever because I'm being left with one less big person to help run things around here and it's probably the least ideal time to aim to complete a project.  But no matter.  I still do it.  Maybe part of it is that it gives me something to look forward to doing so I don't dread the weekend too much.  And I do like to surprise him with whatever I've accomplished over the time even though often it's something that he never even realized just needed to get done.  Sometimes it's been ridiculous like the time I began repainting all the kitchen cabinets and other times it's just a little thing like organizing a closet.  This weekend it was finally getting real cushions on the window seats he built.  

And lo and behold this was one of the few times that a project actually turned out to be easier than I thought it would.  Made me wish I had just up and done it months ago rather than putting it off so many times.  When I was a little girl I remember always wanting a cozy window seat where I could curl up with a book.  John Paul does just that all the time with these and now they'll be that much more comfy.

This is one of the makeshift "cushions" that was on the seats:

Ill-fitting oversize bed pillows that our mattress guy made and sent along with our mattress.

I went the simple (i.e. NO SEWING!!) route and used the stapling method that you usually see when people are recovering chair seats.

Brian bought me 1/4" plywood and cut it to size last week.  Our seats happen to be 18 1/2"x 39".
I decided to save a huge chunk o cash and reuse the pillows.  Foam is expensive, right?  And I sort of like that the cotton batting gives it a softer rounded and maybe cozier look.  But since the sizes were different I had to take a slice of a bit of the length and add it to the width which wasn't too hard.

I had the grandest epiphany when I went to Joann's to buy some tan upholstery grade fabric and then realized that it cost SO much for their home decor fabric, even on sale, for the color and thickness I wanted.  Especially since what I wanted was so simple!  I realized that a simple canvas drop cloth was pretty much EXACTLY the same thing except even more durable which is helpful since I hope these seats will be well used.  So I saved another bunch o money by picking up a small drop cloth at Lowe's (about $40 or so!) and it had an enough left over to make three pillows!  You guys.  I made pillows!  (Actually I recovered two old and hideous pillows and some clearanced Ikea pillow forms but still.)  I am psyched that I finally sort of figured out the sewing machine enough to make a straight stitch.

I washed the cloth to soften it since it comes pretty stiff and once ironed, it was perfect.  I ended up having to use my nine year old's staple gun that shoots normal size staples since the heavy duty staples would have been too long, I think.  Also, I didn't have a chance to even try the heavy duty staple gun because I'm pretty sure I broke it before I even started so there was that which I'm sure the husband will immediately forgive when he gets home because NEW PILLOWS, right?  

I gave a lot of room on the sides mostly because then I had to cut less and didn't worry too much about it being perfect which was a big moment for me. 

Just like wrapping a present.  (To myself!)  Just make sure to pull everything taut and keep checking as you go to prevent any wrinkles or things getting all askew and such.

I realize they aren't fancy but I am so happy with how simple this was and how much of a difference it made in our little room.  I like that they are snug enough that they won't be sliding off easily but easy enough to remove to get to the storage underneath.  

They're already getting used by the boys and the cat and this has me so looking forward to the cooler weather and lots of cozy afternoon read aloud time with my favorite little people.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Drink It In

 Really, is there any season better than fall?  The smell of leaves and bonfires, the feel of jeans and a sweatshirt, the crisp but not yet frigid air, the tastes, the full hearts and gratitude.  We drink it in, clutching the remaining days knowing that soon enough the earth will sleep again and we will be forced inside biding our time after the initial novelty of the snow wears off until spring makes things come alive again.  

The other day we got a taste of fall in the air and we headed out for a quick exploration of a place we've passed by hundreds of times but had never actually stopped.  It's mostly a town soccer field but off to the side is a walking path that has always intrigued me.  

Brian is away for the weekend leading an Into the Wild retreat for about a hundred other men.  (Pray for them, please?)  Normally, when he has to be out of town I am deliberate about not planning too much and I usually find it easier to manage if we just hunker down for a few days and limit our trips out but the other day I just had to get us out to enjoy this perfect weather.  We were only gone but two hours and it was enough to fill my heart again with reminder after reminder of how blessed I am and how much we are loved.  I watched my boys running to find treasures, exclaiming at each turtle and dragonfly, examining the "poison berries" and the skunk cabbage, fascinated by the blue heron and the tall reeds and the cattails and the fallen trees.  I watched my nine year old stop to jot down notes on the plants he was finding with the notebook and pencil he thought to bring all on his own.  I watched little Luke toddle down after his big brothers and stare into the water enchanted by the fish.  Just thinking about their wonder and innocence can bring me to tears sometimes.  They are so good.  So so good.  I've learned to savor moments like these when things are just right.  They get you through those other moments, the ones that feel like all is wrong.  You have to learn to see them and have the determination to calm the strenuous schedules, the frenetic activities and quiet the other noise.  It is then that those moments multiply and shine and we remember again that this life is so very good and these moments so very fleeting.  And it is then that you remember to drink it in.

(Not a great picture but John Paul was thrilled to recognize the very full pollen sacs on this little guy.)

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