Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real October


My girls made these wreaths during a recent visit to their great aunt's farm, I love them so much.

I love lights, even orange ones, I do!


She was delighted to find the abandoned cereal bowl of her three year old brother.

Her siblings are on the other side playing mailman...she LOVES it!

Two spaghetti bakes for Michaelmas = good friends for dinner in Williamsburg.

 Feeling extremely blessed.

Click here for more PHFR on Like Mother Like Daughter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Fall "ish" Post

My poor summer heat loving husband does NOT LIKE that I do this...

before September 21st. He wants summer to stretch on and on and yet I defy him with pumpkin pancakes.

We have so many beautiful trees here.

This neighborhood is an older neighborhood and so the trees are so large and mature and like it or not, my husband did have to take leaves out of the skiff before we used it last Friday.

I was telling my neighbor a few weeks ago while I was bringing back pots and pans (or something that I borrowed) how much I love fall and am so excited for the reds, oranges and yellows and spices and breezes and leaf piles and....

She has three boys and her youngest son was standing there listening. At the pool that afternoon my neighbor said it was so funny because her son pointed out to her after I left their home, "I know Miss Stephanie loves fall, but mom, everyone loves fall."

Ha! This cracks me up. OF COURSE everyone loves fall! I think especially here after the hot muggy August days. I kind of do walk around like I'm the Queen of Autumn but at the same time I also secretly imagine that I am a Duchess ALL THE TIME. I also have friends who are upstairs people as well. 

The Queen of Autumn needs to find a plaid shawl to wrap around her so she can sit and watch  leaves fall and drink her coffee and snuggle with her baby.

My baby girl is so snuggly in the morning and I love how she stretches on me and nestles her head on me. It is truly heaven. We really have nothing better to do.

In a busy "go go go" world, have we forgotten the value of a long sit with a baby? As the fall sports gear up and clubs and lessons start, I resist so much the pull from this home.

I watch the huge grey squirrels scurrying all around these large oak trees and I know they have a spot where they keep what they have gathered.

 I have always loved the Beatrix Potter books because you could SEE what the small quaint dwellings of the woodland creatures looked like. Miss Tittlemouse and her well swept floor, Peter Rabbit's mother with her herbs hanging from the ceiling.

The squirrel nests (and my girls have knack for finding them) are out of reach and a wonder to me.
What do they do in their nest?

What do you do in your nest?

There is an intimacy in a home and a way a home feels and works that is very special to the family in it. Who may come in? Who reigns in the home? I find that if I have reverence for the sacred space of my friend's homes that they show the same for mine. I also find that as I respect the homes of others that I protect my sacred space as well.

Let me give you an example.

I am blessed to be in a circle of friends who are always having babies. We watch and support one another through seasons. We light our candles on our kitchen sink windows or tables when we find out the other is heading to the hospital or has called the midwife to her home. We wait in joyful anticipation.

Our phones light up with a buzz from the text: "Baby girl is here! Mom is doing well!"

 "Anthony is here! Mom and baby are resting!"

There is relief and praise and then we find out when mommy is at home or who will cover the first meal...and then...the privilege of bringing the meal is also the very great privilege of entering the sacred space of the family.

The home is warm. The baby is swaddled. Mommy is sitting. Big brother is playing with trains. Daddy takes the meal and places it on the counter. We wash hands. We get to hold Heaven. We chat. We share our joy. We are aware of our intrusion, as welcomed as it may be, that there is a balance in the lingering...because this is family time. This space is sacred. We take a load of laundry (oh how glorious this was when Ellen and Angela did that for me). We put our shoes on. We take one more glimpse at this Home.

We go back to our home.

And having been in another family's sacred space, we have a deeper appreciation for our own home. Our people. Our space. Even our mess.

Bless the mess.

Your children crowd around you and want to know about the new baby. Shouts of:

 Did you get a picture of your time in that home?

Can we see!?!? Can we see?!?!

When can we see the baby?!?

In a Facebook/Instagram world we all participate very differently in the lives of other people than we used to. Privacy and intimacy aren't even on the radar for some. We like to share our joy...and that is fine, but I have found that sometimes when I share...I lose some of that sacredness. Finding a balance in what we share, at least for me, has been a great meditation.

Even with this blog, I have had some major struggles with the pictures and the intimate story I have shared about my NFP journey on the web. A few weeks ago, I scrolled back to a post I had of my husband and son napping together in the morning...and I found looking at that picture and moment, that I was going to keep it to myself. So I removed it.

With this home, I want it to be welcoming and comfortable for all but I have a few introverts in my family...who like quiet, who like a small immediate family crowd. I have to remember this is their space, where they do their inner works and where they keep their acorns.

It is sweet to have a bit of mystery surrounding your home, a nest high up in a big oak that one can wonder about.
Maybe that's one of the reasons I love the grey sky of fall and the cooler mornings, because the natural world is a mystery to me as she gets ready to pull in for winter.


Thank you for reading. I love how you are in your own dwellings with your families. It makes me so happy that we can sanctify the world together in this way, through our homes.


Oh my goodness!

How much fun did you have watching Pope Francis' arrival today?!?! His smile gives me energy!

Blessings xxoo

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Hello From Virginia

I am so happy to be writing. The move really did not feel over until we received our shipment of household goods last week. We had packed out of our Juneau home July 1st, so this move did feel long. I have some thoughts on the move that I want to share. I have so much I want to share.

This summer has Catechesis of the Good Shepherd language...a BIG work. A pouring of life work where I literally poured the lentils of my life from an Alaska cup to a Virginia cup. When some lentils missed the cup along the way, I didn't always patiently recover it, but by the grace of we are.

 Yes, I DID get extremely frustrated at times, angry. I distinctly remembered a moment in early August when I was laying on an air mattress in the room over the garage. This whole being sprawled out on the mattress to any passer by might have looked like relaxing but I was truly throwing a fit, a pity party. Fortunately, this room has skylights so I could see the evening sky was just birthing her stars.

I was feeling so much. I think the word is grieving. I was grieving loss. I was truly homesick for my Juneau family and place. I was lying there, fuming at how helpless I was in this move that had HAPPENED to I had mentioned in this labor. It was in this wrestling with my work and looking at the sky that God simply spoke to me,

"This is My Will. Why are you fighting My Will?"

I have tried very hard in the areas of my life to align myself with what I believe is God's will for marriage, as a mother, as the educator of my children. I can say "It has been God's will to have these five children."

I can say also, "It is God's will that my children be educated in our home."

And yet until that evening on that somewhat deflated air mattress I couldn't quite grasp that THE MOVE was His will.

Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts was passed along to me a few years ago, I believe by Janet. Gratitude is the song of that book. So as we waited and waited and waited and waited and waited...

for our things to arrive, I grew impatient.

It was harder to be grateful. My imagination was running out. I couldn't think clearly with knowing that our things would get here but not knowing WHEN (right...I told you it is very much like labor). Every day my husband would come home from work and there would be no update as to when our things would get here and as the weekend approached and we went to bed on our air mattresses yet again, it was hard to smooth out the crinkles in my brow....the stressed brow know...of a woman with worries.

Well, good thing God hand picks our soul mates and as my friend Jennifer points out, what a blessing marriage is a sacrament chalk full of graces because one night... my husband grew impatient with me.

The whole move was different for him. He is from Virginia. I am Navy brat who grew up along the east coast but six years in Juneau was the longest I had lived anywhere.

When people ask Justin where he is from it is...the Northern Neck or Upper Peninsula of Virginia. Though he was just as deeply ingrained in our Juneau community as I was, he is excited our children get to experience his Virginia.

And so one evening, when this Virginian grew impatient with my whining about our stuff, his scolding went something along the lines of...

"Stephanie I can't even listen to you right now. I went to work this morning and all over the news there were pictures of a toddler's body floating onto a beach. We have it so good. We have it so good and I am not going to complain. Our stuff will get here."

There was a bunch of other exchanges and I left the conversation initially feeling rather hurt. I felt my husband was being insensitive to my plight. I felt like I was told to eat my broccoli because of starving children around the world.

And yet his little lecture (which was in a bit of a raised tone because honestly that was the only way to get through to me), gave imagination again and the means to be grateful.

You see, I am sitting with my furniture now. Just as Justin said, it DID all get here. I have my beautiful children and my husband. I have my Church and I have already been blessed with a few kindred spirit mamas from this parish. I have nice neighbors and a beautiful setting. I can't wait to show all of this to you.

And there are refugees who aren't going to be getting there things. There are families who have said goodbye, grieving loss and separation. The simple small things we have...count them, be grateful and bless them. I don't want to be told to look at the suffering around me. Maybe I am so selfish that I would rather just not admit there IS suffering! I unpack my boxes I keep the Syrian mothers, all refugees, close to me. I know we do not take our things to heaven, but certain things DO make a home (even if they have rips and purple marker stains and holes, they make YOUR home).

I wonder...what was the Lord trying to teach me in this move? Was it GRATITUDE? My friend Mary Clare, who just moved here from Denver, gave me a new is something along the lines of...He loves me so much.

I love you Stephanie! I love you, I love you, I LOVE YOU! I was so happy to get close to you in Alaska. That Alaska Atrium is a special spot for us right? Well, I know you have been throwing a fit and you aren't trusting this Virginia Atrium very much, but I have so many new works for you here and I am excited for us, because you think we are close now...but we can be even closer. Isn't that so special? You and me! I love you!

He loves each of us so much.

You are special to Him.

Ok! The family is waking up. My coffee is calling.

I will be back so soon...because fall is in the air here and I am totally going to NERD out in all my FALL GLORY and you will not want to miss my AUTUMN NERD musings! seriously