Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Late November & Early December 2014

My littles made these festive crafts at the "ADVENTure" party at our church. I love having them by the kitchen sink to brighten it up a bit.
My husband was a dear and put the plastic over the garden box window above our sink. Why on EARTH anyone would install one of these in Juneau is beyond me, but it is nice and sealed because our home is heated with oil...and that my friends can be $$$$$$.
The snow is so pretty, winter wonderland Narnia pretty...Justin was shaking the branches of the tress in our side yard causing what we call a "treevalanche."
I love St Francis there in the background.
I let her carry our newest little in the carrier today. She was thrilled.

Our new sister makes us all very happy indeed...

We had a birthday fall on Thanksgiving this happy..

This is some kind of read aloud nest they made for a morning...happy...

A Thanksgiving tradition is to take a picture of any butterballs we have in the house with the Butterball turkey...she is so tiny mother is holding her and we decided it is a bit borderline child abuse to continue to do this.
My parents spent ten days with us. It was such a blessing to have the extra help and grandparent time. I was most impressed with my dad being quite young at heart and much so that he put on iceskates and pushed kids around the yard in a snow shovel.

Please check out Rosie's post and some more abundance here. Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, November 21, 2014

She is Here!

Our Little Flower decided to join our family out here on October 31...that's right...we got a treat! Are we happy to have our new little sister?


From that last week of being pregnant all the way to sitting here, I have been entering into one lesson after another in the wisdom of HIS timing. I have witnessed how He orchestrates all. I have to say, I have truly felt alive as I simply trust Him in these fragile new beginning days.

New beginnings of being a mother of five but also new beginnings in just being the mother of this one...

I can't help but want to start to share some things with all of you...going beyond birth stories and even an All Saint's Day miracle I'd love to write and reflect upon...I first want to lift my words in a prayer of Thanksgiving.

We have been so lovingly cared for by the Juneau Catholic Community here and by our Coast Guard family.

In Juneau many of us have our extended family in the Lower 48 so we know...being a city that can only be reached by sea or plane...that our closest kin aren't always a town over. You find yourself "making" family.

Maybe YOU don't actually make it, it is more...the weaving of the Holy Spirit...His incredible handiwork.

This is not to say that you forget your own blood's just...

Janet held a wet wash cloth behind my neck while I was in labor.

Jana watched my children for an evening and two days while we were at the hospital only to have Angela also pick up a night after our sweet girl had a little breathing scare and an All Saints' Day miracle.

Cheryl snuck an 18 count egg carton into my fridge.

Ellen and Angela washed and folded loads of laundry.

Jennifer made sure to have a priest visit our home with the Holy Eucharist because we missed Mass on All Soul's Day.

Nicole made our daughter a quilt...

We had meals...for two weeks...delivered to our home. For two weeks we felt the pure joy of presenting our daughter to our friends and then feasting on homemade deliciousness. The littles were whisked off to playdates with friends...and ice skating dates with daddy...

There was more, I can't even begin to name it was such abundance...I felt the abundance of this autumn season. I felt the fullness of a good harvest. And that is what Theresa means...



This was a very quick post and hello...there is much to reflect on and cherish. I am figuring out hour by hour our new normal and I'm not sure how this blog will fit into it.

Thank you for your prayers. Have a very blessed Thanksgiving xxoo

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real and October Nesting

I posted yesterday on my thoughts about being asked twice in the past month if I wanted a tubal ligation after this pregnancy. I will be 38 weeks Saturday with baby #5, my fourth daughter.

I love this Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real link up because I think its a snapshot of the fullness and abundance of this vocation :) So...

I feel like Mrs. Autumn Woman and I am nesting like a champ here as I wait for this baby girl. Actually my nesting went to a new level as I managed to get rid of an ENTIRE 80's something wall unit. This gem was left with the house when we moved in (we asked for it to be and the people moving out didn't want it...gee I now know why). Its so huge and fits so nicely in the recessed space in the family room that it looks like when they were building our home, the wall unit was there on lot and the builders just...well..built around it.

See all the drawers and shelves. Well, I read a little post on a minimalist blog that said organizing is a sneaky word for hoarding. Ahhhhhh!

I mean...those drawers are FULL of homeschool stuff we MIGHT use someday. 

So...while my husband was underway...that's when I get these ideas...I just started emptying shelves and well...he got home and..." was thinking...."

And then my....


It is so cozy and I feel like its much more conducive to good conversation and reading aloud. We put the monstrosity on Craigslist for free and somebody wanted it the next day! YES! I need some art to put on the blank wall but I am overall very pleased.


A few days ago I let the girls have the run of the family room to play was a play that lasted a day and a half. Not sure if you can see ALL the different table set ups but they were EXTREMELY busy, I mean customer after customer, and it sounded like a successful endeavor.


My eldest made personal laptops for everyone in the family the other day...look at what mine had on it...

Like Mother Like Daughter! Woo hoo!


Never ever ever again...


These pictures seem harmless but I'm so emotionally scarred from doing this craft someone "passed along to me"...being the sucker I am for free stuff...I'm not going to even go on.

Just don't let these into your home ever.

Thank you for stopping by!!! Now stop by PHFR!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Large Family Vision: The Martin Family

Last Wednesday the Church celebrated the feast of St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. We know her as St Therese of Lisieux. I reluctantly passed on Mass being 36 weeks along with the four other littles, but we did manage to go pray and visit her beautiful shrine here in Juneau.

We know that St Therese LOVED nature so we gave her tiny little presents around her statue...

When I took my youngest ones into the chapel to say hello to Jesus, there was a sweet thickness in the air. The Eucharist in the Tabernacle and the natural lighting and the whole feel of the Church seemed to hold the Mass that had been celebrated a few hours earlier. I can't quite figure out the words to describe it, but I felt it engulf me as soon as I opened the chapel door. Perhaps Heaven lingers a bit after it touches down at Holy was a dear gift and grace to be given.

St Therese has had an amazing presence in my life ever since I chose her as my confirmation saint in highschool. I didn't do much research on who she was, I knew she was known as "the Little Flower" and I really liked the way she spelled her name. So, I tend to think she chose me as I was so very careless in my way of choosing her.

When we received the call nearly six years ago from the Coast Guard detailer (think of the "All Powerful Oz") and were told our next tour was in Alaska, like any good Coastie wife I started researching online, specifically on the Diocese of Juneau. I discovered the Shrine of St Therese and not only that, I found out that St Therese is the patron saint of Alaska. I have felt she has been a constant guide in a beautiful motherly way, anticipating my needs on my journey here...specifically in this fifth pregnancy.

In fact, the Holy Spirit has once again filled a spiritual need in my life by gently prompting me to finally read her incredible autobiography. I have read at least two other books ABOUT St Therese all relying heavily on her own Story of a Soul, but let's be honest....we need to get to the heart of things. THE ESSENTIAL of St Therese is her story in her own words.

And I am writing this post under my Large Family Vision literary storehouse of tidbits to remember as I form the vision for my own family.

Apparently there is a whole book about the Martin family, but without having read that book, the small glimpses I have been afforded in St Therese' own words have been inspiring.

And now a peek into the Martin Home (much of which was written in the Prologue)...a home of five daughters who were brought up in the loving care of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin...

Family life held a privileged position. They were content only when together.

There reigned in the Martin family a solid faith that saw God in all life's events, 

paying Him a permanent homage: family prayers together, morning attendance at Mass, frequent reception of Holy Communion, Sunday vespers, retreats.

Their whole life revolved around the liturgical year,

Angel Hair pasta & Devil's Foodcake cupcakes on St Michael's Feast Day

We found these bird cupcakes in the discount bakery bin for St Francis' Feast Day!
 pilgrimages, a scrupulous regard for fasts and abstinences. Yet there was nothing stiff and bigoted in this family that was unacquainted with formality. They could be active and contemplative, feeding abandoned children, tramps and the aged.

"All my life God was pleased to surround me with love, and my first memories are imprinted with the most tender smiles and caresses!"

"Ah! how rapidly the sunny years of my early childhood passed by, what a sweet impression they left on my soul! Everything on earth smiled at me. 

I found flowers under each of my steps, and my happy disposition contributed also to making my life pleasing."

"What shall I say of the winter evenings at home, especially Sunday evenings? Ah! how I loved, after the game of checkers was over, to sit with Celine on Papa's knees. He used to sing, in his beautiful voice, airs that filled the soul with profound thoughts, or else, rocking us gently, he recited poems that taught the eternal truths."

They were such a PRAYERFUL, God centered people. Yes, I will happily reflect on the small glimpses into their home life.

Thank you for stopping by!

St Therese pray for us and our families! God Bless xxoo

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Intentional Community Building

Last Sunday a wind storm swept through the valley of Juneau and the sky was a classic autumn grey and the leaves were dancing and I had a typical nerd moment on my back deck musing about the loveliness of a seasonal change. The fall magic motivated me to make pumpkin waffles and wear a scarf and sip my allotted one cup of coffee. We lost power for about an hour that evening as well and our little candle on the kitchen table flickered as we all sat around making shadow puppets on the wall (you guessed it, I was tickled narrating how lovely the evening was in my head).

I've slowed down a bit as we near the birth of this fifth little and what a blessing littles are when it comes to pulling in and really being "ok" with staying put. If we are always going we don't have moments when we are all together, doing things like shadow puppets. In the past...because I was always "looking around" at what OTHERS were doing... I may have judged these types of families who don't seem to go out on the weekend to "Kids Night at So and So" and "Open House at Blah Blah" as people who live in bubbles....since we're not getting out ourselves I've had to redefine this apparent lack of social interaction as "building community in the home."

Yes, in our own home we are building a community.

In Joan Chittister's The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life, she has a beautiful chapter on community:

"In the Rule of Benedict,
community is made up of 
common worship,
common ownership,
and common life."
" become community
in a Monastery of the Heart
requires regular
and meaningful interaction 
among the members.
It is more than calendrical
or routing celebrations,
as important as these are,
for the building
of a common spirit."

I could copy the whole chapter but when I was reading this for the first time the lines

regular and meaningful interaction among the members

REALLY resonated with how  I wanted to build a sense of community in a large family.

It seems that having regular interaction within a family would be fairly easy to do. Homeschooling has really helped in this area, because my littles are always home and life at home together has given us REGULAR interaction. Because a majority of our day is passed together, it does seem fine to have the littles in out of the home activities...granted there is the balance of how many car days vs non car days we have. We also have to guard our time with our daddy. I have confessed in past posts that I realize this all changes as the littles grow into bigs...but I am not there yet!

So perhaps that "regular" interaction is there for now but...for me at least, the tricky part may be securing the "meaningful interaction" in a home. I have come to realize that living in a post-Christian modern high tech society means also having to constantly live with the hour to hour decision to live INTENTIONALLY.

There are so MANY distractions today that can rob us of meaningful interaction with our loved ones.

Seriously...there are I-phone & television/screen time/Facebook distractions (forget that I am blogging right now) that steal time away. Distractions...they can take all types of forms...I will admit that in the past I have fallen into the trap of having too many commitments out of the home (even if they are for good things like Church). I can also get into funky "oh my gosh I need to sit and have coffee with...list of people.." and this can be dangerous too if I am constantly shooing my children away. Are you missing moments?

Meaningful interaction.

Praying together. Reading. Singing. Laughing.

Raking leaves.

Playing in the leaves.

Cooking together. Enjoying the meal that we just cooked together.

Napping together.

Yes, building the family community is such beautiful, holy, intentional work.

And yet this author was specifically writing about a Benedictine community...and so...we extend outward beyond the home and I see the same regular and intentional interaction at work in our community here in Juneau. A specific community of women of faith who have been blessed with a love for littles.

Over the last five years, I have experienced an ease of coming and going in the homes of these women and taking care of each other's littles that I didn't receive in fullness when I worked full-time in the Coast Guard. We feed our littles together.

We help move each other's furniture. We babysit. We pray together. We read books together.

We celebrate feast days and life together...

My sister visiting from D.C. threw a surprise shower for me with the women of my faith community.
Celebrations are fun, but perhaps it is more what we do in ordinary time that helps us grow.

Last week my dear friends Jennifer and Janet came over and we built a new land of Israel for our atrium...

I loved the leaf on her hat.

That's Jennifer's sweet little one year old taking it all in. That's my eight year old enjoying a frozen banana on a stick...apparently she likes it.

We spent a good solid three hours together. Justin was off for the day, and it is the very rare occasion that I have anyone over when he is home (unless its his idea). This Land of Israel map needed to get done and well he needed to putter about the yard a bit before winter...mow the lawn one last time before we exchange the lawn mower for the snow blower. While mowing the ditch he mowed over a rock and it shattered the back window of our already run down minivan. While Justin called the speedy glass people, Janet went out with a dust pan and broom to sweep up the shattered glass.

She didn't ask where the broom was.

She didn't announce what she was doing.

She just went and helped.

The afternoon was delightful and there were littles EVERYWHERE. There were front doors and back doors and garage doors open, potty breaks happening, snacks being shared, shoes off and not off, interruptions galore....but it was meaningful.

As my family grows and we are homeschooling with more than just art and nature walks, I have found that being prayerful and truly discerning how we as a family spend our time is very important. Am I listening to the littles? Am I listening to my husband? Am I listening to my own needs? Who are we inviting into our home? How much time is spent away from our home? Time is so precious and being intentional with it takes prayer. Thought.

The other evening we were blessed with another perfect night for a campfire. The gnats are long gone and Justin just gets into a "I need to split and burn wood" mode. We love it! We sometimes extend the invite to neighbors or a few Coast Guard friends. My eldest specifically said, as we were all getting our jackets and hats on, "I like having friends come, but can it just be our family tonight? Just us?"


Thank you for reading. I LOVE this LITTLE BLOG COMMUNITY. I am specifically thinking of Lindy and Suzanne today because they popped in on my blog a few days ago when I was a little down and had removed it from public view. The Holy Spirit prompted them to stop by and they contacted me asking how they could view it. Random I know! But really...such a sweet gift...I shouldn't need to be affirmed, but that hour they were there. Bloggy hugs xxoo.

Message to Suzanne: My literary friend...if you are still looking for a good read... I am finally reading St Therese' Story of a Soul ! Special thanks to Kimber for allowing me to keep said book for I think over two years...I am finally reading it!

God Bless.