Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Thankful

Today I am thankful for...


-an afternoon walk with my kids yesterday. We played "I Spy", blew on dandelions, and had a good romp through the grass and trees.

-another beautiful day today. We may go to the park, I don't know, but whatever we do, it must be out of doors.

-Sophie's minor aches and pains after a car accident, in which someone pulled out in front of her. It could have been much, much worse.

-the fact that she was driving the car we bought just two weeks ago. It gave up itself to keep her safe. Her old car would not have protected her in the same way.

-technology, and the ability to talk to Tony and see his face all the way in Korea.

-the shower faucet that is either hot or cold, and rarely just right, for it reminds me that I have running water, and a roof over my head.

-the messy clutter of four kids, for I am abundantly blessed.

-my camera and the opportunities to capture the sweetness of life.























 
 
 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Day at the Park

 The weather was lovely yesterday. For the first time this year, I was able to enjoy my coffee and Magnificat outside on the back porch. The birds were chirping and flitting from the trees to the feeder. The quietness of the morning filled me with a calm, and as I sat there thinking of the things that I could do with the day, I knew I wanted to take the children on a picnic. I called my parents and invited them as well. We headed to Laurel Run Park, as I had been told we could hike from there to Bays Mountain. The hike would have to be another day, but I planned to check out the park and get the trail maps to prepare for the future hike.

The kids eagerly packed their new water shoes, because the website said there was a creek. They relish a good creek walk and as soon as we set up our things at a picnic table, they were off. I sat there at the table, setting out the lunch, and just enjoying time with my parents, when Anna called out "I see a snake." Now, I appreciate nature, but snakes are in a separate category. Going over to the creek to investigate, there, on a rock less than 10 feet from Anna, was a brown water snake sunning himself. He was probably 3 feet long. The thing was, I had to look carefully to find him, as he blended into the rock quite perfectly. It was unsettling to say the least that I sent my kids into the creek not even thinking about this possible danger. I know the snake was non-venomous, but it was a snake all the same. We saw many more snakes that afternoon in the creek, though he was easily the largest.

I was more than ready to explore the trails and move away from the creek, and so we walked for a bit on the trail. The wildflowers were like a carpet on the forest floor. Purples and yellows spreading out in thick blankets among the fallen trees and brown leaves still there as evidence of the winter that has just come to the end of its seasonal reign.

We went to the Vigil Mass that evening. Once again, the quiet in the sanctuary filled me with a peaceful calm. It was then that I felt God sent me a message. The creek was our path in life. The snake, the temptations of the devil and how he carefully camouflages those temptations among the seemingly harmless good things of life. We must be vigilant, especially as parents, to help our children navigate and recognize the dangers and temptations they will face every day. It gave me hope that Anna, in her fun, still managed to be on the lookout, and moved out of the path of the snake.



























Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Camping Trip

It began way back when we were returning from Germany. This little voice in my head said, "Wouldn't it be amazing to buy an RV and travel to all the states while Tony is in Korea?" Reason won out, however, and we found a place to settle for a year. That little adventurous voice still called out every so often. And so, when I began to think about Spring Break, a camping trip seemed perfect.

As plans are wont to do, they meandered and changed direction like a mountain stream. What finally emerged was a 5 day, 4 night camping trip to three state parks and one special family whom we hadn't seen in years.

Oh, believe me, I had my doubts if I could pull this thing off! I have never driven anything larger than a van. I have never actually built a campfire without assistance. The weather forecast was not pretty. But excitement kept winning out over worry.

The key to keeping this trip a success was flexibility and I got to practice that even before we embarked on the journey. The RV we had rented developed a problem which required us to leave a day later than planned so it could be repaired. On Tuesday morning, we loaded up the minivan with our belongings and our spirits high and set out on our adventure. After a briefing on how to operate the RV, and taking a test drive around the block, the "Siesta" was ours until Saturday.







We set our course for Fall Creek Falls and hit the open road. A last minute decision to bring the minivan along proved to be a life saver. We found out all the hiking trails were miles from the campsite! A light drizzle had set in as we set out to explore the falls. We donned our rain jackets and away we went. We took the overlook trail, which afforded us amazing views of the falls. We made a two mile hike before the temperatures and the rain convinced us to return to the campsite.







 There we discovered that the "Siesta" still had some issues. We were unable to use the water the entire trip. We also had only one functioning electrical outlet. The others kept tripping the breaker. That didn't stop us, it only made us think outside the box for solutions.

I had premade several dinners and put them in Ziploc bags so I could just reheat and serve. We had Kielbasa Hash for dinner. The bathhouse was just across a grassy area, thank the Lord, for that was going to have to be utilized. As we headed over to get ready for the night, a light snow began to fall  quietly all around.

The morning sun revealed a light dusting of snow. We decided the temperature was too frigid for further hiking to the bottom of the falls, and prepared to journey onto our next destination, Old Stone Fort in Manchester, TN. I had gained some confidence in driving the Siesta, until I saw the one lane wooden bridge that was the entrance to the campground at Old Stone Fort. I took a deep breath, and stepped cautiously on the gas pedal. I made it!


This also happens to be where our dear friends live, so after setting up the camping site, we got in the van and headed to their house for a most wonderful reunion. We stayed until bedtime. We pulled up to the aforementioned bridge, which now had a gate across it. I sent Sophie out to inspect just how securely locked the gate happened to be. Fortunately for us, it was not Fort Knox and we were able to open the gate. We explored the trails and waterfalls the next day. It was chilly but cloudless, and we had such a great hike.


















































That evening, we broke our camping ranks, braving the asphalt world and ate dinner at Cracker Barrel with our friends. The next morning we prepared for the final leg of our trip, Norris Dam. This was the longest driving segment of our trip, and we arrived late in the afternoon. Weather continued to be uncooperative, so we explored the museum, grist mill, and a small portion of the trail nearby before heading back to the camper to heat up the vegetable chili I had brought.



The following morning the decision was made to cut the trip short due to the forecasted heavy rain for the entire day.  So we returned the camper and met with my sister and her family for lunch and an afternoon at the hands-on science museum in Knoxville. And now, the clean-up commences as the kids have school tomorrow and life as we know it returns. The week was a much needed break and I feel ready to tackle the rest of the school year head on.






Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Halfway


As in, we are halfway through Tony being in Korea, away from us. He took two weeks and one long flight to spend Christmas with us. We awoke at 3:30 yesterday morning to get him to the airport. He kissed each of the kids good-bye and we ventured out in the 5 degree pre-dawn chill. Immediately I noticed that the grass and trees were sparkling like I have never encountered before. It was a wonderland of glittering ice everywhere the headlights shone.

Christmas was lovely and crazy and cozy, which is how it should be. We then settled into days of playing new games and enjoying our time with Tony. Jack's birthday is in a few days and he requested that we go to a railroad museum and antique shopping with his dad as an early gift. My parents joined us for lunch and antiquing, skipping the museum. The museum is on the ETSU campus, and we chose to explore Jonesborough for the antique hunting.

I have lots of organizing and cleaning to do, which I let slide during Tony's visit, though today is another of those gray, dreary, excessively cold days which has sapped my energy and motivation for all things domestic.

I do have a chicken roasting in the oven for dinner, the first meat in the house in almost two weeks. Tony has continued on his vegan adventure, losing almost 30 pounds on the way! I have been channeling my creativity into making meals that will both please the kids and meet his dietary restrictions. I found a great cookbook at the library, "The Oh She Glows Cookbook" by Angela Liddon. Everything we have tried thus far has been delicious! My goal is to have more vegan meals than not each week, slowly acclimating the kids to a new way of eating.

Lastly, I bought Lightroom 6 software for the computer and tried it out for the first time today. I still am trying to understand it, but it may be the only option for the time being. My Ipad died right before Christmas. I am waiting on a new battery to be shipped to see if that will save my Ipad. If that does not work, I am taking it as a message from God that I was spending entirely too much time with that device (which I already knew). The Lightroom apps for the computer require more than our computer has, so the software option is all I have at this time. Wish me luck!




Christmas morning. The cat seems less than enthused to be part of the photo.
 
I had bought only one "power popper". Tony informed me that this would never do. A second one was purchased for battles.
 


The battle begins.



This face. I see it all the time. There is much silliness in this boy of mine.


 

Look closely. You can see his face in the top lens.

G scale model train set

Watching the trains


There was a scavenger hunt for the kids, so he needed a bird's eye view!

Someone is not a fan of model trains.
In historic Jonesborough Tennessee

in the antique store

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mornings

I am most definitely not a morning person. Convincing myself to get out of bed takes prayer. However, once I am awake, morning is one of my favorite times of day.

It is a clean slate. I have yet to make any serious mistakes. The air just feels clean and fresh when you breathe it in. God starts with a fresh canvas each morning too. The sky slowly comes to life with colors different than the day before, different from the moment before.

I sat with my coffee and my Magnificat this morning in my comfy orange chair, now riddled with claw marks from the kitten who is now mostly a cat. As I glanced away from the page to ponder what I had just read, I saw out the window the most brilliant red horizon. I blinked and the view had changed, yet was just as beautiful. I dashed up the creaky wooden stairs to grab my camera, hoping not to awaken the kids. Stepping into my slippers and stepping out the door in my bathrobe, I attempted to capture a brief moment of the ever-changing canvas before me.

There is such promise in the morning sky. I ask God to guide my feet and my heart as I begin my tasks of this day, full of things yet to be.



from this....



to this was less than a minute.

Friday, December 8, 2017

ponderings




The first snow of the year is magical. Even for adults who know better. Those first flakes appearing faintly, then falling more steadily until there starts to be a blanket of white over the landscape. Snow can transform the bleakness of leafless trees and gray skies into a wonderland.


Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It seems to me that Mary herself laid this blanket of white over the world to remind us what her Son can do.


They seem to be gazing longingly at their destination and their destiny
 

I have been reading "On Pilgrimage" by Dorothy Day for my book club, underlining passages that stand out or give me pause. From my lunchtime perusal, I can across these gems:

"What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is Love."

"God sees Christ, His Son, in us and loves us. And so we should see Christ in others, and nothing else, and love them. There can never be enough of it."

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, said "Yes" to God, said "Let it be done to me". Is that not the perfect example for us all? It was her love for God, for all of us, that let her give that "yes". Love. There never can be enough of it.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Back in the Saddle



I woke up one morning and realized that I had let too many things go. The things that matter to me, that make up the rhythm of our days. It is easy in life to get overwhelmed and revert to what I call "survival mode". You take care of the basics of life until life calms down. Then you can take a deep breath, hike up your britches and add those things back to your day.

I am starting small. Bread, to be exact.  I had stopped making bread in Germany because, well, let's face it, German bread was better, not to mention fresh baked and cheap, and could be obtained by a quick stroll to the village bakery. Now? I have no excuse for eating bread that doesn't taste good. My mother had a bread machine taking up space in her pantry. So, I brought her machine to my little condo, and started experimenting. I now have a nice white loaf that is delicious. Next up is a honey whole wheat loaf that is not too dry.

My goal is to add back one thing at a time, until it is a full life we are living and not just surviving.