Friday, September 14, 2012

Photo Friday

Welcome to the first Photo Friday! I have decided to hop on the "picture-a-day" bandwagon. So, every Friday I will be posting my week in pictures! Check in to see the crazies' cuteness and creativity as well as the mundane and beautiful things we are up to!

Wednesday: Micah and I were early birds, so we decided to take a sunrise walk to the corner Starbucks.  We had so much fun on our coffee date.  Micah said it was a great "girls night out", haha!

Thursday: I sent Micah and Olin to pick up their room while I cleaned up after lunch.  There was much whining.  Then silence.  I, of course, went to see what kind of trouble they were making and found this instead.

Thursday: Tony went on a youth ministers retreat Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon this happened.  Also, I think I won, don't you?

Also Thursday: Tony followed through on (most) of what "he" said he would do.  Isn't that sweet?  He was very upset that I did not keep my promise of making him a sandwich- the roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy I made instead were only a slight consolation.
Friday: Micah's turkey.  She did it all by herself and is so proud! 

As you can see, I did not make this decision until Wednesday.  Sorry for the lack of a full weeks worth of awesomeness.  I'm sure next weeks will more than make up for it! Any other ideas for a regular feature? Let me know!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

God is good!

We have been living here in our small apartment for a year now.  It has been a hard to adjust from house living to apartment living, especially having 4 small children. I am a gluten for punishment so I have made a habit of scouring craigslist and trulia for homes closer to the church despite having a lease. And that most of the homes in the neighborhood are way out of our price range.  Looking at all the beautiful million dollar homes was usually followed by a little moping and the occasional pint of Ben & Jerry's, but mostly a Pinterest party, where I furnished and decorated my dream home.

Well, my constant praying (and a little wishful thinking) has finally paid off!  We are moving into an amazing house in a week!  While it is not ours, (we are renting, but really, after having owned a home, I would much rather call a landlord to fix things than deal with it all myself) it couldn't be any more perfect for us.  This new place is effectively twice as large as our apartment, has an amazing fenced yard, and is perfect for entertaining!  And the best part? It is right across the street from the church!  It is literally a 2 minute walk from door to office for Tony!  With the many changes this year is bringing, for Tony to have the ability to come home for lunch or in between meetings is a God send.  He is faithful, y'all!  We are homeschooling this year and there will be a homeschool room that will also double as an office/ craft space for me.  There is a living area downstairs which will function as a family/game room. We will have a guest room/office for Tony, as well.  Seriously, I could not have built a better house for us!

The downside to all of this is that we are going to need a  lot of "new" things in order to make all of this work.  I have been on the hunt since the beginning of summer for a dining room set as well as a dresser for our room.  I am a big fan of garage/estate sales and thrift shops, but you are at the whim of the thrift store fairies if you are looking for something in particular.  Now, we will have 2 dining areas in need of furnishing. Gah! And there is a huge deck in the back that is just begging for some amazing patio furniture as well as a big grill and dining set. We will need extra bedroom sets now for the kid's and guest rooms as well.  It seems that I will need to continue with my Pinterest parties for a little while longer!

Here are a few of my favorite place for inspiration:

Ana White
This woman is my hero.  She takes diy-ing to a whole new level. (and yes, I did just use that as a verb.  It's legit.)  Check out her amazing plans for just about any piece of furniture, and more, that you could ever need.  Her blog has grown from being a place for her to share her plans to a whole community of people sharing plans, advice, and pictures of their successes! A personal favorite is her Farmhouse bed, which also happens to be her first furniture project.  Hopefully, I will now be tackling a number of projects I have been eyeing since i will have the space to do it now!

Ikea Hackers
This is a really coo place where people post their Ikea hacks. :p Seriously, though, there are some genius people out there, folks.  I love to see how people reuse, repurpose or deconstruct some basic pieces into something beautiful and functional.

This site has been dubbed "Martha Stewart Living for the Millennials" by the New York Times and it could not be more accurate.  The beautiful spaces, art, and design featured daily on this blog serve as inspiration to many, myself included.  I love to look at all the amazingly clean, bright, and open spaces when I am feeling overwhelmed in my very "lived-in" house.  There is an awesome diy section, but I am drawn more to the finished rooms to try and figure out how to incorporate a high street look into my box store budget.

There are so many more, too!  Do you frequent any good design or diy sites? Let me know!  I do have a whole house to fill, after all...

Monday, September 3, 2012

To be a Mary, not a Martha

One of my favorite people to work with this summer was a man named Jordan. Jordan has a kind of mental handicap and yet is one of the most intelligent people I know.  He loves to talk to you about different saints and theology but his favorite thing to do was talk about video games.  And he loves to dance.  This man is awesome.  And during our first session of camp, he humbled me maybe more than anyone ever has in my life.  Here's the story.

The first session of camp I was going it alone. Tony had taken the kids to visit family in Texas while he was helping with the junior high convention for the Fort Worth diocese.  Generally, this made transitioning to camp life easier.  I was overwhelmed having never been to camp before. Ever. I had no idea how a sleep away camp functioned or what was expected of staff in general and a craft specialist specifically.  I kept myself busy as much as I could.  At night, though, I was alone in my ranchero.  I have a hard time sleeping when Tony is away, but this was the first time to be away from my whole family for so long.  I stayed up most nights rearranging the room, researching new crafts, Facebook stalking... you know, the normal insomniac time wasters. I would finally collapse in my bed about an hour or two before it was time to wake up and start all over.  By the end of the week, I was slowly becoming an emotional wreck.

Our beautiful little camp chapel.
Fridays are mass day for the camp.  I was lucky enough to be a Eucharistic Minister for this first week.  Being the first session, though, we had to improvise on a few things.  Our chapel is beautiful, but small.  With an occupancy of only 155, having a mass with 180 campers plus staff was not going to be possible in the chapel.  Instead, we held it in the main lodge, Thunderbird.  After communion, I was tasked with taking the remaining Eucharist to the tabernacle in the chapel.  Amanda, one of the assistant directors, came to help. Well, we quickly realized that the tabernacle was too small to fit the purificator covered paten we were having to use instead of a ciborium.  I told you we were improvising. (For those of you unfamiliar with the names of the items used in a Catholic mass, it was basically a large plate covered in a fabric napkin instead of the normal container used to hold the Eucharist). I told Amanda to head back to T-bird to ask the priest what we should do and that I would stay and spend some time with my Savior in an improvised adoration.  We placed the paten on the altar, lit the candle next to the tabernacle and I took my place kneeling before the altar.

As I knelt and started praying, I started to cry.  I was tired, alone and missing my family.  I felt like I was doing a terrible job. I was seriously considering whether or not I would continue on in my role after all of this.  Praying helped ease some of my turmoil, but did not put me completely at ease.  After some time had passed and my 30+ year old knees started to give way, I grabbed a chair and sat to continue to pray.  Only now I was having a hard time focusing.  Where the poo was Amanda?  How long am I going to have to sit here?  I have so much to do.  Better things. More productive things. All of this is running through my head.

Then, I hear the doors in the back open and in bursts Jordan.  "IS JESUS IN HERE?" I was a little taken aback.  "Um, yes, Jordan. He is," I answer, with maybe a little confusion in my voice.

Jordan came running to the front of the chapel. (Well, I guess more skipping than running. Leaping, maybe? Jordan kinda skip/leap/runs when he is excited.)

"Is that him there on the altar? Under the napkin?" I stifled a laugh. "Yes, it is," I answered. He gasped and did a little jump. He was leaping for joy.

"I was just spending a little time with Him in prayer.  Would you like to join me?"

And this is where I lost control of everything.  Jordan fell to his knees.  He prostrated himself in front of the altar.  Here I was, thinking of all the other things I could be doing.  These much better ways to be spending my time.  I had forgotten that I was in the presence of Jesus.  I broke.  Tears now streamed down my cheeks.  I looked at this man and I was put in my place.

Jesus was saying to me "Slow down.  I have things under control.  Take a minute and talk with me.  Better yet, listen to me. Why are you worrying about all this?"
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me."  The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."  Luke 38-42
I am Martha all too often in my life.  Heck, I am Martha, period.  I fret and worry about everything. There is always something that needs my attention, and I'm ashamed to say it, but it isn't God.  I go through my days with maybe a quick "Give me patience, Lord" or "Bless so and so, God" but I rarely take the time to just sit and listen.

I was struck by how much joy Jordan had to merely be in His presence. He got it. Like Mary, he was ready to take time out and just be with Jesus. It is so hard to turn off the chatter in my head, but I am trying. I desire to have that joy and peace that Jordan had in our little camp chapel. I am working at it a little more each day.  A stolen minute here, a couple more there, just to listen.  I may never turn into a Mary, but this Martha will never stop trying.

Friday, August 24, 2012

No Place Like Home (also, Curried Lentils)

Well, it has been a wild, crazy, fun and amazing summer. Camp ended this past Sunday and we had the privilege of staying an extra couple of days while Tony helped with a junior high leadership retreat being held at the camp. It was nice to be able to take some time to move our family out of our temporary home, but I am so glad to be back in our own space. There was so much that happened this summer and I have so much to tell you about! Keep a look out for a lot of posts on the amazing things God was doing through our little camp. For now, I think we need a little time to process and regroup as a family. So, in lieu of any long diatribes, here's what's for dinner tonight!

Curried Lentils and Rice (6 servings)

( as I am too lazy to measure things, all measurements are approximate)

1 onion, slice into rings
2 tbsps oil
2 cups dried lentils
2 cups chicken/vegetable broth (or 1 14oz can)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cup rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro, garnish
Plain yogurt, optional

Heat oil in saucepan then brown onions. (At this point, you can remove and reserve the onions but I am a lazy cook). Add lentils, seasoning and broth. Add water, if necessary, to cover the lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add rice and more water to cover. Cover pan and continue to simmer until lentils and rice are cooked (~30 minutes). Top with reserved onions, cilantro and yogurt.

This recipe can easily be made vegan by eliminating the yogurt and using veggie broth. Or carnivorous by adding grilled chicken if you are a meat and potatoes person like my husband.

Cost breakdown: $ 3.62 ($.63/serving!)
Oil= .07
1 onion= .25
1 can broth= 1
~1/2 bag lentils= .85
Spices= ~.25
Rice= .30 {bought in bulk}
Yogurt= .50 {cheaper if you make your own, but that is for another post}
Cilantro= .40 {probably much less in reality, but seeing as how you never use the whole bunch, maybe more accurate}

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Finding a Little Peace

First day at camp got off to a pretty rough start. My stomach was a ball of nerves and my lungs were not seeming to cooperate with the whole breathing thing. And this was before we even left the house. Having packed our bags the night before, I was busy getting the kids dressed and fed, setting up some ground rules and expectations before we headed out as well as double and triple checking the packing list to make sure we didn't forget anything. We got everyone loaded up in the car and had a relatively uneventful drive in.
The area is beautiful, but as we got deeper and deeper into the woods and the road kept narrowing, I started worrying that we were somewhere way off course. Then, the Camp Hamilton sign appeared and instantaneously I wanted to upchuck. I put on a brave face (or at least what I thought was a brave face, but probably had more panic than bravado), we unloaded and headed in to begin the day. This being the first year that there will be families at camp for the entirety of the summer (ours and the always amazing Ross family), I don't know that anyone had really figured out the logistics of what to do with the littles yet. So, I spent the morning feeling like a distraction and a bad mother with out of control kids. While we probably were a distraction, the kids were in actuality very well behaved.
After the initial gathering session, my kids were taken on a walk by one of the staff leaders so I could join in some icebreakers and a camp tour. I was already feeling overwhelmed and on the brink of tears, so I was very happy to be outside in the sun where my sunglasses could hide the tears threatening to overflow onto my cheeks. While we were hiking around the camp, it became clear to me that I am about 10 years older than nearly everyone here. And that while I had been busily trying to occupy my kids earlier, everyone else had already found friends. So, I was walking by myself, trying to will myself to talk to someone while simultaneous wondering if they would notice if I slipped away. I came precariously close to losing my grip on myself at least 3 times in the hour we were gone. I also realized that I had forgot my running shoes, which is inevitable when you are trying to herd 4 kids out the door, but really stinks when all you have are some flip flops to wear while hiking.
That was pretty much the last time I was able to participate in the training sessions all day, too. I spent the rest of the day trying to wrangle the kids and get as much integration with other staffers as possible. read:none. At one point, I took the kids down to the beach to play and run around until mass, only no one let us know when they headed up to the chapel. Again, I felt the all too familiar burn in my chest and eyes as I wondered why I had ever thought that this would be a good way to spend our summer. I tried to hurry everyone along, since I didn't know how long ago they had left and If we would make it to mass at all. It is about 1/2 mile from the lodge to the chapel, but it seemed much, much further. We passed our cabin on the way and I thought about just getting everyone in their pjs and tucked in. But we continued on. As we worked our way up the slightly overgrown trail to the chapel, you could see the light of the evening sun radiating up ahead and then the trees opened up and we were there. We made it just as the first reading was starting. I tried keeping the kids quiet as we found a place to sit along the walls, but the boys ran to the front to sit as close as possible. And then an amazing thing happened. The kids were engrossed in what was happening. They were watching the priest and the lectors, taking in everything around them. As I watched them from my position further down the wall, my eyes filled again, but this time from a place of peace, not turmoil. I was so overwhelmed by the love and reverence my children were showing for our Savior. They sang and prayed along with the rest of us with no prompting to participate from me. Their eyes filled with wonder during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As I watched my children, I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to spend this summer with my family growing closer to Him. I asked forgiveness for doubting myself and Him. I felt at peace there in that chapel in the woods. And as I walked down the aisle to receive my Jesus in the Eucharist, tears streaming down my cheeks, my soul was renewed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I will start this post by saying that I am incredibly blessed to have happy, healthy children who are able to get into a normal amount of mischief and mayhem for their ages. I thank God everyday for my amazing life. This does not mean that I don't have my own little bouts with craziness which cause me to over react. Some refer to things such as the following as "first world problems". I like to think of them as my children trying to cause my mental break.
Tony left for The Youth Migrant Project on Sunday morning. He and 50+ youth and adults from our parish are going to be Christ's hands and feet to the migrant workers of the Skagit Valley region here in our corner of the world. And as irrational as I know it is to feel this way, I cannot help but resent him for it. At some point, my children decided it would be great fun to get hurt or sick every time dad is out of town. Last time Tony was away, Olin split his eyebrow open. At least then I had a car. Tony took the car with him this time. He left around 9 am and by 6 pm I was in the ER with Aaron getting his hand x-rayed. Our adorable little 2yo neighbor dropped a rock on his finger. We spent nearly 3 hours waiting for them to splint it up and tell us his x-ray was inconclusive. Should he have trouble with it still in a week, we should bring him back in. Now remember yesterday when I said I was packing up to go to summer camp? Yeah.
And since we have a lot to prepare for, my lovely daughter thought that this morning would be an ideal time to head back to the same ER. Not even 48 hours later! I was getting dressed while the kids headed up front to put on a cartoon and start some toast. I was blissfully unaware that Micah had decide to stick a pistachio in her nose. "I just wanted to put it in my nose a little bit," she said all matter of fact later. Then, realizing that she was having a hard time getting it back out, Olin (her coconspirator) decided to help. Using a chop stick. Of course, rather than helping, this just ensured that we would in fact have to go in to the doctor, as it pushed it back into her sinuses beyond my reach and any hope of blowing it out. I start to panic as I realized I have no way to get us to the hospital and do not want to burden anyone so early in the morning. I called Tony, and as I do so tell Micah we need to go to the doctor. "But I'm still in my pajamas! I have to get dressed if I am going to see the doctor. I will go find clothes." Because she is a girlie girl, she is concerned about this, but not about the nut in her nose. I consider telling her she can't as a form of punishment, but realize how passive aggressive and ridiculous that is. Tony, of course, finds all of this hysterical. It's easy for him to see the humor when he doesn't have to try to get a snot covered pistachio nut out of his daughter's tiny nostril. (Admittedly, I know that it's funny, but the only kind of laughter I could muster At the time was the hysterical I-don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry-but-if-I-stop-this-creepy-laugh-I'll-burst-into-tears kind of laugh.) He tells me to try Linda, our amazing friend from the church. Her daughter, Kylie (our babysitter and Micah's best friend ever) is sent to rescue me by taxiing us to the hospital and sitting in the waiting room for us to finish. I owe these women something huge. Like, mega huge. I'll bake them cupcakes, I think. The nurses and doctors at the hospital were amazing. And are smitten with my little dimpled angel who already knows how and when to turn on the charm. I fear for my sanity when she hits puberty. After a little wrestling with the bugger, the doctor pulls out the offending nut and tells my little monster angel that she can't do this ever again. She promises, but unfortunately I have a nagging feeling that all of the attention and fawning over her only enforced the idea that this may be a fun activity anytime she is feeling neglected. Which, for her, is anytime you are not focused solely on her for the entirety of the day.
So, I am hoping that this is the last time in a long while that we see the inside of the ER. We do still have another 24 hours or so before we leave, though...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Going to summer camp

It's kinda funny to be following up my I-am-going-to-act-more-grown-up post by talking about how I am going to spend the summer at camp. This is just the way my life is, me, pretending to be all mature and the rest of the world wondering who I think I'm fooling. (as a side note, this may be why Tony and I work so well. I think he is the only one I may be fooling). Anyhow, summer camp. I get to spend all summer at camp CRAFTING, Y'ALL! I'm excited about that. And about how my family gets to be there with me the whole time. The kids have never been to camp, so it's kind of cool to be experiencing it together for the first time. I am not so excited about having to meet so many new people. In fact, that is probably an understatement. I am terrified. Panicky, even. The rational side of me (my better half) is having a hard time convincing my stranger/danger inner being that everything will be ok. But strangers are dangerous. And cooler than me. I am perpetually an awkward eleven year old.
(this is where I would insert a picture of me in 6th grade if this were a cool blog, because isn't it amazing how much I have changed? Classic ugly duckling turned beautiful swan. Except I'm not so sure I am all that different. And I can't find the picture, which may be a more accurate reason.)
I sometimes feel trapped in a corner of my brain while another Tricia takes over and will not stop talking. Word vomit. Lots of it. Other Tricia keeps talking and talking while I am in my head screaming "Shut up, shut up! Stop talking!" But other Tricia ignores all my requests. Then I start talking about all of these entirely too personal stories to be sharing with someone I met 5 minutes ago. And I relate every story they have to something that once happened to me, even if it has nothing at all in common. And the word vomit keeps coming. And then when it's all over, I never want show my face around anyone again. My heart is racing thinking about this. I have to go out to staff training in two days, and I am having a hard time breathing. Tony is sweet and he keeps telling me how he has confidence in me. That he thinks I am great and that I have so much to offer and blah, blah, blah. He means well, but I feel like he is the stage dad behind the curtain encouraging his tone deaf daughter to belt out that tune. I know he is confident in my ability, but that doesn't mean his confidence is based in reality. I may have blinded him to my total lack of social decorum with a few kisses here and there. And yet, here I am. Packing up for a summer full of the unknown. This is the growing up part, I guess. The fact that I want to hide under my blanket with my eyes shut tight and my fingers in my ears but here I am, rolling up sleeping bags, packing away our flip flops and flashlights. I may disappear a couple times to hide in a bathroom while I am there, but I will be there. I will sing the loudest and most off key I ever have. And Tony will be there, telling me I sound like an angel.