Thoughts from Chesterton

(hat tip to an old college friend)

“Sirs, I am but a nameless man,

A rhymester without home,

Yet since I come of the Wessex clay

And carry the cross of Rome,

“I will even answer the mighty earl

That asked of Wessex men

Why they be meek and monkish folk,

And bow to the White Lord’s broken yoke;

What sign have we save blood and smoke?

Here is my answer then.

“That on you is fallen the shadow,

And not upon the Name;

That though we scatter and though we fly,

And you hang over us like the sky,

You are more tired of victory,

Than we are tired of shame.

“That though you hunt the Christian man

Like a hare on the hill-side,

The hare has still more heart to run

Than you have heart to ride.

“That though all lances split on you,

All swords be heaved in vain,

We have more lust again to lose

Than you to win again.”

-Chesterton, from The Ballad of the White Horse

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} When June feels like August


We had a string of days in May where the weather was warm but not overpowering and the evenings were still cool enough to make one think of keeping the windows open.  Then June came and with it, our good ol’ Southern humidity.  In a couple of years, when the number of swimmers outweighs the non-swimmers, we will be residing at the neighborhood pool during these kind of weeks. ;)

–cxv fbgnhmjbh vcbgvnvg btrrrjfcb v b

Those, by the way, are the letters made by the sudden wipe of a towel across a keyboard after Posey spilled my coffee on it.  Keeping it real, dear reader. ;)


Isn’t this just beautiful?  Great Smoky Mountains. Photo credit to Haus Meister who recently helped lead his Trail Life troop there for a summer adventure campout.IMG_2967


This was our Father’s Day picture this year.  He didn’t know I was taking it, and I’m so pleased it worked out.  I knew I couldn’t get all the kids in the picture– Rascal had run ahead as he was scheduled to serve Mass and Posey was next to me, holding my hand. Princess is next to Dino and in front of Trooper; you can see a bit of her skirt.  But I just love this picture.


Among our summer projects is the beautification of the downstairs patio.


 The screens came out the first summer we were here (four years ago!) through the combined efforts of toddlers and the wild black lab puppy we’d adopted at the time.  We’re cautiously optimistic that if we spend the sweat and time to replace them this summer, they might just stay up… “Meanwhile, I’m putting up more twinkle lights.”  Or maybe some perler bead art and fake lantern things. We also got rid of the broken grill.



Sunshine liked the bead art.


Posey gets into mischief.  The piles on the dresser are part of keeping it real.  We’re in the paper clutter stage of the Konmari cleanup. Oy.


I recently began shopping at both Aldi and Publix to try and keep the grocery budget beast at bay.  Aldi’s milk is $1 cheaper per gallon and in this house that considerably helps.  Plus, their sweet potato chips are just great.  And addicting.  Oh my.  But these carts–will every store get these kids’ seats in their carts, please?  It enables me to get adorable pictures of my baby girls, while keeping an eye on both of them and grocery shop at the same time! ;) And I really don’t know why Posey’s sticking out her tongue just as I snapped the picture, unless, well, she’s two.


That was the same day we headed to Target for one more strand of rope lights for our downstairs patio and found these accessories.



I had my phone in the kitchen to charge because if I leave it in my room to charge during the daylight hours, invariably an important call comes in or someone tries to reach me and can’t and thinks that utter chaos must be ensuing (you know, slightly more than the usual chaos around here).  So I leave it in the kitchen where of course, no one calls and the girls decide to get pictures of themselves stirring spaghetti (in a swimsuit and tiara, because it’s summer and she’s nearly officially four).

IMG_2988 IMG_2986

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Pool fun and the best letter ever.


In the good old summertime, our neighborhood pool reopens.  Today we ladies went down for some water fun, along with the girls’ aunt.  It was, after all, “Girls’ Day.”  It was also the first time in 2+ years I was brave (or fool) enough to wear a swimsuit.

photo 1 (2)

It was also Littlest’s first trip to a real pool (besides that thing we put out in the backyard.

photo 2 (3)

Littlest and Posey loved the baby pool.  This is interesting because neither of them like baths.

photo 3 (1)

Littlest has also started being real silly right before bedtime. She came walking into the kitchen with something in each hand and her bottle clenched between her teeth.

So that’s my pretty, happy, & funny.

Now for some happy real.

After nearly a year, we were able to get Trooper back to see his CP specialist who used to be in St. Louis.  She had moved to another state to set up her own practice, and as she had been following Trooper’s progress since May, 2013, we definitely wanted to keep seeing her. Before he left for the visit I asked Trooper to type Dr. Jan a letter so that she could hear from him personally. I suggested some topics and he acquiesced, but as for the thoughts, they are 100% from him. He types with one finger and I hold his wrist for stability, but believe me, he knows where he’s going when he types.  He hasn’t gotten the shift key down and he likes to use a calligraphy font.  These quirks aside, she was thrilled to receive his letter and with his permission made it public on the CP Center’s Facebook page, so I thought I would share it with all of you. His letter is in bold, my clarifications are in italics.

(“Be sure to tell her how you’re doing since she hasn’t seen you in a while,” I suggested.)

Dear dr. brunstrom,

i have been feeling okay this year. i have been climbing at [friendly neighborhood climbing gymand i really like it. my dad takes me and helps  me up the wall. i really like getting to the top of the wall.


(Oh, he does. I don’t mind telling you that he does a lot better than his mom at this. The one time I’ve been climbing tripled my admiration of all my family that attempts this sport. Next I suggested he tell her how his leg braces were doing.  He’s had a serious growth spurt since last summer, and I knew his noodle braces weren’t fitting as well.  His SMOs were okay, though.)

my  braces are too small. the leg braces pinch.

(Good news: no more noodle braces!)

school is fun and i am better at reading because mom helps me read more books and i even did a book report. i like to do math best.

(I then suggested he tell her something he recently told me through this written communication. We never knew this before because he had no way to describe it to us. She’s the doctor that finally took him off Keppra in 2013, 4yrs and 2 months after his last seizure. No neurologist in that time–and we saw two of them every six months–ever checked, after the prescription, to see if the dosage was right for his system. Dr. Jan recognized a link between Trooper’s seizures and stress related to his gastrointestinal issues at the time. She suggested he be weaned off the Keppra, which can cause depression, by the way.  We did it. Trooper has been seizure free for six years now. So this is what he had to say:)

thank you for getting me off the bad medicine.  i am happier now than i was while i was taking it.  it  made me sorry for myself and now i know i am smart and can do anything. 

(He then told her, without my prompting what he wants to do with his life.)

i am going to be a priest.

(My heart was in my throat when I saw the words appear on the screen. I’ve known it this whole year; he consistently tells me that is what he wants to do when he grows up.  I don’t mind a bit–I’d be honored to have a son working for the Lord.  No, my only fear was that someone would try to crush his dream.  Tread softly, please. I’ve never told him it’s impossible because he is always defying expectations.  I think I’ll leave it up to God anyway. He’s good with finding ways when we can’t see them.)

your friend, [Trooper]

She told us it made her so happy to get his letter.


Yarn Along: Armas Returns

After a month or two of trying new projects (and not succeeding in many), I decided it was time to pick up Armas again.  Perhaps now I have a reasonable chance to finish it for Haus Meister this year!IMG_3049

Before setting it aside for the aforementioned time, I had managed to get past the sleeve cast off and begin work on the main body of the sweater. Somehow, though, I had forgotten this when I looked at the chart and kept wondering how I had something on the order of 100 less stitches on the needles than I needed…. This confusion lasted longer than I liked to admit, but it’s okay, though. I’m fine, really. :)


My reading for the past two weeks is pictured here.  Marie Kondo’s “The Life-changing magic of tidying up.”  Oh my goodness, how I’ve needed this book!  I’ve been trying to formulate a blog post about this book but I guess I must just be digesting it still. I’m on the third reading of it mainly because I promised to lend it to my sister, and I want to remember as much of it as I can before I do. ;)

How simple the advice is, really. Keep only what brings you joy.  Put your house in order by discarding the things that do not bring you joy. Start with clothes, then books, then odds & ends, and then mementos.  How often I’ve started in reverse. But starting with clothes, the authoress suggests, help us to better get a sense of what we like so that we can tackle the other areas with a decent sense of perspective. I laughed at this at first; I had just been through my clothes at the season change, so surely I didn’t need to look again, right?

Then I saw the Hanna Andersson sweater.  I’d always liked that sweater in the catalog.  I had bought it gently used on eBay two years ago in a very good deal. But it wasn’t the right size after all, and it looked like a tent on me.  I never even wore it last season. I wouldn’t wear it this winter, either.  But I hung onto it because why? It was a Hanna? It was a deal? And now it was hanging unused in my closet? Time to pass on to someone else.  So I did.  At the end of an hour I had reviewed all my clothes and could now look down my half of the closet and see only those clothes I liked and knew I’d wear. There was room for everything, and I was happy.  Wow!

Don’t get me started on how her folding technique has improved the storage in our dresser drawers.  Or that it has made me actually enjoy folding the laundry.

(Anything that makes me enjoy that must be good, right?)

Or how nice it is to know I don’t HAVE to keep everything that I MIGHT need but probably WON’T…

But I will keep my button collection.  And I will keep 98% of my books.  I’m on the book stage now.  I’ll let you know how it goes. ;)

I guess I did write a blogpost about it after all, though…

Summer Read Alouds

IMG_0936(picture from the DinTG archives)

Oh, how we love books here. Today I kicked off our summer read-aloud “program,” which basically means I try to read aloud a lot. I’m going to start logging pages for an end of the year ice-cream party pretty soon, at least for the big kids.


Paul Revere’s Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow & illustrated by Ted Rand.

Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey (honestly, I can’t imagine why I was all of 30 before I even heard of this book. I love it.)

Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella, by James Mayhew

Papa Small & Policeman Small, by Lois Lenski. I found these both for $3.50 each at the used bookstore. Hot deal!

In other book-related news:

Rascal, meanwhile, is working on The Cure of Ars; the Priest who out-talked the Devil.

Trooper is listening to: Augustine came to Kent.

Dino can’t bear to be separated from LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes. I don’t know if that counts as reading.  

Princess is working through various primer books.  She took to reading like a duck to water.  Today we worked together on reading “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein while in the waiting room for Trooper and Sunshine’s speech therapy. I’m just going to say that I’ve always thought that was one seriously depressing book.  I tried it again today to see if my opinion had changed in the last decade or more. Nope. So pardon me if I don’t bother to link it. :)

Row/Hike/Walk/Bike to Rivendell

Welcome to this installment of the family workout goal of doing something (rowing machine, hiking, biking, walking, whatever) until we reach the same number of miles from Bag End to Rivendell!

Or the same number of miles that it would be… if those places were real….

Haus Meister has the helm right now and thanks to a lot of hiking and mountain biking he’s done lately with his Trail Life troop or after work, we can add 52 miles to our goal. All his miles plus a 3 mile walk we did as a family today definitely brings us out past our last milestone!

At the last milestone we had reached mile 149.89, “Camping due south of the Midgewater Marshes.”

According to our virtual atlas….

As of today, we’re at mile 204.9.  At mile 200 we reached Weathertop, which has a lot more significance in “The Fellowship of the Ring.” For Bilbo Baggins travelling with the Dwarves, well, not so much.