Friday, August 30, 2013

Quick Takes #140 ~Vacation Recap

The many reasons why our recent trip was wonderful:

  1. Weather: The sun shone all week, with temps ranging from comfortable to a bit warm but never stifling and while the water consistently felt very cold to start, never actually kept us from our fun.
  2. Cousins: The kids played great with their cousins; especially Lisbeth with her 'twin cousin' (only 9 days difference in age).  They held tea parties, exchanged reviews for their favorite iPad apps, and would walk around the house wrapped in a blanket or towel announcing that they are 'the two-headed monsters'.  
  3. Food: Blueberries transformed into pies and pancakes, steamed hot dogs and homemade ice cream from the local favorite place ~ and of course seafood: pasta with clams sauce, fish & chips, clam strips and lobsters. We also continued our tradition of getting breakfast pastries and eating them on the seawall. 
  4. Extra hands: loved being able to walk away to tend to Caitlin without worrying about the older two, go for a walk with Lisbeth leaving the younger two with Dad, enjoyed the chance to sit back and not attend every tea party or go on every rock climbing adventure.  Even managed a walk on the beach solo with only Caitlin in the carrier.
  5. Milestones were made all the sweeter by being shared; Lisbeth swimming with just arm floaties, Liam's growing vocabulary and Caitlin trying Ice Cream, French Fries, and Watermelon.
  6. Speaking of vocabulary: 3rd times a charm ~ Mama for the win!
  7. Other great memories: Liam digging a deep hole, Lisbeth mistrusting riding the boogie board so simply throwing it into the ocean and waiting for the waves to bring it back to her, picking blackberries on morning walks, and watching Lisbeth and her cousin try and convince the incoming tide from not wiping out the castle they had just built.
And now for some pictures:

Yummy Ice Cream!

Stylin' at the Seawall
Please head over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Theme Thursday: Shadows

Linking up with Cari of Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday

Why is it that sun and a lot of water  still gives you shadows,

but sun and just the right amount of water gives you lovely reflections?

Please head over to Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday: Shadows

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WWRW ~ Full of Favorites

Linking up with Hallie and Jessica today

Currently reading and enjoying False Colours a story of arranged marriage and twin antics.  I'm about halfway thru and am enjoying it.  Georgette Heyer had a wonderful knack for capturing the comedy of manners of the Regency period as well as writing Austen-worthy love matches.  Heyer was a prolific writer and one I'm introducing my mom to ~ which got me thinking about my favorites (she wrote about other time periods but I've only read her Regency stuff):

A Civil Contract: My favorite of favorites ~ the story of a young Earl in need a fortune and an heiress willing to enter an arranged marriage to please her father.  The story of friendship deepening into love is lovely and the supporting characters are hilarious.

The Grand Sophy: My first Heyer and still a great favorite; laugh out loud antics and amazing dialogue as an outrageous cousin comes to live with her sedate family in London.

Unknown Ajax: The young man raised by his workman Yorkshire grandfather comes to find out he is the heir of his paternal grandfather; a true comedy of manners as he is 'welcomed' into the family.

The Foundling ~ The Corinthian: (couldn't choose ~ similar plot) An honorable if somewhat bored member of the peerage seeking a bit of adventure sets out on what they believe will be a simple errand with complications and hilarity ensuing.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Learning Styles ~ A Guest Post

  Turning the blog over today to a good friend I was luck enough to go high school with thanks to her dad being stationed in the area but she was California loyal and headed west for college.  Luckily thanks to social media we have been able to keep in touch.  And so here is Jen to tell you about her exciting new project:

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Why I Wrote A Parent’s Playbook for Learning

Joy and I have been friends since high school w-a-y too many years ago and our lives—though now being lived on opposite coasts—have always been intertwined in interesting ways. We were both born in New England, met our husbands many years before we married them, share the exact same wedding anniversary, have extremely outgoing eldest daughters, and next-born reserved, cuddle buddy sons. I’m so glad that our lives intertwined yet again when she offered to host a stop on my virtual book tour.

A Parent’s Playbook for Learning is all about how personality type shapes the ways in which kids prefer to learn. It’s not just my perspectives on the topic, but brings together research from almost 100 different reference texts in the realms of brain-based learning, pedagogy, and psychology. I tried to write it in a way that it was easy for parents without educational background to use, because it’s my personal perspective that all parents need to at the very least consider themselves semi-homeschoolers and bridge any gaps for our kids between what’s been taught and what they have understood during school hours. Unfortunately, personality type is not what immediately comes to mind with respect to learning for most of us—including teachers and tutors—which is why I felt it was so important to write the book.

My first inkling that it was important to key into my eldest’s temperament came not in the context of learning but of parenting. I had joined a mommy-and-me group when she was about six weeks old and, as the kids grew and developed, it became very apparent that different strategies were proving “most effective” for the kids…whether we were talking about sleep training, potty training, organization, or discipline. When our kids hit about 3 years old, we started enrolling them in enrichment activities together. It was interesting to watch how some of the kids we knew would really gravitate toward teachers and activities that Lana did not…and vice versa. The subjects themselves didn’t seem to matter as much as the teaching approach did. Lana had music classes she couldn’t wait to get to and others she wasn’t as jazzed about. The same thing happened with both swimming and yoga, as well.
When it came to traditional schoolwork, though, I didn’t think I had to worry. I always excelled in school as a kid and finished my B.A. with honors at 19. I’d even done my undergrad thesis on multiple intelligences and learning, so I thought I was set. But when I started trying to prepare Lana for Kindergarten, I hit a stumbling block. When I tried to teach her in the ways that I most enjoyed learning when I was a kid, she wasn’t enthused. So I started doing more research on how kids learned and when I began to use personality type strategies with her, she started to become more enthusiastic about learning. I was out in the yard one day around that time when it hit me. Watching your kids grow and bloom is a little like tending to a garden.

Just like different types of plants thrive in dry Southern California than those that do in moister Pennsylvania, we need to make sure we’re giving our human seedlings the best environments in which to thrive—whether that means full sun or shade; moist or well-drained soil; hot or cold temperatures; etc. One seedling is not any better than another, but a succulent is going to need very different love and care than a gardenia. When my extraverted daughter is doing her homework, I need to let her think out loud to really cement new learning because that’s what she needs to thrive. My son’s personality dictates that, while he has excellent time management skills, he needs extra support when things don’t go as planned. My daughter likes to soak in new concepts from the “forest” level first while my son prefers to begin with the “leaves on the trees” and zoom out to the forest level. In order to help them not only thrive in school but allow their love of learning to blossom, I need to make sure that I do everything I can to create the ideal learning climate for them…both at home and by helping “prepare the soil” in the classroom with their teachers by clueing them into my kids’ personalities as early as possible in the school year.

The next time you find yourself at odds with your child over homework or test prep, take a step back and ask yourself if you are creating the best type of learning environment for your child. There’s no one right to grow all children, just like there’s no one right way to grow all plants.
“All things wise and wonderful—the Lord God made them all.”

Jen Lilienstein is the Founder of and author of the award-winning book, A Parent’s Playbook for Learning, which can be purchased in paperback or ebook formats on,, iTunes, and in bookstores nationwide.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Our Backstory; The Wrap-up

Part 1
Part 2

   So we finished out the school year and I headed home for the summer; Charlie visited me and learned how to change a diaper (I was working as a nanny), I went with him to visit his parents and learned to build the most amazing bookshelves (he and his parents are amazing DIYers).

   My junior and senior years pass as you would expect; lots of hard work, seeing each other when we could.  During this time Charlie's lab closed and he had to find a new one but luckily found another at PENN.  So as my senior year moved past the halfway point and I started planning for life after graduation; talk of marriage which had largely been theoretical became much more practical.  Charlie felt strongly that (perhaps because of our age difference) it was important that I live on my own for awhile, first job ~ first place.  And the whole married/priestly vocation question was still lurking around the edges.  I went along mostly because it seemed very important to him (totally glossing over the many, many discussions where I described our lives as wonderful and was convinced that at 22 I had it all figured out) and knowing that even if engaged we would mostly likely not get married until he was closer to finishing his degree.

So began our almost five years of long distance dating;

  • from May'95 till February '96 I was in VA at my parents studying for nursing boards and looking for a job and Charlie was in Philadelphia in graduate/medical school.
  • from February'96 till Summer'98 I was in CT working as a Labor and Delivery nurse and Charlie was Philadelphia finishing his MD/PhD
  • Fall 98 found me at Georgetown University getting my Master's and Charlie in Houston, TX starting his residency.  (Had applied to graduate programs up and down the East Coast but never expected the residency match system to send him to Houston!!).
   Lots of emailing, late night phone calls and visiting when we could.  Luckily during the CT-PA years once I had finished orientation I had a fairly predictable schedule as far as weekends off.  And it seemed as if those years prepared us for the year and a half when the distance was much greater and the visits were months apart.
   In February 2000 having completed my Master's and taken my midwifery boards I moved to Houston to join Charlie, and what followed was a wonderful year of seeing each other regularly, joining a wonderful church where I made friends I have to this day.  What it didn't include was a job in midwifery or a proposal.  Charlie had accepted a fellowship in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology back in Philadelphia and while I promised to look nearby job wise I also said that unless we were engaged I felt I needed to move wherever I could get a job.
   One of the things both of us wanted to do before moving back East was visit San Antonio and the Alamo so one day in April of 2001 we head out to drive the three hours.  About an hour into the drive Charlie started in very serious tones a SOTR (state of the relationship) talk and as he was very serious and seemed a bit sad all I could think was "Please don't break up with me now, I'm trapped in a car with you and we are headed away from home!!"  He wasn't, but felt obligated to point out the years of study ahead of him, the challenges of being married to a physician and whatever else he felt I should consider before deciding to marry him.  As if dating a med student and resident over the past eight years  had not made those things evident!  ANYWAY... I said Yes! and it put a certain rosy glow to the day which is good because by the time we got to San Antonio it was pouring ~ but we were happy and so like two drowned mice we walked around the Alamo and up and down the RiverWalk and then had dinner where they got our orders completely wrong.  The rain did stop in time for us to drive into the loveliest of sunsets heading back to Houston.

Packing up for leave TX and head back to PA

Epilogue: Our Wedding was December 28, 2002 and was to be in the parish bordering the PENN campus because it had been decided way back in 1993 by the Archdioceses that daily Mass could continued to be held at the Newman Center but Sunday liturgy could only be offered at the Church (I was actually the last Liturgy Chair after me it became the Spiritual Committee).  Except that two weeks before the wedding a huge piece of the ceiling fell and the church was closed until deemed structural sound ~ and since we were having a small wedding we married in the Chapel at the Newman Center where we had met ten years earlier.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Theme Thursday ~ Faith

Linking up with Cari of Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday: Faith

The answer to the question "What do I ask of God's Church? Baptism is easy ~ the deeper answer is Faith; how do I teach my children faith that they of their own accord seek to live in the light of God's love and grace.




Please head over to Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Our Backstory Part II

Part 1 here

  On a bit of a steep learning curve I started my 'chiefship' and help plan some of the remaining liturgies before the school year finished and I headed home for the summer.  My take on Charlie; kind, soft spoken, very smart ~ and (according to a couple of friends) well suited for the priestly vocation he was considering after medical school.

   Sophomore year finds me with tough classes but enjoying our meetings often held on an enclosed bridge between two buildings as Charlie and another committee member worked late in their labs.  Early in December Charlie and his housemates hosted a Christmas party for the music group he sang with and other Newman friends.  Deciding that there were not enough meat-free options for me and another friend who was also a vegetarian he quickly made a dish of meatless stuffed peppers, I thought there was plenty of options but the peppers were delicioius.  We then spent much of the post-dinner/gift exchanging talking together.

   Since most of our student community went home for Christmas but still wanting to celebrate a bit of Christmas together it was the custom to hold a CAMC (Community Mass in Anticipation of Christmas) at the end of finals.  As it happened the Mass was on the day I was leaving to go home, so after Mass I gave my fellow committee members Christmas/thank you cards since I was well aware of how much I still had to learn and how much I appreciated their hard work.  When I gave Charlie and thanked him I received one of the best compliments of my life "Thank you for being you".  I was late but had no trouble running the whole way back to the dorm to meet my mom.  I then spent part of the drive home and my Christmas break wondering if perhaps something romantically was starting between us.

  Late January found us on a retreat together where hugs came easily and even hand holding, I rode back in his car and thanked him for the ride with a kiss on the cheek.  Then in February a party thrown by my roommate for her then boyfriend now husband's birthday that I invited several Newman friends but only Charlie came and the yearly med school Spoof where we sat together and talked for a long time after became in retrospect our first two dates.  After which we purposely and exclusively dated and on the 3rd date kissed!!

   Shortly after we had started dating I went home for Spring Break at the end of which was a blizzard and my train back to Philadelphia from Alexandria was cancelled, however trains were running north of DC so my dad drove me to a station in Maryland to see if I could find a seat and my mom (speaking with him for the first time) called Charlie who was to pick me up at the train station to tell him of the change in plans and that I would call for a ride when I got back to the city.  So I arrive back and got into line for the phone (oh those pre-cell phone days) and looking back up from setting my suitcase down what should I see but HIM walking across the train station towards me.

And across a crowded train station whatever doubts I had about being with someone eight years older and considering the priesthood vanished; I was in ~ wherever this was going ~ I was in.

the tale from here to proposal last eight years and spans fours states; and so is for another day.
a rare one of us together

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Backstory Part 1

    Am late to the how we met/married party largely because I keep talking myself out of trying to write it down ~ so long ago now I worry this is either going to be pages and pages or two paragraphs.

    Some backstory to Our Backstory: Someone or something was clearly leading me to PENN. Despite moving to the Mid-Atlantic (MD & VA) when I was five I have always considered myself a New Englander; I love the food, the geography, the spirit ~ everything! So 80% of the colleges I was planning on applying to were up there, a couple in VA where I was living and PENN. Which is Ivy League and in the city and everything I thought I didn't want ~ and one of the top nursing programs in the country.  I then as I do now often underestimate myself but some small part of me was curious and did not want to ten years later be curious if I could have gotten in if I had but tried. 

    Given the cost it was recommended to me that I apply Early Decision ~ and I did and it was the only school I ultimately applied to because they accepted me.  So I went to PENN where in the Spring of my freshman year I met Charlie.

    Having come from a wonderful parish with a great Youth Group one of the things I did at PENN was find the Newman Center (Catholic Student Center) and joined in; I became an Extra-ordinary Minister of the Eucharist, joined the Adoration Schedule, etc and in the Spring found out that I had been nominated to the Student Council as head of the Liturgy Committee.  I pointed out that as a freshman I thought I was too young to then President, he told me to run anyway since I might not win ~ turns out I was running unopposed and won.  So that March after a joint council meeting (outgoing and incoming) up walks this nice guy (Charlie) who simultaneously tells me it will be fine because there was a structure in place and I must have looked in shock and then threw me for a loop by asking when I wanted to schedule our first meeting. (Charlie claims we had met before but I have no memory of this and am the one writing this so there.)

   So I took a deep breath, scheduled a committee meeting and discovered exactly how over my head I was when at the meeting I learned that the committee was rising Sophomore me and 4 PhD students. Eep!

to be continued

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Theme Thursday ~ Statue

Linking up with Cari of Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday: Statue

Every college it seems has a statue that everyone gets their picture taken with (at Penn it was the Ben Bench) and so in May after attending a cousin (in-law) graduation I joined her dad in getting a few shots of her by the university's namesake.

Roger Williams, the founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation otherwise known as Rhode Island ~ the state of my birth.

Please now head over to Clan Donaldson for more Theme Thursday!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A lovely reminder

   Amidst a lovely weekend I felt something nudging me to a different Mass from usual ~ checking in with the rest of the family we made it work and during the Offertory a wonderful moment of grace: a song I love well sung.  Held back the tears and gave thanks that I heeded the nudging.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stop Raining in my Sandbox

Mommy blogger vent ~ feel free to skip

I know you can't please all of the people all of the time but it really bothers me when commenters chose to be hurtful rather than moving on or seeing the humor.

Dr Daddy is having a crazy travel week what with giving a talk in Portland, OR on Tuesday,  seeing patients in his clinic yesterday (Philadelphia) and giving another talk in New York this morning.  So yesterday I loaded our borrowed rental (another story for another day) and we met Charlie for dinner in the train station before he left.  And it was exhausting and a blast!

Both!! My saying it was exhausting does not mean it was not a blast or that I regret it. Yes it was great fun for the kids to see Dr Daddy and eat in a train station; to listen to the conductor call "All Aboard" and see the trains, but getting into the city, finding parking, and getting everyone home and into bed by myself was a bit exhausting too, so what!

As has been said by those wiser and funnier than me (Colleen, Grace, Dwija)

We are making memories and raising saints, and trying to capture this moment in time.

And you are more than welcome to come along if you want, otherwise stop raining in my sandbox!