Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020: A Year in Pictures

Happy New Year's Eve! Wishing you all many blessings and all good things as the calendar turns and the new year starts. But first a quick look back at the year that was by way of photos. 

This princess enjoyed her tent as she turned 7

In February we went ice skating ~ Caitlin for the first time!
In March we completed our new bathroom just in time to shelter in place!

April meant a different and lovely Easter

In May the teachers drove by to congratulate the kids on a job well done!

Pool visits and trips to Rita marked some normalcy in June.

In July we carefully visited our VA family

In August we hit the waves in Maine!

Back to School looked a little different this year.

I had helpers building leaf piles this year!

In November we gave thanks for many things, including Confirmation!

We ended the year in Maine looking for the Christmas star.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Year in Books

   Reading has always been a favorite hobby of mine and increasingly a key form of self-care, and this year was no different. Through worries about loved ones far away and the stress of virtual learning, reading has been my refuge and my pleasure.  Last January I set my Goodreads reading goal as 40 books ( I read 42 in '18, and 43 in '19), I've currently read 87 books.  

   I'm not at all expecting to maintain that pace this coming year. I am h0wever grateful for all the new book-focused Instagram accounts I have found in the corner known as Bookstagram and all of their reviews and recommendations. These accounts also provided the needed adult conversations during those moments during the spring and summer when needed.

  It was amazingly a year of few misses and many 4* and 5* reads including;

  • Ayesha at Last
  • Brown Girl Dreaming
  • The Jane Austen Society
  • The Warmth of Other Suns
  • A Lovely War

Summary for 2020
Books Read: 87
Fiction: 75  // Non-Fiction: 12
Kindle Books: 31  // Paper Books: 56 // Rereads: 6

Monday, November 30, 2020

Giving Thanks for November Sacraments

   Ten years ago we hosted Thanksgiving at our house welcoming several members of our extended family because the following Sunday Liam received the Sacrament of Baptism.  This year we were just the five of us around the table, but again we were celebrating the following Sunday as one of our children received another Sacrament of the Church.  Elisabeth was sealed by the Spirit and completed the Sacraments of Initiation received Confirmation.  

Personalized masks from the faculty

Her sponsor; a long time family friend

         She selected Saint Elisabeth of Hungary as her Confirmation Saint, and we pray for her continued intercession for Lisbeth.   While a different celebration with most of our family watching via Youtube and congratulating Lisbeth by phone; blessings abound!!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Daybook ~ Fall 2020


Thinking about:  

       Getting ready for Thanksgiving and Advent. We will be staying home for Thanksgiving this year so planning for the menu is a key component.  Have already bought my Advent devotional and considering getting a different one for us to work on as a family with my kids getting older.

Excited For:
    Elisabeth's Confirmation the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Given Covid it will be a quieter occasion than expected but still excited to watch her grow in faith and wisdom.  Have ordered our Christmas cards, and am beginning to think about gifts.

   Mostly jeans and clogs or wedges; I know for most fall means breaking out the boots (and I have a new pair that will get so wear) but for me, fall means my favorite wedges and wearing clogs again.  It has stayed warm this year well into fall so coats are still mainly windbreakers.

In the Yard:
    The trees have dropped about half of their leaves so a lot of raking to go and then onto the pruning.  Planted some mums, though could not find asters this year.  

Watching and Listening to:
    Enjoying the return of This is Us and recently binge-watched Poldark (Loved It!).  Together we are watching Hart of Dixie and The Good Place.  Looking forward to the return of The Crown.

The Kids: 

Elisabeth is thriving in 7th grade; enjoying changing classes, Advanced Math still her favorite.  Continues to excel at her gymnastics class, currently working on her back and front handspring.  The end of the day finds her in her loft bed reading, listening to music, and playing Minecraft.

Liam has settled well into 4th grade; and while he enjoyed virtual learning last spring is very happy to be back in the classroom.  Choose not to play soccer this fall, but is currently a Webelo Scout. Pokemon is still a favorite and he continues to astonish us with his almost encyclopedic knowledge of their different strengths and fighting types.  

Caitlin is loving 2nd Grade and doing really well; becoming more independent with reading I'm now enjoying the times when she reads to me.  She is again doing gymnastics and is at the same gym as Lisbeth.  She was definitely the child that struggled the most with the lack of playing with friends during the spring and so is very happy to be back in the classroom this fall.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Liam at 10

   This weekend we celebrated Liam with Perkins take-out and a Black Forest Cake. The theme he chose for his birthday banner and balloon was Harry Potter.  His teacher last year read the class the first book, and Liam is interested in reading the next book in the series.

  • He is still very much into the Pokemon universe and the strengths and weakness of many Pokemon ~ and has great patience with his mom who is not quite as knowledgable and therefore falls quickly behind in discussions of creating elite teams.
  • Funny ~ having learned much in the last year about punning and what makes a good pun.  He enjoys laughing and making others laugh.
  • Has a great circle of friends from school, soccer, and Cub Scouts which he can be very zany with; and then disappears into his room for some intense quiet time like a true introvert.
  • Favorite food includes Bangers & Mash (sausage and mash potatoes), Shepard's Pie, ice cream, and fried eggs. He continues to be my best eater; though he is also the child to most worry about any stomach upset.
  • Favorite subject in school is History or Science; he likes learning about people and how to make things work. Much more confident in reading and happy to be asked to read aloud.
  • Currently wants to be a Carpenter.  Specifically a cabinet maker; opening a furniture shop with a friend. 
  • Happy to be back in in-building school, he overall did well with all the upheaval with 'sheltering in place' and virtual learning. Already a bit of a germaphobe; he quickly adjusted to all the extra cleaning we started last spring.
  • Affectionate, he checks in throughout the day and asks how my day is going; and recently requested a bedtime tradition with me because while Dad is still the tops ~ he wanted some Mom time at bedtime.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Open Book ~ September '20


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is on its surface a murder mystery and below the surface a wonderful coming of age story and a beautiful look at the marshlands of the North Carolina.  After being left by every member of her family Kya finds a way to survive and along the way become an expert on the local flora and fauna. She also finds love for both wonderful and devastating results.  

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene tells the story of Maurice Bendrix, a novel writer who fell in love with the wife of another man.  Reflecting back on the affair a couple years after it had ended Maurice is still undecided whether he wants closure, revenge, or to reunite with Sarah.  The story told from different viewpoints is an interesting look at how we care for others and find faith in the world.

American Duchess by Karen Harper is a novel based on the life of Consuelo, nee Vanderbilt.  Strongarmed by her mother into a marriage to the Duke of Malborough  (cousin of Winston Churchill); the book tells the story of how she grew in maturity, took control of her life, found love, and ultimately made peace with her mom.  Struggled with the last third of the book where I think the author tried to cover a lot of time quickly; I overall enjoyed the story and am glad to have learned more about this interesting woman and the times in which she lived.

Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer is the story of Viscount Desford and the adventures which ensue when he picks up Cherry Steane who has run away from her aunt and is on her way to London to ask for her grandfather's help.  This one of Heyer's later books and a plot I think she explores better in Sprig Muslin, but that being said the dialogues in this book are wonderful particularly those between Des and his father and brother.


Please head over to Carolyn's for more Open Book!

Monday, August 31, 2020

First Day 2020-21

     This first day had a mostly familiar feel with tinges of extra nerves and of course the addition of masks. The supply list a bit longer as art supplies will not be sharable.  Cautious optimism and curiousity how long in build learning will last seemed the emotions of the day. 

 2nd ~ 4th ~ 7th; ready, set, learn!!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Quick Takes #292: Maine recap


  1. We are deep in the final prep for returning to school on Monday over here, but I wanted to quickly record some reflections on our week in Maine.  Starting with great gratitude that it was even possible to happen.  After failing to find rapid testing here in PA, Dr. Dad was able to get us appointments for testing in Maine for the day after we arrived.  We both tested negative; allowing us to comply with Maine's visitor rules and give an additional level of reassurances to his mom. 
  2. The trip up went so well. We left later than we planned (as usual) but then encountered minimal traffic and we managed to only make one rest stop along the way.  We were 'on schedule' enough that we were able to stop in MA and pick-up our niece.
  3. The weather cooperated wonderfully with rain mostly at night and brief if during the day.  After nearly a month in the '90's here in PA ~ Maine's low '80's felt amazing.  The ocean was brisk to start but did not hold back our intrepid boogie boarders.  Going a low tide most days also allowed for exploring a tide pool where on a couple of occasions the kids found giant clams.
  4. Cooking is a favorite activity of Dr. Dad's family of origin and this vacation was no different; yummy brunches, tasty dinners, and the tweens even got in on the action making delicious strawberry tarts and blondies.  Our favorite ice cream place had done a great job of meeting the challenges of keeping everyone safe while maintaining their wonderful atmosphere and quality ice cream.  No trip to the Maine seacoast is complete without some seafood; and that we indulged in a couple of occasions.
  5. In addition to having ample time to read, my book-loving heart was happily blessed when my SIL passed on to me several ARCs (advanced reading copies) of books unclaimed at the bookstore she works at.  I like to read seasonally, and am so grateful for the chance to read books at release time or just prior.
  6. Back in a reality where it will be a busy weekend of organizing school supplies, and school uniforms.  In another sign of the times the school is requesting that forms be filled out and signed prior to the first day adds to the general frazzle of these days.  However there are many good memories to hold onto, and perhaps a couple of more pool visits before we officially put a close to this summer.
  7. Photo Dump:

Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's!!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Quick Lit August'20

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and sharing some Quick Lit!

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, is a lovely story of time and place as an American actress, French perfumer maker, and British journalist meet and become friends in Canne.  The process of designing and developing a perfume and the role that the flowers and herbs of Provence play adds interesting practicality to the fun of a Royal Wedding.  

A Well-Behaved Woman is a historical fiction novel based on the life of Alva Vanderbilt tells a fascinating story of the late 19th century when old families and new families with money challenged for prominence.  The author Therese Anne Fowler does a wonderful job of taking us into this world as Alva matures and decides for herself which rules to observe and which need rethinking in a changing world.  

Another fun historical fiction novel based on the life of a real person; Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict begins on Clementine's wedding day as she reflects on her courtship with Winston Churchill and continues to follow their lives together up to and including the London Blitz.  While very repetitive in places; overall an interesting read and has peaked my curiosity to learn more about Lady Clementine.

Far from the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy is the story of Gabriel Oaks and Bathsheba, the small village they separately each come to live in.  A lovely story of the successes and failures of the farmer class of England in the eighteenth century.  A quiet classic with wonderful dialogue and interactions amongst the townspeople.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Quick Takes #291: July Wrap

  1. Happy last day of July; a month that felt like it lasted about a month's worth. I'm not sure if that means things are improving or I'm getting better at this new normal.  I do know that it was a month when I wanted the circle a bit smaller, but do now want to check-in and let readers know how we are doing.
  2. The kids have been great about their assigned summer work; workbook wise we are about done and are making good progress with summer reading.  I'm also continuing to make good progress with my reading challenges, and thanks to my local library opening for curbside pick-up have recently read some great summer reads.
  3. Visiting our community pool has allowed a bit of summer fun in a year when most activities are canceled.  I have been impressed with the distancing policies they have put in place; and really nice to see the kids playing with their friends ~  6 feet apart while covered in chlorine.
  4. The Garden is steady but good. We are growing summer squash for the first time and have harvested our first one.  One tomato plant is not growing well but ripening fruit well; the other is growing beautifully and hopefully, the fruit will begin ripening soon.  The mint as always is crazy!
  5. July also saw us making a quick trip to Virginia which was wonderful on so many levels.  We had our best trip down traffic-wise in several years.  It was amazing to see my mom and sisters again.  The cousins had a great time together and Lisbeth enjoyed a fun sleepover.
  6. Other ordinary but fun family milestones to note this month; Liam is learning to mow the lawn, and Caitlin is learning to ride her bike without training wheels.

  7. Please head over to Kelly's for more 7QT's!