What’s saving your life right now?

Each winter, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy puts together a list of What’s Saving My Life Right Now and encourages others to chime in as we slog our way through the dregs of winter. I joined in last year, and here’s my list for 2017, in no particular order:

  • Confession. I’m still not making it as often as I laid out in my 30 After 30, but as I attend more often, I feel like I gain the grace and energy to carry on.
  • Possum Radio. There’s a student radio station here that has recently been knocked off the air for FCC indecency violations, so instead they just play bluegrass all the time, and it’s great. (I am old.) Seriously, though, the bluegrass reminds me of the beauty of this little pocket of the country, even as I drive through landscapes that feel bleak and barren.
  • Bulbs poking up. This happens at least six weeks sooner here in the Shenandoah Valley than back in Western Massachusetts, and always gives me hope.
  • Vitamin D3 gummies. My midwife said they might help with seasonal affective issues, so I gave them a try. They probably don’t do anything but I get to eat midwife-recommended candy by myself in the bathroom first thing in the morning and that helps by itself.
  • Scout saying “thank you” 1472x a day. It’s the best.
  • Pippin books. It’s like I can’t read to him enough, and as this is one of my very favorite aspects of parenting (vs., saying, washing the hair of protesting children or pretending to drive a firetruck), this is a pretty sustaining development when we are quarantined with our third cold of the month.
  • Man in the High Castle. I am kind of at Lost levels of confusion, but J and I are still so drawn in.
  • Other moms. Ooh, my. If I thought I was the only one limping a bit at the moment, things would be so much harder. And knowing I have that fall back help — a quick meeting at the park when the sun appears, switching childcare when the doctor can no longer be avoided — makes all the difference.
This is when I really need the Mount Holyoke bulb show.

2016 in 12 Pictures

While perusing the heart’s overflow I came across her post on 12 photos for 2016, and while we are well on our way to February, it’s my blog and I’m the boss of me and I wanted to do it anyway. After all, I don’t use this blog for general family/life updates much, so this post can be a glimpse into the big picture for our clan in 2016.



Dear friends got married just after New Year’s and we traveled up to NYC to celebrate with them and Pippin’s godparents. Scout wore a silly bow.



It snowed, both a blizzard in January when I was solo parenting (J was in Florida!!!) and again in February. Scout and I were over it.



We celebrated Easter with friends. Scout was over this, too.



I hesitate to include this shot among all the beauty and cheer — and I have happy pictures from April, of course — but this was a big part of 2016: both Pippin and I learning how to navigate his big feelings. Sometimes that required snacks, and sometimes that required humble apologies, and sometimes that required standing outside the car waiting for him to calm down so we could go home.



My parents and I took the kids to Wakulla Springs, which is and ever has been one of my happy places.



Scout turned one, my childhood best friend made her a beautiful smash cake, and, unlike her brother before her, she deigned to eat cake.



The CURLS in summertime humidity. WHY DO I LOVE THEM SO MUCH?



Like lunatic people, we drove eight hours each way with two small children to spend two nights with J’s brother and sister-in-law when they had a last minute chance to vacation in North Carolina.



This boy. Oh, my heart. One thing I’ve noticed going back through the year’s pictures for this post is how much he grew in 2016. His sister’s developmental leaps were showier, but he turned into a real kid last year.


A JMU student with a nice camera took this photo for us, not me, but it’s my favorite October snapshot. For Halloween, Scout was Little Red Riding Hood and Pippin was “just ketchup.”


My little drool monster love bean finally started walking after Halloween, when it really would have clarified her costume.


We celebrated Christmas in Tallahassee wishing we’d packed something other than boots.

Snug Places I Love

My parents were visiting this week and I kept telling them that though we’ve lived in this house for about six months now, we haven’t really lived here very long because we were gone five weeks this summer and one this fall, we battled about a half dozen moderately awful illnesses from ear infections to not-flu to worse, and, you know, two mobile, destructive children.

I kept telling them, but mostly I was telling myself. I know I said I wouldn’t rush to “finish” the house, but that’s hard to remember with pictures still unhung even as the dog hair drifts grow lush and bold, creeping out from behind furniture to flaunt themselves. (We call them “dust bonnies.”)

So I appreciated Nell’s recent piece over at Whole Parenting on places in her home she loves. She points out that pregnancy is a particularly difficult time for her when it comes to loving her house, as she notices all its faults without the energy to correct them, and I remember that being the case for me, too, but babyhood and early toddlerhood frankly aren’t much more productive. So I went looking, on a hushed recent afternoon, to find the spots I already love in our work-in-progress home.


We just moved Scout into Pippin’s room this week, and not everything’s hung and we’re just using the pack-n-play until J can take apart and move the beautiful crib the kids’ Uncle Tom made them. But the room is so sunny and sweet and I love to imagine the kids becoming friends between its fresh white walls.


I bought this pillowcase on a whim recently from Amazon and I am completely embarrassed by how much I love it, but relieved to learn J is a big fan, too. Why is it so funny? It just is. (Witness all the beautifully illumined dust bonnies in the bottom right of the photo.)


When my parents visit, they always help me knock out a lot of house projects with their superior knowledge and child-chasing abilities, and one of those things was getting stuff hung in my office. The counters are still a wreck (and thus not pictured) but I’ve loved getting to choose things for the bulletin strip J made me a couple years back.


And a final shot of some desk stuff, including an engagement photo; a photo of one of my best friends and me when we were in Montreal five children ago; a banner another best friend helped me make for Scout’s first birthday; a picture from my parents’ wedding and a bunch more whimsical but very sentimental junk.

How do you focus on the good spots in your house without feeling crazy frustrated at all you can’t yet tackle?

a #BISsisterhood introduction


I’m chiming in today with my own answers to the Blessed Is She introductions. I can’t wait to meet you all!

What is your favorite religious text or book?

Heaps! Game changers, at various points in my life: Mere Christianity in high school; Pascal’s Pensees and Lost in the Cosmos: A Last Self-Help Book in college, then Gilead post-grad and Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year as a new mother.

Which virtue do you find yourself working on the most throughout your day?

Fortitude! It’s a challenge pacing myself through a long day with the kiddos and having any time or energy left for my husband, or for making things. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, and once I am, I get cranky, and yelly.

What keeps you Catholic?

The bigness of the Church. Even as a little girl, often bored in the liturgy, I was enchanted thinking that people all over the world were saying the same words at the same time, and that hundreds of years ago, people whose lives I could scarcely imagine were doing the same.

Do you have a motto / quote / saying you live by?

Right now: “You just have to be kind.” If I mutter it enough times during the day, surely it’ll sink in?