Sunday, November 28, 2021

Be Our Guest

Be our guest!
Be our guest!
Put our service to the test;
tie your napkin 'round your neck, cherie
And we'll provide the rest!

(Be Our Guest, Beauty and the Beast)

Dear Reader,

It has been a LONG time since I last posted, and believe it or not, we are quickly approaching the Two Year Anniversary of the passing of Chris.  So much has happened in two short years...which also sometimes feels like a lifetime.  

But this evening's post isn't specifically dedicated to honoring his memory.  Rather, tonight's post is to share, here in this space, the way I try to honor his memory by creating a home that nurtures our three children and celebrates all the good things about life...especially the little things...

Like in giving thanks!

Seasonal decor.  Wool and knit blankets.  Bittersweet.  Pumpkins.  Candles.  And a new Christmas tree.
(Right now my house feels a bit seasonally confused...1/2 Fall and 1/2 Christmas....anyone else?!?!)

And while mealtime has always been a priority, I've insisted that it be especially prominent during these busy teen years...which is a joy to do at our BRAND NEW DINING ROOM TABLE!  

The table and two chairs were delivered in late October, but the other four chairs were on back order...stuck on a container ship docked in port somewhere.  Well, last week I received a call that the four additional chairs had arrived and were available for delivery!  After Thanksgiving...of course...but just in time for Christmas!  

I am smitten.  

So are the kids.  

Believe it or not...even with all of the teasing...the tears on especially hard "dad" days...or the anxiety of lots of homework waiting to be completed, the four of us love to eat dinner together.  

And now we do so here...

My table runner is barely long enough!

I cannot wait to host dinners for family and friends at this beautiful table!  I hosted an impromptu Homecoming Dinner for my daughter and her sweet friends when their dinner reservations were cancelled and they had nowhere else to go.  So much joy and laughter was shared around a very tiny kitchen table last September.  I can't wait to do it again next year...only this time planned...and with lots of space for ramen and dumplings!  :)

And lest you think I forgot...Happy First Sunday of Advent!  The kids and I attended Mass on Saturday thanks to God for all of the blessings and graces bestowed upon us since Chris' passing. This past year has been very challenging (rather than easier) compared to Year 1. (perhaps, reality has set in for us?)

Wishing all of you a blessed start to the Advent Season.  Listen to HOPE here!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Congratulations Benjamin

Tonight, Benjamin was notified of his acceptance into a 21st Century learning academy at the high school of his choice.  

We’ve been sitting on pins and needles in anticipation of notification. I was able to snap this picture of him after he read his acceptance email!  

I am so excited and proud of this kid.  He had to apply, answer essay questions, participate in a zoom interview, and have 2 teacher recommendations...a lot for any 8th grader to experience! 

Following in the footsteps of his father! 

Thursday, January 14, 2021


So this has started happening in our household!  If I didn’t have gray hair before’s certainly coming!!!!

Mary got her actual learner’s permit in November.  At 16, she’s only 2 years behind her peers.  LOL I guess there’s not much need for a driver’s license when Mom can get you everywhere you need to go.  

Still, our pediatrician really encouraged Mary to take this next step of independence.  Deep in my heart, I believe the reluctance might be a bit of grief...Dad was supposed to take her driving...and only did once.  *cry*

Benjamin, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.  That also is frightening.  LOL 
Ben turned 14 in November and so in Kansas he can get a restricted permit.  Oh Boy!  (He actually did really well!) 

(Can’t believe his dad is missing out on all of these important firsts!)

Bar Cart

Back in the Fall, I purchased a bar cart for this little nook by my stairs.  It fits perfectly and is a beautiful and classy addition to our home.  

I have loved styling it for the different holidays.  Unfortunately, I discovered at Christmastime that there is no outlet on the floor or wall.  (Odd...given the light switches and thermostat that are on the same wall.) Thus, I couldn't plug in any Christmas tree lights on a skinny tree I set up behind the bar cart.  (I guess I need to hire an electrician!)

I didn't really take any Thanksgiving or Christmas photos of the bar cart this year, but here she is all decked out for Halloween/Fall.  

...and those fabulous cranberry goblets?  A housewarming gift from my college roommate in late September when we did a social-distanced gathering at my place.  They are from "Czechoslovakia" (remember when those two countries where one place?!) 1990s.  Hand blown.  Gorgeous!  The kids and I have used them and toasted with them for ALL the holidays over the past 7-months.  

Life is short.  Use the cranberry glasses.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Zoom School

Unfortunately, we had a covid + exposure last week (notified over the weekend), so we are in quarantine and Zooming from home. My school district (located in the urban core) is actually fully remote.  So, I’ve been Zooming since last March.  Fortunately, my children have been able to attend “in-person” school since August.  (tiny Catholic school) This is our 1st quarantine since school started so a pretty good run! 

This is one of my sweet ELLs.  She wants to be back in school in-person.  This was during our ESL session and she wanted to show me the face mask she “designed”.  It’s made out of paper, including paper ear loops!

Beauty on a Sunday 2/52

Saturday night a girlfriend and I met for a socially-distanced dinner at her house.  

She makes everything she touches beautiful!  Even carryout served in styrofoam boxes.  :)

She is super good for my soul...and has been my own personal guardian-angel in the flesh over this past year of grief and pandemic.  

Friday, January 8, 2021

Beauty on a Friday

Happy Friday Friends!  

I am so glad to have made it to the end of the work week!  It’s been a tough!?!!

Perhaps I feel more emotional over the storming of the Capitol (although I do not think I am alone in my sadness) because of my work with the United States Senate back in the early-mid 90s.  I have such a heart and passion for democracy even though I’ve been in education for the past 20 years.  Maybe even because of that.  Anyway, we’ve had some difficult conversations in our home these past few weeks, months (years!) because our religion and faith life do not necessarily align with how most think we should align.  Let’s just say that we are pro-life from womb-to-tomb, pro-immigrant, pro-freedom of speech snd the right to peaceful protest, pro Black Lives and Brown Lives matter...and that puts us at odds with both political parties...sometimes even our own Church...

In the meantime, I’ve discovered that I am raising fierce warriors who are not afraid to be the voice of dissent in their classrooms and friend groups.  All three truly want to make this world and their local communities a better place.  This usually means no one particular party affiliation.

So, without anymore pontificating, I’d love to share with you a very grownup Mary Catherine! Friends...she’s 16.5 years old!  No longer that sweet 8-year old, 2nd grader,  from my blog header...she’s blossoming into an amazing young woman.  She applied and was accepted into to a specific high school to study one thing (law enforcement)...and found out her true passion isn’t so much forensics as it is biology. She is passionate about the sciences competing on both the Scholar Bowl team and Science Olympiad team.  She’s also a literature nerd and excelling in Spanish 3 as a Sophomore with little formal Spanish education.   (She just teaches herself using apps and making friends with native speakers around the world!)

She hopes to study environmental science and then maybe pursue law school.  She truly wants to make the world a better place!  

Disregard the school picture lighting.  Her hair is not nearly this dark or red.  She’s more of a strawberry blonde.  (See halloween pic) She’s not too into makeup or fashion, but def has a style of her own.  She’s amazing, but I admit to being biased.  *smile*

Wising you all a peacful (fingers-crossed) weekend!