Friday, November 6, 2015

What I've Been Up To...

So much has happened lately that I hardly know where to start.  I haven't been a very faithful blogger, have I?  But between traveling and having patchy Internet access, it's been tough to keep up.

As I write this, our baby has arrived safely and is getting settled in Germany, where he will be stationed for the next three years. My husband and I flew out to OK the last week in October to attend his military graduation, help him get his car ready for shipment overseas, and make sure his apartment was ship-shape by the time the movers came to box up his worldly belongings.

Then our sweet boy took a few days of leave before his departure and came up to the new "Oyster Haven" VRBO house on Lake Champlain, because he wanted a chance to see it before he began his great adventure.  So we "broke it in"--slept in it for the first time, on the brand new beds we purchased for future renters.

Our first morning waking up in the new house, this was our view out the kitchen window.  Isn't it glorious?!  As my dear late father-in-law always used to say, "It doesn't get any better than this."
That's Valcour Island on the left, and the mountains
of Vermont on the right.
We had a wonderful visit with our baby (which included a night of decadent lounging in the hot tub with cold beverages in hand--talking about the big step he was about to take, becoming a leader of men...and solving most of the world's problems to boot), and then before we knew it, it was time to drive him to the airport for a tough good-bye.
I'm sick and tired of this view, people: the backs of my sons, as they're walking through busy airports, getting ready to fly far, far away from me.

But like it or not, I am learning to deal with it.  The acceptance process includes many tears; but it also includes a heart bursting with love and pride for the amazing men--all five of them--that I had the privilege to carry within me for nine months, and whose care God entrusted me with on their journey to adulthood.  No matter how old they get or how far away their lives may take them, I am comforted by the thought that I was their very first home.
We were going to leave NY on Monday, right after we dropped our son off at the airport, and head back to our poor neglected home in NH; but while we were spending the weekend at the lake house, we became aware of some plumbing problems and other issues that needed our attention, so we postponed our departure until yesterday.  (It's a good thing we gave the house a "test run," so that we could iron out some of the kinks before we have paying customers!)

I can hardly wait to show you some pictures of Oyster Haven!  We have been working so hard on it--cleaning, painting, and furnishing it, and doing needed repairs.  I have had a ball decorating each and every room.  As my sister-in-law, who has a VRBO house less than four miles from ours, has said, it's like playing house.  You get all the fun of making it pretty, without having to see the usual wear and tear your real home gets because people actually live there full-time.

Because our NH house was a bit overcrowded with furniture and framed artwork, we have been able to use a lot of things we already had to make this 1830's farmhouse into a cozy vacation retreat.

For instance, we brought a tan leather sectional to the new house, one we've had since our oldest son was about 14 (and he's 32 now!).  It started out in our basement, then moved up to the former garage that we converted into a sports room/man cave.  It's essentially indestructible, so we thought it was perfect for a rental property.
The brown leather reclining loveseat in the foreground is actually one that we bought over the summer as a gift for my parents, but which they didn't like (that's a story for another post!); so we reclaimed it, and we think it works beautifully in this room.  The coffee table and end stands are ones that we had for years and then gave to son #2 for his first grown-up apartment.  After he got married to a young lady who had plenty of better-looking furniture already, they boomeranged back to us, and we didn't know what to do with them.  Thankfully, we didn't take them straight to Goodwill, and instead stowed them in the attic; because now they've found the perfect home in our house by the lake.

On the wall behind the sectional are pieces of artwork scavenged from our NH house (with the exception of one small drawing of the high school where my husband and I met, which I had framed to add to this little wall gallery).   They are pieces that were becoming a bit lost in the shuffle over the years, as wall space in our NH house has increasingly become as rare and valuable as a parking space in downtown Boston.  (I mean really: when it comes to the walls of my house, my motto is definitely not "less is more.")

This Oyster Haven retreat is really coming together...and I'm starting to love it a little too much.  As in: I'm a little bummed that we have to let other people use the house at all.  But c'est la vie.

In the coming weeks, I'll post lots of pictures of the interiors.  I know I've already shown you the amazing kitchen, but it can't hurt to show it off again, can it?  (I am still in awe of this kitchen.)
But as much as I love the gigantic chef's kitchen, the expansive lake view, and so many other things about our new house, it's good to be back home again, sleeping in our own bed.  We spend so much of our time on the road!  In fact, we don't even have a subscription to our local newspaper anymore, because we're never around long enough to read it.  But luckily, we have thoughtful and generous neighbors who keep us abreast of local happenings.  Yesterday on the drive from NY to NH, our next-door neighbor emailed to say he'd seen my picture in the paper.  When we got home, we found a cut-out copy of the article carefully stored in a ziplock bag and waiting for us by the door.  It was a short blurb about my recent speaking engagement at the Dover Public Library, where I was the guest of a local chapter of the DAR.  (If you're interested in the article, you can read it here.)

I was also humbled and touched when my publisher told me that Erin's Ring was going to be mentioned in the December 2015 issue of Catholic Library World.  (Catholic Library World is the official journal of the Catholic Library Association).  I am grateful for the positive feedback I have received recently about Erin's Ring, and I hope that the novel finds its way onto the shelves of many Catholic schools and homeschools.

Speaking of Erin's Ring, the two winners of the recent giveaway here at String of Pearls have been so generous: Madeline already has a copy of the book, so she has asked me to send her prize to the young daughter of a fellow blogger; and after she reads it, Kathy is going to share her copy at the Catholic school where she works.  I have the best readers!  I never knew how many gifts I would receive when I joined the Catholic blogging world, but I have truly been inordinately blessed during my time here.

Now before I sign off, I'm going to ask for some prayers.  (Having readers who pray for special intentions is one of the all-time greatest blessings of being a Catholic blogger!)  Last night, my middle son and his wife Preciosa had to rush our sweet little G-Man to the hospital.  He had a fever, which eventually got to about 105 degrees, and he was shaking and vomiting.  All the tests, thank God, came back negative.  The fever did break, and he was released at about 3:00 a.m.  But he will be seeing the doctor today to follow up, and hopefully his worried parents will get some answers.  If you could keep this little guy in your prayers, it would be much appreciated.

Until next time, God bless you, dear readers!


  1. Prayers for your darling little G-Man!

    Oyster Haven is breathtaking. Ah, that view! And the kitchen!! I don't usually pay a lot of attention to kitchens (being not much of a foodie nor a particularly good cook... oops, did I just admit that?) - but even I could stare at that gorgeous kitchen all day long. And with those amazing gleaming floors, you can tell your renters they won't need to bring mirrors.

    1. Thanks for the prayers, Nancy.

      I have always wanted a kitchen like this, with a big island and tons of space for people to hang out in it together while they cook/eat/talk. This kitchen fits the bill in every way for me. And I love the farmhouse-y architectural details. If it was too modern and industrial-looking, I wouldn't love it, no matter how big it was. But everything about the way it looks pleases me. :)

  2. Oh my gosh, poor Gman....keep us up to date and I will keep them all in my prayers!

    1. He's okay--he saw the doctor today, and he's got Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, which is a common childhood illness. He won't even have to go on antibiotics. Phew!

  3. Poor G-Man!! I see above me that he has Hand Foot and Mouth. That is no fun!! Smoothies! (Instant Breakfasts in them adds some flavor and vitamins if he really loses his appetite.) They'll be in my prayers for healing and calm. I am loving all the Oyster Haven post.

    Hope #5 has a great time in Germany!! I have heard it's a great place to be stationed from my friends in the Air Force. You're such a good parenting example for me, saying goodbye to my kiddos is already hard, I can't imagine it get's easier but you bring such great perspective.

    I was so inspired by your giveaway, that Meredith and I have started reading Erin's Ring as our playtime chapter book. I read a chapter or two while she plays. Obviously she's little, but it is exposing her to a bigger vocabulary and good virtues and values! :) Have a great weekend.

    1. Madeline, you are the sweetest. Truly. Thanks for the prayers snf the tips for G-man. And I love picturing you reading aloud from the book to your little girl!

      The copy you won went out to Beth in today's mail. That was so generous of you, and I hope her daughter enjoys it. :)

    2. snf?! That should say "and"!

      Note to self: never reply to blog comments on cell phone!

  4. Replies
    1. I know, right? It's amazing.

      And thanks for the prayers!