Saturday, November 19, 2016

Blog Blessings (Books and More Books!); and Dumpster Diving's still a thing, right?  I hope so!

I just don't seem to have the time (or maybe it's the energy, or the mental focus, or a combination of all those factors) to write lately, in case you're wondering why things have been so quiet here at String of Pearls.  Life seems a bit too hectic and out of control these days--even though these are supposed to be the slow-moving empty-nest years, when we finally get to kick back and relax, because we no longer have school and sports schedules to keep up with and the care and feeding of five growing boys to worry about...

Wait, is that how it's supposed to work?  Because the opposite seems to be true, and my husband and I seem to be busier than we ever were when our five sons lived under our roof with us.

When we're not on the road, for any number of reasons (visiting our boys and their wives and children, going to Notre Dame games or family weddings, taking care of my aging parents as they become more and more dependent on the help of my siblings and me, checking up on and/or cleaning our VRBO house on Lake Champlain, etc.), we're home in NH, working to get our house ready to sell--after calling it home for the past 26 years. 

Phew!  Do you think we're tired?  We are!  (And by the by: there will be some fun posts in the near future, with before and after photos to show you how our house renovation projects are coming along.  As I write this, laminate wood flooring is being installed throughout our upstairs, replacing the sad and tired 26-year-old gray carpeting that my husband and I tore out ourselves.  Our bedrooms are going to be absolutely beautiful!)

Anyway, as hard as it is sometimes to find the time to write a new post, I really want to do my best to keep at it, because in the five-plus years that I've been a blogger I have received an inordinate amount of blessings.  Through this little blog of mine, I've made online friends that I truly cherish, some of whom I've had the pleasure to meet in person, and others whom I would love to meet one day.  And I've been contacted by folks who never would have known I existed if not for String of Pearls.

For instance, not too long ago I got an email from a young gal at Beacon Publishing, who'd stumbled upon my site while doing a Google search for potential Catholic bloggers who might make good book reviewers. What was really neat and almost unbelievable is that in a true "it's a small world" coincidence, this girl wrote that she had actually gone on a date with my youngest son, when he was a senior at Notre Dame and she was a junior, about a week before his graduation.  She went on to thank me for raising a respectful and chivalrous, Godly and genuine young man.  She said that I must be a proud mama (oh, I am!).  The purpose of her email was to ask me if I would be willing to accept a review copy of one of Beacon's titles, and of course I was thrilled to do so.  But it was what she said about my son that made my eyes well up with tears--THAT was the real gift.

Not long after I wiped my eyes and blew my nose, look what showed up in our mailbox (two books, not one!)--and this never would have happened if I hadn't shyly dipped my toes into the populated waters of Catholic blogging back in 2011, with the encouragement of my first daughter-in-law.  I am one lucky blogger, and don't I know it!
Stay tuned for reviews of these two books (Matthew Kelly's
Resisting Happiness and Danielle Bean's You're Worth It!)
in the near future!
So I do love blogging, both for the writing outlet it provides and the opportunities it gives me to connect with readers, other authors, and other moms with whom I share so many common interests and experiences.  Realizing that this cyber-community existed back in 2011 was life-changing for me, and I've loved being even a small player in the Catholic blogosphere all these years.  But about a year or so ago, I noticed that many of my favorite bloggers had made the switch to Instagram, and at first I didn't understand the appeal.  However, as my life has gotten busier lately, I find that I'm much more likely to 'gram than to blog.  It's so much quicker!  So I get it now.  (BTW: when there's nothing going on here at my blog, you can click on the Instagram icon on the side bar and check out my Insta-posts, if you're so moved.)

As if my blog blessings haven't been abundant enough, there have been Instagram blessings, too.  This social media phenom has put me in touch with people I might not have otherwise met.  One of them is Catholic author Stephanie Engleman, with whom I recently did a book exchange.  I sent her a copy of Erin's Ring (and threw in one of Finding Grace, for good measure), and in return she sent me her highly recommended YA novel A Single Bead--which looks SO GOOD.  I can hardly wait to read it.
Stay tuned for a review of this one, too.
So I've got some reading to do--which is always a treat for me rather than a chore.  The trick will be trying to find the time for such a guilty pleasure in the midst of the chaos and demands of my current life.  Right now, my husband and I have a huge dumpster sitting in our driveway.  We've already loaded it with the sad old carpeting that we tore out of our upstairs bedrooms and the outdated toilet, vanity, and tile flooring from our recently demolished upstairs bathroom.  Now we're going through our garage, basement, and attic and disposing of all the junk we've managed to accumulate in the past quarter of a century, items that are too mildewed or broken or rusted or worn-out to donate to charity.  Sometimes it's a bit painful ("You want to throw out those plastic sleds?" I ask pathetically, remembering the little boys who once sat on them, red-cheeked and smiling), but other times it's the best feeling ever ("I had no idea how we were going to dispose of those broken mirrors, and those remnants of construction materials from long-finished house projects!" I say, relieved beyond measure).

It's a process.  And it's coming along.  And I will write more about our renovations and preparations for the big move, I promise; but today, I just don't have the heart.  So I'll leave you with a few pictures that tell the story better than I ever could.
This bathroom was good enough for five growing boys to
share; but it needed a facelift for sure--it was hardly ready
for its HGTV close-up.

My husband and I tore up all the carpet in the upstairs
ourselves, and removed every tack and staple.  (Ugh!)  But 
we saved $1,000 on the new floor installation by doing so. 

First thing in the dumpster: that nasty carpet!

Try as I might, I could not come up with a good reason to keep
this catapult project that our youngest son made for his high
school Latin class.  (Note the TMNT cereal bowl--a
nice touch!)   So into the dumpster it went...sniff!!

For a family with NO baseball players in it, we sure had a lot of
gloves!  I was going to donate them, then realized that they
were covered with mildew and into the dumpster
they went, to join all the moldy, deflated footballs and
basketballs that we found in every nook and cranny of the

Our master bedroom floor, ready for its make-over.

Oh, baby!  Aren't these floors gorgeous?!

Our whole upstairs is getting floors  like this! 
As if I didn't love this house enough already,
it now has the floors of my dreams!

So that's a taste of what's to come.  I'm going to post before and after pictures of all of our bedrooms; my husband and I are trying to give them a "Fixer Upper" vibe that will appeal to savvy house-hunters.  (We'll see how we do with that...)

Until next time, you can find me on Instagram.


  1. I'm so glad you're keeping us updated! Thank you!

  2. Oh Laura, the floors are just gorgeous!!

  3. Oh my mummy heart would have gone mush too :-) Just bought that book for St Nick's for my 15 yr old, hoping for great things. Love, love the house update.

  4. It seems we are always busy, too. Of course, we don't have any renovations underway currently but I am SO impressed that y'all are doing your own renovations! We need to do some things too, but I don't know how much we can do ourselves. That floor is beautiful and I can't wait for more before and after pics!