Sunday, January 31, 2021
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Yesterday, the 4th son in the lineup of our five boys (our "basketball team," as everyone used to joke when they were growing up) turned 33! I'm not really sure how this happened, when he looked like THIS not too long ago. But it did.
This deep-feeling, faithfully Catholic, extremely intelligent, and kind-hearted guy has a biting wit and a way of putting things that amuses his family no end. He is a talented artist (his cartoons are amazing), a video game enthusiast, a dog lover, the devoted husband of our beautiful daughter-in-law Braveheart, and the hardworking father of four children under 4: triplets Pumpkin, Peanut, and Paquita (3-and-1/2) and 15-month-old Hermanita, who is his mini-me at that age...well, not quite; but if you substituted her glorious mop of dark hair with its signature top-of-the-head pigtail for a brush cut, they would absolutely be twins.
|Hermanita, and a drawing I did of her daddy many moons|
ago. Can you see the resemblance?
Son #4 came along just over four years after the birth of son #1, so they were a tight-knit little pack. Then, one week shy of son #4's fifth birthday, son #5 came on the scene. It tells you a lot about this kid that even though he had spent five years as the baby of the family, he never once exhibited even the slightest bit of jealousy when his little brother took over that coveted spot. In fact, he took our youngest son under his wing and was his staunchest defender and protector and his most enthusiastic playmate.
Friday, January 22, 2021
I haven't done a Friday 7 Quick Takes link-up post in a dog's age; but now that I've deleted all of the social media accounts that were taking up WAY too much of my time, I seem to have a lot more time for blogging. Which leads me to my first Take...
I'm finished with social media, for a whole lot of reasons. I was becoming increasingly alarmed about the way Big Tech is tracking individuals and trying to end free speech in America, and that was definitely the primary reason that I wanted to get as "off the grid" as possible. But I was also just concerned about the increasing amount of time I was spending in scroll mode. I mean, I had grown really, really attached (read: addicted) to Instagram. I deleted Facebook first, and then Twitter and LinkedIn; however, I dragged my feet a bit when it came to saying good-bye to my favorite platform. But I finally did it. I broke up with Instagram, and it was initially a little painful. Yet to my surprise, I haven't really missed it as much as I thought I would.
Last week, our fourth-born son's wife, Braveheart, and her four little ones (triplets--identical twin boys and a girl, aged 3 and 1/2--plus their little 14-month-old baby sister) came to our house for their weekly playdate. Our other local daughters-in-law were not able to join us, as they have pre-school and kindergarten drop-off and pick-up schedules to deal with. But so far, the triplets are not in school; and their mom really needs to have some social events to look forward to each week, to give the kids (and her, too) a much-needed change of scenery. So for her, it almost always works out to come over for lunch and playtime sometime between Monday and Friday while her hubby is at work
Braveheart tells us that just about every day the triplets wake up and ask if they're going to "Papa-Grammy's" house. (They usually just call us both Papa, because to them we are joined at the hip and share one long name, and Papa is easier to say.) Their eagerness to see us is about the sweetest thing my husband and I can imagine. And we hope they always love to visit us as much as they do now.
So last Thursday, that crazy little gang of four was at our house from about 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. At one point, just after lunch, I noticed that Paquita was sitting on the floor looking at some of the children’s books that we keep in a basket just off the kitchen area. And then much to my delight, I realized that she was flipping through her Grammy's illustrated My Little ABC Book, which I self-published in 2019 as a gift for her and her many cousins. If that doesn't fit the bill of dreams coming true for me, I don't know what does.
|On my honor, I did not set up this photo. That really is the book she chose to "read."|
When we moved to VA in 2017, we didn't want a fixer-upper. Not at this late stage of the game, and not after the more than two decades we'd spent doing DIY projects in the NH home we left behind. We bought a house that was pretty much move-in ready, with the exception of needing the stained and worn-out upstairs carpeting removed and replaced with a more allergy-friendly wood laminate. We thought that eventually we would want to finish off the basement and make a big, light-filled playroom for the grandkids. But we didn't do it right away. We hired a contractor to put in a full bathroom down there, but otherwise we lived with it the way it was for a while.
|The former owners had put up one wall (on the right in this picture), and they'd installed a vinyl floor. But otherwise, the basement was completely unfinished and my husband had his work cut out for him.|
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Yesterday, our youngest son turned 28. That’s unfathomable to me, because that’s about when it seems he was born--yesterday or maybe the day before...my goodness, where do the years go?! (I'm sure I've said that about a million times on this blog already; but it bears repeating.)
Here's a picture of our boy yesterday, getting ready to eat a funfetti cake baked from scratch by his wife of about 16 months.
And here's another picture of him...also taken yesterday.
This kid...every mother should have one like him. I mean that. And I am not biased. (I'm not!) I'm not seeing him through rose-colored glasses when I say that he has been the most loving and devoted son his whole life, and that his enthusiasm for being a member of our family--with four older brothers he always looked up to and adored--has never flagged, even a little bit. In a way, he was born an old soul; even when he was a wee lad, he had a manner about him that made more than one person ask him if he thought he might one day be a priest. (God had other plans for him, however.) I just adore him, and I'm thrilled that he found a wife who seems to feel the same way about him as his mommy does.
Saturday, January 16, 2021
I hadn't made the decision to revive this blog in time to do a lot of Christmas posting, so I thought that today I'd do a quick catch-up or re-cap or what-have-you.
We had a beautiful and blessed holiday season--especially since our youngest boy and his wife, whom we hadn't seen in more than a year, were able to be with us for about two weeks. We had a family party the day after Christmas (all five sons, their wives, and their 17 darling offspring aged newborn to 9) at our centrally located VA home. It isn't the biggest or the grandest house, and the yard is...well, it's so small it can hardly be called a yard. But we are perfectly situated for all four of our VA-based kids to meet here with their families. (We just have to entice our baby and his wife, who currently live in OK but will be moving--east, hopefully!--this summer, to end up settling in VA, too. Ha ha!...But really, we do.)
Aside from the family party, we had our second annual adults-only party on December 30. (I wrote about our first one in this post last year. It's a fun post if you have the time.) This is a tradition that my husband and I love so much, a real highlight of our holiday celebrations. It's wonderful to have all the little ones running around the house together; but it's so incredibly special to get our grown children and their spouses gathered under our roof without their kids, so that we can all relax and enjoy real conversations that aren't interrupted by boo-boos, cousin squabbles, or poopy diapers. We had drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts, and we did our Five Favorites gift exchange (which we've decided we prefer to a Yankee Swap).
I wish I had posted pictures of our Christmas decorations here at the blog in the days leading up to Christmas (I was busy posting them over at Instagram instead!). I think our house looked particularly lovely this Christmas...but maybe that's because it was so often filled with family. My boys have always been my favorite element of home decor--and wherever they and their dad are, that's my home.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Over the past week or so, I deleted my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts.
It's fine. I'm fine.
The first two, Facebook and Twitter, were relatively easy break-ups for me. Because of the truly scary privacy concerns I have regarding the tech giants who control them, along with all the angry, bitter political back-and-forth that dominates those platforms (at least on my feeds!), it was actually a very freeing feeling to remove them from all of my devices and know that those familiar icons would not be calling out to me anymore, giving me that hard-to-ignore urge to click and "just look for a minute"...which in turn, more often than not, led me to scroll endlessly when I should have been spending my limited time on this earth doing something more meaningful.
I used Instagram stories to announce my departures from FB and Twitter (because I wasn't quite ready to dump Instagram yet!).
The only site that was painfully hard to leave was Instagram, where I followed some of the most inspiring, talented, funny, faith-filled Catholic writers and "influencers" (most of them former bloggers whom I'd originally discovered through their blogs), along with a number of beloved family members. I LOVED Instagram, I won't lie. But Instagram is owned by Facebook, and as a matter of principle, I felt I needed to make a complete break. That was the one that hurt. That was the one site that gave me the most joy and the one I'll probably always miss.
HOWEVER, truth be told, Instagram wasn't really all that good for me, no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise. I spent too much time thinking about what picture I could take for my next post. (Never have I taken so many pictures of the food I was cooking or eating!) I was scrolling through feeds that led me to other feeds, and then to others, and others...and before I'd know it, I had spent over an hour gazing at the lovely pictures of complete strangers...and sometimes, comparing myself negatively with their curated perfection. Also, like Facebook, Instagram knew what kind of clothes I liked, what kind of books I read, and it was constantly enticing me to buy a cute lace top or a WWII historical novel that looked like it was right up my alley. In a way, I'll miss those well-targeted IG ads, because they exposed me to some items that I would never have otherwise found on my own. But then again, isn't it a little creepy that Instagram knew exactly the kind of things I normally purchased? Isn't it a little concerning that my online activities are being followed, and noted, by some phantom Internet overseer?
So I said my sad good-bye to IG with this post last Sunday:
I thought it was apropos to go out with a photo of a cup of coffee, a good book, a set of Rosary beads, and a picture of Jesus. This pretty much tells the story of how I'm hoping to spend the extra time I'll have now that I'm not distracted by what's happening on IG.
I guess I'm kind of off the grid--but I'm still here at my String of Pearls (which turns 10 this March!), so that's not quite true. I've decided that I'd like to get back into blogging (and that right there is a statement that seems almost as old-fashioned as saying, "I think it's time to bring back VHS and cassette tapes"). Hopefully I'll be blogging more, praying more, and reading more good books. Sewing and drawing more, too. That's my plan for 2021.
So I'll be back, dear readers. And if you have a blog that I used to read, before I got so thoroughly entrenched in the IG world, I may be visiting it more often now. And when I do, I'll most likely be drinking coffee.
(Please note: I am not judging you if you still enjoy all the aforementioned forms of social media; for me personally, the negatives had begun to outweigh the positives, so I did what I felt I had to do for my spiritual and mental well-being.)