Friday, August 29, 2014

Pregnancy & Vanity, The Way, and Cereal on the Floor


Oh Labor Day weekend....how do I love thee?
One last blast before we are in full blown school year mode, but it should be WONDERFUL.
Here's what's on my mind...

-1-
So, yay!  I'm pregnant!  My whole family is thrilled, thrilled, thrilled about a new tiny member joining us this coming Spring, but I tell you what, pregnancy is hard on me.  I covet your prayers.
It always seems embarrassing to me to admit how much I just really dislike these 9 months, because I'm not ungrateful for the gift of my children, and I'm not physically sick.  However, I've realized this time around that what I've been struggling with all these years is spiritual attack.  I become very vulnerable while I'm pregnant.  I, admittedly, struggle mightily with vanity, and this is the perfect time to take heed with all the lies in my ear: you're fat, you're ugly, you're worthless, you can't handle all this, you're weak, you are overwhelmed, nobody is going to like you, you're too emotional, and so on.  I fall victim, and I admit, I allow myself to wallow when things aren't going swimmingly; like Wednesday when a 24 hour tension headache bowled me over, or when I'm plain exhausted from the flood of hormones and baby-building, or whatever.
Blessedly, now that I've realized this, I have seen the love and mercy of God in that He has been sending me a river of consolation through the Scriptures, through dear friends, through mentors, and he has given me ears to hear my husband - who tells me all of the truth, contrary to the above mentioned lies.
(All that being said, nobody hold their breath for any "pregnant selfies."  There are exactly 2 photos of me pregnant from the total of 48 months of pregnancy I have endured in my life, neither of them with my permission. Those baby bump pics are lovely for other ladies, but I'll pass.)

-2- 
Pretty soon, I'd like to do a post about our curriculum choices for this school year.  I know it's not a crowd favorite, but it's nice for me to go back and look.  I've finally got everything together, and just need to wrap up a little bit of lesson planning today.  We start on Tuesday (after Labor Day), even though I had hoped to start 3 weeks ago.  Such is life.  I'm glad to have the freedom to do what's needed.  We're enjoying these last days of summer. (But WOAH, I'm bummed that Pinterest's Autumn hasn't shown up in Houston.  It's still brutally swampy here, with no end in sight.)
the last of our ordered supplies showed up today: a kit from Home Science Tools with all the necessary parts for experiments in our Astronomy curriculum - if I didn't spring for this, there's no way this mama would ever get to the fun stuff.  now all we need is a membership to the NASA museum about 1.5 hours away....wouldn't that be amazing?!
-3-
We need a new dog.  You know why?  Because two year olds.
"No mean to, Mama!"
The clean up effort surrounding this child would be so much easier with a furry friend who would follow him around wagging it's tail and gobbling stray cheerios, or entire boxes of cereal when the boy-child takes snack time into his own hands.  Whatev.
(No seriously, this child is so destructive.  He's so lucky he's so cute and I love kissing those cheeks and I think he has the most delightful personality.  Otherwise, it would be hard to overlook the last 24 hours that involved the breaking of one of my favorite bowls, the coloring on leather in the car, and dumping out an entire box of cereal.)
We need another Goldendoodle.  (If you saw my post earlier this summer about the boxer, that did NOT work out.)
"Felicity, what are you doing?"
"I'm mad, so I'm cutting this mail up!"
"Why are you mad?"
"Because, they sent this notice for Bree!  Don't they know he's DEAD?!"
:-(
-4-
I got to talk to my dad on the phone today, for almost 45 minutes.  It was easily the highlight of my day.



While we chatted, we decided to run a half marathon at the Houston Marathon in January 2016 together.  He's got several scheduled between then and now being the super athlete that he is, but obviously, I'm down for the count on distance running for a few months.  It'll be just the inspiration I need to get back to it after le bebe makes an appearance.  It'll take me a while to build up to that long of a distance.  I think before I was pregnant, 10 miles was probably my max.

Anyway, it was so so good to talk with him.  It'll keep a smile on my face for the rest of the day.  

-5-
My husband is the director of a Catholic conference ministry, and we just went last week to their biggest conference of the year in San Antonio.  
the resort where it was held has a very fun lazy river, pool, sandy beach, and water slide
the children loooove going there

lunch time on the balcony of our suite
It was such a treat to see friends from around the state, our parish, and from Houston.  I didn't get to many of the talks, but that was ok by me since we made it for adoration and Mass.  It was lovely to just visit with dear friends and spend time with the children.  We hardly saw Charlie, poor guy had to work while we played. ;-)  
these sweet sisters live in San Antonio and spending time with them was one of the best parts of the conference
visit their website at www.texasnuns.com if you're ever in the market for really lovely soaps for gifts or for yourself

BBQ, late night swimming, volleyball, and birthdays on our last night
what a way to bring our summer to a close
amazing
One of my favorite parts of these conferences is that they always bring a huge Catholic bookstore.  All sorts of wonderful treasures can be found.  I always walk away with a super long list of books I want to scour Amazon used books for - don't tell!  The only ones I'm willing to buy for full price are from Scepter, because they're hard to come by and shipping from their website is rough.  I picked up both The Way and The Forge, even though I had hoped for this copy that has all three: The Way, Furrow, and The Forge.  I often give my copy away and go a long time without one, and when I purchase a new book, it's like being reunited with a dear friend.  
(Two of the books I'd like to pick up that I saw at the conference are Beloved and Blessed: Biblical Wisdom for Family Life (I have the other books in this series and loved them, in fact...I think I should re-read them now that I'm in a new phase of family life) and The Little Book Of The Holy Spirit, from Sophia Press.  Their books are so lovely.)
the men playing volleyball on sunday night
-6-
Speaking of Scepter Publishers, one of these days I'm going to start collecting the Navarre Bibles.  I can remember seeing them in my dad's extensive library growing up and had no idea what a treasure I had at my fingertips back then.  Someday, when my phase of life allows for this level of study, I'm going to have to take out a small loan to get them all (I kid!), but they are so beautiful.  I loved perusing them at the bookstore!
(Last and not least, check out these free booklets on Scepter - I've known supernumeraries who have the actual copies to loan, but it's nice to have them in digital form.  My favorites are "Sanctifying Daily Work" and "Bright and Cheerful Homes.")

-7-
It's nap time for my 2-year-old, which means I need to make put dinner in the crock pot, fold some laundry, finish a bit of school planning, and return some phone calls.  OH!  And schedule myself a hair cut and pedicure for the morning.  It's gonna be a good weekend!

xoxo my friends

Visit Jen for more Quick Takes!


Friday, August 15, 2014

You Move in the Unseen



You can take my dry bones 
breathe life into this skin....

Wonder of wonders....deep in the dark, hidden from the world, resides a new little life.

With each child, our ability to love expands.  This tiny one, a creation of pure love, is a gift from God.  Each of my children is wonder, beauty, eternal.  And now, I'm happy to share we add to the family another precious one.

Baby #6.

Arriving March (-ish....if you know me, it'll probably be April) 2015.

I can never hide
You are here and You know me 


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Birthday Week & Some Reminiscing

Colette turned seven years old on Sunday.

We started the day off with donuts (pretty typical for a birthday in our family), followed by Mass at our beautiful parish (she and Serafina both got to go up for their birthday blessing!), and then, we went out for ice cream and bowling.  It was a wonderful day celebrating this treasured member of our family.
opening gifts first thing in the morning

donuts with daddy

ice cream on Market Street, in lieu of a cake

At 7 years old, Colette is exceedingly generous, laughs easily & loudly, loves babies and toddlers like crazy, and is a big fan of cute Beanie Boos.  She is a graceful ballerina with beautiful stage presence and is the family fashionista.  In fact, she was the first of all of my girls capable of fixing her own hair.  She's always accessorized and looks put together!  While I would say she's an introvert, she's also fiercely independent - she reminds me of myself in this regard.  She makes friends easily.  She most enjoys cantaloupe and draws me beautiful pictures.  Colette is very neat and tidy, she likes to keep her belongings "just so," she is the only one out of the girls that is like this, much to her (and my) chagrin.  Her favorite thing to do is to go to Mass, she asks me all the time to go to daily Mass.  It seemed like such a beautiful gift from God that her birthday was on a Sunday this year, especially after her First Holy Communion.

Colette's birth was crazy.  She was so late (in typical my-child-fashion), and we moved to Colorado the day after she was born.  A great grace, she was the sweetest, mostly snuggly baby - beloved by her big sisters!




all the bowling fun... :-)

Birthday week continued yesterday as we celebrated Serafina turning FIVE!  Five seems like a big milestone to me, and it seems like Felicity was just 5, so it's amazing to me that our littlest of girls so getting so old!


Fina got to open her gifts first thing in the morning as well, she was particularly delighted with her new Beanie Boo caterpillar.  I was able to talk her out of birthday donuts, not being able to stomach feeding them to the children twice in week with promises of going to lunch at Chick-fil-a (it's so easy to please my little ones!).
So after opening gifts and a quick (healthy) breakfast, we headed to the movie theater and enjoyed a fun movie followed by lunch and ice cream.
In the afternoon, she played with her new toys and then we headed to Nana's house for dinner and cake with the cousins!
Charlie was out of town for her birthday (we were all sad :-( ), so we'll continue the celebration today with a family trip to the pool and a pizza party!


birthday cake with the cousins at Nana's house!
Our sweet Fina is truly one of the kindest people I have ever met.  As the littlest of all the girls, she is the most capable at her age.  She's had an amazing vocabulary and mind since she was just a tiny thing, quickly picking up new skills with all of the older children around her.  She is a very helpful girl (in fact, as I type, she is unloading the dishwasher), and virtuously obedient.  Serafina is the spitting image of one of my younger sisters, who is crazy gorgeous, so I have a feeling she's going to grow from being a cute little girl with almost no hair (no, she's never had a hair cut!) to a beautiful young woman.  I have great hope that her goodness and virtue will outshine even her beauty.  Fina loves to do puzzles, read books, and is an excellent swimmer.  She loves spaghetti and grapes, oh, and ice cream of course!

Serafina's birth was easily the most exciting out of all of them, as she was born in triage while I yelled at bossy nurses.  All I can remember was pure and utter elation when she was born, my pregnancy with her was so peaceful, and it all seems par for the course with the kind of person that she is.  Just pure joy. I thank God for another year with this precious one.

Happy birthday to my sweet girls!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Violent Hippos Wrack My Dreams (and answer me this)

I was breathless.  Drowning.  The waves were crashing over my head, I was soaked to the bone.  My friend called out to me, trying to get me to climb up the rope and into safety but the threat of the water kept creeping up on me.  In the mean time, there were foes at the ready.  A brother and sister; he had lots of freckles and evil eyes, she had pigtails and the willingness to do what she was told.  They kept trying to knock us sideways, to save themselves, maliciously, and to let us flounder in the great grey-green waves.
As I finally made it aboard our vessel, giant hippos emerged, violent and thrashing, ready to consume me if I didn't remain steady and on the tiny red and white boat.  The freckled boy turned our boat sideways, and I began slipping, slipping, slipping....back into those ominous waves, that overcoming water, my chest tightening and then...

my eyes snapped open.

Oh.  Just another of my water dreams.

I laid in the safety of my own bed this morning, breathing in the new day, breathing out the bad dream.  I've always had bad dreams.  Most of the time they do involve water, but the hippos were new.  Typically if there is an evil villain of a beast, it's a killer whale.  I've never been quite sure of where this fear comes from, especially because I truly enjoy the beach and the pool (don't even talk to me about lakes though...more on that later).  I'm not always the drowning party in my dreams, but someone is typically going under.

I wonder if it has something to do with complete and utter loss of control.  When I feel like my life is out of my own grip, maybe it's akin to drowning.  Maybe there are fears of what is unknown under the dark waters, maybe I feel I'm already bearing so much that I can not take on any more.

Maybe that is why I choked up at today's gospel reading from Matthew, chapter 14:

"He said, "Come."  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"  After they got into the boat, the wind died down."

"Truly, you are the Son of God."

Again, I need constant reminders that my eyes need to remain fixed on Christ.  When I take my eyes off of Him, everything seems impossible.

On a lighter note, I'm going to join in with Kendra today:

-1- What do you still want to do this summer?
I still want to swim more, workout more, and I'm looking forward to fun at the Hill Country Hyatt in San Antonio for the Fullness of Truth Conference.

I still NEED to finish school planning, clean the school room, take the IEW teacher's course (when am I going to do this?!), buy ballet clothes for my girls, and so forth.

In my dream world, I'd do another triathlon, but that's looking grim.
September 1: we'll be starting school.  I'll be wishing I were doing this instead.
Ah well, such is life.


Other than that, I simply could not ask for more, we've had a FABULOUS summer!

-2-  What's your favorite kind of pie?

Coconut cream pie.

-3- How much sleep do you need each day?  How much do you get?
I need between 7-8 hours, and that's about how much I get right now.  This is a first for my entire adult life, and I don't expect it to last.  It is lovely though.

-4- Do you prefer to swim in a pool, lake, river, or ocean?
I will always and forever choose a pool, for no other reason than I can see through it.  I have some water fears concerning children (see above, ha), so I don't like to take them swimming in natural, non-clear water.  Thinking about it gives me mild anxiety.  I do not kid.

I don't mind the beach as much, mostly because they don't stray very far, and mostly they like to play in the surf/sand.  We had a lovely little beach outing just last week!



-5- Do you know any poems by heart?
I know some, but not as many as I'd like.  I know the ones my younger children memorize, mostly because I work with them on the poems.  That said, I'm always super impressed by the bigger girls' ability to memorize pages worth of poetry.

My favorite poem I have memorized, though, is How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
I know it's cliche.  But I can't help it...

I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith

It still gives me knots in my stomach.  That poem reminds me of the magic of music and falling in love.  I can't even explain it.

-6- Do you use the public library?
I actually contemplated writing about my absolute love for the library recently, but figured nobody else would be interested in listening to me wax poetic about the hours and hours I spent under dim lights among musty-smelling books that towered in the library I grew up in.
Truly, the library is one of my favorite places.  If I had a few hours to myself, I could easily spend them all in the library.
As a girl (an older, junior high-ish, high school girl), my mom would drop me off at the local library with some loose change for the snack machines and to call her to pick me up on the pay phones.  It was my kind of heaven.  I spent hours in that building perusing anything and everything, every topic that caught my fancy.  It was where I first came to love history, where my interest in music took a sharper turn upward, where I first encountered philosophy, where I had access to beautiful art.  I come from a book loving family, so it is no surprise that the library was and continues to be one of my favorite places (I'm talking thousands of books in the house I grew up in, in every room, on every topic.  I feel like I've written a post about this, but I can't find it).
As the mother of young children, and a member of a digital world now, I do in fact appreciate all of the features of ebooks, audio books, and the request system available to us.
But I would take leisurely hours to discover anything I like inside the pages of a book to Google absolutely any day.

Please visit Catholic All  Year to see what everyone else's answers are!

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OH!  Also, please go "like" my new page for His Will, My Peace if you're on Facebook!  I'm trying to get rid of my personal profile, so I'm trying this as a way to keep posting the blog to Facebook upon the request of friends.

Secondly, please forgive some of the weird fonts/colors.  I'm working on updating the look of this little blog, but it's something I'm not great at.  It is also something I'm not super interested in learning about....so, it'll get better eventually!

Friday, August 8, 2014

7QT: Social Media Fast, Summer Camp, and Tom Bombadil?

I haven't joined up for Seven Quick Takes for ever now... which is not surprising since I've not really come to this little space for quite a while either.  I know I've said it before, but it seems that the more I have going on in life, the less I am able to blog.  Also, I have such a love/hate relationship with this little blog here that when I haven't been in a while, it's difficult to want to come back.

So, here's me cheating with some Quick Takes:

-1-
A few months ago, I consolidated all of my daughters into one bedroom, which left an open room in the house for whatever I wanted.  Ever the introvert, I crave my own space and somewhere sacred.  So, I hauled my antique desk, computer, and paperwork across the house, set up the two lovely chairs my parents gave me next to my favorite books, and ahhhh....had a lovely spot for prayer and work.

This was not to be.

I should have known better.

What ended up happening was puzzle pieces everywhere, kid books strewn across the floor (I. hate. books. on. the. floor.  It makes me *livid*!) and all sorts of massive child take-over.  It was not peaceful or lovely or prayerful.  And I certainly could not do work in there.  We have a large, wonderful playroom/school room, so it just annoyed me that they were putting "my space" under siege.  I don't like to be annoyed with my children, so I just moved my stuff back into the kitchen where it was before.  The only thing I'm missing now is a wall calendar (as is evidenced by the big open space on the wall to left above) because my other one broke.  Hobby Lobby, I'm looking at you!

I'm much more at home in here, and I'll probably sit down to this computer more often now that my surroundings don't just frustrate me (and I'm smiling at my children! yay!).

-2-
The Social Media Fast of 2014-2015 is in full swing.  This post explaining it all has has more hits than most of my other posts ever, and I got a lot of feedback, which is odd for a small-potatoes blog like this little one.
I think people in general are craving a bit more humanity.
Speaking of humanity....I have loved the freedom of not sharing every little adventure with the whole world, just treasuring it in my heart.  (Maybe just sharing with the IG world...hahaha)  We've had such an amazing summer.
When I went to Edel, I did reactivate my Twitter and Facebook accounts briefly.  I was missing a lot of the continuing conversation in the immediate days following the gathering, and there was a lot of rich conversation going on that I was glad not to miss.  Once things seemed to calm down a bit, I did decide to shut them down again.  I've decided to stay on Instagram though.  It's just not the time-suck that Facebook is, and I'm not connected to every human being I've ever met on Instagram, so I feel like it is less intrusive.  That said, I'm toying with going back to a dumb phone again to save on our monthly bill (I have some other things I'd rather spend my money on at this point...), so I may not remain on Instagram either.

Anyway, I don't miss Facebook for the most part.  Anything exciting that goes on in the Edel group, my sweet friend Wendy texts or emails to me.  Otherwise, the only issue is that I know most of my blog readers came through Facebook.  I had several people ask me if I would keep my account open just to have automatic blog updates on there for my friends.  I'm toying with the idea, but I'm not 100% sure I have the self-control not to get on there.  And I don't really want to leave my account open for everyone to peruse.
We'll see.

-3-

I am making my mom's lasagna  (this post is making me long for cooler days, and for Fall....alas, I got the alert that it could be over 100 today!) for a special dinner tonight.  We are upon birthday week, two girls celebrating birthdays within 4 days, and tonight kicks off the fun.  (Colette is turning 7 - SEVEN! and Serafina is turning 5!)
Mom's lasagna is what I always asked for on my own birthday as a girl, it's easily my favorite and I rarely make it.  I've honestly never eaten a lasagna I liked as much.  It's even better the next day....tomorrow morning is going to be glorious.

Let the birthday fun begin!

-4-
Speaking of Fall, today should have been our last day of summer break.  I had planned on starting school on Monday (the 11th).  God and life have tossed some small road-blocks into my ability to plan and execute in time for that, so I pushed our start date back to September 1.  This one seemingly minor decision makes it possible for me to get all of the shopping, planning, cleaning, and prepping done, which is great.  What is NOT great is that it pretty much screws up all of the planning I've already accomplished and it will surely cause some stress later in the school year.  It's actually pretty frustrating, but again, I must put our homeschool in God's hands, knowing that He cares about all the little details of our life.

In fact, I have to keep reminding myself of this because I had a major freak-out around homeschool (mostly, and some other related things) with Charlie the other day.  I'm not going to go into my litany of issues here, but suffice it to say I'm feeling overwhelmed.  As usual, he listened to all of my blabbering very carefully, deciphered the key issues, and gently made some suggestions that, by their mere existence as suggestions, are giving me more peace.  I just keep reminding myself that not only do I desire for my children to thrive, but I want to as well.  Some things just simply must be adjusted for that to happen.

Pray pray pray pray pray.  That's all I can do.

The daily reading from earlier this week about Jesus walking on water was PERFECTION and felt like God's giant hug for me.  I must keep my eyes fixed on Christ, or I will simply drown.  I will.
a happy homeschool moment
it is mostly this!


-5-
If you need a good cry (I hate crying, but found myself so compelled to push on), go read Mary's "My Story" from Passionate Perseverance.  I follow Mary on Instagram and she is such a ray of light, as is her family, but somehow I've missed her blog! (?!)  I read her story from start to finish today and found myself just weeping tears of joy and sorrow with her, as well as consistently thanking God for His great love and mercies.  What an amazing story.  (The trip to Lourds just left me breathless.)  Truly, I am inspired.

-6-
My three biggest girls just got home last weekend from a whole week away at summer camp.  This was our fourth year to send children to The Pines Catholic Camp (which is now the largest Catholic summer camp in the country) and it was fabulous as always!  It was Felicity's fourth year, Gabrielle's 3rd, and Colette's very first time to go!  I was a little bit worried about how Colette would do, but she enjoyed herself so much, was completely brave, and had no issues at all.
Gab at her bunk in Lodge 2 when we dropped her off.  All smiles!

Felicity was in Cabin 11, the first cabin I stayed in as a camper!  AND she picked the same bunk spot as I did way back then.  :-)
This was her last year in "Water Village" (the elementary aged children), and she'll be moving up to the middle school crew next summer, the "Branch Village."  She's really looking forward to the opportunity to take part in some more advanced activities and spiritual programing next year!
Sending the girls to camp each year is a big ordeal.  I joke about the labeling of 21 pairs of undergarments, but really, figuring out the finances, travel, and logistics of it all is quite a challenge.  Over and over, it's proven to be a worthy challenge though, which is why Charlie and I try really hard to make it happen for them.  The skills, confidence, friendships, and fellowship in this Catholic faith that they come back to us with is something we can not give them at home.  I'm very grateful that they've had this opportunity once again.
Colette and Serafina were SO happy to be reunited on the last day!  They are such dear friends.  

Felicity and her three fabulous counselors for the week.

Did you know that fanny packs are back?  I can remember being embarrassed that my mom was wearing one around as a kid; at dinner that night, I couldn't fight the funny embarrassment of my DAUGHTER with one.  hahahah  Oh, 1990's why have you come back?? 

Colette, a friend and one of her counselors


-7-
I made my friend a Funfetti cake.  

After Colette was born, my next door neighbor brought over a lovely pan of enchiladas and the most beautiful bundt cake I've ever seen or tasted.

While I love to cook for my friends postpartum, my cake aspirations get the best of me and I realize I'm a cake fail.  Do you know what alludes me?  Frosting.  That's what.
How do people actually make homemade frosting? 
Every time I've tried, it's like one of those Pinterest fail Buzz Feed things (last time I started reading Pinterest fails, I was at the symphony and I just could NOT get myself under control...stay away if you are somewhere where you are supposed to be quiet).

Box cake is my reality.  Sad day.
(Help?)
(Birthday week???)

A last and final thought, because it's on my mind, before I go link up with Jen at Conversion Diary: who IS Tom Bombadil?  What an interesting guy.


Monday, July 28, 2014

#Edel14

Sometimes, God blindsides us with His love.  He reminds us in real and tangible ways that we are His, that He sees our efforts, that He loves us for exactly who we are, as we strive and struggle to be who we think He wants us to be.
When I talked with sweet Hallie in Austin this weekend to express my thanks for all of the hard work that she and Jen did to put Edel together, all I could think to say was that truly they must have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Every detail of what we needed as wives and mothers to be refreshed, comforted, inspired, rested, and revived was attended to.  I felt totally pampered, had just enough time to myself, and had the perfect opportunities to visit with other women who are in the mothering trenches with me.  It was such a luxury, and one that I feel will sustain me for a long time.  While we are all surely immensely grateful for our husbands and our motherhood and the many blessings we have, it was like a giant exhale after holding my breath to hear, "let's just admit that our job is hard."  (It is hard.  But it's good.)

I left early on Friday morning because my heroic husband was willing to take 5 children to our parish VBS (I'm going to have to write about that another day - WOAH...talk about not your typical parish summer event.  Amazing.) downtown, which takes about an hour on a weekday!  So, they left and I loaded my luggage into his tiny car and began the 2.5 hour trek to Austin all by myself.  I had to go alone for a couple of reasons, but when a friend asked me last week what I was looking forward to the most, I had to admit that part of it was the drive!  While I *am* an introvert, I can step out of it a bit to meet people and be friendly (there's a difference between introversion and shyness), but I do need copious amounts of alone time to recharge in life in general.  So, two and a half hours of thinking about whatever I want, listening to music, and praying was a great way to start things off!

Upon arrival in Austin, the first thing I wanted to do was start the weekend off with Jesus.
I hoped to get there in time for confession, but I barely skirted my way in during the noon Angelus and then Mass started.  It was so wonderful to be there, I love St. Mary's Cathedral in Austin, God has sent me much comfort there in the past.  Not to mention, attending Mass and not having to drag a toddler out screaming, or convince people that they really can wait to go to the bathroom for 5 more minutes, or being at constant risk of children flipping my skirt up was really lovely!  Wow!

After Mass, I drove around Austin to have a quiet lunch alone with Tolkien, a little shopping trip for provisions at Trader Joe's, and to get a mani/pedi.  That afternoon alone could have refreshed me, I had no idea that God would continue to bless me more and more!



Immediately upon entering the beautiful Omni hotel, I bumped into local friends (and my sweet roomie, Blair!).  The natural fears of walking alone into a social situation faded right away.  Peace washed over my soul as many beautiful mamas from all over the country began to congregate; ladies with little babies and precious ones on the way, ladies I recognized from their blogs and instagram and twitter, beautiful women all over the place who had come largely for the same reason: to connect.
Luxurious room at the Omni

Friday night cocktail party attire - my favorite dress and never-fail red lipstick
It was simply shocking how many lovely women I met on Friday night at the cocktail party.  We have so much in common already - heroic husbands at home, beautiful children we adore, vocations that we grapple with, a culture that largely thinks we're strange at best.  The conversation was free-flowing.  It didn't matter that some of us were lawyers, or homeschool moms, or working moms, or mothers of 7, or mothers of one baby so far, mamas who struggle with infertility, or ladies who are quietly afraid they'll be over-run by children.  We ranged from moms who love to dress up to moms who just wanted to hang out in jeans.  Introverts and extroverts.  But we are all Catholic moms.  I didn't meet anyone who wasn't striving for holiness.  

Saturday started off in total peace, as I hit the pool with my breakfast and morning prayer.  I was alone there for a while before some other wonderful ladies showed up and to say that the conversation was blessed would be an understatement.

Such heart-exposing conversation, such honesty.  There was so much freedom.  Thinking about it now makes me tear up...  One just knew that sharing one's story fell upon ears that genuinely cared and empathized.
It is here that I must note my observation that there was no weird female drama.  At all.  Ever.  It was all around acceptance and joy in knowing one another.  That's remarkable for women!!!  It is here that there is such great value in events like Edel, where we can hug one another and bear burdens together, to see each other's smiles, because in the vast world of the Internet, it's easy to hide behind a screen and say things we wouldn't normally say.  There have been many Catholic blog blow-ups over the years, but if we know each other on a more intimate level, how can we not just see Jesus in the other?

The afternoon of talks was perfection.  It grounded us in the understanding that we've all been lonely in motherhood, we've all been lost and longing for something more, and that we do not need to loose ourselves even though we are joyfully giving of ourselves.  (What an amazing conversation that provoked for me in the coffee and pastry line at the break!  Heather, I am praying about our conversation, God truly used you to speak to me!!)
I accidentally sat in the front row with the important people!  Oops!!!

Blessed conversation....and so much laughter with sweet Wendy and Heather!
The vendors were fabulous as well.  I purchased the Holy Spirit earrings I'd been longing for from On This Day Designs, a jewelry business run by 6 sisters/sister-in-law.  These ladies were WICKED fun!  I really enjoyed meeting them and hearing about their beautiful work!  In addition, I bought a novena bracelet from Organic Mama's Shop - I'm so excited about this because I am so lame at finishing a novena.  Any tips on one I should start it off with?!
Then, the chair massages with essential oils diffusing everywhere was out of this world....refreshed doesn't even touch how it felt.

just plain spoiled by the swag bags... ;-[)

For the afternoon break (see what I mean about having just enough time to do what we wished???  I almost never get to choose what I am going to do on a given day!  woah!), I grabbed lunch alone on 6th Street (introverts = love alone time), chatted with beautiful Crystal and Cate, and went for a run.
runninggggg

this is why I needed to run.
yum.
When it was finally time to get prepared for the evening events, I was already feeling sad that we were so close to being finished!  But, we had a GREAT time getting ready, it was dubbed #edelmomprom!  Hahaha

We enjoyed dinner (can't go wrong with copious amounts of guacamole, hello!!!), a talk from Jennifer Fulwiler, and karaoke/dancing.  I can't help but think that maybe the DJ was surprised by how fun the evening was, surely he didn't know what to expect when he was hired for a "Catholic Mom Conference?" While I'm not a dancer, I loved the evening.  Dressing up is always a special gift to me, thinking about it now makes me smile since I'm back in my favorite jeans and Chacos.  The conversations were fun and fulfilling, and we had such a great time that even when we got kicked out of the ballroom at midnight, we shut down the bar at 2am!
I've known Cassie and her family forever!
It was so nice to have her there!

see what I mean about the guac????  while I couldn't eat this whole meal because I needed to save room for carmel flan, you can bet I was still wishing for more guacamole!  

Jennifer encouraging us to persistently work on "building cathedrals"


the lovely Hallie Lord
this picture is a long time coming!  I've wanted to give her a big hug for years!

Alexis was my NFP instructor when I was 19 and engaged!  
her flapper style ensemble was stunning!

the truly amazing and beautiful Lisa Cotter (Ok, I didn't know you had a blog Lisa, but I googled you knowing you had written stuff for FOCUS - so, sorry to be creepy!  hahaha)
Lisa came all the way from Colorado, I know her from our days in FOCUS!
If you were keeping up with funny husbands taking over the #edel14 hashtag, her hilarious husband was right there in the mix!


Maybe it's cliche, but I can not begin to express how grateful I am for this past weekend.  As I ponder the conversations and personalities and amazing people God created as mothers, I am so inspired.  What a wonderful, beautiful gift - a boost as we continue our pilgrimage here on Earth.

Venerable Edel Quinn, pray for us!