mockingbirdMy daughter, Cara will be eight months old on Saturday. Her requirements for object appreciation consist in the object’s size and portability. She prefers objects that she can a) hold in her hand and b) can be brought to her mouth or crawled with. Shapes, textures, and colors, if considered at all, are secondary considerations. This morning after finding her uncomfortably close to the litter box, I saw some brown poking out from her hand and thought she was handling some cat creations. Fortunately the brown object in question was actually a plastic rabbit. Whew.

Lillian at 2.5 years old appreciates objects on a different level. She adores all kinds of little objects and seems to revel in her ability to exercise control over them. She likes handling things and sorting them into different kinds of containers, by color or size or some quality I’ve yet to figure out. She is a huge fan of surprise egg videos on YouTube. Also surprise eggs at home: placing small objects into the eggs, collecting them, opening them, leaving easter egg shells all over the house.

Oliver handles objects as you would expect a grown man to handle objects. Functionality. Efficiency. Doesn’t seem to get attached to stuff. He’s cool that way.

I have spent the last week or so sweeping through the house decluttering and collecting things to be taken to the local thrift store. I’m always surprised how attached I become to things that I hardly have any use for. Each time I drop things off I find myself pulling this item or that item from the bag, as if my keeping the item will keep a particular time alive in my life. I’m also surprised by the seemingly insignificant moments that I remember so clearly, while I don’t remember many details from big events.

Touching my hardcover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, I remember clearly laying on a backpacking hammock hanging from a defunct batting cage at my parents’ house on a bright and hot summer day and reading. I can’t figure out why I remember this tiny and serene moment. There is no reason for me to remember it. Nothing special happened. I have spent countless hours in my youth reading outside from various perches. But I remember.

I think that maybe those moments are in some way significant, thought perhaps only because an invisible current of God’s grace bubbled up to the surface as a hard heart cracked open in pressure of raw beauty in nature or art found unexpectedly close to home.

To Kill a Mockingbird will always be spared from bookshelf weeding.


Oratory Update and Printable

oratoryupdateandprintableDaily prayer with toddler and baby has been going surprisingly well. I’ve been getting the little pebbles together every morning after breakfast. We gather around the little oratory, pass around the rosaries and light our Candlemas candle. We pray. I promise toddler that she can blow the candle out. No one’s long, silky hair has caught on fire yet. We try to keep the fighting to a minimum. I consider it a win. The whole process takes us about five to ten minutes. We keep it simple at Casa Stone.

The surprising thing that I’ve noticed so far is the extent to which Lillian enjoys the ritual. She likes things done in the same way every time, and everyone has to have the same rosary. She can almost make the sign of the cross.

One thing I’ve struggled with is figuring out which prayers I want to pray daily. I knew I wanted to pray the morning offering, but I couldn’t remember the words…so I created a little printable cheat sheet for myself! I meant it to be printed as a 4×6 so that I could use it as a prayer card to keep tucked away and then nipped out when I needed it.

To print a copy for yourself, just click on the image to view the full size and then right click to save the image. Enjoy!


In Honor of the Sacred Heart

This week I have been thinking about teaching my Lillian how to pray.

I have found it tricky (on the level of defusing a bomb) to be a Christian out loud in front of my children, and in secret in front of my husband. Sometimes it’s like living with a divided heart. Oliver does not enjoy seeing religious images popping up in our house. And yet enjoy seeing beautiful reminders of my faith throughout the day. Our little compromise is this: I can hang up crosses received as a gift, and I can put some images in my bathroom and on the wall immediately above my little bedside table.

It’s a small space, but I am trying to turn bedside table area into a little oratory so that we can have a beautiful focal point to gather in front of after breakfast to start our day. (For more info about oratories plus picture inspiration, go here!)

So far I have a crucifix, an image of the Visitation of Mary from The Little Oratory book which I won in a giveaway and a print of the Holy Family that I got from Edel last year (Lillian LOVES that one!). I can’t afford very much, and my husband wouldn’t be comfortable with anything too “shriney” popping up in our bedroom. I keep thinking that I may as well create some images for myself!

So here is a one-two punch: the prayer Anima Christi and the Sacred Heart of Jesus all in the same image! These two do not technically go together, but as with so much in the Catholic faith they still kinda do! Click on the image to view the full size, and right click and save if you would like a copy of this 5×7 printable image for yourself! Enjoy!


The Archnemesis of Creativity

paintingTwo blog posts in one day? I do what I want.

I always blog at the desktop computer in the back bedroom. In the past I have had the ability to write flexibly from any cushioned surface on a laptop, but these days I don’t own one of those newfangled devices. When I sit at the desktop computer, the sheer formality of sitting up straight on a chair seems to often kill the creative spirit. It stimulates my perfectionism.

At this very moment I am sitting with my IT husband’s work laptop at the kitchen table directly in front of a pitcher full of fiery roses, leaning haughtily back in a chair while my feet rest on another chair in front of me. It strikes me that this is exactly the writers’ slouch that I have missed. You can’t be a perfectionist when you’re sitting next to a bowl of browning guacamole a scabby cat, I’ll tell you that much.

Perfectionism is the archnemesis of creativity when I sit down to paint as well.

I often find myself seeking to paint at a level of photorealism which I don’t even want to take the time to achieve. I keep reminding myself that there is beauty in the process, and beauty in capturing the essence of something without necessarily rendering every line in precisely in a grid.

I have always been a notes sketcher, a lecture sketcher, a phone sketcher. I absolutely filled my college notebooks with doodles of whatever happened to burst into mind at the moment. Creativity was wild because I felt no pressure for my artwork to live up to someone else’s expectations! It turns out that I am happier when my paintings spring from sketches. Perfectionism can go straight Hell.

I am officially reclaiming the dignity of folk art.


These past couple of weeks I feel my wanderings have been desperately aimless. I feel like a cork bobbing in the water waiting to ride a current, but held back by the line. The feeling has left me down and anxious, although I’ve still found plenty of life to savor! In the interest of stretching a creative muscle, here is what I have been doing the last two weeks.


Among other things, my new lover is this massive brick of a book which fits neatly into my Kindle:

gameThat is how I roll. Several years behind everyone else! Also enjoying the challenge of trying to beat my library’s 3 week due date! So far comparing Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings, I can see more of the murkiness of human relationships in GOT rather than the overarching idealism which draws the characters of LOTR together. Very interesting, indeed!


doodlesI have still been drawing and painting. Mostly Catholic stuff, an ode to coffee and sad clothespins. I’ve really enjoyed a creative outlet which can be quickly taken up and quickly put down. Not entirely sure the husband appreciates seeing this much scripture and Catholicity, though he was a big fan of the coffee love and landscape.



Backyard entomology! I deduced that the fat caterpillar with orange is a Wilson’s wood nymph moth. The caterpillars stacked like hot dogs on the underside of that leaf, I have no clue. The purple flower is some lovely lantana.

Also, Texas countryside is still marvelously beautiful. We’ve had more than our share of rain this spring, so we are blessed to have tall green grass, red poppies, indian paintbrushes, bluebonnets, pretty yellow weeds, prickly poppies. I could go on. Bottom line, I am completely dazzled by the spring.

I haven’t so much been enjoying the indoor entomology. We have a burgeoning fly infestation. Plus carpet beetles. But, y’all. The flies. Today I swatted 10 flies. Not a single one has been caught by the fly paper. It’s a conspiracy.



We’ve been enjoying the weather, that’s for certain. Also getting our money’s worth out of our San Antonio Zoo membership. Plus sampling tasty brew at the Real Ale Brewing Company 19th anniversary party!

Scenes From South Texas

I’ve often wished over the years that I could view the world, always, through an amber lens. Green is–clearly, objectively, unarguably–the best color. The end. And it looks so lovely through an amber lens. Today I spent quite a long time driving and taking the scenic route. I keep being floored by the beauty of Texas spring. It looks like living in the Shire. When I am holed up my house in protest of the burnt brown landscape in July and August I will look back on these spring days fondly. I’ve been so inspired of late that I bought a cheap watercolor set at Wal-Mart so I could at least attempt to capture some of what I see and cannot photograph! But I also try to photograph when I can!landscape



Pinterest Therapy

People use Pinterest for a number of reasons, but nothing delights me more than the boards I have created solely for aesthetic appeal. Without further ado, I present to you my three favorite and totally frivolous Pinterest boards. These are the boards I look at when I need a little visual therapy.

1. Color ❤color 2. Light ❤

light3. Beautiful World

beautiful world

Do you have a favorite board? I would love to check it out!