Pebbles Beach Trip

This past weekend saw the Stones strewn about the Texas coast engaged in various vacation-like activities. One such activity, surprisingly, included babies falling asleep easily in their own separate rooms at the same exact time. Can I get an Amen?

We also did lots of swimming, visited the Texas State Aquarium, and learned how to suck bait shrimp straight out of the wet sand. The adults spent quality time together while enduring the cruel vacillations between toddler whininess and exuberant cuteness. The babies got to enjoy the excellent company of grandparents and a silent Uncle Nate. All in all, it was fun!

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A special note of appreciation goes to the Intex inflatable toddler bed which Lillian adored. Totally dad’s idea, too.

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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!

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No Flash Photography

I purchased my DSLR camera so that I could take quality, high resolution pictures which could preserve our family history.

There was no guarantee on the camera box that wiggly two-year-old subjects would cooperate. There also seems to be an unwritten rule among the younger set that physical stillness must always be accompanied by a firm frown.

Some of these problems could be remedied if I would turn on the flash and increase my shutter speed.

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Flash is for wimps.

Adventures of a Naptime Ninja

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Sharing a bedroom with the youngest member of our family has led to certain complications when I encounter those oh-so-rare possibilities for an afternoon nap for myself.

A venture of this kind poses a few risks. The first obstacle is the actual turning of the door knob. Sweet Cara has proven that she can sleep soundly through near-tornado force winds and thunder. The sound of the door opening is another matter altogether. The next obstacle comes when I actually climb onto the bed. Sheets rustling may as well be a clanging cymbal. Third, line of vision. There is a chance that Cara may wake up enough to roll over and go back to sleep. Should she see the ever-desirable mama laying there right in sight, the game is up.

Last Thursday I thought conditions were right.

After worrying for several minutes over logistics, I took a deep breath outside my bedroom door before gently turning the nob to attempt the improbable. Cara started as the doorknob turned, but soon became still again. I crept slowly further into the room and climbed into bed on the far side away from the crib, arranging pillows around me so that a body pillow could act as a wall to block the baby’s vision.

No sooner had I laid my head on the pillow than Cara’s head jerked up and scanned the room with laser vision. Satisfied that nothing was amiss, she turned and settled back into sleep with her face facing my bed. Without moving, I slept uncomfortably a few minutes until she began shifting again and turning her head toward the wall.

The risk in this nap experiment was clearly not worth the reward.

Gingerly I crept down from the bed and silently headed toward the door. I should have been home free.

Suddenly Cara jerked awake!

I dropped to the floor and paused with bated breath, heart racing.

Cara grew still again and I scurried toward the door and gently slipped out.

I always knew that motherhood would challenge me to abandon my selfishness. I never expected that motherhood would give me opportunities to develop sweet ninja skills.

Nighttime Ministry

2015-01-22 09.08.09Nighttime is the province of mothers.

Almost every night I find myself reciting some version of this same directive: “Lillian, why are you crying? It’s still nighttime, baby, let’s get back in bed.” She doesn’t usually answer my question, but I kneel on the floor beside her bed and hold her for a few minutes before leaving her with BeBe dog and a pile of less important stuffed animals.

Last night started off typically. I was in bed by 10:30, but up again at 11 to nurse the baby and 11:30 to kiss Lillian back to bed. I found myself awake again at 4 to nurse Cara, only to send her off again into restless sleep which also kept me awake. Eventually I retreated to the couch to sleep for another 30 minutes before being greeted again by Lillian’s screams and refusal to go back to bed.

As I spent the morning bleary eyed and coffee-dependent, it occurred to me that as a wife and mother the home in a general way, is my mission field. This is especially true because my husband is not a Christian. No surprise there.

But nighttime is when the Gospel really walks and talks for me.

These nighttime risings challenge me to serve the needs of someone else through my own desperation at precisely the moment which is the most inconvenient to me, and I have a choice whether to serve in joy or in bitterness. Today I tried to greet the day with charity even though it started a lot earlier than I hoped.

This is my nighttime ministry.

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

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On the Absence of Dad

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Happy Easter! With eyes that say, “hurry up and take the damn picture so I can let go of this kid’s arm!”

I was nervous about going to Mass this Easter with my littles in tow.

I usually go to a specific Mass, sit in my designated spot right next to a pillar (otherwise known as a toddler blockade). I go to this particular Mass because it’s typically not crowded and I sit behind a kind family always willing to grab my rambunctious toddler and hold on to her while I wrestle with the baby. I go to Mass alone, yes, but not always without help.

This Easter I had to attend Mass alone and with no helpers. I recall one moment in which Baby Cara was strapped to my chest and Lillian bumped her head on the pew as a result of a certain level of mischievousness and started screaming, suddenly in dire need of being picked up and comforted. I had a baby on my chest, a toddler on my hip and sweat on my brow. Other parishioners couldn’t help but observing, “you have your hands full, don’t you?” My reply, “Yeah, it would be a great time for my husband to convert!”

There are occasions at Mass when I see families attending together and my heart aches. At moments like that it’s helpful to remember how lucky I am to be at Mass a baptized Catholic.

God spent years tending to little seeds planted in my bitter heart to bring me to this place. The fact that kneel before the blessed Sacrament and sing Alleluia every week without a hint of cynicism or irony while earnestly trying to quiet babies and occasionally hissing at a toddler through clenched teeth is a blessed miracle!

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