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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Wanderings

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.

Reading:

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!

Creating:

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.

Seeing:

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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.

Doing:

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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!

Domestic Camino

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was little and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, “an explorer like Indiana Jones.” I am still captivated by the idea of the journey. For the most part my dreams of travel have been tempered by lack of time and money. But still, I yearn for the walk.

So far I have spent my Lent reading Spiritual Lessons Along the Camino as my Lenten devotional. The book includes 40 spiritual lessons complete with Scripture that the author learned from her pilgrimage walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I hope I can walk the Camino de Santiago some day.

Yesterday with my imagination aflame, I opened the drawer of my jewelry box seeking my baptismal shell pendant only to find it nestled in the crook of my Appalachian Trail wishbone. I hesitated, and then strung them together onto the same chain. I’ve always been one for symbolic jewelry. I bought the wishbone right before I took off on my 200 mile Appalachian trek and received the shell from my cousin on the night I was baptized. The shell is also the symbol of the Camino.

An international, month-and-a-half long pilgrimage is a difficult goal to possess when you are also the mother of a 4-month-old and a two-year-old, and your dream can not be anything more than something far off and unfeasible and barely glimmering on the distant horizon. I think that for now it will have to do to just live my life of base domesticity in the spirit of a pilgrim rather than setting off down an actual trail. I want to remember that my entire life should be a pilgrimage leading me closer to God.

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What should being a domestic pilgrim look like?

1. Eliminate some of the noise. A pilgrim would spend the day walking in silence, open to the inspiration of God. To a certain extent I think it’s possible to do this every day. This Lent I have given up listening to the radio in the car. It’s hard to do. I used to go on drives just to listen to podcasts, but the silence had definitely not been empty.

2. Walk in conversation and expectation. Pray earnestly and expect God to communicate with me. Live in a spirit of “seeking”. Something I struggle with. Number one helps with this one! .

3. Be humble. Be small. Accept everything as coming from the hand of God. Give up thinking that I “deserve” anything better. Become more of a minimalist.

4. Local Pilgrimage. Embark on some local (driving distance) types of pilgrimages. I live near San Antonio, easy distance from some old Franciscan missions, San Fernando Cathedral, the National Shrine of the Little Flower, Oblate Grotto. I could attend a Latin Mass for the first time. I could visit the Mission of Divine Mercy. I could commit to going to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a regular basis. Really, there are so many possibilities.

Thoughts? What am I missing?

Vacationing Broke and Hangry

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Hangry on the St. Charles Street Car

Currently (still) reading Paris in Love by Eloisa James. The book is comprised of a series of short little quirky, funny, beautiful vignettes about family life in Paris. It’s partially making me want to visit Paris, and partially making me remember that my husband and I have absolutely no idea how to vacation in a city.

We visited New Orleans in 2011 for an obligatory American Library Association conference. I had to go to the conference because of my scholarship, but I wanted to visit NOLA because it was my high school Anne Rice fan girl dream vacation. Little did I know, we’d be spending the entirety of our visit broke and hangry. By the end, we hadn’t eaten anything Cajun and hand’t visited any of the historic landmarks on my to-do list. We entered the city totally unprepared and left in much the same fashion.

Our first couple of nights we spent at Queen Anne Hotel, an antebellum mansion turned hotel in the Garden District. It was old and a little creepy at night. Our room had the highest ceiling and and sturdiest build you could ever imagine. We spent a lot of time in the room arguing about what to eat and researching what to eat on my laptop. The best moment there was spent sitting on the creaky front porch splitting a Wal-Mart hoagie with Oliver, eating strawberries and watching the dusk descend on the little street in front of us as we downed some locally crafted Abita beer.

The Wal-Mart hoagie pretty much sums up our NOLA culinary experience. We kept searching for little local places to eat, being too broke to eat there, and then downing something totally unappetizing in sheer desperation. Every vacation of my entire life up to that point had been spent either camping with access to camp stove or renting a condo with a full kitchen. I was unprepared for having to pay for every single meal.

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Oak Alley Plantation

My favorite thing about New Orleans? Leaving it. We made a whole day out of leaving by the Great River Road which boarders the Mississippi and were able to stop at Oak Alley Plantation and Nottoway Plantation for tours. If I had a do-over I would’ve spent my entire vacation hopping from one plantation to the next, as most of them offer overnight accommodations.

My ideal Louisiana vacation would be to drive the Great River Road and do tours by day, and enjoy craft beers around a campfire by night. That would be the best. Let’s not talk about how I’m still broke, even in my dream vacation fantasies.

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Nottoway Plantation