Dolce Domum

“I’m writing this piece in the midst of a crisis, if you will. I’d like to tell you about the joys of living small, but the reality is that it doesn’t feel quite so joyful at the moment. In fact, it feels downright anxiety-ridden at the moment. It’s not really a living small problem but more a problem of MY HOUSE IS TOO SMALL!

Hello, my name is Maia and I live in a 1100 square foot, two-bedroom apartment with my husband, three children, and a really big dog. I know for a fact that he is a really big dog because when I take him for walks and we meet new people or go past people we haven’t seen before they say, ‘Wow. That is a really big dog.'”

Want to read the rest? I am guest posting today over at Ordinary Lovely, and I’d love to see you over there!

Losing Jesus

It was one of those chest-tightening days.  Too much to do. Not enough time. Myriads of unfinished to-do lists running through my head. Scattered ends. Lost beginnings. Can’t find Jesus. Can’t make my brain stop long enough to listen to see if He is there. You know the days.

Finally, finally at the end, I escaped out the front door with my running shoes on my feet and my dog on the end of his leash and my running rosary around my wrist.

He’s a good running buddy, this dog of mine. He hates running. Well…he loves it, but he hates that we keep going. So he stops to pee a lot. Which gives me a chance to catch my breath all the while making a big show of stopping for the dog. So he can pee. I mean, I would keep running without stopping. Obviously.

So we run and pray and pee, he and I.  Well, he pees and I pray.

Duccio_di_Buoninsegna_Finding Jesus In the Temple
{Duccio di Buoninsegna}

And thereabouts the fifth joyful mystery, as the noise in my brain is starting to ebb away and the joy is starting to creep in, the edges of a realization started to creep in. And as my dog and I slowed for yet another pee/breath break, I realized that reconversion and reversion and finding Jesus is nothing new under the sun. Mary and Joseph lost Jesus in the bustle of daily life and the hustle of not-so-daily-life while traveling. They, too, had to backtrack to find Jesus, right where they left him, right where he was supposed to be.

As far as the Bible tells us, Mary and Joseph only lost Jesus once. And I seem to lose him on a daily basis. And sometimes, I’m ashamed to say, I’m too lazy or mad or stubborn to give over my precious to-do list to back track to find him. Or – worse – I don’t even realize he is missing.

I guess this isn’t an “I found Jesus” post or “7 Steps so that you, too, can find Jesus” post. It’s just a reminder that I am pretty sure I will need to remember someday. A string around my finger. That Jesus is probably quite used to being lost. Seeing as, you know, his Mom and Dad lost him and all. And that he doesn’t get tired of being found if it brings us to where he is being about his father’s business.

pointing you in other directions

There is nothing like a “spend freeze month” to make you drool over things you can’t buy.

I have this one on the wish list from Rakhi of RakStarDesigns:

RakStarDesigns Etsy Hail Mary

Katrina’s Hatch Prints is covet-worthy, especially this one:

Hatch Prints Etsy Offer It Up

My kids need me to buy this, dontcha think?

(For the record, I’m still head over heels with the two that I already purchased…Hatch Prints Etsy Pray Hope and Don't Worry

Hatch Prints Etsy God Walks Among the Pots and Pans

So there’s that. It’s funny how saying that you won’t buy anything means that you suddenly find yourself dreaming more fiercely about beautiful things and cameras and vacuums. No? Yes? Surely you drool over those same things, too.

Lucky for me, while I remain strong in the buying department, I have some beautiful new blogs and new-to-me writers to boost me this week. So I am pointing on your way to:

Brittany Calavitta writes at Live in the Longing. And, you guys, if the title of that blog doesn’t just pull you in, then go do some spot reading (I loved this post). Aesthetic blog, beautiful words.

Friends and acquaintances launched a blog, Brave New Family, today, and they did a great job of populating their blog with many read-worthy posts so you can click-click over and then click-click around for there is plenty to read and something for everyone. (Don’t believe me on that last claim? Go test it. Go ahead. I dare you.)

And on that note, I am signing off from web-writing to do some soul-writing. Good night, friends!

who is your character? subtitle: the most grooveless, themeless post in the history of blogging

Do you watch movies and put yourself into one of the roles?

We were watching The Emperor’s New Groove earlier. Bear with me, because I am not posting pictures, and if you have never seen the movie you might be a bit lost and if you have seen the movie, then this is the Old Man who gets thrown out the window at the beginning and his conversation with Pacha, the peasant…

Pacha: What happened?
Old Man: Well, I threw off the Emperor’s groove.
Pacha: What?
Old Man: His groove! The rhythm in which he lives his life. His pattern of behavior. I threw it off. And the Emperor had me thrown out the window.

You guys, I think I might be the Emperor.

Be. Ware, Kids. Be very, very ware.

just groove has ever been harmed...or FOUND... in our family...
just kidding…no groove has ever been harmed…or FOUND… in our family… {this photo taken five minutes after Something Fun Happened. Keep reading…}

We just finished up a trip from here to there and there to here…also known as Portland to Eastern Oregon and back again…also known as…The Car Stinks. The dog had a bath before we left.

not the guilty party

So we will go ahead and put our money and blame on the car sick kid. You would think that the child born in a car would be a better traveller.

{photo cred: Liam}
{photo cred: Liam}
{photo cred: Liam} {{not included because he was car sick – I just like seeing what he takes pictures of when I let him loose with my camera}}

Eastern Oregon completely floors me. You know how you spend your whole life searching for what feels like home? And sometimes you find a place that just makes your soul sigh because it’s the closest thing you find this side of heaven? Eastern Oregon is that for me. It’s heaven. But so is this home that we make here. Even when it’s noisy and chaos-y and groove-less.

So, I won’t boot any kids out the window THIS week.

ungroovy at best

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Crazy kids. Welcome to my groove-less, love-filled life.

{May contain affiliate links.}

Dealing with Stress and Tension: The Mom Years

I think most moms are qualified to write on the topics of stress and tension. Scratch that. Most HUMANS are qualified to write on the topics of stress and tension. I consider myself to be expertly qualified to share my muddy, in-the-trenches view…and I am really curious to hear about how YOU deal with stress and tension in the thick of it.

ways for moms to deal with stress and tension

“Good moms let you lick the beaters. Great moms turn them off first.” I think I ran into that quote when I first entered the world of Pinterest. We had two boys at the time, ages 1 and 2. We were living in South Korea, where my husband was stationed. It seemed to sum up how I felt about life at the moment and my fly-by-the-seat-of-pants parenting style.  I was pretty sure that I was simultaneously doing the best that I could and screwing everything up all at the same time, which is discouraging, because you can’t get much better than your best, can you now?

Just this past weekend, I took those same two boys to the pool (and Amelie stayed home with my husband and napped). This summer, with two swimmers, I didn’t have to get into the pool. I got to lay in a lounge chair and read a book. (Real life? The lifeguard in me couldn’t read and the dumb kid in me got sunburned.) I got to jump in the cool, refreshing water when I wanted to. And climb out when I wanted to. And I realized that if you had talked to me a few short years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to wrap my brain around that luxury.

That’s the thing about stress and tension – it winds you up so tightly, that you can’t REALLY see the big picture.

As I was thinking about this all, I realized that I still have stress and tension. I still get lost in the nitty-gritty. I still get wound so tight that I catch myself literally holding my breath and figuratively waiting for the other shoe to drop. When you live that way for an extended period of time, it has an effect on your outlook. I am in recovery from living in times of stress. What I am sharing with you today is not a be-all, end-all list of cures for stress and tension. Let’s call it a reflection on what I can see right-here, right-now. And an encouragement to you to work on your own list!

// give with intention/schedule your breaks

This one is the most difficult for me. I’m not talking tithing (that’s difficult for me, too). I’m not talking volunteering.  I’m talking giving of self and love. To your family. The ones you live with.  I know. I know. All those self-help articles tell you to “take time for yourself”, “put on your own oxygen mask”…I get it. I get it. Yes. Important. But you KNOW that already. If I am ABLE to go and put my feet up while somebody else paints my toes, me personally, you don’t have to tell me twice. I skedaddle. The hardest thing for me, though, is putting down what I am doing. The THING that is SO important…to ME…to serve when I don’t want to, when I am not enthused about it. It’s a brain switch,  you see.

On a day when I am feeling exhausted…from not getting a full night’s sleep (mythical)…from having to be awake and answering questions at the crack of early (“Hey Mom!!”)…from trying to do all the things that life has piled on and I have piled on…it feels terribly, terribly tempting to “just take a little break” and see what’s happening…anywhere else but here. Inevitably, when I am in this frame of mind, someone needs a drink of milk (can I take a moment to express my frustration at the design of Costco milk jugs?). I get interrupted from MY break to get YOU a drink of milk. Giving drink to the thirsty…whaaaaa???

There is “taking care of self” and then there is “taking care of self(ish)”. When I have set times that I am taking a break, I can take my (well-deserved) moment of rest to look at your pretty Instagram pictures and “take care of self”, knowing that the child who is “dyyyyyyying of thirst, Moooooom” actually had a drink of milk 5 minutes ago, has all his mental, emotional, physical needs taking care of and will be ok for 10 more minutes. When I live “taking care of self(ish)” mode, I spend every moment wishing for just five minutes of peace and get really snappy when I get interrupted.

// plug in AND plug out

I am constantly searching for a healthy balance on this one. I just loved Nell’s article on finding your village. Gosh, that just touched a chord, and it refreshed my gratitude for bloggers. I remark, sometimes, to my husband that blogging (writing one and reading them) saved my life. He rolls his eyes, but I don’t even think I am being dramatic. I have my in-real-life tribe (plural, actually, unless you count all our duty stations as one big military tribe), but I needed the strength and wisdom and love and friendship that flowed through the keyboards of my fellow bloggers. I am an introvert (albeit an outgoing one), but even so I have to plug into community, which, these days, doesn’t get confined to a zip code.

That said, when I was pregnant with Amelie, I took a year off Facebook and really didn’t blog. I can’t remember if I announced and deactivated or just stepped away for a while (doesn’t matter to me which it was + mom brain). It was stressful for me. We were going through very stressful season that I was not interested in sharing or sugar-coating. And all I could see were other people’s…my friends’…happy-dappy lives, and I didn’t want to feel green envy sprouting up. I wouldn’t describe it as depression, but I think if I hadn’t listened to my internal voice of how social media was affecting me, I might have become so. I have my family. I had a strong local group. I was connected and supported. I had to step back from certain areas of network.

Does it sound contradictory to say “always plug in and always plug out”? It totally makes sense to me.

// pray. exercise. eat. breathe.

You know this. I know this. Crap in = crap out. I ebb and flow / wax and wane / surge and recede on this in my life, but the fact of the matter is if I put just a little bit of intention towards each of these four I can process the things in life that normally tie my shoulders in knots. ‘Nuff said.

// find your rhythm//find your fun

What are your “resets”? Schedule in the things that bring peace and order to your day. I can’t believe that I have used the suggestion “schedule” twice in this post…hello, Calendar, my name is Maia…I don’t think we have met…

Again, I use this word loosely. I have to get my crew out on the daily, in the afternoon, when we are finished with work and school. Anywhere but in our small apartment space. I do it for them. I do it for me. I do it for our neighbors. We don’t go anywhere fancy. We walk to the park. We walk on “our secret adventure walk” trail.  I keep a “park bag” by the door (I keep a swimming bag, too, in the summer. It sometimes feels like THEEEE one smart, organized Mom thing that I do.) and we grab it and go. Well…you know…after I yell a few times to PUTDOWNYOURLIGHTSABERSANDGETYOURSHOESONFORTHELOVEOFGODANDALLTHATISHOLY!!!!

There are many many people who do this better than I do. You are probably one of them. But after 7 years of this thing called “Who are these little people and why are they calling me Mom?”, I have found that being outside for hours at a time (for us) is never, never a waste of time. Our rhythm follows the sun and our fun is simple.

// one day at a time

It is easy to forget, sometimes, when you have some significant space between yourself (myself) and traumatic events that you don’t, actually, “have this”. I don’t got this (despite my hip, encouraging Dutch Bros. cup telling me otherwise.) God has this. I’ve been practicing one-day-at-a-time living for a fair chunk of time, now, but I get off track. Constantly. I get stuck in the awful nitty-gritty, knot-tying place of trying to reconcile the multitudinous details with the insurmountable mountain of a big picture. This past week, while spending some intention on prayer and breath, exercise and eating, I realized how much I was expecting my own efforts to carry me. It is the most humbling and freeing thing to be walking along in the most mundane moment in the world to realize that you don’t, actually, have to carry the weight of tomorrow on your shoulders.

There are so many many sources that add stress and tension to life.

There are ones we can reduce. I can say no to trying to do everything. To trying to be everything. I have to not watch some kinds of movies that I never realized bothered me when I was younger. I can turn off notifications. I can not procrastinate things that WILL need to get done.

And there are ones that are built into the fabric of our lives Ask me about my day, any day, and I will be able to point to things that made me flush with stress and forget to breathe. There are certain things about my life that come with the territory, and I have to work out my stress-reducing techniques around those things.It's amazing, isn't it, that we don't have to stress about what we have or don't have. We only need to be who God created us to be.

We can’t ignore the stress and tension in our lives. It is there whether we acknowledge it or not. The question is how do we – how do YOU – thrive?

Dealing With Stress and Tension: The Mom Years |

notes from the booth…

notes from the booth…the phone booth, that is.

…because (you guessed it), I am phoning this in.

…because it’s Monday.

…and because this is my writing face today:

writing face

  • It’s not for lack of trying, though, you know. You know who is great for writing inspiration? This lady. And this post that she wrote. Heart-eyed emojis for days.
  • Do you read The Mom Edit? Did you catch this post? If I needed any motivation to not take swimsuit try-on photos, this article was it. The logic follows, of course, that I should probably stop taking photos of my teeth so that I can remove the chia seed inevitably stuck there. Real life, y’all. Real. Life.
  • I keep announcing (to myself) that I am NOT going to buy any books from Amazon during {insert current month}. And then something happens…someone mentions…I remember…and all of a sudden…there I am…opening up an Amazon box…
  • I mention this because I was over at Kelly’s place reading THIS post, and I realized how ohmygosh Kelly and I could be, like, related!…and gosh she is funny!…and… GOSH!…I need to read this book…SEE! it happens just like that!
  • So, I’m telling you guys that I am not buying any books from Amazon this month (ahem…June…ahem).
  • But if I WERE going to, I would go to someone’s blog (I often click over here or here or here because you can find their affiliate links quickly) and use their affiliate link. Because support your local blogger, yo. What bloggers do you like to help support?

Squeaking under the Monday wire here, folks! Thank goodness for Pacific Coast livin’!

blog title photo credit: Phone Booth via photopin (license)

building a house home where love can dwell

I was chatting with a friend the other day who is really busy…being a wife to a soldier (Memorial Day hat tip!)…moving their family literally across the country…being mom and teacher to their children…AND growing a baby. She sent me the sweetest video of their soon-to-be-not-youngest dancing, and laughing, and toddling, and I gushed a little and said that I have baby fever. She “lol’d” and asked, “When don’t you?”

And that’s true. I pretty much always have baby fever. Even when I have one of those kinds of days, I’m nearly always asking God to let a little more love spill over into and then overflow out of our home.  I get more than a little goofy over babies: Hold all the babies! Love all the babies! And if you tell me you are having a baby, whether your first or 12th or somewhere in between, I am going to be excited for you.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I know that baby-having is hard, hard work. Preparing a place in your life for a little one is one of the most daunting tasks in life, and this daunting thing becomes exponentially more difficult with each curveball that life throws.   Being a mother, takes a whole lot of support, and encouragement, and help, of all kinds (material, mental, emotional, and spiritual). If you know a mom who denies this fact she is probably hiring a maid and a therapist under the cloak of darkness.

I get a little goofy over moms, too: Love all the mommas! Encourage all the mommas!

Enter the topic at hand:

Mary's Mantle

My friend, Rahki from The Pitter Patter Diaries works for a little place called Mary’s Mantle. I use the word “little” here lightly. Because the work that is happening is something amazing:

The founders of Mary’s Mantle, a Catholic residential program for homeless, pregnant women, felt that no woman should have to choose abortion because they had no place to lay their head. The doors of the metro-Detroit home opened in June of 2010. Since then, 44 women and their children have called it home. The mothers who come to reside at Mary’s Mantle come from all walks of life. Some are recovering addicts, some are recovering from the scars of past abortion, some have been prostitutes, some have been in pornography, some have been victims of domestic violence, many have extremely damaged relationships with their families, and all have been broken by abuse, whether emotional or physical. The time they spend in residence is designed to heal and restore them. While staff work with them to address the causes and symptoms of their homelessness (job training, housing searches, etc.), the greatest work done is to teach them about the love of God, help them to begin healing, and learn how to be faithful mothers so they can break the cycle of abuse.

Being mother can be rough, and messy, and discouraging even when you are surrounded by love and support and encouragement, by food and shelter and basic necessities and not-so-basic luxuries. Take away one of these, some of these, or all of these, and we should not be at all surprised at choices that women make out of desperation.  If we want to live in a culture of life, we have to build homes where love can dwell.

And this is precisely what Mary’s Mantle is doing.  Well, for the past five years they have been renting a house where love can dwell. So now…NOW…Mary’s Mantle is buying a house where love can dwell. The house has been bought; the renovations have been underway; the move date has been set. But Mary’s Mantle needs a little boost for the “final” touches, “from furniture for the formal living room and workshop area, to computers where the moms can look for jobs and take classes online“.

Let’s help provide some hospitality for this home!

I’m going to be all done talking now so that YOU can click*click and go help.  Rahki sent along the GoFundMe link for Mary’s Mantle, but she did mention that some people have been experiencing difficulties with it. I checked it out prior to posting, and it was working, but JUST in case, you can do what I did and go donate through the Mary’s Mantle website.

Love always wins, you guys. Always. So whether it’s a little or a lot, let’s go shower some love on this home!