making the trek

Trekking through life: Faith, family, friends and a whole lot of coffee!

Life sucks and then you die June 3, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 3:33 PM

Above is a true quote at a leadership meeting this week.  One I have used on my kids as they grew up on occasion.  But you know, there’s some truth to it……life has sucky seasons to be sure, but there is a lot of beauty along the way, too!

Did you hear that great thunk of dust falling from the blogosphere?  I’m back.  Not sure how long for………………….but today and tomorrow for sure 🙂

Here I sit on a Sunday afternoon with a completely empty house and for the second time in 2 days I am experiencing a bizarre and unusual quiet, the kind you spend just aimlessly walking around because you aren’t sure what exactly to do.  Although there’s lots I “need” to do, it is often glorious just to sit in the quiet.

be still.

In this crazy life we all live, that is not only a challenge but actually a breath of fresh life if you can manage to force yourself to do it.

The last 6 weeks have been insanely intense and emotional for our family culminating with the happy milestone of a high school graduation.  So the quiet?  It is welcome and also has a way of ripping off the bandaid of stuffed emotions and allowing cathartic tears to soothe the soul.

In April we mourned the unexpected loss of my dear, step-father, Benny after a brief illness.  After completing chemo and radiation therapy for metastatic squamous cell cancer and beginning to get strength and energy back it was a sucker-punch to the gut to lose him so suddenly and our family is still processing and grieving his loss–and in a house of 6, no two grieve the same.

In the meantime, life goes on, right?  We manage Benny’s affairs, plan his celebration of life later this summer, work our day jobs, take end of course exams, replace dying refrigerators, plan summer vacations and prepare for college.  Life doesn’t stop and that is both a blessing and a curse.

Last week we mourned again, this time for my father-in-law, Ike, who also fought an eerily similar cancer battle as  Benny but where Benny’s cancer complications caught us off guard we have been counting the months since Ike’s terminal diagnosis 7 months ago.  Though expected and freely discussed with and without him, I can tell you that the end was no easier than the sudden passing of Benny.  Different but not easier.

On Friday we had a funeral Mass for Ike in the church we married in almost 24 years ago.  While they have undergone some renovations over the years, as we processed down the aisle to our row, my mind played a weird game of flipping to my wedding procession and the current funeral procession.  One walk was a joyous occasion vowing to love in all circumstances and promising to raise our children in the Catholic church–the other walk was melancholy and played like mental slide show of “throwbacks” and present day.  From a shiny happy young couple to a family of 6 filling an entire pew, praying, taking the Eucharist and saying goodbye.

Death does weird shit to your mind.

On Saturday we celebrated our youngest son’s high school graduation.  This senior year has been a blur of busy, a blur of decisions, a blur of the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood.  We hosted an open house breakfast prior to graduation, noshed on some breakfast deliciousness, snapped some photos, grabbed some hugs and then worked our way to the civic center.  In what is the biggest surprise to all, mama bear shed zero tears.  We listened, clapped and celebrated and somewhere in the “T’s” realized that if we left right then— we could beat the traffic home and you know what?  We did it.  And I give zero cares about judging, because we already took the pictures!!  If you saw the traffic yesterday due to 4 graduations back-to-back and the annual “Big Truck weekend” combined with the first sunny Saturday in (what felt like) 10 years, you would recognize the fact that we did a public service by cutting out early, therby reducing the traffic gridlock on beachside.  Anywho……this also allowed me precious time alone at home with my new grad (who lucked out after graduation and scored a quick exit and record time getting home) as my entire family went their separate ways and he had time to decompress before heading to his friend’s party.  And you know sometimes, when the dust settles and the adrenaline subsides–THEN the tears come: sad, happy, relief, uncertainty, remembering our loved ones and looking to the future and it is a blessing.

Saturday evening I spent celebrating Mother’s Day and May birthdays with my mom and sister and we laughed and cried and reminisced and ate and drank and shopped and it was a gift.  A beautiful end to a bittersweet weekend.

This life has turned out nothing like I expected in my 24 year old imagination as I walked down that aisle and I am so grateful for that.

Peace.

 

 

Thoughts for today February 6, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 9:08 PM

Read it at Catholic Mom today.

Peace!

 

Friend hacks November 4, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 8:23 AM

Joining up with Kelly and the gang for 7 Quick Takes in the first time in forevahhhh.

This morning I had friends on my mind, having had a great chat with a girlfriend last night and looking forward to a friend’s new baby this weekend and cheering on a friend with a serious injury and I realized that I have learned so MUCH from my friends (my mom and sister included) about being a mom that maybe some of my “mom hacks” would be as useful and life-saving and/or fun for other moms.  Here are 7 although I got a slew and I’m sure you do, too!!

  1.  Peanut butter and jelly.  A staple.  Unless you have a kiddo with a nut allergy, skip this one.  Peanut butter BOTH pieces of bread and the jelly won’t leak through.  This was an elementary school lunch life saver!!  And……a two-fer here…….Perfect steamed broccoli.  3 minutes.  Perfect consistency and a pretty much a weekly staple that everyone eats.  Antioxidants for the win!
  2. Sheets.  Spend the money on the good sheets and everyone has ONE set of sheets.  You wash them weekly or whatever your schedule is and put them back on the bed, no folding and no space hogging.  (now we do  have a second set of flannels because come winter, I do love me some flannels)  Frees up all kinds of space in your linen closet and really how many sets of sheets do you need?  This absolutely excludes babies and potty training kids because they need an exponential number of sheets!!!
  3. Give your kids chores.  Give them a variety and give them young.  Think life skills.  And……this is the hard part…..don’t go behind them to make it perfect.  Good enough is good enough.  They will improve in time.  Frees up YOUR time and they can now clean their own toilets, showers, wash, dry, fold and put away laundry, dust, dishes…the list goes on.  Trust me.  This is GOLD!!!  now, from time to time, I will just do the chores and give them a “break”….this ensures my own OCD clean sanity and they still know how to perform what is necessary.
  4. Teach your kids to cook.  This is one I slack on to be honest, but I will say all of my kids have a basic cooking skill set and I believe it is enough to keep themselves alive and relatively healthy in college.  I enjoy cooking, but in a pinch it is great to walk the kids through getting dinner started if I’ll be home late for dinner knowing we won’t be eating dinner at 9 p.m.
  5. Make time for yourself.  Whatever that is.  Knitting.  Reading.  Art.  Beach time.  Rest and relaxation is crucial in life to recharge and enjoy more out of the routine days.  It’s the one I most struggle with, but I do make the effort and some seasons it comes easier than others and it is always worth it.  So keep plugging away, mama!
  6. Friend circles.  Make ’em.  Keep ’em.  They are oxygen.  They will give you the best, tried-and-true recipes you’ll use for life.  They will be your shoulder, your mentor, your mentee, your sanity.  Friends take work.  Some people are better at working it, but every friend is worth it.  Text.  Call.  Visit.  Fly, drive, walk.  Whatever.  Your tribe, your ninjas, your people.  They are the spice of life.
  7. Books.  You do not need to finish a crappy book.  Ever.  Life is too short and there are too many good books to be read.  So download Goodreads and keep track of all the “to-reads” for when you pick up that stinker and move on.

Peace out  and happy weekend!!

 

Joy comes in the morning September 11, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 6:34 AM

While this is not going to hold true for a great many as daylight breaks for those of us who were in the path of Hurricane Irma, I am counting my blessings.

Somewhere around 10 pm the strong winds began accompanied by rain who came well ahead of the winds.  The wind.  I have never in my life heard such a sound.  Accompanied by incessant tornado warnings and reports of local touchdowns, I could feel my heart racing.  “Jesus, I trust in you”, over and over and over.  Living St. Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing” took on a whole new life.  Hubby, the kids and the animals slept.  Somewhere around 2 a.m. I joined them for a few hours.

Around 5, I tried to let the dog out to do his business but as we stood in the backyard doing a quick survey, the wind was too freaky and we both hightailed it back inside.  I see our fence is intact although our neighbor’s fence is leaning.  We have minimal water in the backyard (so far).

I am grateful.  For my family who is safe.  That I followed my instinct to get our son home yesterday, because he’d be stuck now.  A house that is still standing.  Power.  Coffee pre-made and heated up this morning.

Continued prayers as the storm heads toward my family and friends in North Florida and Georgia.

For now, I am charging my phone.  Drinking my coffee.  Praying some more and waiting for the next round of updates from friends and family.

Peace.

 

Hurricane Irma or longest week EVER September 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 5:04 PM

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Last weekend, on Saturday, the Hubs and I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and get the second propane tank filled.  Just in case.  Every store was SOLD OUT.  I was like, what in the heck……usually the chaos starts a few days before the hurricane.  Not a week.  But then we don’t generally have the fresh hell of Harvey in our immediate thoughts.  Fortunately, being early enough in the week, the stores were constantly replenishing.

Tuesday.   I sprinkle the entire house with holy water.  My kids roll their eyes.  I give zero Fs.  I boiled eggs.  Made protein balls.  Got ice, water and non perishables.   I get my car serviced, just in case.  And the week went on, work, school and peppered with constant news feeds and updates, the SOLE subject of any and all conversations at work, planning and the question to board or not to board, to evacuate the kids and Hubby or not.

Wednesday I set up the Zello app with friends and it is the biggest of the busts.  Supposedly walkie talkie app for your phone to stay in touch.  However, setting it up was a joke and since it uses wifi, it won’t be much help when power goes out.  And it sucks down the battery even while not in use.  File under useless.  The delete button is a beautiful thing.

At the end of the week we decided to board up and…..no plywood.  well, there was plywood coming, but basically you have to sit and wait for the truck.  Hubby improvised and bought pallets and constructed window covering.  While on the 3rd window, our oldest son got a lead on plywood and made the trip with a friend to grab it up.  And of course, refill gas, which is now becoming hit and miss throughout town.

Thursday we make the decision for Hubby and kids to evac (since I am hospital based, there is a large possibility of having to go in to the hospital either during or after the storm and our oldest will likely be needed at work after the storm as well).  Hubby works remote and we settle on Birmingham, since Atlanta is currently in the “cone of uncertainty” (gotta love that apt name) and Tallahassee is on the edge.

Friday the storm turns west and now with traffic on I95 just insanely busy with evacuees (I see it daily on my way to work as well as people resting in our parking lot after driving all night), and gas truly becoming harder and  harder to obtain, we revisit the evac plan and decide for them to stay.  As the storm continues to turn west, this is a decision I am so grateful for as they would have evacuated to the directly into the path.  Tallahassee is now firmly in the cone, as is Birmingham.

Saturday 1/2 of our neighborhood loses electricity.  Not us.  Our next door neighbors come over and finish their laundry and bake a banana bread.  I made a second and last run for post-hurricane stuff:  instant coffee, baby wipes, bananas, grapes, oreos, candy corn and La Croix coconut water, because priorities.  Finish laundry.  Make chocolate chip cookies.  Help Hubby hold a few boards as he finishes boarding up my mom’s house as best he can.  Walk the dog.  Pace a lot. Make chicken soup in the crockpot.  Allow 2 of 4 kids one last sleepover for the week.  Begin to check in on my west coast and Panhandle friends because it’s heading right for them.  Some are making last minute evac plans, some are hunkering down, some are undecided.  The entire state is in fret.

Sunday.  I make pumpkin muffins and Three bean bake for dinner.  Walk the dog.   Sprinkle the house with more holy water because you can’t have enough holy water, this is a fact.   I blog.  I text.   I do my bills.  Now I’ll do one more round of baking and then practice my embroidery?  The waiting is the hardest part.  Maddening.  But all my chickens are now home and we are as ready as we can be.  At this point, we will absorb the “softest hit”, but of course, hurricanes are subject to change.

I’ll also continue praying, because it ain’t over ’til it’s over….thanks for that Hurricane Charley 2004 Image result for hurricane charley path mapAnd Jose is just sitting out there making a plan and deciding what he’ll do.  We’ll just focus on one storm at time, though…..

For the Keys and Miami who are getting hit now and for all who are in the path as Irma heads north.  For those still reeling from Harvey.  For those who will travel back home in a few days to take stock.  Lord, have mercy.

Beautiful sunrise on Friday morning.

All around town….

and at home……………..

nervous energy = dinner in advance

and cookies…

on the bright side, someone has a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood and takes it very seriously

necessity

Be safe, my Florida friends and fam.  And everyone…………..pray!  XO

 

Friday Roundup August 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 8:08 PM

It’s been a minute, but since I only seem to blog when I have a few days off, I figured I’d clock in with Kelly and the gang for some quick takes.  So let’s go!

  1. I’m adding some new podcasts to the mix and one of them is Jen Hatmaker’s .  Currently the podcast is a series on Girlfriends and this must just be a hot spot in my life right now because it is a recurrent theme on many levels.  I love Jen, she is hilarious and real and we have a similar season of life right now so I GET her and apparently she gets me.  And after listening, I realized my girlfriend glass is DRY, DRY, DRY.  One of my sisterhood circles has us all in so many directions of life with hubbies, no hubbies, kids,  empty nests, summer, perpetual summer, vacations, no vacations, work, self-employed, retired, it is dang near impossible to all get together.  But the podcast reminded me…..friends are important.  VASTLY important.  And friendships take effort and nurturing like any other relationship.   So we got together one night on a whim and set up a monthly get together.  The sisterhood is BACK!!  So, thanks Jen!!  We needed that push!
  2. Along the theme of girlfriends….Edel ’17 was last weekend in Austin.  Sadly, I missed it, but since I stalked everyone’s instagram and twitter feeds I virtually enjoyed it.  When I first realized this just wasn’t the summer for Edel, I was disappointed and figured if I was meant to go, it would happen.  As it worked out, I was not meant to go, BUT I was at total peace with it and I was right where I needed to be.  So perhaps Edel ’18?  We shall see, but I was so glad to see some of my internet and IRL blog friends together again and being fed in the spiritual and girlfriend realms.  Such awesomeness!!  #insteadofedel I met with two different girlfriends during the weekend for spectacular walks and catch up time and another girlfriend to visit and inherit a phone for our girl, so that was WIN WIN in the girlfriend department for this mama!!
  3. Another podcast, Do something beautiful by Leah Darrowis on my playlist and today was a joy with her interview with Mark Hart.  So fun and just interesting to hear the ways God works in people’s lives and the evolution of faith and how different that looks for everyone.   Top it off with a great ending and a few encouraging thoughts that I took all the way to Adoration with me on parenting:  if you are parenting and  you’re praying, you’re not failing……good reminder when it seems like it is a total poop emoji show…..just keep praying!  God doesn’t expect perfection, He expects effort.  And lastly, remember that the Graces in the sacraments are endless; there is no problem or struggle bigger than God.  For the entire podcast go HERE.
  4. As summer comes to a close here, we roll into the school year with ALL high schoolers!!!  A senior, sophomore and freshman.  It hits me in waves and really weird waves.  For instance, the end of band camp performance is tonight; it is hot, muggy, sun in your eyes and pretty quick, followed by a pot luck dinner for 500…so we pretty much bring food and eat at home…..because lines for days.  But then I remember, it’s the LAST band performance of band camp because we have a SENIOR.  I imagine the whole year will be like that, trying to capture all the “lasts”, so we will be there sweating our butts off in the super non-comfy stands with our sunglasses on and savoring it.  Ah time, you are a bittersweet one.
  5. With the advent of school starting, we also have the beginning of faith formation, volunteering, schedule juggling and trying to balance it all.  I’m feeling pretty certain this will be the year of  a guilt-free “NO”–I just have to pray what I’m saying “NO” to, but after some time in Adoration I am feeling some serious peace about that;  it’s OK to say NO for your sanity so that you can bless your family rather than YES and be stressed out and resenting every volunteer gig.  It’s hard, but I’ve been here before and I know the fruits that come from a season of NO and I’m ready for the harvest.
  6. The first day of school also means mom and dad took a vacation day.  To do whatever.  they.  want.  All day.  So we are adulting today with lab work (both), mammogram (me), lunch with step dad (me), annual check up (kiddo), taxi duty (me), work (hubby), and band performance (both) so that we can UN-adult all day Monday.  At least while the kids are at school.  So.  Boom.
  7. Lastly, a little serious as we enter the school year and all that goes with it.  Two nights ago we had a 9 year old boy go missing in our city.  The story goes that he routinely rides his bike all day to hang out with friends and comes home in the evening.  No cell phone.  Parents don’t know the friends.  (this is all from the paper, so take it with a grain of salt).  The other night, he didn’t show up at the usual time.  3 hours of helicopters, foot and car patrol and city wide search and he was located safe, sound and oblivious to the commotion of the past several  hours at the skate park a mile away.  You can imagine the judgement going on in the parenthood realm.  The boy’s grandfather remarked that he was so happy to see him that he was hugging him and not letting him out of his arms all night.  Miraculously I was able to stay out of the debates on the parenting or lack of that must be going on and I’ll tell you why.  Perhaps we don’t know the whole story.  Perhaps the paper sensationalizes the details.  In reality, we just don’t know.  And so I thought that maybe he lives with grandparents ( a growing trend) and that is a generation that grew up with “be home by dark” and they allow it—ah the glorious good ‘ole days.  Quite frankly, I think it’s great.  Maybe you don’t.  I am certain it opened a new discussion on communication in that family unit and the importance of staying in touch.  Maybe it didn’t.  One thing I know is….. we don’t know.  However, we are often quick to judge aren’t we?  So rather than get dragged into a pointless discussion on judgy McJudgersons (that’s me judging them), I gave a huge prayer of Thanksgving for the boy being found safe and a grandpa who was dang happy to have him home.  And I will take that into the school year and all the microcosms of various parenting, social circles and kid activities.  We might presume to know what’s going on with kids and families, but really we never know.  Unless we make the effort to know, to love our neighbors, embrace our differences and be open to other opinions.  You’d be surprised at what we learn about each other when we take the time.  Happy weekend to all!!

    Snapchat.  Always great makeup and painfree piercings!!

 

The rest of the story July 23, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 3:34 PM

jer291114

If you know me in real life (IRL) then you know that I have long held Jeremiah 29:11 as MY verse.  The verse of our family.  The promise that is the glue that held us all together, that continues to hold us together.  It IS my email address.  It is in my signature on my personal and work email (gotta love a faith based corporation).  It is a lovely framed print on our kitchen wall.  It is the verse that people tell me reminds them of me when they hear and the verse that strangers comment on and have thanked me for.  I live it.  I breathe it.  I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU.

He doesn’t always share those plans with me when I’l like him to.  There are some plans I am still waiting on to fall in place.  And that’s ok.  The point is, I am well familiar with verse 11.  This week as I went through the Consider the Lilies study with the Take up and Read group, this verse was the focus……..along with verse 12-14.  And it took my breath away.  As if God himself basically asked me,  “Do you see?”.  Affirming the YES, He is with me.  Every step.

When I seek Him, He is there.  When I don’t, He is waiting on me.  Waiting for me to seek, knock and ask so that He can allow me to find Him, let me in and answer me.  Time and again, He is faithful.

When I put my trust in Him, He blesses me abudantly.  Restoring what has been destroyed to even better than it was that first go around.  I’ve seen this in so many facets of my life:  relationships, health, peace, guidance, wisdom and even some material comforts.  He is good beyond my wildest dreams.

This season of life has me turned a little upside down.  Our kids are getting older and I find myself in levels of anxiety that I have never experienced in their childhood.  Have we prepared them enough for life?  Have we given them a strong enough foundation?  Will they make the right choices?  The list goes on and if I give into the doubt it is a long climb out.

This weekend we attended the funeral Mass for a CRHP sister who suffered from a form of leukemia.  We were blessed as a team to have had her in our lives and especially blessed as we gathered one last time together a few weeks ago in her home to pray together and begin the Our Lady, Undoer of Knots novena.  Yesterday, Vera reminded me that our job is to live our best life and to look forward to the eternal life we have ahead.  Wrapping myself sideways about the “what-ifs” in life are non-productive and life-stealing.  God has it under control.  So, I am going to work on giving it all back to him to sort out.  Our Lady will untie those knots on my behalf and my job is to continue to Seek, knock, ask and trust that His plans for me are indeed far better than I can imagine.

Blessings!

 

 
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