Coffee Beans

One of my favorites that I took this week. I used it for this week’s #thebethadilly52 prompt which was “My Style”. Briefly: I haven’t ever really thought about my style of photography. I mean, I like to take pictures of my kids. Mostly of the snapshot variety. Because mostly I love to show just everyday life.
But, occasionally I can convince one of them to pose for me and that opens up my “artsy” photo taking just a little bit more. 🙂
Overall, I think my style leans towards “dark and moody”. I like a little grit in my photos. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those nice crisp, white, clean, lifestyle photos that are so popular, but…. it’s not me.
As a bonus we were able to talk about where coffee comes from (these particular beans are from my uncle’s farm in Costa Rica). And could we plant it in our garden? (no… sadly). I’d like to feel I made her world just a little bit bigger.
(Don’t forget, you can follow along with the rest of my 365 Project on Instagram)

12 photos for 2016

I started looking through pictures, trying to get an idea of what I’d like to post… But… Man! Having to chose just ONE photo from each month?!?!?!?! I’ve made it through my January photos in the last 15 minutes and, really, just can’t decide…


Week 4 366-6

We did a quick trip to the DC/Baltimore area to visit Jared’s brother and family who were there for a temporary job. It was right after that huge blizzard that hit the area. And it was cold. Nice to see them, but next time we’re definitely going to pick a warmer month to traipse around DC.

Other happenings:
The kids saw their first movie in theaters (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) on Jan 1 (significant because of when they saw the most recent one). Karl turned 4!



We had a snowstorm I guess. They all kinda blur together after a while. But I remember I went to take photos of the snow at a park (which I almost never do).

Other happenings:
One of my grandpas passed away on Ash Wednesday. We went to see the Americana LEGO expo at the mall (totally worth it, if there’s ever a LEGO show in your area!). And apparently the rest of February was warm because I have photos of kids running around outside without coats on…

MarchN birth story pics-2

Clearly, THIS is the event of Our Year! Baby Nicholas joined the family on March 13. (Birth story over here if you’re interested)

Other happenings:
We went with my family on a mini-vacation literally just before Nicholas was born.


366 Project Week 13-7

Wildflower bouquet from the kids. Love the spring time 🙂

Other happenings:
Nicholas was baptized, April 16 (that post here if you want to see)



Apparently I let my kids play in the mud 🙂


Project 366 - Week 25-2

We grew roses! About the only thing that survived this year. We also picked the roses and nursed the baby, if my photos are any indication of the year! 🙂



I guess you could just say: we do the same things over and over…. This time they happened to name the game “Orcs”. My guess is this was pretty soon after watching LOTR. We also managed to make it to the beach. It was, sadly, the only time we went this summer.



We went for a “hike” in the woods. Quite possibly the first and only time we do that. I was glad to do it for the kids, but not so glad to carry Nicholas. We also started harvesting our grapes (oops, I lied above, about the roses, we also got grapes) and made grape juice.



Jared and I went on vacation (with Nicki 🙂 ). The kids missed *him* more than us. {shrugs shoulders} Katherine started ballet and first communion class. And Kat and Johny had their annual ginormous double birthday party. (Someone PLEASE remind me that next year WE DO NOT want to do this… again…)



We blew bubbles. We went to The Beach House. Flew Kites… took a very cold rainy walk on the beach (oops, sorry, lied again about the beach… but technically, we weren’t able to swim here… ). Zachary turned 2! And I spent a solid two weeks of the month making an Ahsoka Tano costume for Katherine for Halloween. (Link to that photo on IG if you’re interested). Oh… and Karl swallowed two pennies. {Face Palm}



Katherine lost her first tooth, we went to visit an airplane (but not to fly in) and we played in the leaves. And also got in some quality candle blowing practice. 😉



Made ourselves some cookies. Celebrated {myBirthdayChristmasPartiesNewYears}.


This is very likely the only “year in review” type post I’ll be doing. We had a very low key year overall. We basically just did life. Or, I heard this term from another blogger at one point: This was a Baby Year (meaning: a year when a new baby joined the family). Which for us translates into: staying home as much as possible and just doing the normal old everyday stuff: Laundry, dishes, cleaning, playing in the yard, reading books, doing school.. repeat, repeat, repeat.

I know it was a crazy, rough year for the rest of the world, but for us, at home: It was GOOD.


Bobbi at Revolution of Love is hosting the link up for “12 in 2016” if you’re interested in adding your own. Or if nothing else, take a few minutes and go through your photos for the year. It was really fun to just see those pictures again. 🙂

Happy New Year!


Religious Education… in the home {mostly} // {a JEI post}


The ladies from The Zelie Group are chatting about religious education today, and I thought I’d join in.

First off, let me state: my background in RE? Absolutely none. I wasn’t raised Catholic, didn’t go to Catholic school, nada. So, the whole teach your child your religion thing was a little intimidating when it first appeared on my radar.

I have found though, that it’s gotten easier. When we first joined the Church (my really, super, long winded Conversion story starts here if you want to read…) our oldest was 3 1/2. At the time there were tons and tons (and tons) of Catholic mommy blogs sharing “ways to bring your faith into the home” sorts of posts. Now, I’m not saying they were bad, no, by all means they were great. But… I wasn’t ready for them. I was still trying to wrap my head around what  was supposed to be/do/say/etc.. and I had no idea how I was supposed to teach ALL THAT to these little kids, and I ended up just very overwhelmed.

{Here’s where I start answering this week’s questions…}

1. Do your children attend your parish’s religious education program? 

Yes and No

Katherine is in 2nd Year First Communion with the parish. So, in that sense, obviously “Yes, we DO use the parish’s RE program”.

But, so far, only for the “Sacrament” Years. The parish offers RE from Kinder through Confirmation (which I think is 10th grade for them). And while it’s highly recommended (and I can totally see the reasoning), we decided not to attend when we started first grade (homeschool) last year. Jared graduated from Seton (Catholic homeschool) and loved their religion program, so I thought, how hard could it be? And we ended up going with that. The other reasons we didn’t go were time commitment and cost.

I have been glad for Katherine to be going this year. Not so much for “new content”, but I’m noticing that she’s picking up on things in a new way from her teacher there. She’s been way more chatty about topics of Faith – maybe to the extent of showing off to her younger brothers – but that’s opened up times of discussion.

We’re still doing a partial religion program at home this year, and I’ve noticed a lot of progress in her understanding (we’re still in the basics here, but still… progress!) Maybe it’s just her age, maybe that whole “Age of Reason” thing really does play into it. But regardless, she’s starting to remember stuff, she’s starting to think things through, and she’s asking SOOOOO MANY QUESTIONS (ohmygoodness… so many questions). But, it’s all good. It’s helping me too 😉

2. Do you or have you ever taught religious education? Tell us about it.

Only with the kiddos at home.
I still feel like too much of a baby Catholic, although it’s been nearly four years, so I guess I’m not so much “baby” any more. Maybe pre-schooler… I don’t know how comfortable I’d be teaching other people’s children.

3. What are your favourite religious education resources for kids?
For the little kiddos (maybe 5 and under?) I think the best thing you can do is just to live your faith. Attend Mass. Pray together. Read Bible stories.

I linked to this post the other day, but this book list is a picture book list for the Jesse Tree, which, in a nutshell, gives an overview of history of Jesus, from creation to his birth. Anyway, she has some really great picture book recommendations for Bible stories, and my kids love listening to them.

For parts of our school work we’re using the resources from Mater Amabilis (we’re in Level 1A). This link is to the General Lesson plans for that level, but the religion section is the first item (after the “General Instruction” section). We have substituted their catechism for the Seton Religion program (it’s there, on that link, that’s just the entire 2nd grade curriculum), but other than that I’ve really been enjoying the book recommendations they’ve put up (on the M.A. site).


I think that’s all for this evening folks. It’s suddenly than I thought. And I’ve been really REALLY trying to be off electronics for at least a little while before bed. Also, books won’t read themselves 😉


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JEI: {lack of} sports edition

I feel like I spent ALL of October doing stuff. OR rather stuff other than my normal blog a few pictures every week and read ALL the books I had intended (planning to do a monthly recap type post *soon*).

But in the mean time, I’m joining in with the JEI posts again. {They go live tomorrow, so I’ll post the links then!}

Questions this week are all related to Sports and Exercise (If you know me, you can go ahead and laugh, that’s ok)

1. What sports do your kids play?

Well….. Does ballet count? Yes/No/Maybe?

Yes? Then Katherine has been doing ballet since early September. The studio is about 10 blocks from the house. Close enough to walk with all the kids if I’m feeling like I have the energy, but sometimes I just drop her off in the van. I think they’re just starting to learn a few more “moves”? (I don’t know the terminology). She loves it, so that’s good.


If “no”, then we don’t actually participate in any organized sports. I’d say the kids are a little on the young side, but actually Johny is 6 and I know baseball/teeball starts that young.

While I’m not totally against having the kids in sports, taking an honest look at the time commitment makes it seem, well, not very doable at our current state.

But, they do play stuff on their own. I mean, we don’t exactly have a field for playing soccer or baseball. But they’ll *try* to play catch with a football. And I’ve seen them improvise games of football, golf, frisbee….
2. What do you do for exercise?


No, seriously. I don’t exercise. I probably should. But I don’t.

I tried to do the step counter thing on my phone (side note: I literally JUST found out that the phone has a built in step-tracker!).

But… I ran into a few problems.

  1. You have to actually carry your phone on your person (I know, right?!?) for it to work. I have been *trying* to not actually carry my phone all day long, because then I’m way more likely to just pick it up and get lost in FB land when I need to be doing something else… like… homeschooling the kids…
  2. Because I don’t regularly carry my phone in my pocket, I pretty consistently ended up with low step counts (like, 1800/day), so that was discouraging because I thought I would have had a lot more. But, even when I did manage to carry my phone, I only made it in the high 3000s… so….
there’s a football… so that counts as sports 😀

3. In the Mom Olympics, what would your event be?

  • Grabbing toddlers before they run off
  • Sweeping foreign objects out of newly crawling babies’ mouths
  • Throwing a soft plastic ball just so that it passes through the lattice (and thrills a toddler)
  • Taking pictures 🙂
{this is The Toddler, just in case anyone needs any clarification}


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Catholic Convert and Purgatory

Note: This is Jared, Ruth Anne’s husband and father to her five beautiful children

I have always had an issue with the idea of Purgatory. For me, growing up an evangelical charismatic Christian, the idea of Purgatory – some way stop between earth and Heaven – seemed outright blasphemous. I couldn’t find it in the Bible – to be honest, in the Protestant or Catholic versions, it just didn’t make any sense. I argued with religious education officials as my family became Roman Catholic, and I argued with my wife. I scoffed at the idea. My good ol’ boy, evangelical, charismatic roots would not budge. Even with my own personal assertion I was more “Catholic” then not, I could not, would not wrap my head around Purgatory.

Then came the death of Jack Chick. Chick, notorious for his evangelical tracts, full of anti-Catholic propaganda, among other things. I grew up with these tracts – in fact, I probably read everyone available during the late 1980’s when I was a young boy. I don’t remember them very well – they were entertaining (obviously), and I’m quite sure some scared the hell out of me – much like Pat Robertson did on the 700 Club around the time I was five years old or so. I remember hearing, at a young age, that Catholics were evil. Ironically, my parents and the church they went to – my dad being an associate pastor there at the time, began to move towards the Sacramental nature of worship more and more. Communion and liturgy joined speaking in tongues and raising of hands. John Michael Talbot became a staple in church and in our cars driving down the road, and ideas of incense and robes became more acceptable over time. Eventually my father would be ordained a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church – not Anglican by association, but Anglican in liturgical tradition, and myself and my brothers found ourselves being educated at home using the Seton Home Study program – a traditional, pre-Vatican II accredited program. I found myself then, twenty years ago, being drawn to Catholicism – even though I had dreams of being a priest and married – following in my father’s footsteps, but Catholicism still drew me. I ended up just being a sinner myself, going band forth, but ultimately my wife and I made the decision to become Roman Catholic.

To get back on topic – I’ve always had an issue with the idea of Purgatory. I have always seen it as demeaning to Christ – who allowed Himself to be humiliated, beaten and crucified for my sins (yours too… oh, and Mr. Chick’s as well). We believers go through life sinning, yes, but we should also be confessing those sins – as Catholic’s we have the Sacrament of Confession. Protestants have their own ways as well – doesn’t matter, part of being a believer in Christ is confessing – our beliefs, our faith and our sins, and then receiving God’s Grace and forgiveness. I’m not here to argue the finer points – both my Catholic and Protestant friends can do that on their own time. What I am saying is, I simply could not believe that God the Father would allow us to suffer after everything that the Son of God went through for our sins. Granted, we suffer on earth, but that is because of original sin. We get baptized and that stain is washed away, yet the earth itself has not been reborn, so we remain in this world, but not of it. Though we are clean, we are still human, but thankfully washed in the Blood of Christ. I had a hard time believing that my father, who died in 2014 after suffering from a debilitating stroke seven years before that, would have to spend more time suffering to atone for his life – which by the standards of most people, was actually a pretty good life, full of blessing others, faith, love, charity and good works. Then came the death of Jack Chick.

Jack Chick claimed to be a believer in Christ. He encouraged people to repent – mainly though tracts that spoke of the evils of this world and well as those in it. This included free-masons, Catholics, and others. He often depicted all of these things a demons and great temptations. Going as far as labeling things the Antichrist, etc. For all of his faith and love for God, the man was full of hate. I am not God, so I take people at face value as much as I can. I believe that he believed – in other words, I believe he had faith in God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. Though he had faith, I believe he was corrupted – as we all were and are, and that corruption had taken root and was allowed to grow. I can say this about a lot of people, both dead and still alive. An example would be the one who led to me to Christ at the young age of five years old or so from a television screen. These men and women, as well us who put ourselves above them, all have a corruption. Thankfully, we also have Baptism – and so, more than likely, did they. The problem is that we still live in a corrupted world, and that corruption in turn affects us. It’s like a disease, starting small at first, but if allowed to continue to grow, can totally consume us. We still have faith, we still believe in Christ, we still love God – but depending on the level of corruption from the world we live in we let in, the more or less blind we become to the truth. Jack Chick was blind to the truth, nothing more, nothing less. This does not excuse the lies and slander he wrote and published. However, it does not give us the privilege to gloat and judge in his death. He was man, a believer and sinner, just like us all.

Now, Purgatory. I still don’t totally understand my thoughts in regards to the possibility of a place between Heaven and Earth, but I can understand the notion for a place that we are brought to after we die for God to fully reveal his truth, love, mercy, grace and FORGIVENESS to us. Whether we are Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant (non-liturgical), we all have or notions/rituals towards confessing of sins and God’s absolution of those sins. We all believe that God has wiped the slate clean in His mind, however, we are still corrupted by how the world views sin. The fact that we actual have to deal with right and wrong, good and evil. As a lot of people do, part of me fears death. Not because existence ends, but because I know who I am. I know the things I have done, said, thought, etc. h/ave I confessed, you betcha. Do I believe god has forgiven me, absolutely. Am I totally free from sin?!?! Hmm… in reality, yes, but in my mind, I am still haunted, sort of like those Jack Chick tracts. I still have the random thought. My beautiful wife insists on reminding me of something. My children tell me what I forgot to do with them. I see a memory on Facebook that I would rather not be a memory, or be on Facebook. God has forgotten, but I have not, and neither has the world. Newsflash – the world never forgets, and unless you get amnesia, nor will you, or your friends, your spouse, your kids, your parents, your neighbors, etc. Everyone has always told me that Purgatory is simply a place for cleansing. I like to think of it as the shower taken before entering the Throne Room. Wait… I said it, I like to think of it. I still don’t 100% agree with everything that everyone likes to tell me about it, however, it is beginning to make sense. God sees us as clean, but every time we look at ourselves, all we see is dirt. We go to confession, or we pray to God and confess our sins – we hear the words or remember the Scripture – but still, as we look in the mirror, all we can see is the dirt. Likewise, when we look at other people, often times all we see is dirt, and unfortunately, we like to show other people the dirt that they don’t see that we do, and vice versa. I don’t know about you, but before I take my place as part of the Bridegroom of Christ in His throne room, I’d like to see myself how God sees me, clean, washed in His Blood, made white then snow. In this, I can see the purpose of Purgatory. It is not a punishment, I don’t even believe it is painful. I believe that it can be, up to that point in our existence, the most glorious and liberating thing we can experience. It is my prayer that Mr. Chick, as well as many others, experience a well needed shower before the reach their final destination. I also hope they leave some hot water for me.

Final thought: We are all in need of forgiveness and cleansing – We receive God’s forgiveness through confessing our sins. We also need to seek forgiveness from others, as well as our self. There are countless people who believe in Christ who die in a state where they did not have a chance to confess their sins, or who had self doubt in relation to those sins. Baptism is the ultimate shower we receive, washing away the “old man” and making us into a new creation in Christ. Nothing can replace the new birth we receive upon having this sacrament. However, even after we get cleaned from a life of dirtiness, we are bound to get a little dirt here and there, from time to time, and it is quite possible that we don’t get a chance to take that final shower before we go to meet our collective Bridegroom who is Christ Jesus. Personally, I like to see Purgatory as that final shower before our wedding feast.