Monthly Archives: February 2013


By: Mary

6, 7, and 11. Those numbers represent the years that separate my sisters ages from that of my own.


It’s a curious thing that were all have become so close with such gaps in age and the many hundreds of miles that separate us.


As I write, Kate is visiting in-laws in Texas. I have been surprised to discover how much I am missing her. The vacation she is on has caused a diversion from our continuous phone conversations that we share in disjointed segments daily while she attends to her maternal duties and I am either driving my car or washing dishes or baking.

Though not a phone person naturally, I love talking to my sisters. Oftentimes I find myself bubbling up with laughter caused by a call, or a quick text message or when having an actual conversation with Clare, here in Wisconsin.

The power of sisters is a deep thing indeed.


There is no sense in pretending that it’s always filled with pleasantry and glad tidings. Take last summer for instance. Colleen and I got into a fight after I bailed on running a race with her. I did end up showing up before runners all crammed for an ideal spot at the starting line. At that point we weren’t even speaking to each other. Before the gun went off though, we were jumping up and down, and hugging while yelling at one another to win each our divisions.

Kate and I fight also. A LOT. Heck we still wrestle when she’s like 8 and a half  months pregnant.

kate and mary

As for Clare and I… well, we both can spray out our fair share of negative words. Despite the sister battles that go down, I love my sister’s so much.

Each of us has a unique path and an individual set of boots.


What one loves, the next might not enjoy. Regardless of all differences,  though, we do enjoy each other and as a result of that…

Image life is all the more rich.

A Phone Call From Rome

by Colleen


On Monday morning, I was woken from my slumber by a call from Rome.  I confusedly stared at my caller ID while my phone jingled and jangled.  “Rome!”, it said.  As my mind slowly unclouded on the 3rd or 4th ring, I realized that my best friend, Killian, was calling me from Rome, and immediately flipped open my phone, attempting to make my “Hello” sound less than groggy and tired.  Killian and many of my closest friends are studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus this semester, and I hastily programmed the campus telephone number into my phone as “Rome!” just last week.

Killian was calling to tell me the latest news, news which is by now old: that Pope Benedict is retiring.  Due to the early hour, I refused to take him seriously the first few times he told me the news.  “Ha ha, very funny, Killian.  You’re not fooling me, even if  I did just wake up,” I replied to his assertions.  Soon, though, I realized that he was not fooling around.  The gravity of the situation hit me, and I sat up in bed.

“It hasn’t been done in 800 or so years!” Killian exclaimed.  It struck me that this truly is a momentous event in church history  and it is amazing that all of us are alive to witness it, especially all of my friends who will  be there to watch and wait in the courtyard outside of the Vatican at the end of this month, searching the sky for traces of white smoke.  The future is uncertain, but the church is not.  It will always be here.  And, from Killian’s phone call, I was reminded of those I miss in Rome, They may not be  physically be near me, but I know they are with me in spirit, and I with them.  Apparently, I can’t get away from them making me miss out on sleep, even a continent away!


The Great Barn Adventure: Part 2

By Mary

The Great Barn Adventure has been an adventure set in slow motion. The pace of its progress has inched along for months through peaks of drama, disputes, and communal efforts. As the project inched along I was lucky enough to be able to get involved. Perhaps its my carpenter brothers that instilled an enjoyment for construction in me. Nail guns and paint make me happy so it’s a blessing that I was able to help with random tasks. In reality I was way more involved in helping my Uncle Dave…

Uncle Dave

and our mathematical genius and master carpenter friend Peter Krump,


by picking up supplies and rolling them cigarettes. But hey, I can still say that I got to get my hands sticky with plumbing glue and learned all about toggle bolts, drilling out homemade pegs and putting up walls.

My Uncle David and Peter put an immense amount of effort into the job and I am so proud of their work, They have been good company to keep with in the midst of the scream of a saw or the background of the radio. (Sidenote: Who doesn’t want to work to the tune of Johnny Cash and U2?)

Peter is more of an artist than a carpenter so he put thoughtful consideration into all of his work. This past fall he vanished for a period of time. It was only when he came back that I was informed as to why. While at home he got wrapped up in making risers for the stairs into which he hand carved a poem into each riser. These stairs are beyond sweet. I love them! He told me that if I didn’t like them, he would just flip them to the plain wood side of the boards. What a crazy alternative for such beautiful work.

All of the wood work is milled by Peter at his farm in Ettrick, WI. The boards have been created from local lumber which has been specially milled and grooved by Peter and my Uncle David on cold snowy days.

As previously stated, this project has been a maddeningly slow one, but worth the wait. As my Uncle likes to tell me “Mary Brigid, you don’t have a barn apartment, this place has the detail that they put into churches, you got yourself a chapel!”

Whatever the space may be refered to it’s one of beauty, love, and sunlight. I am looking forward to sharing more pictures in the near future. Keep checking in and I will keep you all updated!

In cased you missed it, here is a link to The Great Barn Adventure, Part 1

Finding Balance

by Kate

I cannot do everything at once. Lets start with laundry. I have not been caught up on laundry since Francisco was born. It has prevented me from using cloth diapers which triggered a whole heap of guilt in my country girl in the city soul. I am happy to report that I started using cloth diapers again yesterday and (so far) it is going splendidly. My theory is that now I will be forced to do laundry more often.  Also it is almost spring and in the spring I hang all the laundry on the line. I am much, much better at getting the laundry done when half the job involves stretching my limbs under an open sky.

But more to the point, there is this rise and fall, depths of desperation and peak of elation pattern to my life of late. Let me paint a couple brief pictures for you.

I am pushing a jogging stroller (with Olympia in it wearing a velvet party dress and a blanket tucked over her coat and hat and boots and with my bags containing sheet music and library books etc. precariously stacked above her) up a steep city street one handed, using the other hand to boost up and nurse the baby in the sling under my winter coat. I am sweating because it is quite the climb and because I overstayed a tiny bit at Teresa’s house to do one last thing for her after making her breakfast this morning and as a result I am running late (again) to punch into the Memory Care Unit at Canterbury Place and spend half an hour playing the harp. I am trying to get F to nurse as much as he can so he will be relaxed and happy and I won’t have to awkwardly play the harp for the dementia patients WHILE wearing him in the sling and nursing him and using a pashmina to (hopefully) cover my breast while doing so. There is another block uphill to go and I feel like it is too much.


I am in the sunny room overlooking an enclosed garden, in the Memory Care Unit. I am wearing jeans and boots and long dangling earrings and playing the harp, to the delight of some of the lined familiar faces in the room. There are others I suspect enjoy the harp as well, though their heads are bowed. Francisco is being held in the arms of the beautiful stylish black aide who has 3 year old twins herself, and he is cooing at all the old people and just won a smile from a man who hasn’t smiled all week. Olympia is in the middle of the room, twirling like Shirley Temple. She has been sitting still with apple juice and graham crackers that she knows to expect, looking at my books of music, and now she is dancing. I am proud of her.  There is so much peace and joy in the room, and in this moment, for me.


Maybe it is the hills. The hills and the stuff, the big bursting bags of badly packed stuff that I carry around with me, the stuff that is not goldfish or wipes or diapers, those I either don’t carry or don’t have enough of. The thought of the drive up the hill to the Dance Studio after loading a toddler and a baby and my overflowing bag of fringed dresses and huge carimbo skirts and hair flowers and a sequined hat and ballroom shoes and the spiked silver five inch heels, and carrying them all up the steep steps after crossing the icy parking lot with a shrill winter wind whipping across the street feels like too, too much. I feel fat and tired and am castigating myself for trying too hard and not staying home and doing my laundry.


There are flamenco dancers pounding patterns on the other side of the long studio, samba drums on the stereo on our side. Francisco is asleep in the midst of heaps of costuming after a long conversation consisting of much cooing with a beautiful Brazilian woman. I am sweeping a skirt through the air and spinning through a swirl of rose and gold. Olympia is underfoot at my right side in the midst of the dancers, grinning and leaping joyfully but so far I haven’t knocked her over. I strap on the five inch heels I will wear for a Fat Tuesday samba performance at a nursing home, the one at the top of the hill, the one where my harp is, shaking my head at the ridiculous nature of my life.

I am trying to find balance. True to my nature, for me this means samba dancing in platform heels for elderly people, accompanied by a toddler and a fat five month baby. It’s not wonder this involves so much lurching wildly from despair to elation.

And now, I really must do a load of laundry.

March for Life 2013

By: Clare

At the beginning of the school year, I decided I was sick of school. This was probably, oh, you know, around mid-August. Before school had even started. I decided I wanted to travel the country. So I vowed to travel to a different state every school quarter, and so far I’ve upheld my vow. I’ve logged in an impressive 14 excused absences, all while staying on the A-honor roll. Pretty good, if you ask me. The first quarter I spent a two weeks in Pittsburgh visiting Kate, and being able to greet my newest nephew Francisco right before we left.  It was so wonderful, and I had so many adventures, I was even motivated to write a blog post about it. Which is sadly something I do not find myself yearning to do, as I would much rather….wait..I wouldn’t rather do my homework, but I kind of have to.

The second quarter I found myself not far from Wisconsin, but still outside of Wisconsin and into greater hick country..Minnesota, for my wondeful cousin Cale’s wedding. This was amusing, as the weekend we Wisconsinites invaded Minnesotan territory was the same weekend as the playoff game between our rival teams – The Green Bay Packers vs. The Minnesota Vikings. As a kid, I tricked myself into thinking that I was a serious Vikings fan, but really, the only reason I “liked” the Vikings was because my cool older brother did, and I have always been one who likes to stand out in a crowd. But a Vikings fan in the midst of a bunch of Packer-Backers just gets lots of dirty stares, and not much admiration.

I started the third quarter out with an impromptu trip to Washington D.C. to attend the 40th annual March for Life, along with my brother, Robert, sister-in-law, Nicole, and adorable nephew, Lukas.

The March was extremely cold, but very inspiring, and as a bonus I got to realize that Washington is definitely not the place I want to live in when I grow up, contrary to what I used to think. Too many people, not enough space!

But even with all the people who were there, the body heat wasn’t enough to heat us all up. Except Baby Lukas, who slept peacefully all day in his warm cocoon.


And when he finally woke up, his stylish mother was there to transport him to a spot where he could better look around. I’m pretty envious of Nicole for being able to look awesome, despite freezing temperatures and a large baby strapped to her stomach. But definitely not envious of the large baby thing. I’d rather not be hunch-backed when I grow up, thank you very much.


Speaking of stylish mothers and babies, Nicole’s wonderful friend, Haley, and her adorable dinosaur son was with us as well.


And totally not speaking of stylish mothers and babies, Nicole’s not-so-little little brother, Joe, was able to make it to the March as well.


He came all the way from Kansas on a bus with his fellow college students to get there. Talk about dedication. If I spent a 23 hour road trip on a bus with 50 other kids on it, by the end of the road trip, it would no longer be me and 50 other kids.  It would be me and 49 dead bodies.

The speeches were great, and the number of people and level of passion and dedication for such a wonderful cause was great to see.


And then we got to the Supreme Court building, which turned out to be under a bit of construction, prompting them to put up a large banner in front of the building that fooled a lot of people into thinking it was the real front….well, it fooled me at least, until Carpenter Rob pointed out the hoax.


All in all, I’m so very glad I got to experience the March for Life, and I hope to do it again in the future. But for now, its just nice to be back home. Though thanks to this creative Wisconsinite’s flag, I still felt a little like I was being led home.


But, for all I know, I could have been walking behind a herd of cows, because let me tell you, that march was slooow going. Mooooo!


Italian Dreams and Dallas Streets

by Colleen

On Saturday, I called home for an update.  I miss the goings-on of our big family in our big, rambling farmhouse while down here in Dallas, and calling and skyping home is one of my favorite things to do on a lazy Saturday morning.  To my surprise, I found out that it is still winter back home, complete with 16 degree high temperatures and a foot of snow.  The sunny, 65 degree weather outside my window had fooled me into thinking it was March or even April, and classes already seem to be interminable.

Despite the glorious weather, this semester has been off to an uncharacteristic start.  Many of my closest friends are away across the ocean this semester, studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus, and while seeing gorgeous pictures of them traipsing across Italy on Facebook is fun, I’d much rather they were still living down the hall from me.  In an attempt to become more cultured and not just sit in front of our computer screens, scrolling through pictures, a few of my friends from here (who are also never going to Rome) and I decided to get out into Dallas and attend a concert last Sunday night.

After a frantic day of studying, my friends Joe, Monica, and I headed out to the light rail station in the Dallas dusk, ready for some music and time away from campus.  We alighted at Mockingbird station, and wandered around looking for a place to eat that was nowhere even close to cafeteria food.  We found what we were looking for at Izmir’s Market and Deli.  The Iranian man behind the counter was charming  the falafal was fresh and flavorful, and for just a moment, we could pretend we weren’t in Dallas, TX.  Satisfied, we headed to the concert, and spent the night enveloped in the music of the Punch Brothers, a folksy, Mumford and Sons-esque band that filled the Granada Theater with glorious sound.

We headed back to campus that night content and tired, our minds, not lost in contemplation of the streets of Rome, but centered on the present here and now, which suddenly seemed a lot less lonely.

Punch Brothers