Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A work in progress...{fall decor}


Fall is my favorite.

I unapologetically love the falling temperatures, the early-darkening sky, and the pumpkin-flavored everything.

Other than Christmas, fall is the only time of year that I really change anything in our home and call it decorating. This year, I've been a bit busy with other things (three people in diapers, for example) and hadn't thought much about decorating yet. When Bonnie of A Knotted Life asked me about participating in this blog carnival, I thought it would be a good incentive to get things done.

It turns out it was a good incentive to get things started.

Hey, it's okay. I'm a perpetual work in progress. My surroundings may as well be, too. Things are constantly evolving around here. As our lives unfold, we add to our decorating...cut flowers from our yard, acorns from a hike, painted pumpkins from our annual pumpkin painting party, our Thankful Tree around Thanksgiving, banners and art created for various saint days.

I like pretty things, and I like to see beauty around me during the day. I could spend lots and lots of time hunting for seasonal baskets and rugs and throw pillows that are just right at TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning. I love flipping through Pottery Barn catalogs, finding amazing tea cups in antique stores, and buying candles, picture frames and potted plants. I love arranging and rearranging things in our home.

But this isn't a decorating blog, and there's a very good reason for that.

It's because I like things to be perfect, and when I get caught up in making things look exactly the way I think they should, I can forget that my family lives here (and that they have other priorities than making sure their bath towels are all hanging evenly and with appropriate spacing). Our house is warm and welcoming, but it's not ever going to look like a page from Southern Living. Most of the surfaces are covered with books...between homeschooling, George's grad school books and general reading, we have a lot of them around. There are too many Legos and sippy cups without lids. There are always toys and shoes and superhero capes on the floor in most of the rooms. We pick them up throughout the day, but the kids move them around as they create elaborate adventures and storylines. When I watch them play, I'm thrilled that they use so many different pieces and loose parts in their play. When I stop watching the play and start focusing on the mess instead, it just stresses me out.

What I really need to feel calm about the state of my house are pockets of peace- little spaces on which I can rest my eyes when they are overwhelmed by the rest of my life. These focal points can help keep me sane when the books are overflowing their baskets and the Playmobil guys have taken over the bathroom sink again. Realistically, any decorating I do needs to be out of reach of the smallest people and on a surface that isn't going to become part of a stop-motion dinosaur film. (If we had a mantel, it would fit this purpose, but we don't.)

Realizing I need to narrow my focus to create these pockets, I put my energy into decorating the top of our piano this season. At SuperSam's request, we also worked together on a garland of fall leaves to hang in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. Finally, I made a wreath for the front door. (We always have a wreath. I like to make them, and I change them seasonally. Sometimes that's all I do, but we do have a wreath.)

Here's the one I made for fall this year:

I'm not thrilled with it yet- I think I'm going to add more fabric flowers around the D. (I'm excited about my new magnetic wreath hanger, though- no more Command Hooks falling off at odd times!)

The other easy place for me to change things is our table. This is our family at Michaelmas dinner. We've kept the centerpiece the same...cloth with leaves, sticks, pinecones, stones and other found objects. This will evolve, too, as we go on nature walks and the kids add their treasures to the table.

The final part of our seasonal decorating is our book basket. The books rotate with the seasons, and so does the basket. I just recently replaced the white one that held our summer and beach books with this one, full of our fall favorites. (Notice the piles of seasonally inappropriate classics, a huge green Bible and a few other random books just hanging out on the table. We could really be running a library if we could keep the books in order on a shelf.)

Seeing the children grab books from the basket and curl up on the sofa together makes my heart happy. Really, this is what it's all about for me...creating a place that's warm and welcoming for the people I love to do what they love. This is our space to be together and live our lives. I had fun adding a few fall touches to it, and I'm happy to share them with long as you remember that there are three giant totes in my kitchen filled with hand-me-down clothes to be gone through and several baskets of laundry in the hallway that need to be folded and spiderwebs above the door on the front porch that should really be swept down and some toothpaste smeared on the hall bathroom door.

It's okay. This is my life. If you stop by, I'll clear a spot at the table and make you some tea, but I can't guarantee that I'll have vacuumed the floors.

For more fall inspiration, check out the rest of the blogs participating in the carnival!

A Knotted Life


Fountains of Home

This Ain't The Lyceum

Mama Needs Coffee

House for Five

Team Whitaker

Two O's + More

Clan Donaldson

Better than Eden

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our first Michaelmas. (It's all about the carrots.)

I don't know how it is that we have never before celebrated this feast. It has been on my list for years now, but we never seemed to fit it in. Maybe it is because it follows the big "birthday season" of late September, when our three oldest children have their birthdays. Maybe it is because it falls just before the feast of St. Therese, my patron, on October 1. Whatever the reason, we just haven't made it happen.

This year, we finally did it. We pulled it off. We had a lovely Michaelmas Feast of the Archangels.

This feast feels like a kickoff to fall, which is my favorite time of year. (I say that about lots of times of year, but I mean it the most about fall. Really.) It celebrates the three archangels mentioned in scripture: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. For more information on the tradition of the archangels, here's a great article.

We had a roasted chicken with red potatoes, these whiskey-glazed carrots, and blackberry cobbler. I meant to make a salad...there should always be a green vegetable...but I didn't. (It was fine, Mom. No one died.)

The cobbler and the chicken were delicious, but this feast is all about the carrots. You must try them. I could drink the sauce with a straw- it is that good.

The children each colored a picture of one of the archangels (these coloring pages from Waltzing Matilda are lovely if you don't want to draw your own) . Sam read the traditional prayer to St. Michael and a prayer to St. Gabriel and St. Raphael. We decorated the table for fall and added three angels from our nativity set (which, thankfully, has a host of angels). It wasn't complicated, but it felt festive- a perfect opening to a season of warmth and good food and celebrations.

A friend of mine growing up had a saying in his family: If you do something once and you like it, it's a tradition. (If you do it twice, it's a tradition even if you don't like it.)  I liked both the saying and the family, so I adopted it for my own.

We all agreed that we liked Michaelmas quite a bit, so that does it- it's our newest family tradition.

For more Michaelmas, try these links:

History, prayers and relevant readings about the Feast of the Archangels at Women for Faith and Family

Traditions, food and some great art at Two O's Plus More (where I first learned that I have been pronouncing Michaelmas incorrectly)

The recipe for the amazing whiskey-glazed carrots from The Pioneer Woman

Ideas for a family Michaelmas from Molly at Molly Makes Do

Kendra's crazy fun-looking devil piƱata celebration at Catholic All Year

A great overview of Michaelmas with traditional menus (and a legend about the Devil spitting on blackberries) from Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas

A video interview on Michaelmas of Haley by Bonnie at A Knotted Life (where you can hear Haley use the correct pronunciation!)

Archangel coloring pages at Waltzing Matilda

Prayers, recipes and activities for the Feast of the Archangels at Catholic Culture


Friday, September 19, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Hold

I haven't found much time for writing here recently, partly because of some other writing projects and partly because my hands are full (as people keep informing me). I'm sharing at Blessed Is She today about our identity as Christians and our response to fear and darkness...please go check it out (and subscribe to the daily devotions if you haven't already- you can have beautiful reflections on the scriptures in your inbox every morning!)

If you're new here, welcome- I'm so happy to have you! I haven't written as much lately with the arrival of our new baby, but I hope you'll look around and enjoy your stay.

And now, for the little bit of writing I can manage, here is Five-Minute Friday. (For those unfamiliar, Five-Minute Friday is writing for five minutes in response to a one-word prompt. We don't overedit or worry about perfect composition. It's great therapy for perfectionists and a way to silence your inner critic. Then we share our posts with a community of writers so we can encourage each other.)

Today's prompt is Hold.

“You’ve sure got your hands full.”

Yes, I hear you. Yes, I do. They’re full…so full that I drop things. Sometimes it feels like trying to carry a load of laundry without a basket. Socks keep falling out, leaving a trail down the hallway from the dryer, evidence of all the small feet and mismatchedness around here.

They’re full, too, of crayon pictures and homemade play dough and favorite books (and always juggling requests to read that one again)…of card games and sidewalk chalk and Lego bits and pieces everywhere.

It’s too much to hold, really- too much for a pair of hands and arms that sometimes ache with their fullness. There’s a baby to burp and a dishwasher to unload and three sets of scraped knees to bandage. There are swings to push and curls to comb and tiny teeth to brush, and while the days feel incredibly long, there never seems to be enough time to do it all. How I long for an extra set of arms, or for bigger hands to help bear the weight.

There’s strength, though, in remembering that this is my vocation. I am called and chosen for this work, and as with any vocation, it is not reliant on my power or abilities. My work is mine, but my strength is God’s – and it is He that holds me in His hands, along with all the dishes and the laundry and the mess and the joy…and He won’t drop any of it.

For more Five-Minute Friday, head over to Kate's blog.

Monday, September 8, 2014

how I (almost) ruined Mary's birthday

When I opened the pantry this morning, there wasn't enough flour. I could have used a boxed mix, but there wasn't enough milk left after breakfast to make the frosting, anyway. 

I texted George to bring home some dessert. You can't really have a birthday party without dessert. Under my breath, I told Mary I was sorry and trusted she would understand.

After all, she is a mother. The Mother of Mothers.

I should have been more prepared, I thought, but I forgot until yesterday at Mass, when I remembered it was coming in early September and made a note to check the date- what day is today, anyway?- as we straggled in to find seats during the first verse of the opening hymn. We ended up in the overflow, in the daily Mass chapel, just under the watchful gaze of Mother Mary. She stood tall, holding her smiling Son, the picture of competent Motherhood.

I thought she looked a little disappointed in me.

As my kids flopped around in the pew, kicking each other and repeatedly dropping their books, I tried to keep myself together. It had been such a long week- the kind of week where everything just feels too hard, like forcing pieces into places they weren't meant to fit. Tears pressed and pricked the backs of my eyes. 

What am I even doing? I asked her, pulling Lucy out from under the row in front of ours. I'm not cut out for this.

Then suddenly, today was here and it was Monday again, and I had forgotten to remember that today was her birthday. As I picked up the dirty clothes and hoisted a crying child onto my hip while patting the fussy baby in the sling with my other hand, I felt it again.

I'm not doing a good enough job at this mothering thing.

The crying child, who turned out to have a fever, was clingy and weepy all day. She couldn't hide her frustration that I had a baby and two other children to tend to, also, and told me, "I wish you only loved me for your baby." The first-grader resisted all requests, refused to help clean up the books, and wouldn't sit in his chair at lunch time. I bounced around the house, singing, rocking, cajoling, encouraging, sweeping, wiping, and generally trying to keep the chaos from getting out of control. 

There was no chance of bringing order today. Today was a survive the chaos kind of day.

I tried to remember the me of a year ago, the one who wrote thank you notes promptly, ran lots of miles during nap time, and blogged about her family's humble celebrations of liturgical feasts. Now it was Mary's birthday, and we were having spaghetti with sauce from the jar for dinner and I couldn't even bake a cake.

Forget cake. I couldn't even get the dishwasher unloaded.

George got home with the box of spaghetti and the store-bought cupcakes. Sam painted a birthday picture for Mary "with her symbol and her color," he said, and solemnly taped it to the wall. I jiggled the baby and cleared away our school day and threw together a salad, and we gathered around the table. It was Nora's turn to choose the blessing, and our voices all joined together in her favorite: "Bless us, O Lord..." 

I studied all of their faces, and I was grateful.

I wasn't magically less tired or less overwhelmed.

I didn't instantly feel hopeful and bright about tomorrow.

I wasn't suddenly enthused about the potentially sleepless night ahead of me with the fussy baby and the feverish girl.

But into the back of my mind crept a friend of mine- a friend beloved of Mary, who says that Mary always gives you a gift on her birthday. Although I didn't remember asking for anything, I realized that I had already received it.

I had been sustained. Somehow, I made it through this day. I didn't yell at anyone. I kept everyone fed, changed, wiped, soothed, and safe. I made food and served it and cleaned it up. I washed and folded some clothes. I taught and read and sang and prayed. It wasn't perfect, and the bathrooms didn't get cleaned again, but I survived.

This feels like a gift....maybe a gift from a mother to her daughter. 

Thank you, Mother Mary...and happy birthday. Maybe I didn't ruin it, after all.

Monday, September 1, 2014

right words, right time

I have a real love for post it notes. I love all the types and sizes and colors- the giant pad ones that can stick on the wall for leading group discussions all the way down to the teensy pink and orange flag ones sticking out of my hymnal to mark the songs I need to play next. Writing things down helps me remember them better. I keep the visual post-it note cue around, too, just in case, but usually the act of scribbling the words on that bright paper and sticking it someplace is enough to fix the information in my mind.

I've always been a post-it note person when it comes to scripture, too. I remember my mom's old blue bedroom curtains, covering the window where we always stood in the mornings for her to fix our hair, and the faded yellow post-it note she had pinned there with a verse she wanted to remember:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  --Ephesians 3:20-21

I followed her example, dutiful Sunday School pupil that I was, and wrote down the verses that I liked as I encountered them, posting the little yellow squares on the back of my bedroom door and around the edge of my mirror. As I grew, special verses seemed to show up at just the right moments, and I kept writing them down. By the time I left for college, I had a vast collection of neon paper squares decorating my car, my windows, my bathroom mirror, my desk and my computer monitor. There were verses I'd found encouraging, verses that comforted me, verses that reminded me of special people who had loved those same words or who had given them to me as exhortations at some point in my journey. I took a lot of them with me to school, and in my shared hall bathroom freshman year, I still posted a verse on the wall every week because I needed to see it there.

Lately, I haven't given as much thought to scripture. I read Bible stories with my children, and I try to go over the Sunday readings before Mass every week. (Mostly, this is because there's a good chance I won't hear them clearly when they are read at church and I'm juggling my children, a picture missal, several board books and a handful of ballpoint pens...sometimes, we're standing for the Gospel reading before I realize I haven't heard the Old Testament or the Epistle at all).

Maybe I am just distracted. Maybe I'm not paying enough attention. Maybe I just don't have as many encounters these days with people who quote Bible verses at me. Whatever the reason, I was surprised last week when the perfect verse showed up at the perfect time. In the middle of a tough day, I parked my three bigger kids at the lunch table and slowly walked with Baby Felix to the mailbox. Inside, I found a card from my cousin and her husband with a little blue baby buggy on the front. The message inside was crafted with the perfect combination of humor and support.

And then there was this:

There in the card, in my cousin's handwriting, the words of St. Paul to the church in Corinth had met me where I was, in my pajama bottoms at the mailbox with a fussy baby and a sinkful of dirty dishes waiting inside for me...the right words at just the right time.

These days, my hands are full, and my brain is busy, and I don't often find the time for in-depth Bible study like I used to enjoy, sitting with parallel texts and my seminary-trained husband and talking for hours about which Greek word was used there and what it could have meant in context. Right now, post-it notes with verses on them are about all I have (and sometimes, they need to show up in my mail box for me to pay attention!). Maybe you can relate to this. A lot of us are busy, but we still want to be able to read scripture and ponder it in our hearts.

That's why I am so excited to be involved with a new project called Blessed Is She.

Blessed Is She gives each of us a chance to reflect more deeply on scripture through short daily devotions written by faithful Catholic Christian women from different walks of life. Each devotion will be based on the day's scriptures in the lectionary. You can follow along on the facebook page, on the web site, or even subscribe via e-mail to have the day's reflection sent directly to your inbox...what could be easier? For those of you who love Instagram, some of our group are posting daily images with the verses there, also. It's kind of like a post-it note, really...only a lot more beautiful and less likely to stick to the bottom of your shoe.

Like this:

You can also follow Blessed Is She on Twitter. There is a Twitter chat scheduled tonight (September 1) at 9pm EST- follow along with the hashtag #blessedisshe.

I'm honored and delighted to be keeping company with this group of women as a writer for this project. I'm also grateful to have this opportunity to encounter the words of scripture and let them take root in my heart as I go about my life. Then, whenever my hands feel especially full, my heart and mind will be full, too- full of the right words at the right time.

I hope you will join us on this journey. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Surviving Mass with Little Ones: Our Top Ten Tips

Last Sunday after Mass, there was a long line for the bathroom. When it was finally our turn, my children and I squeezed into the only open stall (not the handicapped accessible one with the changing table, unfortunately). When I opened the door to herd everyone toward the sink for handwashing, the kids tumbled out into the bathroom like undersized occupants of a clown car. A woman who was waiting her turn looked at me, eyes wide, and said, "Wow, they sure are all close together, aren't they?"

They aren't that close together, but they're close enough to make certain things, like group bathroom trips and attendance at Mass, challenging. Right now, we have four kids under six, and two of them are two year olds. (That's one thing about twins...they are usually pretty close in age.)

When I dreamed about having children, I never imagined the part about struggling to get them to behave in church week after week. Attending Mass with tiny children can feel like a full-contact sport. By the time church is over, I am often sweating from the physical effort of managing my four little angels. Sometimes, on Monday, my arms or my chest or my quads are actually sore.

Why didn't anyone warn us about this ahead of time and give us some tips? We could have started training in advance. Perhaps an exercise DVD handed out at baptismal classes would be helpful.  I picture a video with a roomful of parents lined up in their Sunday clothes, shuffling sideways through pews without knocking people over while carrying huge diaper bags, scooping Cheerios off the floor while doing deep knee bends in the aisle, passing fussy toddlers back and forth at chest level like medicine balls, balancing their hymnals with two fingers while holding a squirmy baby on one hip and blocking the pew exit with the opposite knee.

If you are a new or expectant parent, you might find this a little hard to imagine, but kneeling while holding a squirmy baby away from the back of the pew (so she can't eat the pencils and missals or chew the hair of the woman in front of you) can be almost as good as an ab workout. 

I'm only sort of kidding. 

Once we are all sitting down, the physical challenges ease up a little, but the mental challenges have just begun. As I try to occupy everyone as quietly as possible until Mass begins, I notice that people around me are actually praying silently and reverently. I remember that I, too, used to do that, and I wonder how long it will be before I can close my eyes in church without worrying about someone falling out of the pew. I settle for repeating, "Lord, have mercy," over and over in my mind. When my husband gives me a weird look, I realize that I've actually been saying it out loud.

So what are we supposed to do, those of us who want to have our children with us during church? Is it impossible to experience Mass as a family with young children?

It's not impossible.

Although the physical challenges can be grueling, surviving church with little ones doesn't have to feel like the weekly equivalent of a marathon. Some common sense, some time-tested tricks, and a well-stocked Mass bag go a long way toward getting our family through Mass in one piece.   

Here are the Top Ten Things I have learned in my six short years of taking my children to Mass: 

1. We always bring the Mass bag.

Our Mass bag has changed as our children have changed. When I first wrote about it here, we only had one child who was old enough to be distracted by most of the books and items in the bag. Now, he is old enough to follow along in his missal and use a Mass worksheet or Magnifikids to help him focus. His Mass behavior isn't perfect, but it's come a long, long way. 

Even though some of the items in our bag have changed, my guidelines for deciding what goes in it are still the same:
  • We don't include snacks. I know other parents who successfully put snacks in the bag for their family, but it's just too messy for us. Before we made this rule, many Cheerios rolled far away under multiple pews and were crushed by others' feet three rows ahead. We crawled around under the pews after church trying to clean them was just too much to handle.
  • The items need to be church-related. There is time every other minute of every other day to play with our regular toys. The things in this bag are special, are only be used at church, and are to help our children develop their spiritual imaginations. 
  • No bad art. The pictures have to be beautiful. Three of my children aren't readers yet, so the pictures are all they have. I still remember the pictures from the Bible I had as a child...those illustrations shape the way our kids imagine Jesus and heaven and many other important things. There's no room in our bag for silly cartoon illustrations - I want the art to be good quality (and worthy of helping to shape someone's image of God...that's pretty important, don't you think?).
  • The things in the bag have to encourage the children to be quiet. If they make our group volume go up even slightly, they're out. This is why we no longer have crayons in our bag. There was too much discussion about colors and who should have the yellow and who broke the tip off the magenta. (I love colors and I know God made them and everything, but we can talk about crayons after church.)
  • No tiny pieces that will be lost under the pews. I choose not to deal with this. We have too much going on already.
  • I don't want the items to distract the people around us. That includes other people's children who might be sitting nearby. 

Based on these criteria, here's what is inside our current Mass bag:
rosaries for each child

a set of holy cards on a ring

clipboards with paper and ballpoint pens (always one extra pen, just in case one stops working or gets dropped)

SuperSam's Magnifikid or a Mass worksheet

a few board books that rotate with the liturgical year

a picture missal

Sometimes I include our Betty Lukens felt book, but I found that having it in there every week made the girls more likely to fight over it. 

2. Everyone goes to the bathroom before church starts. This means we need to get there early. Sometimes we don't manage this, but it's our goal.

3. We always pack four more diapers than we think we will need. Just trust me on this one. We've never needed all four, but we've come close.
4. When we have a child under age two, I always wear my baby sling, even if George is carrying the baby. Chances are, I'm going to need an extra set of hands, and the sling is the closest thing I have.

5. I usually wear my charm bracelet...not as a lucky charm, but as a distraction. I've been collecting charms for it since middle school, and it can distract a child in my lap for quite a long time. Even SuperSam still likes to turn it around on my wrist to look for his favorites.  

6. We are choosy about our seats. We try to sit near the end of a pew so we can escape easily if someone needs to be taken out. We also try to be close enough to the front so that our children can see what's happening, but far enough back that we are not distracting if our people get wiggly. Arriving early helps a lot with this, too. If we come in too late to find those choice seats, we err on the side of caution and sit in the back. We're also careful about how we position ourselves as barriers among the children. If two of them have been fighting the whole way there in the car, they're getting separated during Mass.

7. We use bribery when necessary. We often stop for donuts or another treat after Mass if everyone has behaved well. 

8. Until our kids are about 3 years old, their feet don't touch the floor at Mass. They can choose to sit on our laps or beside us on the pew, but when we stand up, we pick them up, too. This helps keep them out of trouble but also makes it easier for them to see what's happening.

9. We are clear about our expectations for behavior at church. We make these expectations developmentally appropriate and we go over them every week before we go inside. Quiet whispers. Quiet hands and feet. Stay in your own space. Stand, sit and kneel when we do. Beyond that, we hope they will follow along and sing and pray the parts they know, but we don't force this. This year, SuperSam will be starting preparation for First Communion, so we will raise the expectations for him accordingly. 

10. We take deep breaths, work as a team, and don't despair if we have a terrible week where no one behaves well. Everyone has off days. It doesn't mean our children will never behave at Mass. It doesn't mean they are godless heathens and that we are doing a terrible job of raising them in the faith. It means we skip the donuts that week and try again the next week. (Or it might mean the children skip their donuts and the grownups still get them, depending on how much we had to endure.)

As SuperSam has gotten older, he has done much better at church and usually sits quietly now. Most weeks, he even participates in large portions of the Mass. My twins are also getting older, but they are not necessarily getting any easier to manage in a church service yet. We still hold them a lot of the time. They are, however, getting heavier all the time, which makes them more challenging to hold during church. By the time they are four or five, I will have the most amazing biceps of anyone I know. People will ask me what I do to get in shape. 

I'll just tell them we go to Mass every week.

This post is part of a kids + Mass blog carnival! Check out these other great posts on handling children in Mass:

27 Books for Your Mass Bag (and Tips for Dealing with Little Ones in Mass) at Carrots for Michaelmas

Survival Skills for Mass with Kids at Fountains of Home

Mass Effect: Why We Bring Our Kids to Church at two Os plus more

Age-Appropriate Goals for Mass Behavior at Catholic All Year

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Theme Thursday: Google Image Search (who are all those other people?)

So, in the interest of keeping things going over here on a squishy brain and limited sleep, I'm trying to jump back into some of my favorite linkups. It's Thursday, and that means one of my favorites is up...Theme Thursday!

Today's challenge is simple (which, honestly, is why I'm participating)- search for yourself on Google images and post the first picture that comes up in the results.

I've googled myself before, just to see what came up. It used to be a bunch of race results from 5Ks and half marathons. Then for a while, the results were mostly interchurch and interfaith family links because of our involvement in Bridgefolk. Now that I'm blogging, most of the results are related to that. (So many meatless recipes...)

I can honestly say it hadn't occurred to me to wonder what images would come up if I just searched for those. Thanks to Cari at Clan Donaldson, now I know:

Care to see what the whole page looks like? (I still can't figure out how some of these other people are connected to me!)

I'm not even IN most of those pictures. And that's not my car or my local fire chief. I do have to claim the laundry, though.

Maybe I'm the only one who finds this interesting, but I enjoyed looking at the other Google images linked up today. I guess I'm curious about how Google sees us. If you are, too, go check out the other posts here.