Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zoom Friday: Zoom Discovers a New 'Game'

In the last couple of weeks (since the Purim Parade), Zoom has really taken to sitting. He's a very good sitter. One night I was getting him ready for bed and once he'd gotten in to his pajamas, I sat him up on the changing table. The top of the wipes container was still popped open; I'd used a wipe out when I changed his diaper moments earlier. Zoom leaned over and closed the wipes container. Being curious, I opened it again for him and yep! He reached over and closed it. Then he started reaching for my hand to open the top of the wipes again ... and this continued. Each time he closed the container, I'd cheer and he'd smile and we'd start over.

So check this out...Here's some of that great sitting. And some great drooling. Please take note of the wipes container, which is standing precariously open. It doesn't stand a chance against Mister Zoom!

Better get that thing closed!


He's quick! And, it's closed! Look at those tasty dimpled baby fingers. (Do not look at the Costco wipes placed in the Huggies wipe container. We bought one container and have used it for six months now. We're "frugal.")


In other news, poor little Zoom has two ear infections. He's good natured, though, and he doesn't let it get him down. Tonight I caught him rubbing his ears as he was trying to get to sleep, but that's about the extent of his symptoms.

Be sure and stay tuned on Fridays for more Zoom Reports! Have a wonderful weekend :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Visiting Saint Patrick's Church in San Francisco

I love visiting churches. There's something about the history of a place that has been in a city for years, that houses so many prayers, that acts as a place of serenity, solitude and salvation within all the bustle. I'm drawn to churches and places of worship when I travel. I've decided that it's time I start visiting the churches near me to see what I find. I think of it as a little mission, to visit as many as I can.

Over the weekend, Zoom and I put on our Saturday best and went into The City to visit Saint Patrick's Church. Founded in 1851, it's on the register of historical places in San Francisco. I've long been fascinated by it, since it's in the heart of SOMA (South of Market), and is dwarfed by the daunting Marriot hotel.

Come, journey with us to Saint Patrick's Church ...

Saint Patrick's Church in San Francisco


Saint Patrick's Church in San Francisco

Saint Patrick's Church in San Francisco

Saint Patrick's Church in San Francisco

Saint Patrick's Church in San Francisco

Saint Patrick's Church in San Francisco

The reading for the day was John 4:39-42, which is the passage about the Samaritan woman at the well. She does not know who Jesus is when she meets him at the town well. He asks her to get him a drink. The dialogue that follows is one that skillfully weaves double speak by both the woman and Jesus. They banter back and forth, talking about the "water," and both knowing that "water" was one in the same with eternal life. 

I love this passage because it shows a smart woman engaging with Jesus and actively challenging him. She is not holy, she is a sinner, and yet, Jesus speaks with her as he would his disciples. He reveals who he is to her (and he doesn't do that often), and yet she also recognizes him for who he is. This is the Jesus of everyday, treating people as equals, knowing their hearts and looking for a relationship with them. This is a great teacher in action.

At Saint Patrick's, I prayed for the people of Japan, my friend's sister-in-law Jodi, my co-worker's father, Jenn's grandmother, Rebecca's father, and my family.

A Mood Board for Welcoming Spirit

For the last month I've been taking the "Blogging Your Way" e-class offered by Holly, Leslie, and Thorsten. It has been an amazing experience! Lots of learning, lots of great classmates, and I've really enjoyed the class. One of the assignments was to create a mood board for our blog. Here's what I did:

Welcoming Spirit Mood Board

I'll try to explain the board, real quick-like. The big picture is that it represents my love of religion, travel, family, and photography. That's what the focus of this blog should be.

In more detail - I took all of the photos. Lets start in the upper left hand corner.
The ocean picture is from Sea Ranch, which is one of my favorite places on Earth. It's relaxing and peaceful.
The little dish sits on my dresser, and it holds my rings. You can see my grandmother's engagement ring, my engagement ring and my wedding ring. These represent the past, present and future. I've also got a little cross in there, which was a gift from a friend when I graduated from Divinity School.
The dish itself is from Jerusalem, and I got it when I traveled there upon graduation. It represents the achievement of getting my masters degree, and of my love of the Old Testament, and the amazing land of Israel.
The orange flower photo (a begonia) is from the Mendocino Botanical Garden on a trip there with my parents.
The middle baby photo is of Zoom, when he was still in the hospital. I'm holding him in that photo.
The statue photo is of Saint Francis, taken just outside the Old North Church in Boston. I added the little birds, which represent me, Sean, and Zoom. I lead retreats at a Franciscan Retreat center, and I really love the teachings of Saint Francis.
The mouse is another favorite little animal, and I think you'll see her showing up somewhere in the near future.
The yellow flower is a dahlia, also from the Mendocino Botanical Gardens. Yellow is my favorite color and the dahlia is my favorite flower.
Last, there is the quote "Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible" which is from Saint Francis.
I chose to write the quote in my own hand writing since I love stationery, and while I also blog, I love the personal touch of hand written notes.

What would you like to hear more about on this blog?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zoom Goes to a Birthday Party

Last weekend, Zoom got to go to his first birthday party. Our friend Devin was turning four and we got to go help celebrate! It was a rainy, yucky day, but we headed out over the bridge and over the hills and to a great indoor kid's gym for the party.

A big hit with the little ones was the ball pit at the gym. Zoom had never seen such a thing before. I'm not sure he knew what to make of it, since he kept sinking in and didn't seem to understand how it worked. Here he is with the birthday boy Devin and friend "Knives." (that's his online nickname, referencing the razor sharp finger nails):


Later, they brought out the bubble maker. Zoom had never seen bubbles before, and was mesmerized by them. Our friend Michelle saw the two of us standing under the bubbles and asked if she could use my camera to take a couple of photos. I think the looks on our faces says it all.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Purple Spring Flowers

It's been raining here in California for the last week or so, which is actually unusual for the spring. We tend to get all of our rain in the winter, and then that tapers off into long dry summers.

This evening I was looking through my photographs of flowers and found these that I thought I'd share with you.

I pulled them together based on their similar purple tones. And then I started thinking about where I was when I took each of these photos, reliving happy memories with friends and family. I took each photo at a place that is special to me, clockwise from the upper left: 
Cosmos - San Damiano near the Labyrinth, taken on a retreat. This is where I lead retreats now.
Blue Flax (wildflower) - Kennolyn Camps, taken in a meadow at a memorial service for Aunt Marilyn. I was a camper, counselor, and director at Kennolyn.
Little cowbells - Filoli, taken on a trip with my sister and her husband, and Sean. I volunteered there for a year.
Anenome - San Damiano, in the main courtyard, taken on another retreat.

What have you taken photos of recently?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: Creole Thrift by Angele Parlange

Creole Thrift by Angele ParlangeA few days ago, while I was looking for a birthday gift for my sister, I came across the delightful book Creole Thrift: Premium Southern Living Without Spending a Mint by Angele Parlange. Some of you may remember that my mom and I took a vacation to New Orleans a couple of years ago. We couldn't get enough of the boiled shrimp, pralines, the mint juleps (OK, so we ate a lot!), or the endearing southern charm.

I fell head over heals in love with the Creole style "Laura Plantation." It was bright, lively, full of yellows, teals, and reds. It was a home with a heart, and the story of the family was as enchanting as the building itself. I remember telling my Mom that I was sure I'd been Creole in a past life.

Needless to say, when I came across "Creole Thrift" I dropped everything and started pouring over the pages right there in the shop. The author, Angele Parlange is a renowned designer, and Parlange Plantation is her family home. Built in 1750, it is a gorgeous Creole style plantation. Angele's grandmother, Mie lived at the plantation and instilled a great sense of what she calls "Creole Thrift" in Angele.

Angele explains, "You don't have to be a Creole to adhere to Creole Thrift philosophy; just don't consider a hiccup in a project to be a failure, but rather an opportunity for something else to grow out of your original intent." Both the project manager and the spiritual being in me cheered as I read her thoughts. Indeed, our lives are full of little twists and turns that present the amazing opportunity for us to learn and grow.

Parlange Plantation is the oldest plantation in Louisiana, and is an example of French colonial architecture. It has lovely galleries (the porch structure encircling the home):


Parlange explains in her book that the framed pieces of wallpaper inspired the decor of her "Sea Foam" room. It's a lovely way to set the tone for a room, and can be done with inexpensive frames. Wouldn't you love to have this in your home?


On the grounds, they have two Pigeonnier buildings which have been converted into a guest house and a home office. The were originally built for the family to raise pigeons. I'd love to live in this birdhouse.


The inside of the pigeonniers is like a dream cottage get away, here's the interior of one:


Parlange finds inspiration for her interior design collections from unusual sentimental places, often from items from the plantation itself. Or, she finds amusing pieces that speak to her like the post cards in this photo:


I love that in her design work, she uses hand me downs and "roadkill" (stuff discarded by the side of the road) to create lovely, charming pieces. Creole Thrift is a way of life, of living with history, of adding fanciful embellishments to create whimsical looks, and of reinventing the past to fit your present life. After reading Parlange's book, I'm more certain than ever that I was Creole in a past life.

Want to see some more of the book, or some of my photos of Laura Plantation? Head on over to Flickr!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Purim: Hope from the Next Generation

Zoom attends a Jewish day care, and today was the Purim celebration. Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish people from the evil grips of King Haman (boooo!) under the leadership of Queen Ester and King Mordechai. In modern times, it's celebrated with lots of costumes, silly fun, and yummy treats. It's a fun holiday.

IMG_1932_2I took Zoom in to school dressed as his alter-ego, Super Zoom. Sean and I made his outfit - Sean sewed his cape and belt and made the mask out of sunglasses, by placing black felt on them. Zoom loved it, and just sat there smiling, wearing his mask. He was completely content.

Part of the celebration of the day involved singing songs in the Temple, led by the Rabbis and Cantor. Zoom loves singing and really enjoyed the clapping part! We sang about Shabbat Shalom (Peaceful Sabbath) and I felt big tears forming, hot and stingy in my eyes. I held back a full on cry, though. A roomful of sweet babies all singing about God's Peace on Earth, in Hebrew, a language as old as civilization.

Parents and children were celebrating a deliverance from oppression and the goodness and happiness of being God's chosen people. People who have suffered repeated oppression through the ages, and yet, here, with new hope and great love was a new generation, singing as loud as they could for Peace. These sweet children gave me new hope. I needed to see that Big Love in person today, when the world seems sad and when crisis seems to loom large. God showed up big time in that Temple, with arms open wide for all of us.

I held little Zoom tight and kissed him until he laughed, right there in the Temple. Thank God for my sweet baby, and the gift of new life, great hope, and a revived spirit. Shabbat Shalom!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent: Challenging Myself to Give up Anger

Lent is the forty days ahead of Easter, and represents the forty days and nights that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness. It is a time of cleansing, of purification, of renewal. To honor this time, many people "give up" things for Lent. When I was about 12, I decided that I would give up cookies, cake, and candy for these forty days. It seemed like a great idea until I realized my birthday was during Lent that year and well, it meant no cake for me.

The time Jesus spent in the wilderness was one where he faced temptation, he met Satan, and Jesus prevailed. There is an distinct link between Jesus' forty days and the forty years that the Jewish people wandered in Exile. In both cases, people wrangled with the big, hard issues. Little food, no shelter, fear, uncertainty. At the core of it, their faith was challenged. That's what Lent should be, wrangling with the tough questions and finding out something about yourself and your beliefs.

This year I've thought more about what I'd like to give up. Material things are just that, things. I can do without most of them, day to day. I wanted to give up something that would force me to think about my actions.What would happen if I decided, very purposefully, to give up letting myself get angry? What would this take?

Now, just to be clear here, I'm not an angry person by any standard. But I do let little petty things eat away at me. I get the urge to Yelp about bad service when I receive it. I find myself wishing that someone would "get what they deserve" from time to time. I know that we all do it. But what if, for forty days, I made an effort to consciously stop and think about my reactions, my thoughts, my feelings and make the choice to not get angry?

I'll see if I can do it, and I'll report back. I hope that I'll find that I'm living more joyfully, appreciating the good in people, and choosing act more often from a place of love.

What are you giving up for Lent?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I was going over many of the links and interesting sites I frequent and decided it might be interesting to post them as a list. Here is just a quick glance at some of those people I consider kindred spirits:

People I know, places I go:
Earl J. Rivard - musician, fellow retreat leader
San Damiano Retreat Center -a Franciscan retreat center in Danville, California
Blow at Life - Lawrence Yang's inspiring art site, he posts a painting a day
Chronicles of a Serial Smartass - Erin blogs about her sports training and travels - Katey's reflections on work, fashion, and life
Smart and Sassy with Sprinkles - Allison is my cousin's wife and I love her sense of style and joie de vivre

Welcoming sites on the blogosphere:
Where the Wind - the blog of Episcopal priest Adam Thomas
A Fiveoh4 Uplifting  - Tabitha's blog, she spreads the love of God by sending gifts to adults and children
Living Franciscan - the blog of Franciscan sister Jan Killian
Spirit Jump - a charitable blog that supports people with cancer and other illness
Karen's World - Karen's reflections on her life
Tidbits from Liz - Liz is one of my bloggy friends. I love her blog!
That Wife - Jenna blogs about her photography, her family, and daily events

Blogging groups that I enjoy:
CC Blogs
High Calling Blogs
The Lady Bloggers
The SITS Girls

And linky parties that I submit my crafty ideas to:



lil luna link party button

Somewhat Simple


Monday, March 14, 2011

Where Would You Go for a Retreat-like Vacation?

Sean and I have decided that we need a vacation. We really want to get away, and take Zoom with us. It's an interesting prospect to travel with a baby, and so we think that we want this trip to be within driving distance.

We're drawn to the ideals of a place with a deep serenity:

With perhaps a little chapel to day dream in:

These images are from The Sea Ranch, California.

Where would you go for a retreat-like vacation?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Our Next Retreat: Living Joy to the Fullest

The team and I have been working on our upcoming retreat, which is in April. Our theme is "Living Joy to the Fullest," and we're very excited. One of the activities will be a group one - we are planning on asking teams to select two cards from two hats. One hat will have a little bio about a saint, and the other will be of a current day inspirational figure. I can't wait to share some of those inspirational stories here.

Another thing I'd like to do here is begin working with themes, much like we do for our retreats. I'll look for stories, music, and reflections to tie into the theme and welcome your input or suggestions. We'll see how it goes; I'd love for this blog to be a virtual retreat, bringing you inspiration and joy.

In the spirit of the retreat, the new theme here will be "Living Joy to the Fullest." Do you have any joyful events you'd like to share, or ideas for a post? Comment below or email me at welcomingspirit [at]

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Inspired by Terrariums: Handmade Beauty at Home

Over the weekend, I spied some gorgeous terrariums on display at Anthropologie. I've been obsessed with terrariums for a long time, and really wanted to make one for the last year or so. I actually tried last year but the hang up last time was finding live moss...anyway, I digress.

The obsession was re-kindled when I saw this:

The inspiration

When I saw these yesterday I thought ... oh my goodness! I have a round glass vase just like that at home! This morning, I trotted out to the garage and got my potting soil, rocks, and vases. I noticed that we had real live moss growing around the trees outside the garage. Score! I scooped some up, careful to dig up the soil below it.

When I got in the house, I carefully removed portions of our peace lily and spider plant; both were spawning new growth and they were perfect for my project. Really, to have all of the supplies on hand and accessible was key, and I felt so lucky to have everything I needed right at home. I lost myself in making them, and ended up churning out three.

Here are my beauts:

The round vase:

Here are all three:

Here they are in the dining room:
Dining room_ws

It's so nice when you find something that inspires you, and even better when you can make something so calming and pretty for free at home :)

And an update - after about three weeks, these little guys are still going strong! If you are making some of your own, get a squirt bottle and give them a spritz every day. I find that it is helping the little moss bits to grow. Good luck :)

What have you been inspired by lately?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Turtles Use GPS

On Wednesday NPR aired a story titled "For Turtles, the Earth's Magnetism is A Built-In GPS." The basic discovery is that turtles use the earth's magnetic pull to navigate to feeding grounds. This is an inherent trait to the turtles, they are born with the ability to navigate the ocean based on an ability to locate the magnetic pull of the North Pole. Depending on where they are, they are able to figure out how to get to rich food sources.

Turtles come wired with an instinct for survival. They don't have to do anything special to act on this trait. The story ends with the pithy line that "other animals besides turtles are using magnetic fields to tell them where they are. But humans probably aren't one of them — hence the popularity of GPS systems."

This got me to thinking ... I think humans do come with our own GPS, but ours is a God Positioning System.

Isn't this pretty similar to how each of us is wired for following our own passions? We come into this world already wired with the inherent knowledge of knowing what we love to do. We were created with an ability to find our way in the world, based on following those things we love. We don't have to do anything special or extra to follow this beacon. We just react to love. Sometimes it takes the time to slow down and listen to your heart. Sometimes it takes re-evaluating and re-directing.

I felt inspired on Wednesday thinking about how we're really like all of those little turtles, wired and ready to follow our life wherever we should go.