Thursday, February 16, 2017

my 7 daily must-dos

Off the bat I am letting every potential reader know that this is in NO WAY WHATSOEVER a "how I do it all"-ish post. No way no how. I just never thought that I would be in this place: a mom of 5 little, dependent children and (cue dramatic "dun, dun, dun...") homeschooling.  I never thought I would homeschool, I don't plan to do it forever, and I will admit that some days it really brings me to my knees. Ok, all the days it does.

Honestly I always pictured myself in the school drop-off line, then while the big kids were in school I'd be out running errands with little kids, or at home cleaning toilets, doing laundry and keeping the house under control. However, these days the house stuff waits until the weekend and phonics, math, language arts, history and wiping butts takes precedent all day, all week. Seriously, you should see my house right now. Here, I'll show you.
You gotta wait for that mac and cheese to dry before you sweep it up anyways.

Enough. This is a positive post! There are a few things - really stupid, little things-  that even with a newborn, I have kept up doing almost every day that make it possible for me to stay alive, and give the illusion of keeping my ish together. Don't be fooled though, it's all an illusion.

1: Fix my hair. 
 I'm so vain, I know, but there is something heartening having fixed hair, and even though most days we aren't planning on seeing other people, it makes it easier to see myself. When I walk past a mirror and glance at a woman who doesn't look like she just rolled out of bed, I feel like I can take myself more seriously as a mom and "teacher". I would venture to say that it doesn't matter at all to the kids, but you never know. This means either straightening, curling, or at the very least grooming the front and putting it in a nice looking pony tail.

2: Mascara, mascara, mascara. 
But just once each day. I know this is so ridiculous, but I am telling you it is key for me. I can forget all the rest of the makeup but as long as I've applied a liberal amount of my favorite drug store pick, I feel 100% less zombie-ish.

3: Get dressed. 
Like really dressed, in clothes that could be worn to the store or the library (kidding, never the library) but clothes I could wear out. It makes life a lot easier if we do need to go out somewhere, and again, I take myself more seriously teaching in jeans and target tee shirts than my jammie pants. I am a huge fan of these pont pants- I have a Calvin Klein pair (only a legging fit) and an old pair from target- they are basically just thick black leggings -- but not athletic-- that go with everything, can be worn out and about, but feel like yoga pants.

4: Use social media! 
It gets a bad rap for being a time suck, and I know it totally can be, but if you are a super-extrovert such as myself and you don't get to leave the house and converse with humans your own age much, connecting with e-friends and real life friends via the interwebs throughout the day gives you your dose of interaction and makes it easier. I favor Instagram and Facebook, but also texting friends throughout the day because while phone calls are nice and more personal, my kids get all 28 Days Later undead crazy people on me as soon as they see me on the phone.

5: I kick my kids to the curb and DO NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT. This currently takes the following form: It's around 1 o'clock (sometimes 1:30 or 2) and since I have had nothing but face time with all the kids since 7:30, the 2 nappers go down and I send the 3 older ones down stairs to the basement toy room/school room to play, color, trash everything to their hearts' delight until 3 p.m. I choose as many of the following as I can during Fred's pathetic nap-- I workout (first choice because it's my fave), I shower, I do dinner prep, I read, I pray, I clean up around the house, I blog, whatever the heck I want and the girls know they do their own thing until 3. It is the biggest sanity saver and I am finally at a point where I feel no guilt about it. I've had people advise me to wait until the boys nap to do homeschooling with the girls, but that would mean giving up this absolutely vital nap time and I am absolutely not willing to do that. Naps are not an option in our house so it works out but even if Joe stops napping in the next year ( please God, no) I will just turn to screen time to get that little space for a breather, because I have tried not having it and I am not a pleasant person to be around.

This is where I would insert a angelic picture of one of my slumbering cherubs but I avoid their sleeping chambers like the plague so as to not wake them. 

6: I keep my kitchen clean (ish). 
Obviously this is not the case currently (see above pictures) but a valuable lesson I have learned about myself is that if my kitchen is "clean" i.e. stuff put away, counters wiped down, floors swept, the universe feels a little less like it is spinning out of control.

I currently have a constipated teething baby who will. not. nap. I have roughly 6 large loads of laundry to fold, I haven't cleaned my toilets in a month, but if I get this kitchen under control I will feel like this:

Hat, cocktail and all.

7: Get up and pray before they're up. I realize this should be #1 but it would be a lie because I am not doing it right now. Fred's sleeping stats are pretty abysmal right now and I just aim at getting as much sleep as I can but!! I have super high hopes of one day in the not-so-distant future being able to get back to morning coffee and prayer before the kids attack me with needs because I know how key it can be.

Alright I will stop now and since there are seven I am linking with the queen of lists of 7 things, Kelly!

Monday, February 13, 2017

my best Saturday

I have never been the type that needs to live in a warm climate. I grew up in a town that boasts primarily cloudy, unimpressive weather and normal cold winters.

However, after 8 years in South Bend, with winter temps regularly below zero, too cold to send your kids outside for fear of limb loss some due to frostbite, and all clouds all the time, I definitely started feeling like maybe the Midwest weather wasn't for me. When Mike got the job here in Virginia I was really sad because we loved our friends in our town and that was out home, but I have to admit that I was really really excited about this climate compared to South Bend's. I know they still have normal winters here and they're not all as great as this one has been, (believe me, I know because people won't stop telling me), but I also know from incessant accuweather checkage since we've moved here that it is always 20 degrees warmer here than South Bend- all the time. And that is all I need.

This post is not about the weather though, this post is about Saturday, which brought all sorts and kinds of goodness thanks to the beautiful weather. The day started with me getting to go to 2 thrift stores solo during Lucy's ballet class- that was amazing in itself. Then when we got home at 10:30 it was already in the 60s out (!!!). I had been wanting to finish painting the last of our home's polished brass light fixtures, but my last round of spray painting was done on 30 degree days and it took my mirrors roughly 2 weeks to fully dry, so I had resolved to wait until there was warmer weather. Imagine my delight when I got just that in early February (go ahead, imagine it, it's good isn't it?). I ran down to Mike's office and forced ask him nicely him to take the rest of the lights down for me so I could commence- he lovingly obliged and commence I did.

Believe me, I know that these lights are not ideal, and I have perused new light fixtures to know well enough that there are lots more beautiful ones that could really transform what our main floor looks like. But light fixtures get pricey and even on Craig's list I was not able to find 6 light fixtures for under $25 total, which is what I paid in the end for all 6 of our main floor fixtures going the spray painting route. Budget-wise this is what we had to do right now, boob bulbs and all, in fact I have kind of grown to love the boob bulb. No that's not true, I've grown to embrace the boob bulb, embrace the boob, ya'll-- paint it and embrace it.
They are literally all over our house, it's a boob light infestation.

Here's the post where I put up some pictures of our dining chandelier and living room boob (Pictured above). Since I did those lights in the dark metallic color I went ahead and did the other 4 the same for some first floor uniformity.

Here's another before of the kitchen light that I loathe but now that it's painted I loathe a little less.

Here it is now.

And the view walking up from the basement, which used to make me cringe every trip up the stairs.
Not bad. No more cringing.
Also, since we hung the mirror above our hearth I had to look at the brass kitchen light even more:
But not now:

Here are the 2 in the entry, which I took no befores of, and despite their geometric boob-ness, I think they are a vast improvement.

And my little above the sink one which is small, but in a central locale so I'm glad it's not bright brass anymore.
All in all I feel a great deal of satisfaction that it is done, and I prefer the spray painted product to the polished brass 100%.

I also got to go for a run and the kids got to bike and romp outdoors most of the day and in my book that is pretty much the best weekend day ever. Naomi got a camera for Christmas and snapped these gems on their bike ride around the neighborhood.
Budding photographer indubitably.

I hope your Saturday was just as awesome and that your week follows suit!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ana uses the Interwebs and other stories {7 QTs}

I just want to give big props to Kelly for banging out quick takes weekly and thereby doing a major part in keeping the blog-world alive and kicking. Linking up early!

1) I have just discovered the greatness of Insta-stories, and I know I am seriously light years behind (I still don't have/really understand snap chat), it is just so fun to get a glimpse into the goings-on of all my e-friends. I'm currently living vicariously through Heather in all things decorative-- and also cracking up-- and am standing in awe of Kathryn and her on-top-of-it-ness. But who am I kidding, I love them all.

2) Speaking of being behind on internet thingys, I have recently fallen in love with memes thanks to my youngest, hippest sister. Here are a few faves (pardon the language from the sources)
I know I am so far behind and have barely scratched the surface of the beautiful online depth of made-up memes, which brings me much joy. Laughs for years.

3) I've been doing some real damage control in the way of eating/postpartum weight loss this last week thanks to a really wonderful date night, a baptism celebration and a super fun superbowl party last weekend, all of which were brimming with fats and sugars and drinks and I am just now feeling like I am recovering. I started the week by shifting my workouts to runs outside because the weather here is positively glorious compared to the freezing grey lands of South Bend. I have to say that the taste of outdoor non-Jillian workouts has spoiled me immensely and getting back to planking in front of the TV is killing me-- why are living room workouts so HARD!?!

4) Mike and I watched the Crown and liked it, but were also fairly bored. We will keep going because I want to be cool, but I do wonder how on earth they are going to fill as many seasons as they have planned. I also wonder if Philip was really as big of a jerk as they portray him. Life's important questions.

5) I know my home decor additions to this blog are entirely under-whelming, and I think I have nailed down my style to Walmart-Chic with a splash of spray-painted goodwill finds, but! That will not stop me from posting pictures of things I've added that I like. Last week I spotted these matching chairs at the Goodwill for $50 a piece and even though I didn't love the print I did like the shape and we really needed 2 chairs to finish off furnishing our family room (which we use most). I waited on getting them and went back a few days later and since they were still there I thought I would try my hand at talking them down on the price, though I had never tried it before at the Goodwill. And it worked! I scored them both for $60 and I love love love that I have a little reading corner now.

I moved the plant from the piano room because it needed more light and I am now in the market for a nice looking, sizeable, (cheap, always cheap) fake plant. I am way better at caring for fake plants.

6) Naomi will be 8 next month and I feel like the right thing to say to that is how "old it makes me feel"-- that's what people say, right?-- but I have to admit that I feel like just as much of a new mom some days as I did when I just had her. I mean, I would like to think that there are fewer mom-tantrums thrown when things are hard, but I feel like I'm still light years away from being where so many other amazing women are.

7) To testify to my utter denseness, here's a little story. Fred has been napping terribly his entire life. Every day I'm all in a tizzy because his naps are so lame and I basically can't get much, if anything, done while he is awake. Then today (nearly 8 months into his baby-life) as I was pouring my 3rd (giant) cup of coffee it finally hit me why my exclusively breastfed baby might be having trouble sleeping during the day-time hours.

And tonight I prepared the very same amount of coffee.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday, Tuesday...

Tuesday is Monday for me. I do not know what it is, but I usually have really good Mondays and then Tuesday comes and does to me what Monday does to the rest of the world. So screen time and sanity blogging about absolutely nothing in no particular order it is.

I woke up yesterday morning from a super deep sleep, one of those sleeps where you are in the dream, like when you wake up you have a really hard time distinguishing from dream and reality. Anyways, I woke up to a 6-year-old in my face informing me that, though it was not yet 8 a.m., the 7-year-old was about to suit all the rest of the children up and send them outside in the freshly fallen snow.

I had no idea that any snow had fallen and was thoroughly confused but then I thought of how half-assedly the kids were sure to be clothed if I did not intervene so I jumped out of bed and played the best wet blanket mother there is and made them wait a whole 45 minutes!! before suiting them up. There is only so much terribleness I can handle pre-coffee.

Eventually they got out there and since it was 40 degrees by noon they only managed one additional outing and now all the snow is melted- because God loves me. But! It did not melt before the girls fashioned their very first ever real snow man.

I named him Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, which is utterly fitting.

Mike and I are typically pretty lame shut-ins, but this past weekend surprised us both with lots of really wonderful friend time and my naturally sanguine, extroverted heart was singing. Especially! When my loveliest of lovely friend Katrina (Miss Hatchprints, herself) stopped through on Saturday her way back from the March (with her whole family! amazing!)

It was such a breath of fresh air, she is just the best.

With the help of some seriously generous friends, we topped the weekend off by adding a piano to our home decor items and I am just really stoked about it. Stoked enough to say "Stoked", so you know it's real.

I'm also loving my new fake succulents because I killed my real ones. RIP sweet, succulents.
They're so easy to take care of!

I updated my About page finally!

I read this beautiful, hopeful post by Laura and am sending many congratulations and prayers her way.

Wishing you the un-Mondayish Tuesday!! 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

mirror selfies, books and more! {7QT}

Linking up with Kelly on Sunday, partially to distract myself from nerves over the Steelers-Patriots game tonight. Who have I turned into?

1) I was at a party last night with a game where you had to identify a bunch of celebrities by their head shots and I could not for the life of me remember Tom Brady's name, which Mike was thoroughly ashamed of (not really), but which I took as an omen for the game results. Also not really. But really-- I do not feel good about it.

2) I never go to parties. And I never take mirror selfies. But last night I did both:
Don't worry, it will not become a trend. My mirror selfies, that is.
Shout out to Alex who hosted one of the coolest, well planned parties I have ever attended-- it was really wonderful and a great way for this shut-in of a mother to meet some new peeps in town. I love the peplum dress that I wore, but it was unfortunately borrowed from a friend and now I want to buy one, but then I remember that I do not go out and I would likely have no where to wear it sooo, there's that.

3) Everybody was posting their yearly reading lists and I am still baffled at the sheer number of books you fellow mothers of tons of little kids read in a year-- hooooow do you do it?! I have set my goals nice and low with a short stack of 3 to start with.

I also decided to dig into our own book shelves here instead of stalking others' reading lists and buying or borrowing from the dreaded library, we have so many books I've never read. I made a small dent in my O'Connor collection a few years ago and while I enjoyed most of them, some of them (ahem, The Lame Shall Enter First) made me a depressed mess for several days. Would you Flannery Folks give me some suggestions of some of your favorites of the not-ultra-depressing variety (Christy? Haley?) Preferably ones with no kid deaths, please and thank you.

4) On the subject of reading, I read sweet Britt's most recent birth story this week and was literally on the edge of my seat, it was so good!

5) I know I've already raved about it on Instagram, but my very favorite Christmas gift this year was my Hatch Prints calendar- Katrina has such beautiful talent. I looked ahead to the painting for February and can safely say that nothing has made me this excited for February. Ever.

I would highly recommend it to brighten your home and your February.

6) I'm toying with the idea of enrolling in a curriculum for 3rd and 2nd grade (maybe Kolbe?) but I am wondering what the pros are considering the cost of it. I'm all eeeeeears.

7) Happy Sunday!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

if you give a mom some spray paint...

Once upon  a time (last year) Mike and I were starting to glance at homes on knowing that it was becoming more and more of a possibility that we would be relocating to land of Virginia. It became pretty apparent that if we wanted a home bigger than what we were in (we did!), but also in a good area, it was not going to be easy to find.

In the end God blessed us with a home that is huge and in a great location but that has left us with nary a decorating budget to be seen and LOTS of polished brass light fixtures (and sooo much light oak)- I'm not talking pretty vintage brass, that I can get with, but the brightest, most polished there is, see?

         ^You're next, buddy.

It was built some time in the early 2000s, but holds tight to some serious late 90s flair and I am NOT complaining because I am just so happy to have a home for our family, but I am daily suppressing the desire to make it 100% less 90s-ish.

Some people have a theme for their home decor, think "Farmhouse Chic" or "Vintage European" or something, and in an ideal world I would love to refinish our wood floors to darken them and paint our kitchen cabinets white, but that is neither fitting to this season of my life nor fitting into our budget (again, there is no more budget). Whatever small budget we did have we spent on furnishing this home with various items from Craig's List (it's almost double our last home's size). So now my only goal for a theme in this house is simply: NOT 90s! No more polished brass!

I was at a moms discussion group a couple of months ago with the theme being "home decorating" when I discovered that yes, it is possible to get rid of polished brass monstrosities with some simple spray painting and since then I have been sucked in to the black hole of Rustoleum. I started with our dining room chandelier and was so pleased that I did the light in our future-piano-room fixture the same color. I failed big time in the mom blogger department and did not take befores of either light fixture, I promise to snap some of the next ones I do. Here are some anti-climactic afters.

Imagine them super bright, ugly brass and then not.

4 bottles of paint and 2 primers later I have nearly maxed out my spray paint budget and I have 4 more fixtures on the first floor that I am determined to finish with one bottle of paint and primer and we will see how that goes.

When it comes to domestic graffiti I do not discriminate and have ventured into the land of spray painting various other things as well:

First of all there were 2 mirrors I found at the salvation army for pennies and painted the same color as the light fixtures because ain't nobody got time for various spray paint colors also cheap is my middle name:

No befores, I am the worst. The big one was a craaaaaazy multi-colored thing and the other was gold.

Next are these brown vases that have been in home-decor rotation since our first year of marriage since they hailed from Mike's bachelor days.

I found those adorable little vintage brass vases at a local antique shop and felt like they would go so much better next to some cream, and I think I was right.

Then there were these candle holders I found for $1 a piece at a thrift store and some little candle plates that I have had for years that I painted and glued together to make one elevated chunky candle holder. I definitely prefer the result.

I found a super ugly planter on our porch from the previous owners and a little plant "table" or something out in the yard and I was racking my brain for something to draw attention away from an air intake vent in our non-piano-room so I went a-painting and came up with this.

No before picture but rest assured both pieces were naaaaaasty.

I'm sure you're thrilled that that is all I have for now, but I am also sure I will be back with more.

I feel happier with what is here now than what was there before, but I am also having to just stop looking at home-decor blogs and am working on trying to be content with what I have because we are so blessed.

Plus, I have definitely developed a bit of an addiction, it's kind of a problem- right up there with my glue gun issues. I am learning that my "design style" is just "pretty". I like pretty things. I am not really super-into ultra-modern looks, but more traditional and simply pretty things. I'm learning to work with the stuff I have (or um, paint it) and shop my cupboards for things I can decorate with that I had previously never thought could work-- like these crystal candle holders from Mike's grandmother paired with a beautiful silver serving tray from some close family friends turned dining room table centerpiece:

Whatever, it works. I'm done!
Peace out.

Friday, January 6, 2017

7 snowy takes

Linking up with Kelly!

1) We got hit with a bad stomach bug a few days after we got back from our great trip and are now finally out of those vomit-filled woods. Praise. The. Lord! I need to seriously count my blessings that that sort of thing doesn't happen more often because as Mike put it on New Years day: "people should only be puking on New Years because they drank way too much the night before". Agreed 110% to infinity. It was gross.

2) Part of the stomach bug was also a little bout with stuff that only the boys dealt with and which left their little bottoms in a difficult situation- some of the worst diaper rash I've seen to date. I only share this so that I can rave to the high Heavens about this Zinc Ointment that Nell's sister makes that she sent me after Freddie's birth- it was a seriously life saver and I wish I could get it for every single person in the world with a baby.

3) My sister had her girls make these adorable paper lanterns  as a fun craft that doubled as super cute decor for their room and in true little-sister fashion I stole her idea and mimicked it promptly after we got back from our visit with them.
The girls made all but the one I made to show them what to do, so it really was that easy and actually cute enough to hang.

4) Virginia got it's very first dusting of snow today, and just in case you were wondering whether 1/2 inch of snow can induce the same exact excitement in children as 1/2 foot-- wonder no more, it definitely can.

I had to laugh a little at Virginians for closing school today because after living in South Bend-- land of the eternal winter and insane amounts of snow that no one ever closes anything for-- it just felt like a little bit of an over reaction this morning, no offense, Virginia.

5) Speaking of South Bend, the father of a really wonderful family that are parishioners at our old parish wrote this blog post about a picture he took at the Grotto at Notre Dame-- I would normally be a little wary of these sorts of stories but since I know them I feel like I can confidently recommend reading it-- it's pretty amazing.

6) On the topic of miracles, Grace gave an update on sweet Joy, the daughter of some college friends of ours who was in a horrible accident but who is recovering miraculously- thanks be to God.

7) The girls have been playing an imaginary game downstairs where there is a war between mice and cats and the mice keep calling the cats the other name for "Cat" in a derogatory way. Think about it.
I'll just leave you with that.