Wednesday, February 10, 2016

gearing up for the worst lent ever

I've never had a lent that I have been "successful" at by the time I get to the end of it. I always set out with a little list of things-to-do or not do, some of which include the kids. They're pretty typical-- little sacrifices or extra prayers-- all good things, but all contingent on my own self-control or vigilance in getting to the extra prayer items consistently.

By the end of Lent? Sweets have been eaten, movies have been watched, the prayers have been prayed a few times, but certainly not at the appointed time each week that we set out do them. Every Lent it's a little demoralizing and a lot ME-centered. What I didn't do, what I let the kids do, the sweets that I ate. I am not at all assuming that anyone else has ever been in this boat and I promise I'm not asserting that Lent should go differently for anybody else, but for me this is how it usually is, and for me I am hoping it will be a little different this year.

No matter how hard I have tried, the focus always ends up back on me, on my abilities, on what I was or wasn't able to accomplish, and this year I hope the focus can shift to Christ, on his sufferings and on attempting to lighten the weight of his cross. My favorite saint said frequently: "Love is repaid by love."

Yes, absolutely: I can show my love for Christ by giving up sweets, and obviously extra prayers are a great way to show him love-- these things are wonderful in and of themselves. But I have this hunch that the more pressing way and greater opportunity for me to carry the cross with Christ is to lovingly embracing the already-present "crosses" in my day, instead of running away from them, or bitterly dragging them as I usually do.

I read this in that same saint's Way of the Cross the other day, and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since, so I am thinking it is going to shape how I approach this lent:

Learn to mortify your whims. Accept setbacks without exaggerating them, without throwing up your arms, without... hysterics. In that way you will lighten the Cross for Jesus. 
-Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way of the Cross 5th station, 3rd mediation
The hysterics. So me.

Some things I've come up with to combat my usual hysteria in the face of daily contradictions:

Instead of frantically and frustratingly dragging the tantruming child to her room, maybe I should embrace her like the cross she is being, and even carry her to the crucifix to say a little prayer with her while she kicks my pregnant belly. Maybe instead of begrudgingly caring for the older child who is depriving me of yet another hour of sleep in the middle of the night (it drives me bonkers when it's the older ones!), I could embrace her like the cross she is presenting herself as, and care for her like I would care for Christ on the way of the cross. An alternative to getting annoyed at the 6-year-old who simply will not focus on the lesson I am trying to do with her, is to gently and lovingly encourage her, with more affirmation and less nagging. On a day of a bad pregnancy migraine, I could try to exercise my mouth muscles in the direction of a constant smile rather than the perma-frown I usual sport on those days. And obviously, less yelling, but that goes without saying.

Since having kids I feel this pressure every year to do more with them during Lent, or to encourage them to give up more, but it doesn't usually go very well and I often fail to draw the connection between the sacrifices and charity, and especially love for our Lord. For instance, that it means very little for them to give up their nightly package of fruit snacks if Naomi is going to punch Bernadette the first time she gets on your nerves, first thing in the morning, or visa versa.

And as embarrassing as it is, they learn a lot from my examples: flying off the handle when one kid pushes the wrong button, angrily talking to them through gritted teeth when they have done something really naughty. It seems to me that they would learn a lot more from a better example from me than from "50 Fun Lenten Craft" ideas that I try to execute from Pinterest (which incidentally may be the very cause of my flying off the handle in the first place).

So this Lent I am doing nothing. I'm not giving anything up, I'm not even resolving to do anything extra. At face value that looks like I am gearing up for the worst Lent ever, but I'm hoping it won't be. I'm hoping that if I can just get back to basics: daily prayer, every day, begging for the grace to speak gently to my children and to choose virtue over sin, and asking for grace to see the every day setbacks as little opportunities to lighten Our Lord's cross by embracing each little cross lovingly, without hysterics, and maybe even with a smile.

We'll see how it goes.

Monday, February 8, 2016

When You're Gone

I think I've posted about almost every trip away from me and the kids that Mike has ever taken. It's a fairly monumental thing around here because he does not travel much at all (praise be!), and I become a bit of an emotional basket-case leading up to the time that he is leaving. I've learned to cope with the actual time that he is gone much better than the very first trip that he took, during which I think I cried 75% of the time and called him telling him how awful everything was the other 25%, I tried to keep things balanced at least.

But seriously I DO NOT know how you wives of frequently traveling husbands do it, and I truly- truly- stand in complete awe of you. I also pray that I am never in your shoes because I am fairly certain I would completely lose it.

I promise I'm not just playing the role of poor, helpless housewife, there is more too it than that-- I don't even get super worried about doing bedtime by myself anymore! I didn't even take any extra precautions against potential intruders this time other than dead bolting all the doors (I'm preeeeetty sure I slept with a butcher knife by my bed that first time. Seriously, I was crazy incarnate). It's just that I really like Mike, he is my very best friend and I get really excited to get to talk to him everyday, and NOT just because he is virtually the only adult I speak to most days. I get all sappy, sentimental and sad, and not just for alliterations' sake. It is truly pathetic and I'm working on it.

Anyways, he left Friday and came back Sunday and in the hours leading up to him leaving on Friday you would have thought that somebody killed my puppy, if I liked dogs. It didn't help that Bernadette woke up throwing up that morning and I had spent the entirety of the day mentally convincing myself that all the other children were sure to be vomiting all day Saturday, because of course (!) that would happen to martyr-Ana. At some point closer to the moment of his departure I realized what a 'B' I was being, and shaped up in time to give him a proper, non-melodramatic goodbye, because little Ana is growing up!

In the end no one else threw up, and we kept the days ultra-packed so that my mind wouldn't dwell too much on the death of my puppy, or um sorry, the extremely temporary absence of my husband. We hit up my new favorite doughnut place in town.

And while the children convinced themselves it was for them, it was really just to console doughnut-loving Ana's sad little heart. It worked, a little.

I figured that since it had been a solid 5 weeks since the last time I cleaned my bathrooms- and I am not even close to joking about that-- it was probably time for a little scrub-down. There were enough crumbs in my carpet to assemble a sizable pioneer crumb-colony, so I vacuumed too! It was a veritable house cleaning party over here.

Then there was a little sewing project that made its way into the day on Sunday while the kids played in the tropical weather that came our way.

I really resisted actually hanging this thing on our front door, but the girls were begging me to make some sort of Valentine's Day craft with the fabric and fell in love with the result so much so that I conceded, knowing that it will be coming promptly after the 14th. Also, I am guessing that "welcome home, dad!" signs lose their novelty once the hubs is traveling frequently (is that the case? I could be totally wrong), but I feel like the overflowing excitement over Mike's return after 1.5 days and 2 nights just goes to show what rookies we are in that department. And by "rookies" I mean "wimps".

Either way, I survived the separation and as the saying goes, absence made the heart grow even fonder.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Adventures in Odyssey

Our girls have come to really love this audio series called Adventures in Odyssey in the last 6 months. It may have something to do with the fact that it was a childhood favorite of Mike's, and he may or may not love listening to them as much as them, but this post has literally nothing to do with that.

This is a post of the Honda variety of Odyssey. I know I know, it's the ultra popular van of the SAHM, but previously I had no idea about this and had no intention of relinquishing our beloved Sienna. However 2 weeks ago, a man driving on the wrong side of the road had different van plans for our fam. I think I've processed the trauma enough to e-log it, so here I go.

You may be wondering what the heck all the random photos have to do with this post, they're pictures of me in our old van as a little homage to the dead Sienna, and because I failed to snap any pictures at the accident scene. Woops!

I've mentioned that my girls have ballet on Mondays, which happens to begin at a terrible time: 3:30, and any fellow mothers of afternoon nappers know that waking babies and toddlers from naps to try to get somewhere on time is a real worst case scenario in momdom (hashtag first world problems.)

On this particular Monday a fortnight ago, I had actually gotten the 3-year-old to nap, like legit REM cycle sleep, which is a wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles. She has a rest time daily, and I try every day to get her to close her eyes to try to sleep, but she does as 3-year-olds do and asserts her will and won't. But this Monday she did! And it was glorious! Until 3:15 rolled around and she was still out and I either needed to have her skip her second ever ballet class, which she had talked and talked about going to since her first ballet class, or wake her and deal with the fury that would follow. It had also snowed recently and we live in South Bend in January, so naturally there were sub zero temps outside, which were also great considerations on the side of skipping the class (smell the foreshadowing, smell it).

The internal battle raged fiercely but in the end I knew she would be crushed if she didn't go to ballet, so I woke her, threw on her ballet gear, handed her fruit snacks to help her perk up, and plopped her in the van with the other 3 in tow, since the old 2 have class after her and Joe is glued to me. Off we creeped on the extremely icy roads, trying really hard to not be late, but knowing better than to speed on the likes of these roads.

We got roughly a mile-and-a-half from our house, and were coming to our turn off in the direction of ballet when an SUV swerved off of his respective side of the road and started coming at us, at a rather fast speed. I was in the far right lane, and the only car in my lane, and there was nothing at all I could do to get away from him. I really didn't want to ram into any cars in front of me, so I started to swerve off the road but since he seemed to be hell bent on smashing into us, he kept coming and eventually smashed into the left hand side of our car-- at full speed knocking us entirely off the road and into the front lawn of some establishment.

Here commences me incessantly kicking myself for not the staying home!!

It was crazy. I almost broke my streak of never screaming the "F" word in front of the kids, but I subbed in "FUDGE!!" at the last moment-- it wouldn't have mattered because the girls' screams completely drowned me out. I was crying, they were crying, everyone was crying except for Joseph, on whose side the car hit- he was sitting and happily munching his yogurt raisins from his snack cup as if nothing happened.

It turns out that those super inexpensive Cosco car seats are the bomb diggity because Joseph's completely protected him from the impact (not the one he is pictured in in any of these pictures). If one of the older girls had been in his place with only their booster seats, we certainly would have had to take a trip to the ER. But thankfully-- SO thankfully-- everyone was fine.

Poor Mike had to borrow our neighbor's car to get to the accident, because-- oh right, did I fail to mention? That was our only car.

Should. Have. Stayed. HOME.

He made it to the scene in lightening speed, the cops came, the guy who hit us took complete responsibility, because well, he was on the wrong side of the road. All it took was Mike driving our car out of the lawn and into a parking lot to know that our car was NOT drive-able. So Mike jogged 1/2 mile in the sub zero whether to our wonderful mechanic who gave us a loaner car to get around in while we waited for the insurance company to give us a verdict on our Sienna. The verdict?

Totaled. Gone forever. So sad. (Or maybe not as sad as my pregnant emotions made me think it was)

Fast forward a few days and many, many hours of our van-hero Mike running all over town to try to find us transportation and shazam:

He found one in the form of the above pictured oh-so-sleek number, however that one is not ours, I'm just not in the habit of photographing our motor carriages.

So we mourn the loss of our sweet navy blue Sienna, who brought 3 of our 4 kids home from the hospital, and who has seen many hours of action from us Hahns, and we look forward to more adventures in the fancy new Odyssey.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Comfort food for the uncomfortable time

I don't think you'd be surprised to learn that cooking during the beginning (and into the middle) of pregnancy is, um, difficult, to say the least. If I were going to make a quick list of the hardest parts, it would go as follows:

*thinking of recipes, because the thought of virtually everything under the sun makes me gag
*thinking of what ingredients to buy, because thinking of the ingredients makes me gag
*going to the grocery store, because the smell of every grocery store makes me gag
*finding and purchasing the ingredients because looking at them and thinking about them... you can guess what it makes me do.

If only there was some company who picked out your meals for you, gathered all the ingredients, put them into an incredibly well-packaged box that showed up on your door step ready for you to cook the creative, delicious meal.

Obviously I am building up to something, and after my many rantings and ravings over Blue Apron (post sponsors!) and their wide variety of recipes and wonderfully fresh ingredients, you probably knew I was about to spill some more about them.

Their deliveries almost always fall during a week that I really needed some kitchen assistance. It is so nice to get to skip so many of the meal planning steps, and while the actual execution of cooking and serving the meal is still rather difficult during pregnancy, I do every night either way and some help in the above listed areas was extremely welcome this time.

The meal they sent was absolutely perfect for our sub-zero temperature and snowy January days, because this one was the epitome of "comfort food".

Chicken and drop biscuit casserole with Cremini Mushrooms and Red Pearl Onions.

I'm not usually a huge mushroom fan, but this recipe incorporated them really well and I actually enjoyed them! Their meals are universally healthy and hearty, I have not seen one that doesn't fit that description while browsing through their selection. In addition they are unique and get you out of your ordinary meal planning ruts, or am I the only one who has those?

The biscuits were prefect and any meal that includes all the veggies my kids need for the day in one serving of dinner is a WIN in my book.
Blue Apron now offers a really great recycling program, which you can take advantage of by using option in your community or by returning your packaging for free to Blue Apron via USPS, you can find more about it here.

Blue Apron is working on developing a sustainable food system, which uses high quality ingredients-- you can read all about it on their mission page here. They offer two types of plans, the 2-Person Plan and Family Plan, and every time we've received the quantities for the Family Plan, we've had enough to feed our entire family, and sometimes have even had leftovers!

 Blue Apron is offering two free meals to the first 20 readers on their first order, just CLICK HERE! And Enjoy!!

Sponsored by Blue Apron

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Gender Reveal (after a long pointless story)

Pregnancy is so tricky. 15 weeks came and I was sure I was in the clear with crazy debilitating nausea, but then 16.5 weeks hit and it was back in full force, kicking my butt and ravaging my home yet again. Here we are now at 18 weeks and I am foolishly hopeful that maybe,  just maybe, I will see some sweet relief in the next few weeks. But again, I'm foolish so... Anyways! How about a funny story? Ok, it's not funny, it's only embarrassing for me and really it's just little mom-fession for you before we get to the juicy stuff.

Like I said, pregnancy nausea has been the worst this time around and lasting longer than I remember in the past, but I promise that is NOT a complaint because I am not vomiting all the time, and I know that compared to so many I have it way easy, I'm just setting up the story. So I feel sick most of the time, but it's way worse when I don't eat, because SURPRISE! I'm just like every other pregnant woman that ever lived.

Yesterday, I took the girls to their Monday afternoon ballet class, during which I just sit and wait for about an hour-and-a-half total, because Lucy's class is first, then the older girls. Anyways, I'm usually smart enough to grab a snack before I leave because I know my ravenous pregnant self, but this time I was being all productive and forgot.

As soon as we got to the class and I immediately started feeling starved. It had been at least a couple hours since my last snack, and I was staring down 1.5 more before I could find any other food, which in pregnant appetite time is like, 12 million years. I started to panic, drooling at little kids' snack cups wondering if they would noticed if I just grabbed a quick handful of their cheerio and raisin mix. They all seemed really attached to their cups so I resolved to feeling awful and maybe needing to run to the ballet school toilet to vom before we left.

But then the most gloriously awful thing happened.

A little girl's parents gave her a quarter to get some Chewy Sprees from the candy machine, the only source of food in the waiting room (you better believe I had already scoured my wallet for quarters, there were none). So the girl gets her share of candy, which the mother complained about being a rip off because it was only 3 pieces- it was, indeed, a rip off. We laughed and I stared at her Sprees with only the littlest bit of envy.

Then little Joe decided he wanted candy and went over and started banging on the candy machine to try to get some, but I informed him we would not be getting any because of the dearth of quarters in my purse. But THEN! He wiggled the handle juuuust right and out fell 5 more chewy Sprees. Never had any food looked so good in my life, and Joe promptly picked up 2 and shoved them in him mouth. The parents of the little girl noticed that they were probably the remnant of their child's candy, which the machine failed to spit out, but they told their child that she couldn't have them, probably because they were on the dirty floor.

Let it be known, dirty floors mean nothing to the starving pregnant lady-- NOTHING!
I sneakily snatched up the last 3 Sprees without Joseph seeing them, and pretended to throw them away, and then..............

I ate them.

I shoved the dirty Sprees into my starving mouth and ate them. Without shame.

Ok with some shame because I felt the need to sneak it, I mean, I was technically stealing candy from a child, which was on a very dirty floor and eating out of sheer desperation. New lows come when you're least expecting them.

Have I made you wait long enough? Want to know what we're having??

It's a.............


Feeling like just about the most blessed lady in all the land. Joseph will not be entirely inundated with all-things-lady after all. Praise be!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

notes from the underbelly (with a giveaway!)

Don't worry, this isn't a full-on link-list post, I know better than to be entirely absent from the interwebs for 3 months and then come back and act like I have a wealth of good clicks for you, this is mostly a good old fashioned Ana-ramble post, with a few good places to click within (and completely random pictures, unrelated to the content).

Fear not, read on.

First things first, Kate from the wonderfully unique and fun Catholic baby name blog, Sanctinomina, wrote a positively delightful post with baby name suggestions for the fifth Hahn nugget and they are so worth reading. We do not know baby Hahn's gender yet, but are planning to find out and I am especially thrilled about her baby girl name ideas because Mike and I are fresh out of ideas for girls. What can I say? We've used all the ones we like? Yes, I'll say that for now. But she has actually got me thinking with some really beautiful ideas. Click thee over and read!

Have I ever told you that I am the least, the very least crunchy person in all the world? I am. I am going to go ahead and say that it's because being crunchy is a little too trendy for me right now (but it's also because I'm lazy. And poor), so I've been doing what I do with all trendy things and staying far away from most overly crunchy things. You see, I am one of those people who very deliberately doesn't see the movies everyone won't stop talking about (we still have not viewed Frozen here in our home with 3 small females), I could not tell you with any degree of accuracy any currently popular songs, I STILL HAVE A FLIP PHONE, and I DON'T HAVE A TEXTING PLAN. There, I said it, and that's just me. I take a little bit of pride in these things insofar as I can act like a 90 year old woman and whine about "those kids with their noses in their smart phones all day" and it's legit because I kind of am.

So it pretty much goes without saying that 1) I've never used dry shampoo, 2) I don't eat kale (the horror! I know!) And 3) I am not an essential oils user. Please don't cast the first stone! If you're utterly appalled, then you'll be pleased to learn that as of a couple if months ago when sweet Haley asked me about doing a little review/giveaway for her Young Living oils, I have now dabbled the tiniest bit in oils.

I am however completely clueless about it and am still pretty sure I'm using them wrong, but I'm trying! I have thus far tried them in the dishwasher-- because I am always on the hunt for something that will help it clean my dishes better. I've sipped tea with a couple drops of Thieves and thoroughly enjoyed it, and have recently gotten really desperate and rubbed some on my temples to try to alleviate yet another pregnancy migraine, which mostly just made me smell like I washed my hair with a chai latte from Starbucks and in the end I think it was the chugging of a cup of coffee with a dose of Tylenol that did the trick with the headache. I told you, I'm not crunchy, but the mere fact that I tried an essential oil as a remedy for anything is a huge step for me, I'm getting there.

So give me all your tips! How do you use your oils? I think I need a diffuser to be a true essential oils user, but I'm sure I'm ready to take that kind of step yet. I'm all ears!

Haley is running a promo right now where she is offering $20 cash back or $25 credit on starter kits until the end of January, so it's a good month to get going. If you're looking to get started with oils, definitely hit up Haley! And as a little treat, I'm sending a bottle of Thieves to one lucky reader, just comment below and I'll choose a winner next week!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

the little blog that could

In the life of this blog I do not recall another entire month gone by without checking in at all, but I do suppose it is fitting at currently because I do not recall another time in my life that I have felt so very under a rock, a survival-mode rock, if you will. And since it has taken me a solid 24 hours to get this post up, I suspect the blog's revival will be a sloooooow one. But! In the past several days I have cleaned 2 bathrooms and dusted and mopped a floor. And if those weren't good enough indications that things are taking a turn for the not-as-difficult, I even don't feel like I will gag and lose all contents of my stomach while cooking dinner and the thought of *some* foods is actually pleasing to me for the first time in at least 12 weeks.

How about some Christmas/New Years re-cap and pictures to fill the post pictorially?

Christmas break was good. It began with a really lovely visit to Mike's Grandparents home in Cincinnati, where Joseph attempted to pillage and destroy as many beautiful breakable things as he could, which his ever-so-gracious grandmother only laughed about:

Then we headed to Mike's parents to spend most of the time with his side of the family, since my parents were off gallivanting in the Dominican Republic for their FORTIETH anniversary-- amazing. It was so nice to spend so much quality time with all of his family, and I must say that if your children don't have uncles to do things like wrestle and engage in adorable dance parties with while you sit on the couch and try pry your eyelids open from your perpetual lack of energy, I am truly sorry. Because it is really the best thing ever.

We mostly hunkered down at Fort Hahn because Joseph came down with a wicked case of the croup the night we arrived, resulting in 1 emergent care center visit, then an ER visit, a couple breathing treatments and a dose of steroids and many maaaaany nights of being up most of the night coughing and working abnormally hard to breath. Equal parts sad and exhausting. But he's all better!

New Years day Mike and I got to go to a really beautiful wedding in Pittsburgh (holla, Margaret and Pete!!) while Mike's saintly family played and entertained and cared for the ex-utero Hahn children and it was a really fabulous finale to our trip.

Now we're back and I am suffering from the post-first-trimester awakening to ALL THE DIRT. Everywhere. Every room. So gross. It is remarkable how the mind of a woman (at least this woman) in her first trimester puts up big blinders to all the things she cannot fathom doing, like cleaning bathrooms or wiping smeared food off of windows or mopping, ever. This is a blessing and a curse, for obvious reasons and I am currently dealing with the curse of seeing it all at once and needing to clean all of it, now!

But then there are the kids and the meal making and the homeschooling. Right the homeschooling. Is that even happening? Not right now. I decided that I needed an extra week to not feel like the house wasn't attacking me with its nastiness and I figured that if college students aren't back in school yet, why the heck are the first graders?  We're doing what the college kids do and that's that.

And how about a not-so-little, super grainy 15 week bump picture, because this week needs to be  documented as the sweet spot where life started to feel more manageable again. Thank you, 15 weeks.
You like that strategic laundry placement, don't you? I'm thinking of getting into photography staging, it's just a talent I have.

Until next time!