Wednesday, May 24, 2017

sit on the porch with them



We have this really wonderful wrap around porch and for Christmas my parents got us a porch swing, it's positively lovely and happens to be Fred's favorite spot. He is crazy and always getting into trouble, but if you go and sit with him on the swing, he will just sit, which is in itself a small miracle.

I have never been good at just sitting still. Prayer is one of the hardest things for me, sitting to read a book takes serious self control- the second I sit down my mind starts reeling with the thousand things around the house I could be doing: homeschooling tasks we didn't get to that I could accomplish, or 10 other more "productive" things I could be doing. This need for constant should not be mistaken with actual "productivity" or being anywhere close to "on top of things". Think of it more like a chicken running around with it's head cut off, or a hamster running on a wheel-- I just need to be moving, and doing, regardless of whether it is something that is actually productive like cleaning the bathroom, it often takes the form of stupid crap like glue gunning family portraits of my kids' play family to their doll house. Needless to say that just sitting with my children-- on the porch swing with my baby who will not be a baby for much longer, with the older kids, who always end up joining us-- is hard.

As difficult as homeschooling is for me, I actually think I thrive on it in a lot of ways because it gives direction to my constant need to do things. This year has been crazy-- there has been near non-stop doing, which is actually kind of right up my alley and I have taken very few opportunities to just sit with them. The new job, the new baby, the move, and then I jumped into homeschooling in the fall (I also worked really hard to get the baby weight off and dropped 30 pounds from August to April) and now we are all done. We are all done settling in, we are all done with school, I am all done losing the baby weight. It's time to just stop for a little bit.

I am looking ahead to a summer of not much-- and I'm a little nervous-- because I stink at not doing much. There will be some light travel and, you know, feeding and clothing this brood, but mostly we will just be staying put and resting as a family, (as much as you can "rest" with 5 small children under foot at all times). Either way I will need to force myself to slow down, to be still, to read more, to pray, to nap, to hang out with the kids-- as opposed to being their constant school-drill sergeant-- to take my time nursing and enjoy these last days of babyhood, to let Joe "hunt" me with his homemade Lego gun, to maybe even bust out a board game or 2 with the older girls, but above all to to soak them in, to enjoy them and just slow down sit on the porch swing with them.


Friday, May 19, 2017

another year down

Today marked the end of our official school year, so how about some celebratory quick takes with Kelly!

1) I had a meeting at the beginning of the week at the superintendent's office for the state to sign off on the older girls' school for the year-- I opted for this instead of testing since they're still so young. The girls came with me and I brought their portfolios and they had to bring a book to read aloud for some lady. I was super nervous about it because of the crushing self-doubt that accompanies homeschooling for me, but it turns out I am not screwing them up and they got the big OK to head to their perspective next grades!

2) I had already sort of planned for us to be done this week, but once the meeting was over on Monday the deal was sealed and I was completely determined to finish everything, which would not have been a big deal but then Fred decided to spike a relatively high fever Monday which persisted through Thursday, meaning he was up all night every night and I was a positively peachy teacher during the week. But we still finished! (And Fred is all better) We celebrated with a picnic with friends (some who also happen to be family) and we will continue the celebration with a family outing tomorrow.


3) Last year Naomi, Bernadette and Lucy had been taking ballet lessons with the parks department there in SB and they were all set to have their recital last May when we realized that we would be needing to leave town to house hunt in Virginia the same time as their recital. I pulled them out of the class and they had to miss their recital, which wasn't that big of a deal for the older 2 who had done one in the past, but Lucy was so upset to miss her "time on the stage!" I was a blubbering, pregnant hot mess and totally cried over her missing the recital, but I made it up to Lucy this semester with a different ballet class and her first ever recital tomorrow. She had her dress rehearsal yesterday and the older girls were basically green with jealousy over the fact that she got to wear makeup.
I need to work on my 4-year-old makeup application. Or maybe just never do it again.

4) I am sitting in some serious shock that one year ago tomorrow we were celebrating the sale of our South Bend home, and under contract to buy a home here, I was 34 weeks pregnant and would give birth 4 weeks later, and 3 weeks after that we would move to a new state for Mike to start a new job with a new born. I have felt a sense of accomplishment about lots of things in my life, but the sense of accomplishment I feel over not only not dying this past year is right up there at the top.

5) So that makes Fred Bernard a full-fledged 11-month-old and he is playing the part beautifully. His favorite toys are all the trash cans in the house and his favorite food is every non-edible thing he can find on the floor. He bites while nursing and is acting like he will wean real soon, which I am not entirely sad over (see beginning of sentence) but am still pretty weepy over (cuz I'm nuts).

6) I made the margaritas I was going on about (several times) and they were delish-- definitely recommend for the special occasion. I pulled a muscle in my forearm from juicing so many limes though so I think I will be taking a break from fresh and stick with the bottled mix for a while.

7) I did a little poll in the Facebook group for the CWBN Mid-Atlantic conference to see who is thinking about coming, but if perchance you don't have Facebook or aren't in the group and you're reading about it here and thinking about coming, please comment to tell me so I can pencil your name in!


Friday, May 12, 2017

come to my house and party! (7qt)

Is anyone else having a "wait, wasn't it already Friday?" moment because they were sure on Wednesday that it was actually already Friday at which point they began drinking? No? Just me? Linking up with Kelly and TGIF quick ones, because seriously, Thank God.

1) Last Friday I got to go out with my sister-in-law (who is blogging again! wooooot!) and our good friend to drink and laugh and not feed any human beings but ourselves and it was so glorious. While we were out I was raving about a margarita recipe I used to use (from Hallie) that is so good, and then Hannah found this one on America's Test Kitchen and you best believe I hopped right on it. I have the citrus base refrigerating now-- I am over-zealous when it comes to margaritas-- happy Friday, indeed.

I will keep you abreast of the results. You're so welcome.

2) This should have been #1 because it is amazing (margaritas always come first inside my brain) but I am hosting this year's CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference here at our home-- all the "eeeeeeeks" and all the "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!s". If you are anywhere in the Northern Virginia area or have any possible excuse in the world (ahem, our nation's capital, presidents, patriotism, hello?) you should COME!!!! Kelly, Mary, Elizabeth, Ginny, Meg, Rosie ,and of course myself, will be there, so basically it will be a party. Hit up the website for information, which will be updated constantly with more info in the coming weeks. Registration is not open yet, but will be within about a week and I will be sure to post everywhere when it is, get yourself here and I will give you a margarita.

3) We saw this double rainbow last week and I actually succeeded in photographing it, though you can't see the "double" part, whatev.

I feel like I should save this picture for a future inspiring blog post but my current track record indicates that may never happen again. Remember the double rainbow guy? He made our lives so much better, those were the days.

4) Fred is almost 11 months and I am dying inside at that thought.

5) And how are my girls this old? Somebody tell me!

Taken before their May Crowning with their Little Flower group the other day.

6) I have been keeping Bonnie and her family in my prayers, if you haven't read about her daughter's condition, they can definitely continue to use the prayers. Her updates on Instagram have been super hopeful, praise God!

7) Swimsuit update: I ordered the fringe suit from last week's post, got it, tried it on and sent it back (returns are super easy and free!). It was super cute, but the fringe was more sparse than the photos made it seem like it would be, so I think I may go the peplum route, I'm not sure, but as alwasy, I am sure I'll let you know.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Fiesta

Linking up with Kelly! Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

-Swimwear-
I polled Instagram the other day to make a final decision on summer swim wear and I am now going to have to try to NOT use Instagram polling as a general life-decision-making method because it was so very helpful. 
I went with the fringe.

-Books-
I've recently started to try to get into reading some T.S. Elliot and Hemingway, partly because I am not a well-read person and I'm attempting to remedy this and partly because (let's be honest) it feels cool to say "I just read Hemingway's/Elliot's...(fill in the blank) ..." Also we watched Midnight in Paris recently sooo.

But seriously I did enjoy Murder in the Cathedral and this short story was good, but also v v sad. I am super into The Catholic Table right now and feel a full review coming on because I really think everybody should read it. 

-Movies-
Mike and I watched the movie Silence during Holy Week and while I wouldn't recommend watching it more than once, I would definitely say it is worth one watch. It's extremely heavy and stays with you for a few days, but it is a catalyst for good thought and good conversation. And because we like to mix things up we watched American Hustle last weekend -- all I came away with is that Christian Bale is the very best actor in the world, or at least one of my all-time favs.

-Food-
One of the girls asked the other day "when I learned to cook" and I had to laugh out loud because, um, I haven't. Seriously, I am the lamest when it comes to creative, fun meal planning and I generally stick to the same weekly staples (meat+side+veggie, every, single, meal). I have, however, had to mix it up recently because (she says in the hush-est hushed tone) I cut out gluten a few months ago and I am trying to cook without expensive manufactured, gluten-free goods and just with naturally GF foods (potatoes!! all the potatoes!!). Anyways, I have never made risotto before but I am busting out of my shell this weekend for this recipe (thank you, Emily!). Also I have made and loved these chocolate muffins (dairy and GF), and actually the whole family loves them.

-"Fitness"-
I am the biggest idiot in the world and decided to workout the last 2 days without my shoes on (because of the absurd amount of time it takes to apply footwear) and now I have to limp up and down the stairs. I will be sticking to strictly upper body for a while, I think. Also if you were wondering whether high knees sans shoes are a good idea-- they. are. not.

-Home's Cool-
I taught Naomi and  Bernadette to read using this program that Mike's mom used for all of her children, and while it has yielded some really great fruit (they are both reading really well), it has been at the price of much of my sanity and many grey hairs. The program works, however it is not user friendly, but I felt like I had to use it because it worked so well with Naomi, (I tried 100 Easy Lessons and loathed it). But FINALLY!! I started The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading with Lucy a few weeks ago and I am in love. I never thought I could enjoy teaching a child to read, so I am considering this straight-up miraculous, and this matchy pic of me and Fred adequately captures my excitement.


-Bunny+Buttercups-

Because why not?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

An Easter Blog Resurrection!

Dusting off the old Internet diary after exactly 1 month of a hiatus for what is sure to be nothing but excitement and adventure. Emphasis on nothing. Linking up with Kelly early for this blog resurrection!

1: Where do we even start? I don't know but isn't it great the Lent is finally *Over?!* It felt long, oh so long, and I am not even good at Lent- you know the sacrificing and mortification and what not. However, God knows that and always gives me a really fruitful Holy Week and this year was no different because I came down with the flu the Wednesday of that week, which forced our family to cancel our Easter trip back to see our families-- it was rough. Mike keeps telling me it wasn't technically the "flu", but the fever and chills lasted a full 5 days and were immediately followed up by the worst case of mastitis I've ever had. A very providential trip to the urgent care resulted in me begging the doctor to give me antibiotics for what I thought was a sinus infection, and despite her  reluctance I prevailed on her and literally 2 hours after returning home from the Urgent Care, it became 100% clear that it was a different kind of infection, but the antibiotics happened to be the exact thing I needed and within 2 days all was well. Anyways, I really stink at sacrificing and only do it when I absolutely have to and so this Holy Week/Easter was just what the doctor ordered. That and actual medicine. That was way more of a physical update than you bargained for, sorry.

2: We felt especially bad for the kids over having to cancel the trip, but an extremely fortuitous surprise softened that blow plenty for them:

A colleague of Mike's was looking to give his trampoline away and we jumped right on it (see what I did there?!)-- Mike had it up and functioning by the end of Holy Thursday, which made their Holy Week a tad less than penitential, but we'll give it to them since they're mostly not even at the age of reason.

3: We have some made some really incredible friends here and some of them happen to also be our neighbors and I feel so utterly and completely spoiled by this fact (holla Jess and Annie!). When one of the families heard that we had to stay here for the holiday they gave us a surprise Easter egg hunt in our yard on Easter morning-- the kids were so elated and we felt so loved (heart-eyed emojis and all)

4: Mike got yet another glimpse into The Crazy that he married over the past week because ..... BUNNIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



I saw that a local family was giving some bunnies away and it was weird, frantic, bunny love at first facebook-photo sight. 4 trips to Rural King, more dollars than I was thinking, and soooo many precious nap time hours of staple gunning chicken wire to our gated garden later and "Jack Jack" and "Sherman McGregor" have a cozy shed/outdoor home with the Hahn family. I have, however, felt like this meme of Gob fits my decision to acquire bunnies better than any other decision in my adult life:


5: But Fred loves the bunnies!


6: I am loving discovering the various flowers blooming around our house for the first time.


7: I have started down the rabbit hole of reading The Well Trained Mind and gone a little batty with anticipation for what next year's home school will look like here. Holla at all you classical homeschooling peeps, most especially you, Kelly!!

Monday, March 27, 2017

the young and the restless

The girls and I have been reading a little biography of the life of Saint Thomas More and I have basically fallen in love with him as a saint-friend. Last weekend we watched A Man for All Seasons with the older 2 and between that and the book we are reading, when Mike let me know that the Saint John Paul II National Shrine currently has a huge exhibit with multiple relics of the Saint, I was fairly dead set on going. So this Sunday our little family ventured into the city to pretend that we are adventurous.

The thing is we never, ever do adventurous things as a family and the reason is....

Joseph.

The boy is crazy. Crazy cute, crazy hilarious, and just plain crazy. I was a tad nervous about is little pilgrimage with him but I hoped that the grace of God would compensate for what I lack in dealing with his shenanigans, and maybe it did but holy moly it was HARD. He was fine on the drive there, he was fine for roughly the first 4 minutes within the Saint Thomas More exhibit, but once we got about 1/4 of the way in he just sprinted off, all the way to the entrance door and would have made a total break for it if only some unsuspecting stranger had opened the giant door for him.

I sent Mike to catch him since I was holding Fred B in the carrier and from that point in it was basically one reeeeeeeeally long tantrum/effort to get down and run/angry winning at being held/freaking out about being strapped into the stoller.
 Not the real ax and chopping block, but a replica of the one with which he was beheaded.

I am not asking for advice on how to take him places, though I'm sure I could use some on how to be more virtuous and patient with him-- I KNOW I could. I have absolutely come to the conclusion that we simply should not take him places that aren't completely fenced in right now and where he can't yell-talk about everything he sees. That is the solution. We almost never split up Masses on the weekends, but he is necessitating such extremes because he be cray.

I found myself getting really bitter about it and upset last night because I felt like "I should be beyond this now!" When, oh when, will I be at the point of mothering where my older ones can really help out and when the entirety of the car ride there and back is not full to the brim with a screaming baby and a screaming toddler?! (it totally was)

The answer is when my older kids are actually older. Naomi is 8, not 18 and that's just the reality of it right now. I cannot jump ahead 10 years into parenting and be at some magical easier place just by dreaming hard enough about it. In many ways I'm still in the trenches-- ok, in most ways I am.

For right now I need to relish the new and lovely parts of having some who are old enough to enjoy new things with me. It was so wonderful and lovely to read about the life of this Saint with my 6 and 8 year old and be amazed together at his life and death, and then stand in awe with them as we reverenced his relics. This is new and this is good, despite the fact that I'm still in the baby-toddler trenches with the younger ones.

Each new phase does not have to be perfect and easy breezie to be very good and to have really awesome new elements. For example, Naomi can hold Fred on her hip for little spurts, but only for about 30 seconds before she gets too tired (he's a chunker), but just because she can't hold him for 30 minutes doesn't mean those 30 seconds weren't blissful.

This is where we are right now and it is good, and it although it was insanely crazy taking the 2-year-old a' pilgrimage-ing, it is so good that we went.

Friday, March 24, 2017

{sqt} piƱatas, my new child and more!

Linking with Kelly for weekly stories! 

1: Joe Pio's name day was Monday and sadly it being the feast of Saint Joseph did not make it any less of a MONDAY. It was so rough and Mike wasn't going to be home for dinner or bedtime and that prospect was basically killing me. Finally right before dinner, against every desire in my being, I threw together a cake and the lamest little Saint Joseph alter with and we prayed and sang and I am positive that Saint Joseph went ahead and saved the day.  It honestly felt like Saint Joe stepped in for Mike and maybe that sounds weird but it ended up being a lovely evening and not because of anything  I did. He is the best.

{Hunchback} Saint Joseph, pray for us.

2:  Naomi turned 8 yesterday-- I almost blogged a super sappy post but I spared the masses, suffice it to say my inner emotions were high. The main thing she'd been begging for was a pinata, but my inability to pay $ for certain things is an issue. Don't get me wrong, I can spend with the best of them: new jeans? I'll spend. New house plant (that's for later): I'll spend. More spray paint? I. will. spend. But I literally could not bring myself to fork over anything for one. I mean-- really-- $15 (And that's without the candy?!) for a thing that you are buying with the sole intention of completely destroying? No. I couldn't. This fact coupled with my insatiable desire to use a glue gun whenever and wherever I can made the thought of fashioning my own gaudy, breakable, candy receptacle pretty exciting.

The setup.

On the oven, nothing could possibly go wrong here. I just used a cardboard box to hold the candy, wrapped in in some birthday wrapping  paper, made some cones out of card stock and wrapped them as well and went crazy with the glue gun+tissue paper+purple ribbons. I had so much fun and while it did not turn out like any of the ones in the party aisle, the kids absolutely loved it, and I am fairly certain that's all the matters. Mercifully nothing caught on fire atop the oven either. And voila.

The 8th birthday was a complete success and now my kids finally have even ages: 8, 6, 4, 2 and 9 months which throws it off, but still those first 4 make my heart sing.

3: I know you've all been waiting with baited breath to hear an update on my big indoor or outdoor plant decision (please hear the thick sarcasm there), so without further adieu I want you to meet Denis:

Mike named him and I have no idea why he chose it, but I know better than to question the House Namer of Inanimate objects. He has spoken.

4: I walked into a local grocery store with the 3 youngest kids to grab some bananas and saw this beauty and I knew it was meant  to be. So we walked through the store and got bananas and previously promised free cookies and then to grab Denis. I had to move Lucy from her front seat cart position (she always insists on it even though she is giant) and replaced her with the plant (which completely obstructed my view and I am lucky I made it to the register and then out to the car) and in a way this was symbolic because he really is the newest family member and I do love him so. I am straight-up turning into a plant lady. Slowly but surely.

5: The previous owners left a whole host of various planters around the house and I have chosen this one from the front of the house because it is big enough to house Denis's large footprint (sorry, Denis).


6: Now I get to do some more spray painting tomorrow, which is my all time fave weekend activity so it should be a good one. What's you're weekend plan? More fun than spray painting old plant pots? Doubt it. Do tell!!!

7: Like the rest of the female constituent in the entire world I have been hunting for an Easter dress and while I am really taken with this number from Old Navy, I am thinking about trying to duplicate this little number from middle school:

WITH the bangs, of course.
Let me know if you see anything like it.

Happy weekending!