Monday, April 18, 2016

a serious case of the Mondays

I'm sitting down at noon on a Monday to blog, which in itself should give you a hint that this is sure to be therapeutic blogging at it's very best. Or worst. Because Monday. And it's only noon.

You see, when I first started this blog I primarily complained about how hard all the motherhood things were. Sure I sprinkled it with the occasional obligatory Gratitude Post, but I mostly just vented. And today I am hearkening back to the blog days of yesteryear because-- life is damn hard some days.

I do not even want to try to count the number of times I have set the kids up with an activity only for them to declare a mere 30 seconds later that: "I'm bored!", or "There's nothing to do!". Then there are the more frequent screams and screeches from one party because another party is holding their pencil  the wrong way and it enraged them, or one's pinky grazed the other one's calf and they found it utterly intolerable.

Oh and also we are selling our house next month and moving to a new state this summer soon after Fred emerges, so there is that too. I had grand plans for a substantially sappy post about the big life-change, but then pregnancy got the better of me by 9:30 as it usually does and I slept instead of finishing it.

So yes, Mike got a job! In Virginia! And we own a home here in South Bend! So we have to sell it!! NEXT MONTH!!!

So much crap to sift through and throw away, so many trips to the thrift store, so many messes being made by all the kids, so much packing, and kids screaming, and boxes and poopy diapers (not in the same place) and toddler tantrums and WAH WAH WAH! I know I am going overboard with the venting but something MUST take the place of the nightly strong alcoholic beverage that I can't have because of this human still gestating inside me. Really the majority of the stress can be chalked up to the those 2 things: the moving/selling/trying to find a house to live in and pregnancy, they are not, I repeat NOT, a winning combination.

Seriously, pregnancy is so sooooooooooooo looooooooooooooooooooong. So much weight gain and so little drinking to blame for it. So much falling asleep in the middle of talking to a children. So many teeth that still need to finish growing in the 21 month-old's mouth resulting in more non-bladder related sleep disruptions than I would prefer.

He is the slowest teething child ever. First tooth at 13 months and they've moved at a snails pace since then. I'm pretty sure he'll still be getting molars when he's heading to college.

Is my stream of conscious bothering you yet? Sorry, I'm going to keep going because someone is crying AGAIN and I would much rather sit here and rant than attend to whatever absolute nonsense has surely caused this emotional break down. It's already over. Ok good, onward.

Some good things:

Let me be the millionth Midwesterner to exclaim my high, HIGH praises for the weather which has finally started to consistently act like spring, I owe you all my current traces of sanity.

Always with the eating mud.
And Little Einsteins, you get a shoutout too.

Joseph has just started sitting through most of an episode and it is basically the nicest thing he's ever done for me, second to existing.

And the very best thing today? We have now made it to blessed, glorious nap time and no one is asking me for cheese or to wipe them.

Happy Monday, party people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Too Much Talking

It's been an embarrassingly long time since I've posted any of the absurdities I hear on the daily, so for fear that I stop recording the stuff altogether, I will attempt to get back on the train. First I'll throw out a few of Bernadette's past gems, which will incidentally be her last quotes on here, because she's 5 and when you turn 5 you get kicked off the blog. So heres to her last hurrah and to Lucy stepping in as the lone resident small-talker, at least until Joe can say more than his standard 10 semi-decipherable word vocab.

Bernadette: Mom, can I have some bread and honey?
Ana: No, I forgot to get honey at the store, I'll get some when I'm out tomorrow.
Bernadette: Oh, ok! And you could also pick up some fireworks???

Bernadette: Mom, when I'm 5 and a half.....
Ana: Yes... (thinking she'll want a bike, or a new doll...)
Bernadette: I want to become a nun.

While getting Lucy and Bernadette a snack in the kitchen...
Lucy: Can I have some crackers?
(I hand Lucy her crackers...)
Bernadette to Lucy, in her very best fake British accent: Isn't she the very BEST maid you've ever had?!?

Bernadette (yelling in from another room): Hey mom!
Ana: What?
Bernadette: If you're gonna scream, then just go ahead and scream your head off, because we are making QUITE a mess in here!

Coming in to report to me on the status of her imaginary world...
Bernadette: Mom, I have some really bad news...
Ana: What?
Bernadette: I was about to have my wedding day but then the man I was going to marry?...
Ana: Yeah?
Bernadette: Well, he's a sinner, so I can't marry him.
Ana: You should have known that before your wedding day, right?
Bernadette: He just told me today!

After some altercation between the parental units and the children...
Bernadette: Hey mom...
Ana: Yes, Bernadette...
Bernadette: You know when you and daddy get too angry at us?...
Ana: Yes?...
Bernadette: Satan cheers.

Now to Lucy...

During one of my daily hour long attempts to lay in her room with her trying to get her to nap...
Ana: Ok, lay your head down now... have a good nap
..... 2 minutes goes by
Lucy: Mama, Jesus doesn't want me to take dis nap!
Ana: Yes he does, lay down and close your eyes...
.... 2 more minutes ....
Lucy: I have a great idea!! Why don't we save dis nap for tomorrow and go out and bake me a PINK CAKE!?!

Yelling for me from the other room while playing with Joseph:

As I lay in a heap of pregnancy nausea on the floor:
Lucy: What's wrong?
Ana: I just feel really sick...
Lucy: Well I don't want to get sick!
Ana: You won't, this is just because I have a baby in my belly.
Lucy: Oh, well you need to get dat FING OUT!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Madness

I wrote this post on Monday with the intention of posting then, but it turns out that this pregnancy is working backwards and I was mysteriously transported to trimester one in the form of Easter Monday Vom Fest 2016. Thank you all for your well wishes, zofran came to my rescue and all is well now. Luckily the octave is ultra-forgiving and I can still post a legit Easter post because it's still Easter!

This was the first year I felt like I actually had my act together with regards to Easter, and "having my act together" just means I didn't completely fail at the lead-up to Easter AND had adequately assembled a good mix of Easter basket stuffs AND had shoes and tights for the little ladies by the night before Easter, wonder of wonders.

We attended our first Holy Thursday Mass ever as a family and it really deserves a quick sentence because even though Mike and I abide by the strictest in-bed-by-8-and-never-EVER-later policy, the kids were surprisingly very good considering the Mass started at 7:30. It was a really beautiful way to kick off the Triduum, if one can "kick off" the Triduum.

Since having kids, Good Fridays have always felt really, well, UN-penitential. Kids can't fast, and I have been pregnant or nursing a tiny baby every single Good Friday since getting married, so no legit fasting. But! This year I managed to at least force some prayerful things on myself and the kids (stations, decade of the rosary, older kids went to Veneration of the Cross, etc...) And it felt adequately different from other Good Fridays, and from normal life in general. It was good.

Holy Saturday came with egg decorating, and major props to you moms coloring more than a dozen with your brood, I was having heart palpitations by the end of one dozen and I was thrilled that there were no more to color. Uptight is my middle name.

Easter Sunday morning dawned surprisingly beautiful with baskets primarily consisting of cheap dollar store goods and weird religious books and VHS tapes from the thrift store (I told you I had my act together!). We commenced  a 3.5 minute Easter egg hunt in our back yard, which resulted in more candy eating, because everyone surely needed more early-morning sugar. I was surprised that Mass was not a total disaster with all the sugar intake.

After Mass we decided to hit up Notre Dame's big Easter meal because I didn't want to cook and clean on Easter, and because I'm not yet a real grown-up. Also it's super cheap for students and their families. The kids ate their weight and then some in sugar this Easter. Joe's vest was tight to begin with, but it reached full-on Nacho Libre status by the end of this meal.

Honorable mention must be given to the absolutely gorgeous Easter weather we freakishly had in March, in South Bend. I had absolutely no hopes what-so-ever of a nice, sunny, even warm day but God worked a veritable miracle and all of those things happened.

In March. In South Bend. Sorry, I'm still kind of in shock, but it made the day so much more enjoyable and made getting the kids clad for Mass infinity easier. It also meant snapping a quick post Mass and brunch family photo was possible, major thanks to our big garbage can for stepping in as the self-timer photographer, we couldn't have done it without you.
From our over-sugared family to yours, happiest of Easter weeks!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

24 weeks + the Name

I have roughly 4 half-written posts in my drafts folder that are leaning more towards "meaningful" or "thoughtful" or even borderline "spiritual", and while I do find more fulfillment in hitting "publish" on those sorts of posts, I feel like there is enough on the web right now to scratch that itch for the general public and that others are doing a way better job at it than I ever could (I'm looking at you Laura, Susan, and Jenny).

So I'm pushing forward with my very first genuine pregnancy centered post thus far in this gestation, and if you've followed this blog through other pregnancies, you know that for my first preggo post to come as late as 24 weeks, is nothing short of a small miracle.

Right, so here were are at 24 whopping weeks and feeling more whale-like than I've ever felt by this point:

I got my first "are you sure there aren't twins in there?" question by 20 weeks, so you can imagine what 4 extra weeks has done for me-- I'm anticipating plenty more of those sorts of baffled inquiries in the next 16 weeks, should be loads of fun.

I've been blaming my general fluffiness on the fact that over half of this pregnancy has been in the winter, but let's just be honest: pregnancy is hard. Pregnancy with 4 other kids around is hard. Not eating a heaping bowl of mac and cheese or a handful of Reese's pieces or a snicker's ice cream bar when I want one is hard (somebody tell that lady to stop gramming all her cravings, for real). I can only handle so many hard things, something has to give, and that something is my thighs, butt and waistline. We'll get them back some day. Hopefully.

I was going to say something along the lines of "I usually have energy back by this point in pregnancy" but then I wised up and checked the old archives of my past pregnancy posts, and that is just not true. So at least things are consistent! And at least these posts aren't entirely useless. So in keeping with the last pregnancy, I'm still desperate for a nap every day, thank you Netflix to infinity.

But unlike the last pregnancy, I will NOT whine your face off, because baby is well and I am well and I am just so darn happy that some foods sound good again.

In the craving department there isn't much to note, except that when I have a craving, you better get the heck out of my way because Big Mama gets what she wants when she wants it.  Mike came through for me big time last night in the form of a Jamocha Shake from Arby's. If you've never had one, get thee in the car pronto and GET ONE. Your life will be forever changed for the better.

I think maybe, just maybe, a little tiny trace of "nesting" came the other day, but it was really just a fleeting thought along the lines of "I should vacuum and organize some things". Then I took a nap.

I am feeling more emotional than ever over Joseph not being the baby anymore and simultaneously terrified at the thought of him being within 5 feet of a baby that is not a doll. When we were in the Ville last weekend we had the pleasure of meeting my newest little niece, Matilda (best name EVER), and I would say that Joseph's primary sentiment was "please let me RIP THAT BABY'S LEG OFF!" When you wouldn't oblige him a violent tantrum ensued. I'm holding out huge hopes for some BIG developmental leaps in the next 4 months, and if all else fails we'll invest in one of these for him.

The girls are so extremely enthusiastic about this baby and it's so sweet. I love how aware Lucy is of everything concerning him, and I also love that she calls him by his name, which is now completely solidified because I think there would be anarchy from the wee ones if we tried to change it. We've never kept our genders or names a secret before, so I won't start now, but just know that I have no qualms about last minute surprise changes in the hospital room, at least for middle names. Although I really think this one's a total keeper as far as we're all concerned. Plus if you've slogged through this opposite of a masterpiece post, you deserve a little treat, so here's our name for Hahn baby boy:

Fred Bernard Hahn, likely to be called "Freddie", named for Mike's grandfather and Bernard of Clairvaux. 

Cat in the Hat and that's that. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Day in the Life: "Homeschool" with 6, 5, 3 and 1

I am really loving reading through the various Day-in-the Homeschool-Life posts from Simple Homeschooling, but I hesitated to add my own for oh so many reasons, such as

a) no 2 days look exactly alike,
2) some days I really love homeschooling,
c) some days I really LOATHE homeschooling,
d) I don't want to give an inaccurate depiction of things here because some days I win and some days I lose and we all know that I cannot NOT keep really real on the blog.

Last night Mike and I got to go out on a date and over wings and beer I confided about how encouraged I am about homeschooling as of late, how I feel like we're finding a good rhythm and how I kind of like it. I was coming off of one really good school day, where all the school things got done and all the house things and I just felt good. I told him how I haven't had a really bad day in a while (since the one I had about 1 month ago where I frantically called our parish school asking if they would PLEASE take a late enrollment?!?).

Of course that meant that today was pretty much doomed. But now I have 2 real, legit days to share with you, a winner of a day and a not-so-winner-of-a-day. Hit it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016:
The winner

7:00- Someone forces me to exit the comfy confines of my bed, and I wish with all my heart that I had just gotten out of bed when Joe first cried at 6:15 so I could have beaten the children in waking. Story of so many of my days.

7:30- Children play around me while my coffee is had and some scripture reading is done, so I move forward with the day...

8:00- Breakfast for all

8:30- Tell the girls to go play for 30 minutes while I get ready for the day, but then I notice the unfolded basket of laundry in the living room, which reminds me that there is another unfolded basket in the laundry room, and roughly 2 large loads of dirty laundry to be done, decide that laundry needs to be a part of this day and run down with the dirty stuff.

8:40- Once dirty clothes are going in the wash, I grab up the clean basket of the kids' clothes and decide to do a hasty sort-and-put-away in their room so it's done.

9:00- Finish, dump the clean adult laundry on the adults' bed and get ready for the day (shower, makeup, etc...)

9:30- Finally tell the girls that it's time to start the school day, grab our catechesis book (first communion prep), and a book about saints and we all sit down to do our mornings prayers  (morning offering, a decade of the rosary and a Lenten hymn) + catechesis reading + read about the life of a saint.

I often do history reading at this time, but we skipped it today because I don't think it's necessary every day.

10:00- Finish prayers and catechesis and remember that I have to do a crock pot meal today due to afternoon commitments from 4 p.m. on, decide that we'll do lessons upstairs today instead of the basement school room and run down for our books.

10:10- Set up Bernadette and Lucy with a counting puzzle on the dining room table and begin Naomi's math lesson with her at the kitchen table while I get the dinner in the crock pot.

Mind you, there is an 18 month-old toddling around, but I have no clue where he is or what he's doing most of the time... 

10:30- Still doing math with Naomi, the girls finish their puzzle time, Lucy runs to play with Joe and I give Bernadette some letter tracing to work on (the extent of kindergarten for the most part).

10:45- Math is finally complete and I'm still working on this crockpot meal. I give Naomi her spelling + handwriting worksheets and try to finish up this meal when Joe appears in the kitchen with a nice china tea cup and promptly smashes it onto the tile floor. That's where he was. Clean up that mess and move on.

11:00- Make some dough for bread and help Naomi with various spelling things.

11:30- Spelling done, onto some 1st grade language arts which is done by 12 and we move on to lunch.

12:00- Feed the kids lunch

12:30- Order them to play for 30 while I stuff and sandwich down my starving, pregnant gullet.

1:00- Nap time for Joseph. Head to the basement with the girls, where they spend their "rest/quiet time", transfer the rest of the laundry to the dryer and read a chapter from our current read-aloud book and turn on some Angelina Ballerina so I can have my own nap.

2:00- Angelina is tragically over, I grab all the clean laundry from the laundry room and then head upstairs to pop the adequately risen bread in the oven and then attempt to lay down with Lucy for her to sleep a little but quickly realize that this is NOT going to happen, so I stop trying and get to the bread out of the oven.

2:30- Give the girls a 30 minute warning before it's time for showers before Bernadette's mini concert and Naomi's dress rehearsal for their choir.

3:00- Shower the girls while I sort and swiftly throw their clean clothes into their drawers, I no longer attempt to fold any kid clothing since it gets torn out of drawers to quickly.

3:30- All kids' clothing is clean and put away, I do the girls' wet hair and get them dressed for choir.

3:45- Ask Mike to take a break to help me with getting out the door, we wrestle a very tired and tantruming Lucy into her car seat and me and the kids get moving to our choir commitments.

5:30- All choir stuff ends and we head home to meet Mike back at the house for dinner. I start to set the table and 5 minutes later find this:

6:00- Mike returns from Mass (he walked down the street, such a blessing to be so close to a Catholic parish) and we get to dinner.

Kids in bed by 7:30.
Good day overall. Maximum productivity and minimal flipping my shit. Win!

Now let's do a real quick Friday recap, shall we?

March 4, 2016:
The Loser

At some point some school happened but more tantrums were thrown than lessons were done and the toddler pooped roughly 6 times before 10 and 1st trimester nausea came back to visit so...

By 10:30- Mom is crying in the kitchen to Mike about how hard homeschooling is and is overheard by the 5-year-old saying she wishes they could just go to school! That was a hard one to talk myself out of, but I genuinely was able to say that it is just really hard to focus on teaching some days when the little ones need so much, and I'm just very pregnant.

11:00- the towel is thrown in and I turn on You Tube for the girls to dance to Vivaldi while I move from the couch as little as possible, except to hide from the kids and do some therapeutic eating.

Winner of a day and loser of a day. Homeschooling with all little kids and very pregnant in a nut-shell.

Monday, February 22, 2016

when the going gets tough, ask for help. and eat ice cream.

I have this weird (read: horrible) mix of personality where I am not much of a go-getter, do-all-the-things, pack-the-schedule-full, list-making kind of lady, and I'm also too timid (read: prideful) to ask for help when things get too crazy for me to handle (which is, like, a lot of the time).

I don't want to blame the dirty state of my house on homeschooling + pregnancy, but I'm blaming it on homeschooling + pregnancy. Ever since I started to feel less awful, I see so much more clearly how gross things are, but the hours of the day when I would typically be doing productive house cleaning stuff are taken up with things like phonics, math, and if we're getting really fancy, religion and history. While you would think those should only take 45 minutes to an hour a day, they take a full 2-3 hours, easily. Sure, I could those hours where they are sleeping and pony up and work but they are spent in an exhausted pregnant heap on the couch or sleeping myself. Plus there are the normal things that need to be done daily that I can't get out of: dishes, laundry, cleaning every body's poop, feeding all the people, etc... It's a lot!!

And I know we ALL have those things on our plates, I am not at all asserting that things are harder for me than anyone else but simply standing up and saying: I cannot do it all. I AM standing in awe of those of you who do it all and stay sane.

The last month got even crazier because right around the last week of January Bernadette got some virus that was as super thrilling combo of a high fever, vomit and other bodily fluids, which had the added bonus of what seemed to be a 3-7 day latent period before striking its next victim. What this meant for us is an entire month of having this bug in our house. As soon as one person got better, another got it, some to lesser or greater degrees, but everyone it hit had the exact same symptoms. I was spared, and Lucy seemed to fight off the worst of it, for which I am EXTREMELY grateful (and please please please don't let this jinx me because Mike only got over it 4 days ago which means it could possibly still attack).

It was awful, and I was face to face with what a HUGE wimp I am when it comes to added difficulties in the home and face to face with the fact that I need help.

Right before the bug-of-the-year hit Mike he got a call from a school that he applied to for a teaching position letting him know that he had gotten an interview. Great! But! An interview that would mean no husband help for a full 4 days (AND WE ALL KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT THAT).

That was it. I had hit my limit and for a brief moment I stopped giving a crap about money or how pathetic it might make me look and I took the first step in the direction of getting a little help: I called a house cleaner.

I am not even joking, as the lady went down the list of what they do in their standard one-time house cleaning, I almost burst into tears at the thought of those things actually getting done, and me not having to do them all. It was glorious and I almost yelled "YES I WANT ALL OF THAT PLEASE COME RIGHT AWAY AND BY THE WAY, WILL YOU BE MY BEST FRIEND?!?" at her on the phone. I refrained from some of it.

Once I made the appointment for them to come, it felt like a huge weight was lifted and every time I've remembered that someone is coming to help with the cleaning, an involuntary smile just happens, which is kind of miraculous because this past month has seen me mustering all my facial muscle strength to force smiles during the day.

They come tomorrow so you can expect a freshly-cleaned house gram some time tomorrow afternoon. Or just a selfie of me weeping with joy, either or.

Then there was the issue of Mike being gone most of this week/weekend. My initial instinct was to do what I usually do and get all angry and resentful and emotional at Mike for leaving his poor wife and children, because I'm real grown-up and mature.

Mike brought up the idea of our whole family driving as far as Steubenville and him dropping me and the kids off at my parents so I would have their help with things while he interviewed, I think my first response was literally "no, I can handle things". Let me repeat that "no, I can handle things".


I called my mother and was quickly lifted out of my idiotic state and came to the conclusion that, yes, I need to not stay here and go it alone with the kids when we're getting over a month of sickness and, well, pregnancy.

So I am slowly learning what every seasoned mother has learned and advises: to ask for help and to not try to do everything yourself, and it feels good. Also, to eat ice cream, but that I've always been good at.

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.