Monday, October 15, 2012

Time's Up.

Just checking in.

For lots of reasons, and several more excuses, I'm going to stop blogging indefinitely. It's been on my mind for a few months, and I might just be ready for something new or different.

In the last two months my readability stats have gone down, way down. I don't know why, and that's not really the reason I blog, but still, if I keep in contact with the same people who read my blog anyway, then I don't see the point in reiterating the stories of our lives.

Another factor is simple logistics. I'm busy, truly busier than I've ever been. From morning until after lunch my life is consumed in trying to juggle teaching my oldest child a lot, teaching my middle child a little, and making sure that if the toddler is going to run around with scissors, that at least they're the kind with a blunt edge.

There's a lot going on, and frankly, it's just getting too hard. When time is precious and there's no rest for the weary, something needs to get cut, and this six year old blog is on the chopping block.

There are so many stories I want to write out, and even more opinions I want to express, but it's almost at a point where I've been personal, but I've gone far enough. Maybe someday, when I grow enough backbone to write about the things that I truly want to write about without reserve, then I'll go about it differently, with a little more courage and little less bloggity blog.

Carpe Diem, baby.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"How Do You Measure A Year?"

This week marks a year since our trek back from the Great White North into more familiar territory. It's been a year since we decided that yes, we would "homestead" back to both of our hometowns. "It will be worth it, we'll make it work, and it will be the right thing to do."

A lot happens in a year. Family members passed away, friends buried their own children, babies were born, babies were miscarried. There were parties, medical emergencies, and house projects. After moving, it wasn't until February that we bought and moved into our house, and it was only a month later that we found out #4 would be here. Before the end of 2012 we will be a family of six.

Within the year our oldest learned to tie his shoes, ride a bike, swim and do monkey bars. He does math and reads, and can buckle and unbuckle himself in the car. Our three year old potty-trained, and figured out how to put undies, socks, and pants on by himself. He proudly knows his shapes and colors, and identifies his favorite letters. Our toddler learned to crawl and walk, and then scoot around on a baby bike. He knows to hand me a cup when he's thirsty, or bring me random items from the pantry when he's hungry. He waves goodbye and blows kisses.

However small these accomplishments may seem, they are huge in our house, and something to celebrate and make a big deal over, because a year ago, they weren't present.

When I look back at our year in the Great White North, I can't help but admit that it may in fact, have been the most difficult year in my memory. We've lived much further away in the past, with different geographies and more diverse demographics, and yet, this one move proved the most difficult.

With that year before, and this year under our belt, I can happily say that the pendulum swings both ways, and this past year has been a wonderfully joyfully time for our family. Nothing has been perfect or easy, but it has been contenting. When I sit outside with the boys for hours while they ride bikes down the driveway, collect sticks for swords, smash rocks into smaller rocks, and use their imagination in ways they couldn't before, I am so thankful that our move happened at just the right time.

A little bit country and quite a bit small town. It's right for us. As a mother, to watch your children grow and thrive is a gift unlike any other. Here's to small accomplishments. Let's hope next year Luke can play baseball with a little more understanding and conquer his shyness, Paul can learn to pedal his bike and know all his letters, and Michael starts to talk and use a spoon a fork!

It's a simple life, but it's ours, and I love it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Titus 2

"It's part of the mission. Mothers have a mandate from God to encourage and enable one another by training each other in the ways of a good and faithful woman."

I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Foss' recent blog post about teaching and learning from those around us. It is worth your time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Passing Thought.

How much easier the day would go if someone else was responsible for the morning diaper change, getting the boys dressed, getting them their juice and feeding them breakfast.

It's not too complicated, but for a variety of reasons (especially the getting dressed part for the younger two), it takes a momentous amount of time to accomplish.

Anyone want to come over between 7 and 9 every morning? I make really good coffee.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Winter Prep.

Last year was one of those painful years that despite having three boys, nothing matched up, and I ended up needing to buy winter gear for all three children. Ouch!

After several winter coats went through three boys, and being of questionable quality to begin with, two of them were ready to be tossed. I had winter coats in two different sizes graciously loaned to me, but were needed back again. And I was so dissatisfied with our mittens and boot quality that I was willing to make a decent investment in something that worked.

Lands End got us all covered, no pun intended. Last year two boys needed coats, two needed boots, and everyone needed mittens that wouldn't tear, that the thumbs wouldn't get lost in, and that would keep out of their wrists.

This year I'm getting by with one each (in different sizes for different kids) a pair of mittens, boots, and, and snowpants. I just ordered today. It might seem early to some, but in MN, if you wait until the snow actually falls, good luck finding something decent for your kids to wear. Your child will end up wearing a Sponge Bob coat all winter!

FYI: If you shop at Land' End, right now there is a 30% off promotion AND free shipping!!!!

And a question for the veterans out there. I have two perfectly good pair of boots that are perfectly a full size too big for the feet I want to put in them. Am I cruel? Do I REALLY need exact sizes for boots? What would you do???

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Guiding Star Project.

The Guiding Star Project is a beautiful organization that seeks to be truly pro-woman. They are striving to provide centers across the country that provide resources for women in all facets of life--pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, infertility, birthing, breastfeeding, parenting, and material support.

Today is my first contribution as a blogger for the Guiding Star Project. New Feminism is an incredible movement. I'm proud to be involved as an authentic woman, embracing the beauty of how we are made!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Speaking of...

In reference to the post below, today for Science we did a review of our habitat and life stages. At the end of the review was a question. "What do you want to be when you become an adult?"

Answer? A Ninja Priest.

I think I've done my job for the day ;-) .

What We've Learned.

Last week we closed on six weeks of schooling at home. It has gone well. Better, in fact, that I expected. After all, there have been moments when I've thought,
 "Oh my goodness, I have a fearless toddler, a three year demanding of my constant affection, and I'm supposed to educate my kindergartener while managing the children, meals and home? And then, to top it all off, I'm pregnant, too? And Mallory, let's remember how you are when you're pregnant? Not really the big ball of motivation that you usually are. A big ball, maybe, but a rather haggard one."

Still, it somehow works. We're rather rigorous, too. Even so, we tend to wind things down after lunch time, the toddler's heavy diapers don't get neglected, and the preschooler even has a special time for stories. I don't know how it all works, but we've been given the grace to get by.

There is no point, however, in me trying to paint a picture without challenges, because we have challenges daily, almost hourly. I get frustrated, lack patience, and sometimes want an extra set of able hands and eyes to help our days run more smoothly. Sometimes I feel like if I don't get out right this minute I might scream. I love my life, I've been given great blessings, but I function a lot better telling myself that every mother of young ones is one glass tipped over shy of losing it.

Last week was a mix of challenges. Luke fell sick on Sunday. He was so sick, in fact, that he spent the entire day sleeping in our bed with a fever. While his fever broke that night, he was weak and slower functioning for the rest of the week. Everything I had set to accomplish for the week just was not happening. I tried to get him focused enough for one math or reading lesson, or even coloring a story from the Bible. But nothing worked, and for the better part of the week I was snippy and anxious, with my well-laid plans being a muddled mess of pen in my notebook.

Still, even if lessons for the last week were pushed back, I learned a valuable lesson: When it's not working, it's not working. Why fight and push to get something accomplished when the results come with tears or a bad attitude? How much more you can get accomplished when a kid is well-rested, hydrated, and feeling back to himself, so why fight getting one extra lesson done?

Isn't this a huge reason to homeschool? To accelerate when it's appropriate, and then to back off when needed? So, why am I pushing my son, who is in good academic shape anyway, to keep learning, when he really just needed a full week to veg on the couch? What's the point in crossing lesson 22 off my list, when I know in my heart that it was done half-heartily and not comprehended. Am I doing my kids any favors by rushing through something just to get it done? Even if they don't understand it because they've been sick?

Sure enough, this Monday came with great efficiency. After a week of recuperation and weekend full of play time, my kindergartner was up for the challenges I had in store. Expectations were met, we were done early, and I even checked off every last thing on our agenda. We're back in action, feeling good, and back on the right track.

Lesson learned.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Love Story.

I want to write a little post about adoption. A friend did recently, and having had it on my mind lately, I wanted to spread the word myself.

There are few things in life that I feel are as selfless and loving as adoption. I am under thirty, and already have three different friends under thirty who have adopted. It's beyond beautiful. I am closely acquainted with several couples, who, while a few years older than me, have adopted, and now are praying for a second adoption.

Last year I met a woman who adopted, with her husband, a daughter with Down Syndrome from China. This year, a couple from college will bring home their son from Eastern Europe, living with Down Syndrome in an orphanage. Another couple from college brought their daughter home this year from South Korea. And other friends have adopted through the foster care system, and open adoptions. We know couples still waiting for their son or daughter to be born and brought to their home, or for the legal system to finalize the bonds already made.

To call these couples heroic is an understatement. They were called to love, were open to that call, and have proceeded fearlessly with the trust they would be carried through their trials. From what they share, the blessings are far beyond any burden.

I want to share the websites that have been brought to my attention through my friends who are closely associated with their missions.

The first is Reece's Rainbow, a ministry dedicated to spreading the word about orphans with disabilities in other countries. Many of these countries are post-communist, with the after-effects being that the birth parents of these children believe that the orphanages and institutions are better equipped to raise children with disabilities. Many of these children are left in cribs day in and day out, and if not adopted by age 5, are sent to live in adult institutions.

China is harsh place for children who don't fit the "ideal." Girls are given up for simply being born female, and the pressure to have the perfect child with a one-child limit means there are many children who are left at the mercy of missionaries. The Little Flower Project is a beautiful ministry in China, run by Americans (from my alma mater...!). You can find them on Facebook, and their blog is fantastic; the pictures they post daily, and the care and love they show these infants is nothing short of a miracle. Sometimes these babies are given up just for being born small! It is a wonder to see their transformations!

 As is often said, a family cannot bring them home unless they know their child is waiting. Getting the word out is important. Spread the word, do what you can, and be passionate for the love of children. After all, women, whether mothers or not, are given the great gift of being instinctively maternal, a gift from our Creator. We were made to love, to give our whole hearts to another.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Forgive me for being a bit bold here, but it seems that every day a different freedom is being stripped away in America. I am not a protester, argumentative, and while convicted personally, am not one to bring up controversy for the sake of debate (for that, you'll need my husband, who is courageous). No, I'd rather see the world through rose-colored glasses, living in the rural splendor of the natural outdoors, raising boys to be gentleman warriors.

But, seriously, even though I'm not a doomsday paranoid, or wrapped in conspiracy theory, I am still gravely concerned.

First, there is the looming HHS mandate, which requires employers to provide, without cost, prescription drugs that cause abortion. Religious or conscientious objections are not allowed; you must comply or be financially destroyed. It's not even a Catholic issue anymore, see the link. Regardless of why you are against killing babies, regardless of the fact that human life begins at conception, it doesn't matter. You must pay for abortion.

The second is related to religious freedom. Franciscan University of Steubenville, an Catholic university, is being investigated for its handling of homosexuality in course work. I  honestly cannot find the words to express my feelings on this issue. As an alumni of the school, and someone who knows other students and alumni who identify themselves as homosexual, the quote on Church teaching stands true at the school, which is "Franciscan University follows Catholic Church teaching in regard to homosexuality and treats homosexual persons with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 2358) while holding homosexual acts as 'intrinsically disordered.' "

The above means what it says--FUS practices what it preaches, but will not back down on the beliefs that make the university what it is. Now, simply for being a Catholic school educating students with Catholic teaching, they are under attack. Seriously, the church Mark and I attended while he was in law school was protested by the Westboro Baptist Church, if that says anything about the Catholic Church! We are part of a compassionate congregation, but does that mean that the Church cannot take a moral stance on actions???

I am baffled. Everything I have been taught to believe about freedom in America is coming into question. I am now waiting for the next bomb to be dropped, and wondering what the government will begin to require of me in the raising and educating of my children, or the practicing of my faith.

Finally, at the 2008 DNC, the words "abortion should be safe, legal, and rare" was taken out of the platform of the DFL. It was not reinstated in 2012. In doing so, it begs the question of the DFL if they then believe abortion should be dangerous and frequent. The platform changes at the DNC were such a monstrosity that, while I previously hadn't associated myself with finality to any political party, and instead voted based on each individual candidate, I am so appalled and disgusted with the direction it has taken, that at this point, I will not even consider a candidate from the DFL. I'm keeping a safe distance from any association.

Civil disobedience? Maybe we're not too far. We will not comply.
Viva la Revolucion!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Sacrilege!

My almost 17 month old is a terror on two feet. Pay no mind to that delightful smile, his mischievous antics are as powerful as his sweet smile. We love him--no, adore him really, and despite his youth, knows he is the delight of his parents and brothers.

Still, he gets into an awful amount of trouble.

Today, while I was buttering toast and trying to keep my knife within view while slicing apples, Michael decided it was the perfect time to test his boundaries. Into the bathroom he went. Within a split second, the toilet seat went up, his hands dipped in, and before I could screech to my horror, he made the complete Sign of the Cross with his fingers, wet from the toilet water.

No, child, I am afraid to tell you that not all water is Holy Water. Excuse me while I google the symptoms for dysentery.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dignity vs, Manners

I listen occasionally to the Catholic radio show More2Life, hosted by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak. They answer family and relationship questions based on the Theology of the Body. I'm often surprised by the advice they give. Dr. Greg's advice stresses self-respect and boundaries. And while we often view behaving as Christians as allowing ourselves to be walked over, Dr. Greg and Lisa insist that this isn't what we were made for.

Not long ago I was thinking about an instance that I was feeling guilty about. I was worried that I had been rude in a passive way, and questioned if I had failed in my duty as a Christian through the interaction.

I ran into someone awhile ago, who, while I never knew him well, was closely related to someone who many, many years ago had been a friend of mine. That friendship didn't fizzle out, but ended harshly, with me on the receiving end of the limitless bounds of girl meanness. Years passed, I made real friendships, and moved on.

While catching up with this acquaintance, I was able to share about our life. He shared about what he had been up to, and what his future held. It was a pleasant conversation. However, I was consciously aware that the only association I had with him was this friend from so long ago, and I purposely didn't ask about her, and he never brought her up.

Days later I was still wondering, "Was that rude? Am I unkind?" Normally, for me, I enjoy conversation, and in another circumstance would have asked about the friends and family of whom I talking to. Thus the guilt.

That brings me back to the Popcak's. While I can't speak for them, I think I could predict what they would say. That is, of course it is my duty to be forgiving and kind. I hold no grudges, and would certainly be polite and friendly even if I did personally bump into this person, but I have a feeling that Popcak's would have told me that having respect for myself was just important, so as not to give the impression that I am the kind of person that can be walked all over without any consequences. I think they would have told me that I had no obligation to ask about well-being of someone who scorned me without any reconciliation.

For a lot of women, it is easier to "just be nice." To avoid confrontation at a risk of exposing your true feelings is oftentimes the more peaceful road. Rationally, sticking up for yourself isn't worth the emotional toll of making known your dissatisfaction. However, this logic isn't any more Christian than charitably sticking up for oneself, and reminding others of your shared dignity.

It's often not easy to stick up for your beliefs, and in turn, yourself. All of us "nice girls" need a reminder every once in a while, that we are are worth it, that we were bought with a price, and are due our respect and dignity, even if we demand it in gentler ways.

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Food for Thought (literally).

One of my biggest fears before getting married was my complete inability to cook. Mark didn't cook, I didn't cook, and the stories I have about kitchen mishaps and outright disasters abound the first few years of our marriage.

While plenty of marriages have husbands gifted in culinary skills, I knew that this was something I wanted to be good at. My desire was to be at home with our children, and I knew that to do this would shift the roles of our household to make me the primary food maker. This was a daunting order for a girl who could live off rice, raw veggies, and peanut butter for the rest of her life.

It was nearly four or five years in to our marriage that I finally felt like we had a groove. I could make decent dinners, and we even hosted guests at our house with me doing all the cooking. I had come a long way. Still, as one child turned to three, and three has turned into another on the way, there are still wide gaps that need improvement. The first one is lunch. We don't love sandwiches, and I like to save my chopping and pots and pans for dinner. The second is baking.

For the past seven years, I can count on one hand the number of times I actually baked. The Ritz crackers I put peanut butter on and dip in chocolate don't count. There were a number of attempts at cookies that were either to crumbly or hard as a rock, and banana bread that overflowed from the loaf pan so much it started a fire. No, I resigned myself, baking is not for me.

Then, as we get more settled in our home and the cupboards seemed chronically bare from the boxes of processed junk that didn't last more than one snacktime, something shifted. After a $6.00 box of Goldfish crackers evaporated the day after I bought it, and the pop tarts I bought as a treat caused a battle of the wills with begging children constantly asking for more,I began to wonder if I could try baking again.

My theory was that I would save a ton of money on snack food if the boys had a muffin or sweet breads available to them at snack times, and that if I did make cookies and treats regularly, the sugar rationing I previously had in place wouldn't turn them into monster-sugar-bingers. After all, I rationalized, my flour, eggs and sugar can't be any more unhealthy than Fruit Roll-Ups and Cheez-Its.

There was something else, too. I had visions of being that mom, who emanated warmth and happiness from the love she put into cooking for her family. Love it or hate it, there is something remarkably special about food and togetherness. We are all together in the breaking of the bread. It's significant in all cultures, and I wanted food to be part of that special haven my children call their home.

Now that the summer is drawing to a close, I am satisfied where I have come in this self-improvement category. I not only baked cookies, but I baked good cookies, in many varieties, no less. I tinkered with a banana bread recipe until (just yesterday!) I told the boys that I just might have got it right. The banana muffins that were previously my only card to play in the baking department, has now grown to several types of muffins, including one I'm working on delightfully called "Carmel Apple Cinnamon."

"It's not all hopeless", I would have told myself seven years ago as a new bride. "You can do this, and you can be good at it. Maybe someday you can be really good."

And let me just tell you, that the Hesitant Homemaker didn't get this name for nothing. If the girl who googled how to make a baked potato can learn to bake, and actually find some enjoyment in it, there is hope for everyone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Birth, undecided.

We've had one hospital birth with a lot of interventions, one hospital birth go so fast that the delivery happened unassisted, and then our third birth which we planned at home with a midwife.

The homebirth was the best birth, for many reasons. I love homebirth, and I don't love hospital birth, so it would seem natural that the decision of where to deliver our baby in December would be an easy one.

But it's not.

The simple reason for this is fear.

As safe as birth is, as capable as our bodies are, there is still so much fear involved. You cannot predict or plan birth. You can prepare and anticipate, and if you've had more than one birth already, know within reason how your body will respond to the demands, but largely, each birth feels like entering into the unknown.

When we were planning Michael's homebirth, I read every book I could find on the subject, and was convinced at what homebirths advocated--that for those mothers who were good candidates, homebirth was   comparatively a very safe option.

So, why all the doubt all of a sudden?

It's not me, really, it's mostly Mark. He was/is nervous. There's a chance the midwife won't make it, and a chance that something could go wrong. Those are very valid concerns, and something that no amount of planning can predict. We've known people who have delivered unassisted (this is not okay with me, neither Mark or I are medically trained) and people who despite standard prenatal care have delivered babies that necessitated a medical emergency. These complications can be so random, and it is hard not to think that we might be leaving the health of our child to chance.

On the flip side, hospital delivery for me hasn't been a walk in the park. It takes multiple (3-6) attempts to start an IV, I have trouble communicating my needs and advocating for myself, and the thought of not being able to hold my newborn immediately following birth without him being taken away from me to be washed, given antibiotics and a Vitamin K shot is agonizing to me, especially after having been able to have the beautiful opportunity to hold Michael, and bond with him in his first moments. That experience was priceless, and in the same way I fear birth complications, I fear policy preventing such an important moment in the life of a mother and child.

There are so many things we're weighing these days--being able to stay at home and not rushing to the hospital (my last two deliveries have been fast), but, it is nice to have nurses take care of the dirty linens, drinks and meals. I worry about coping with labor in a hospital, when I know I am able to tolerate it when I am comfortable in my own home.

Really, now that I am noticeably, unmistakably pregnant, this issue is all-consuming to my thoughts. We are simply undecided. I'm thankful we have safe options available to us, and my healthy pregnancies have afforded this conversation in the first place. I want to do the right thing for us in this situation. I was confident that our last delivery was the right thing to do, and I am waiting in prayer as we try to maneuver another chapter.


"Luke, could you bring this meat out to the freezer?"
"Will I need my whip?"
"Um, no."

"Luke, would you please take this box out to the trash?"
"Do I need to bring a knife?"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

To Love.

One of the most beautiful parts of raising children is learning to love their childhood.

It sounds easy enough. Newborns are so easy to love, infants with their wide eyes and big grins woo you over, too. Mischievous toddlers get away with just about everything because they are so funny and get such a kick out of life.

But then, around three years old, something changes. People aren't quite as enamored with the shenanigans, parents actually have to discipline their charges, and while it was always exhausting, the exhausted mother needs a break from it all every once in a while. It gets a little harder to love their littleness, clumsiness, and inability to control their tempers and emotions. We don't love them any less, but their mere childhood becomes frustrating.
There are some people who don't like children, and while I can't really relate to their perspective, I think it must have to do with children's lack of coordination and emotional control--their childishness itself, regardless of how sweet and well-mannered they might be.

While I don't do jumping jacks when my kids spill apple juice all over the floor, or when the toddler throws my freshly folded laundry out of the basket, by some miracle, I'm kinda over it. I mean, it's what they do, and  getting frustrated about it doesn't change a thing. Even if I freak out, they're still little and klutsy and curious.
When my children tell me their troubles--that they want to play pirates while their playmates want to play house, how can I not smile, and marvel at the endearing parts of what makes up a child. To watch them play pirates, to witness their pretend, and the unraveling of plans as the afternoon escapes structure and turns into a wonder of imagination--this is what childhoods are made of.

It melts me.

Grief still surrounds loved ones and friends this week. It clings to the laughter of my children despite their lack of understanding. I hold them closer, watch them play longer, and maybe say "yes" a few more times than I'm known. Because, when it all comes down it, love is what matters. And to love a child and all their frustrating childishness, is to be blessed beyond comprehension.
"It is love alone that counts." 
St. Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Task at Hand.

We are in full planning mode around here now. The special shoes my kids need are ordered for the Fall (Extra Wide...all three kids), and each day this week we are expecting deliveries for the different materials we need for this upcoming year.

We're homeschooling this year. Oh my. I've blogged a lot about this in the past, but this is the first year that it is absolutely real, the year we actually are keeping a child home and out of school. Despite homeschooling being a mainstream and super legit thing to do, writing it down in words seems like a heroic act, with some people feeling very bothered by the idea. With homeschooling's  proven track record, and our dedication to all of our children's education and formation, I'm not interested in debating our decisions, but I do like sharing what we're doing, and hearing what others are doing, too. We are following in the footsteps of many families, and some are just like us--starting their first year!!! :-) .

Here's what our Fall semester lineup looks like! And, thankfully, each of these programs has been tried and tested by at least one family close enough to me that I can bug them endlessly on the how the program works, and it's effectiveness.

Math: Rightstart B. We got through Rightstart A last year, and I was blown away at the way math was taught. Concepts are actually understood, not memorized.This program is daunting because it is different from the way math is taught in America (it is based on Japanese math, and uses an abacus, groupings of 10, etc.).

Science Nancy Larson Science 1. I am SO excited about this program. It is primary science, but not watered down and not so basic that the child doesn't learn anything. It's hands-on, uses a rich vocabulary, experiments, and observations. I am guessing this will be a favorite subject

Language Arts: Institute for Excellence in Writing. We wanted rigorous and coherent language arts program that left no gaps, and taught students to be excellent readers, comprehenders, and spellers. We are several lessons into this already, and I am impressed and hopeful that a great reader will emerge!

History/Social Studies/Relgion/Geography: Connecting with History. This program is the same for K-12, only the reading lists change each year. The concept is Classical in approach, with repeating time periods throughout a child's education. It is living-books based, and I am hopeful, even though the material is overwhelming for a first time mom!

Throw in some Seton handwriting and Maps workbook, a few sports, piano lessons, art projects planned in the content area (because what good is learning if you can't connect it to other learning?), and we have our Kindergarten year.

The planning is nearly complete, we're almost ready to start. It feels a little rigorous, especially for a six year old, but maybe I'll be wrong, or maybe we'll adjust. Just starting out, I like the idea of being a bit accelerated, which will give us more wiggle room if we want to dive more deeply into an interesting subject, need a break, or focus more deeply on celebrating the liturgical seasons.

How is everyone else's planning going? Homeschooling curriculum all set? School schools getting broken in at home? It's a lot to plan for regardless of if your child is going away for school, or being taught at home.

Here we go, here we go, here we go!!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

With Joy.

We are a-buzzing over here in the sweltering humidity of Minnesota. It's wedding week. A family wedding means lots, and lots of people around, and parties galore.

It's a very joyful time. At the culmination of the week is the wedding, a beautiful sacrament that I can't wait to witness. Since my husband, his siblings, and all their spouses are Franciscan University of Steubenville grads, when one of their siblings get married, who also come from strings of family all with FUS grads, it is one amazing get-together.

This week, from all across the country, all congregated in our town of 534, are loads of FUS grads and their children. Getting to visit with all of these beautiful people and their children is truly a joy to my heart, and I have been uplifted from all the laughter and visiting.

There was also a new baby born into the family this week. LOVE! It seems that at all these get-together, it's always a string of congrats to those who are expecting and those recently had their babies. The atmosphere is so incredibly pro-life, pro-family, and joy-filled to the brim.

With this joyful week nearly over, we also have family and friends close to us who are suffering immensely. Can there ever be joy without suffering? I don't think so. The two seem to run alongside one another to keep our perspective on the eternal. Along with the celebration of new life and a lovely couple, others are grieving deeply and facing trials most will never experience in a lifetime. Our prayers are with them all, those in JOY and those in PAIN. Christ is there in it all, and thankfully, in our circles, that is recognized profoundly.

"The Lord giveth, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. 
Job 1:21 

Monday, July 30, 2012


We went out of town for the weekend to have a little family fun.

Our kids aren't short of fun, not by any means. They play almost everyday with friends, cousins, and family. They swim, go to the park, and get to go out for ice cream and attend barbecues. Indeed, it has been quite a fun summer.

However, it's been a busy summer, too. Mark has been gone a lot, and when he's home he's busy still with work, and when he's not doing that there's the yard to mow, and a large property to maintain. It's a common story, but we really needed a day or two with just us and the kids, to get away from all the things that need to be done, and just enjoy our family life this summer, if only for the weekend.

We drove "The Cities," which is commonly known for those not living in the metro of MN as Minneapolis/St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs. While everyone from "The Cities" drives "Up North," to Vacationland, where WE live, we "drove down to the cities," to enjoy some of the urban comforts we don't have here. On our agenda was a day at the zoo, which included carnival rides, and a stay at a hotel with a waterpark, and lots of yummy food.

 The bison smell, and they are huge!
 Michael loved his first zoo trip! He kept pointing and "telling" us all about what he saw. Here he is with a lion.

 Paulie on a carnival ride. 
 The spinning tea cups made the kids a little sick. Being pregnant, I had a surefire excuse to get out of spinning rides. 

The boys were wonderful. We asked a lot of them--a lot of walking on a hot day, patience and manners at restaurants, and the need to keep close to us at all times, which they aren't used to in our small town. We all shared a hotel room, the kids swam, and it was wonderful.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bringing Up, French Style: Part Un

I just finished "Bringing Up Bebe," by Pamela Druckerman. Even though it's not a parenting book of how-tos, it's one of the more interesting parenting book I've ever read. It explores a culture of consistent parenting, so rooted in French society that French parents don't even know they are doing anything special. It's not all perfect, but it's highly entertaining and very interesting.

The first point that grabbed me about the book, is a difference between American and French mothers. The author explains that American mothers often judge how good a job they are doing with how difficult they make their lives. It's the typical American Martyr Mother/Woman. We earn extra points if our pregnancies are rough, if our babies sleep terribly, if our husbands work long hours, or if we do all the housekeeping/cooking without any help.

I am so guilty of this. Here's the thing, we kinda relish in it. Like, the more we sacrifice ourselves, the better we think we are for it. And we compete, too! Have you ever been venting to a mom about a difficult baby stage, or that you need more help at home? Most likely, the answer from your mom-friend is something like, "Oh you think that was tough, little Johnny woke up through the night until he was four!" Or, "At least your husband comes home at six mine never is."

I'm not criticizing my friends at all, but seriously, it's what we do, isn't it?

The French moms are on a totally different wavelength. They are devoted and love their kids, but they have an idea about balancing family life, and about le couple being a priority. There is no such thing as a "child king" in a French family, because that's not the way the French family culture functions. Children are doted on and loved, but not at the expense of the mothers personhood (which includes being a wife and a woman, something very cherished by the French--the female mystique).

I still need to chew on a lot of what was written in the first part of this book, because the ideas vary so differently not in the way I mother, but in what I deem as devotion to the kids. Even though I might be better off going to the gym everyday, getting a date night once a week, and taking an entire day away from the kids that doesn't include grocery shopping, somehow, my mind has deemed it an unworthy pursuit, because it might not include constant, loving sacrifice.

Anyone else out there read this book? Or have a thought about the French? ;-) .

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Big Day.

On Monday night I couldn't sleep, I was a mess of anxious nerves. Tuesday morning was our ultrasound. I had no reason to be necessarily worried. After all, there are only an infinite number of problems that could happen when a person develops from one cell into the millions of cells that are present midway through pregnancy (note sarcasm).

I'm getting too old now. I know too much, and worry more than is healthy. People close to me have had difficult news at their ultrasounds. Twenty-something couples with happy hearts have lost their babies at birth, had their babies taken away at birth for major surgery, and have had spent the months after an ultrasound preparing their family for a special needs baby that will change life forever. This is so real to me now, it has hit too close to home too many times. No, ultrasounds aren't exciting for me anymore, they're terrifying.

Today, no news was good news, and I mean "no news" in the most anti-climatic way possible. At first glance, all seems well. We feel blessed and thankful for what we hope to be another beautiful, healthy baby. And, while I was hoping to do a big blogger announcement about our "baby boy," OR "baby girl," I swear, we still don't know! Baby is keeping him or herself covered for the moment, and we will left speculating for the time being exactly who we will be adding to the family this December.

I hope to rest better tonight, in gratitude for the beauty of life.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oh, Boys...

Tonight Mark comes home after being gone most of this week. The boys and I have kept ourselves busy, and we're all sufficiently exhausted from our attempts at making the time alone go faster. And, we were all doing okay until some point last night when, quite suddenly, all my patience, which I had been carefully rationing, had run out.

It was during the course of the morning when my weakness got the better of me. I often read Testerhome, about a mother who had five boys in a row, and definitely related to her recent sentiments. She questioned her ability to adequately mother five in a row--and why did God do this, when she felt that she wasn't cut out for the specific challenge it was.

The boys are loud. They roar at each other, and growl, and pounce. Their favorite games are 1) Chase 2) Wrestle 3) Swords. Often, 1,2, and 3 are done all at the same time--with a fair amount of growling and roaring thrown in. 

I'm okay with this. They are sweet and mannered when they need to be, and when they are free to play, I deal with the boisterous behavior. Except for today. Today I'm not being a very good mother of boys. Without Dad here to circumvent the wrestling, to take on some of their activity level, my weaknesses get the better of me. I'm not sweet, patient or gentle. I yell, lose my temper, and say mean things out of frustration with their boyishness. 

We find out very soon the gender of our new baby. As always, I am completely at peace with whatever God blesses us with. It was only today, after being frustrated, that I thought for a moment "What if...What if it's another boy...???" Not that I would be disappointed--absolutely not, but that I doubted my ability to be a good mother to a FOURTH boy in a row. It's understandable--This tired, pregnant, emotionally fragile woman without a husband for five days that can't keep up with the energy level of three little boys is bound to wonder what God would be thinking to send us another boy.

But then I checked myself. These attacks are not of God. I am weak and vulnerable and alone--a perfect recipe for self-doubt. These boys have a Mother and a Father. God didn't bring these boys to raise on my own, he gave them a Dad, too. A dad who was once a little boy and wrestled with his brothers, was loud and crazy, and can now share that with his three (maybe four??) sons.

We might be functioning on a "basic needs" basis today  until reinforcements arrives. I might be making several more trips to the bathroom just to hear the faucet run instead of the shouts and hollers, but it's okay. Soon enough I'll be delighting in snakes, snails and puppy-dog tails again, and marveling at the affectionate sides of my sons, who will overjoyed to be once again with their Daddy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Mouths of Babes.

My three-year old is the easiest of the children to bring to Mass. He can keep him endlessly occupied wrapped up in his imagination. He's not necessarily paying attention to what is going on, but he isn't bouncing off the walls, and for this I'm thankful.

Over the summer though, he's been more difficult. He is starting to notice more, and gets very upset during Communion when he only gets a blessing instead of being able to receive. Last week he actually had to be carried out and disciplined because he was crying so hard in the Communion line.

He gets carried out by dad, arms and legs flailing while yelling, "I want one of God's cookies! I want God's cookies!"

It's pretty naughty, I know.  But isn't it sorta sweet, too?

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Beast Within.

It's not very often I meet a mom who has kids that are like mine. There is nothing wrong with my boys, and they do try within their capabilities to behave, but they have a certain quality that sets them apart from a lot of other children.

Maybe it's because they're boys, or because they're mine, but seriously folks, they go in and out of stages where they are totally, and uncontrollably BUSY.

Remember this little guy? My sweet, most wonderful baby in the whole wide world? The boy stole my heart after I thought it had been wrapped up with the likes of the first two boys. This baby would put himself to sleep by bouncing in the bouncer, or sucking his thumb while laying down. MichaelANGELO, my angel baby.
Well friends, times have changed. He's still super cute, and we all just love him to pieces, but don't let that grin fool you. He's a terror of a toddler.

I've got him figured out pretty well. First off, he's a lot like my first son. He won't play with toys, and chooses instead to make it his mission in life to find any piece of electronic equipment he can get his hands on and press buttons until Kingdom Come. The remotes, phone, cell phone, computer keyboard, baby monitor, have no chance against his fingers, and by the time I can pry them out of his hands, are usually covered in dry applesauce or drool.
If I can get anything out of his hands, I'm lucky. What really gets us in trouble is when he flushes what he finds down the toilet. Honestly, we haven't had a free-flushing toilet in this house since the boy started to walk three months ago.

Yes, he keeps us on our toes. He is always a step behind us as we go along our daily life. If I'm emptying the dishwasher, he's throwing knives in the plastic bowl drawer. When I'm sorting laundry, he's throwing clothes out of the basket. When I sweep, he is scattering my dirt pile with the dustpan. The mimicry and messes are all part of how is he learning, but oh my, it is exhausting.

After several summer parties that were spent with either Mark or I chasing him before he ran off a dock into the water, or falling into a fire pit, I've quietly resigned that at this point, we're getting a babysitter for the baby, or I'd rather not go. The last time I made that resolution was with our first child, who was just as fearless of a toddler, and very difficult to keep track of. My toddler boys in a crowd are honestly a danger to themselves!

There are seasons for everything, and Michael won't be 15 months old forever. At this time he is a challenge, and by the next season, there will be a new obstacle to face, although I am hoping it doesn't include having to fish through the trash for bills that were thrown out by the toddler. We'll take them the way they are, and pray they stay safe and we stay sane as we care for these little ones who make us laugh with their delight, but worried sick with their every move.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The REAL Problem...

The REAL problem with healthcare, for the average, working class family has little or nothing to with the "Affordable Healthcare Act." In fact, many (if not all) of us in the category stated above have seen their healthcare premiums rise in the last two years, with the warning that those premiums will continue to rise.

We pay nearly $400 a month for health insurance. We're a healthy family. Our $400 a month premium will cover nothing until our deductible is reached. Said deductible is several thousand dollars--an amount we must reach every year in order for our health insurance to pay for healthcare. So, let's be generous and say that my family needs to spend at a minimum, $10,000 a year in order for health insurance to actually be worth the money spent on it.

Of course, if we had chronic illnesses, a rare disease, or a catastrophic event that required expensive treatment, this would be quite necessary, but for the "average working class family," this cost holds us back significantly. While we "only" pay $400 a month, I know of many families who pay closer to $700 a month, and even some that pay $1000 or more a month.

And now, with the ruling this morning, with the government in the pockets of insurance companies, the government expanding medicare and medicaid coverage, "average working class families" will be responsible for picking up the tab. With food prices increasing yearly, gas prices debilitating the economy, and now healthcare costs choking families, it is no wonder that the economy is unable to grow. No one has anything left to spend! People are scared to spend; the next year will bring only higher premiums and deductibles, and knowing that regardless of how much they spend on their monthly premiums, a preventive hearing test for a child, or a blood test, will easily put them back an additional $500.

Civil disobedience is sure to follow the ruling this morning. Many religious institutions have already filed suit, and now, many more organizations will follow, unwilling to cover the services now required by the law. This is the REAL problem.

(At the midterm elections, our State Representative was voted out of office after 35 years in service. He voted for this bill, betrayed his constituents, and paid the price with his seat in the house. I think we'll be seeing some more of that in November.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Big(ger) Boy!

Today my oldest baby turns six years old!

Didn't I just write his fifth birthday post? It feels like it.

This summer has been a turning point for our boy who has been quickly growing out of five. He's not really little anymore, but he can't quite keep up with the big kids yet. He's transitioning, and the transformation has been a gift to witness. This young man, still confined to his childish body, is a problem-solver, an adventure-taker, a boy determined to be like his dad, but still clings to Mommy at the end of the day when all the toughness has worn off.

When he was born, I had a hard time those first few weeks. He was the same then that he is now--unable to be satisfied with anything except for the new and exciting. As a newborn, he was never content to sit or sleep or eat or look. At only a few days old, I already knew that my firstborn was anything but typical, and quickly learned to adapt his environment to be creative, stimulating, and educational.

But still, it was very hard. That first year with an especially demanding infant was a breaking-in of the selflessness that would be required later on. "You jiggle and sway me through the apartment all day now, Mom," the baby Luke said to me with his demands, "But when I'm two and need to do jigsaw puzzles all day, or when I'm five and need to play outside for hours on end to satisfy my curiosity, you won't think it's so bad, you'll just be used to it. You'll do what you need to do."

And so, year after year we've done this dance of me trying to keep a step ahead of this precocious boy. Each year I've loved him a bit more for who is, understood him better, and have been ever more thankful for the blessing he is and the God-given gifts he has been given. I'm not sure what his future holds for Luke, but I can be sure it is something exciting.

Happy 6th Birthday, Luke. We couldn't be happier or more thankful for our son. You keep us high on our toes, and our hearts warm with your love and affection. Even if we dreamed it, we couldn't come up with a better version of YOU. You've changed our lives for the forever better, and we love you more everyday.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gifts and Talents.

I've joked to friends how in our little neighborhood that we've hit the "neighbor jackpot," but really, it's not a joke. To all of my friends (myself included) who have had less than ideal neighborhoods which involve dangerous children, calls to the police, sketchy renters, and up-all-night antics, we definitely realize the importance of a harmonious neighborhood.

Shortly after we moved into our new house in January, we received homemade bread and baked good from several of our neighbors.Now, when we walk down the road, we are always met with friendly smiles and greetings from neighbors driving by. Feeling safe, with delightful children nearby as playmates, we are incredibly blessed.

One set of neighbors hasn't stopped the hospitality. Hot-Crossed Buns during Lent was met with St. Patrick's Day Shamrock cookies a few weeks later. No sooner had we finished those when Easter cookies came, then Spring cupcakes, cupcakes to celebrate the Feast of St. Mathias, and on, and on, and on! I don't think we've had more than two weeks go by since we've moved where we haven't been gifted something by our generous neighbors!
This is a small sampling of the type of baked goods we've received from our perpetual gifters. If you look closely, they are butterfly cupcakes, with a black head, green body, and pretzel wings. Impressive!

 Last week, the lovely couple brought over one Monarch caterpillar, and one cocooned Monarch.  The caterpillar, after only a day was found in a cocoon at the top of our jar before I had a chance to catch a photograph, but still, it is amazing for both the boys and me to witness.

This one is almost ready to emerge from the cocoon! 

This guy was a black and orange caterpillar when we got him. It only took a day for him to attach himself to the lid of this jar. 

Each time we've received one of these gifts, it has been a learning experience for our whole family. Included with our baked goods are often scripture verses relevant to the Feast we're celebrating, and in the case of the butterflies, we're learning just by witnessing a metamorphosis.

For me, with so much to do and keep up with, it's difficult for me to think of a stage in life where I can take so much time to bring others around me joy. It's a good lesson, and one that I hope sticks with our family and children, to use our gifts and talents to bless those around us, whether or talent be cupcakes or caterpillars.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bizarro World

Have you ever read or learned anything about Hasidic Jews? If you're into interesting topics, Hasidism is pretty fascinating. And I admit that on occasion I probably dress like a Hasidic Jew (except the wigs ;-) ), but no, in general, getting mistaken for a Jew in Northern Minnesota is rare thing.

Well, last night I had a dream that I was strolling through an outdoor market, and it was clear that I this was a Jewish market. And then, a woman came up to me, started speaking Hebrew, and then assumed that I was a Hasidic Jew. By some miracle I spoke Hebrew in my dream, and could pronounce that hard "H" perfectly, but I still explained that no, I was not a Hasidic Jew.

This is an odd blog post, I realize, but Jewish people in general are fascinating to me. As a Catholic, our Liturgy and traditions are so deep and meaningful--and that comes from the Jewish tradition. We pray for Jews often during Mass, and there is a deep connection with them. Jewish home and family are of extreme importance--it is an extension of their temple. This rings true also of those of us at home in our Ecclesia Domestica, our Domestic Church.

Interesting facts about Hasidism:
~Married woman always have their head covered or wear wigs. Even at home, in case someone stops over.
~Men and women never, ever interact. At parties and weddings a curtain is up with women on one side, and men on the other. Their Temple services are segregated as well.
~Men don't cut the hair from the five corners of their head.
~Marriages are often arranged by a matchmaker.
~Women dress very modestly in skirts and dresses that cover most of their bodies. Hasidic Jews wear muted colors, and are never flashy or brightly dressed.
~In the United States, Hasidic Jews live primarily in New York City.

So, I didn't become a Jew or anything during my hiatus, I'm just baiting you all out there to see if anyone else has a culture to share something about, a book about an interesting lifestyle, or the like. I've been digging around for a good book about Hasidism (historical fiction?) with no luck (that and the Amish--groups not known for being literary prolific).
Hoping my fellow Hesistant Homemakers are having better luck with their summer reading!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Here we go...again (but not in the moving or job sense, Thank God!!)

We've been so blessed since moving into our new home in January. Everyone was flourishing and happy, and we have had so much to be thankful for. In addition to adjusting to our new home, we were all adjusting to the different seasons that Mark's new job would bring. Shortly after the new year, a busy schedule turned into a crazy busy schedule in preparation for a trial.

We all rolled with it, and did what was necessary to keep our family going. This often meant dinner in shifts, so the little guys could eat earlier. The family dinner was turned into Mark eating leftovers, while the kids chased each other around the table with their jammies on.

And then, because the trial location was over two hours away, and because frequent depositions are required before trial, Mark ended up needing to be gone often during the week. Again, we took it in stride.

It was during one of these trips away that I realized I was pregnant.


I know, I know, crazy, right? I mean, I'm going to have a baby right after Thanksgiving, right before Christmas, and my 3rd and 4th children are only going to be about 20 months apart. But...It is good. Life, children, family; another eternal soul is always good. We needed to fill up that last seat in our minivan anyway.

Since the time I found out I was expecting, a week hasn't gone by in the first trimester where I have had an entire week with my husband home. Fortunately, I have sweet children and a toddler who takes two naps a day. Without that saving grace, many more tears over exhaustion would have been shed.

But this time around, knowing my limits, I have little to no guilt about popping in a movie for the kids at 10am while the baby naps and I shut my burning eyes for the few minutes I can get away with it. If they want leftover chicken for breakfast, or insist that strawberries are all they want for lunch, I just let them.

I mean, when you are in your first trimester, it's sink or swim. To stay afloat, I just have to let some things go. You know, like vacuuming, and oral hygiene. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

So, this summer brings a few challenges, but a lot of joy, not to mention a heck of a lot of dill pickles, tomatoes, potatoes and bananas. I don't expect the brown sugar craze to start for awhile...

Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Where, Oh Where!

Where, Oh where do I begin after such a long absence?!

I sit and type from my computer desk for the first time in a long time, and wow, am I thankful. It's strange being without a computer and trying to accomplish everything you once did on a computer to your smart phone. Managing Amazon Subscribe and Save shipments, and trying to scroll through pages of Google Images to see whether if the green caterpillar is a lunar moth or not, have proven quite tedious.

There is so, so much going on here, and the strange thing about not blogging about it, is that for the first several weeks away from the blog, I would register the "bloggable moment" in my head, only to realize that I wouldn't be blogging about said moment. Now, I'm a little stuck, being rusty and all from my absence. Hopefully the creative juices will soon be flowing, along with the small inspirations from life that make up most of this blog.

So, here's a quick recap of what we've been up to.

1) Luke will be six soon, and this is the first summer where I've been able to enroll him in activities that keep us all busy. T-ball, swimming lessons, and piano will be keeping our unairconditioned van nice and toasty these summer months. I wished that I could have enrolled Paul in activities right along with his brother, but he is still too young. He doesn't mind though. The playground at T-ball, and the empty ice rink at swimming lessons are giving him ample room to run free. It's a good arrangement.

2) My children are so very, very overtired. When they aren't swimming, playing T-ball, or running around the playground, they are running around outside. ALL DAY LONG. I keep them inside for as long as I can in the morning, but once they are out, it's the best I can do to feed and water them on the go. Up too early, and  running all day, and it's a recipe for hyperactivity that is a tell-tale sign of exhaustion around here. To remedy,  Mean Mommy is making the children rest all afternoon. Quiet time on beautiful June days sounds brutal, but it's a sanity saver.

3) A couple weeks ago I was able to attend the Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference. There was so much there, and so much that I wanted to do that I just had to resign myself to look forward to next years' conference so that I could prepare myself for all that I wanted to see and attend. It was such a "safe" place, and I remarked to a friend that I was in a crowd that I felt so incredibly normal in. I think schools are a great place, but there is something wonderful about being able to share about your children without having someone answer how attending school is the be-all and end-all solution to every problem. Saying, "My child is a wiggle worm," or "My child is a little bit of a cry-baby," or "My child is pretty gifted in this area," is met with actual, tangible solutions instead of the defensive response, "You know, school would really help that."

There is more I will share soon, even some big news. But, now that I am back at blogging, I can stretch things out a bit, right?


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Excused Absence.

I want to blog. I REALLY do. But our home computer is on the fritz, and after several attempts by my husband to fix it, we are defaulting to professionals to get the problem settled once and for all.

Being without a computer is hard. I have my phone, so I can shoot out short emails, but for someone who does a lot of bill paying, and product ordering online, it has been an adjustment.

My PC withdrawal is relieved somewhat by the fact that my kids have been sick one after the other for the entire time out computer has been out of commission. Vomiting, diarrhea, and ear drainage in every color of the rainbow is a pretty effective distraction for my online addictions. Now that the laundry is caught up, I am now spending the days lugging around the over-sized one-year old, whose ears feel better when Mom holds him all day long.

I'll be back soon, I hope!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Four-Letter Word.

Somewhere between the rain, spring, mud, dirt, soaking white-turned-black socks, dirty knees on sweatpants, sand and filth ALL over the house, sweeping and sweeping and sweeping, I decided enough was enough.

LEGO in our house is quickly becoming a four-letter word.

We have thousands of Legos, and the kids have a great deal of fun playing with them. However, they've also spent a fair amount of time outdoors lately, running in and out, grabbing a sweatshirt, running in with their rain boots on to use the bathroom, dragging inside toys out, and outside toys in. The house is dirty, I carry a broom from room to room, and it's driving me crazy.

What's this have to do with Legos, you ask? Well, I have, until now, had a fair amount of patience with our Lego situation. When I found a small, yellow Lego amid the unmentionables of a dirty diaper, I didn't take them away; only gave a stern warning that Legos were to be out of reach from the baby. I get used to finding Legos in my bed, under the rugs, or sorted in our kids' bowls and plastic plates.

But this weekend, I packed them away. It was a breakdown of sorts that I'd like to call TMC, which stands for TOO MUCH CLEANING. There is too much sand and dirt, hand towels full of boy grease and boots and shoes that have seen better days. Right now I have little to no patience for those tiny little Legos under my feet that I don't exaggerate have infiltrated every single room in the house, without exception.

I packed a large box away on Friday, told the kids calmly what I was doing, and why, and spent the remainder of the weekend picking up residuals. They were okay with it, and even though it rained all day Saturday, they understood that for an undetermined amount of time, that the privilege of turning our home into Ninjgo was being revoked.

With the mom guilt being stacked quite high for packing MORE of the boys' toys away, my rationale is that fewer toys for the kids is worth it if mom can keep more cool and collected and spends less time ranting about the condition of the jungle gym we call our home.

How do you keep up with the toys AND the outdoors-come-indoors mess?

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Mark and I have been having fun today with "Spotify," playing all of our favorite old, and new songs.

Mark was on a roll playing songs from our junior high and high school years, roughly...a-hem...ten years ago. Just because I was that kind of girl, I knew all the songs on the radio then, like lots of girls at the time. Mark was quizzing me this afternoon.

Better Than Ezra, Live, The Verve, Cardigans, Everclear, Incubus, Deep Blue Something, Savage Garden...on and on and on. Mark was impressed, because he apparently didn't spend his adolescent afternoons blaring music in his bedroom.

He thought he would stump me for sure when he played the first few notes of "Freshman," and then stopped it before the words started.

"Verve Pipe!" I shouted.

"How do you know all of these?" He asked.

I sang back, "When I was young I knew everything..."

Hee Hee.
(If you don't laugh, you didn't grow up in the '90's  ;-)  ).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Is This Thing On? Working Moms Edition.

In the past two weeks, Hilary Rosen's comment about how Ann Romney "hasn't worked a day in her life," has sparked a lot of controversy, most of which has left me offended with my feelings hurt.

For the  record, for all the good moms out there, there is no such thing as a mom who doesn't work. We are all working moms, regardless of where we are putting in our time. I have never taken a moral stance in the "Mommy Wars," and have never criticized working mothers, but on the flip side, I have to defend my decisions, too.

Since I'm not a pundit or a comedian, I'll just vent my frustration.

First off, some on the left defend Rosen's comments and have suggested that working women are superior to the ones that choose to stay home with their children. One particular comment went as far as describing the day of a working mother (getting up early, traveling in the car, being tired, etc,) and comparing it to my life (I suppose), indicating that I was both lazy and uninformed. (Let's just say that I get up pretty early, strap a lot of kids in and out of car seats, and cry sometimes because my eyes are burning from fatigue).

How can you respond to people that suggest a stay at home mother is lazy and unintelligent? Is there really anything I could possibly to say to such ignorance? Clearly, the lack of spending a minute in the shoes of a stay-at-home mother is making members of the left look out of touch, and downright cruel in the way they are diminishing the God-given role of Motherhood to an unnatural urge that needs to be weeded out in order for women to understand the economy.

The economy. That's how this whole thing started. Because apparently a women who doesn't work can't understand things like that because she...doesn' the home)? I am still failing to reach the connection. Someone help me here.

So let's see here, since I don't know anything about the economy, I must know nothing about budgeting, gas prices, home sales, or flat incomes. These problems are just illusions to me, Silly Girl, who spends her day propped up on the couch reading french novels with a bowl of potato chips at hand. I can't be bothered with the increase in food prices and feeding a family of five, nor the price of anything, really. Obviously I leave those trivial issues to the people who go to work.

And clearly, I haven't worked a day in my life, either.

Ann Romney raised FIVE boys. I have three, and even when I humor myself thinking about what wealth may have provided Mrs. Romney in cooking, cleaning, and childcare, there isn't a part of me that doubts that carrying her five sons, tending to them in the night, and nurturing them during the day was not only hard work, but absolutely consumed and drove her life.

I'll go as far as believing that if wealth bought Ann Romney household comforts, that those things only allowed her to work harder, freeing up more of her time to volunteer, work with her husband, attend more events to keep her political mind sharp, and be more present to her sons' activities.

I defend Ann Romney, as well as myself, and all mothers, confidently knowing how hard I work, and the great responsibilities that rest on my shoulders to manage the government within my own home.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Kids.

For your viewing pleasure, here are my bookends entertaining themselves while I was on the phone (forever!!!!) with the IRS today (long story, you don't want to hear it).

While I was on hold I took this video. Luke really has him going, huh!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hey, Baby.

 So, you all remember Michael, right? My third son who turns ONE YEAR OLD today. 
 I wasn't looking forward to this day, because this year went too fast. This baby grew too quickly, and he's reaching milestones I wasn't ready for. No little one, stay wrapped up in your swaddling blanket. Keep your baby bonnet on. Sit and play no mind to the big boys getting dirty and wrestling on the floor. You are a baby, little sir. 
 And while a mother can't play favorites, I do have to admit, that this little one has been my favorite baby. Who couldn't love a happy-go-lucky baby, content and easy to please. This mama enjoyed this one very much. 
 Dad loves him, too! Our three sons. Is this a dream? Have we really been this blessed?
Has a child ever been so loved? This baby, who gets a cheering squad every morning and after every nap, "Michael's awake! Michael's awake! Yeah!"  
I could search this temporal world my whole life, work tirelessly to achieve, but I challenge anyone who doubts that anything is more important than this.  
 In a word, this boy, this child, this life, all life, always, only, and forever will be good.

Happy Birthday, Michael. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Things I Love.

I love bread. Who doesn't love bread?

We leave the house one morning a week for a sizable drive for piano lessons. On this drive, we pass a bakery outlet which happens to have a 10% discount the same day we drive in.

Coincidence? I think not.

Because we eat so much bread, I try my best to buy the healthiest bread I can. My requirements are 1)Whole Grain 2) No enriched/bleach flour 3) No High Fructose Corn Syrup.

My kids eat this healthy bread because it's all they know. I tell you, white bread is something along the lines of chocolate cake around here, especially since it only makes the rare appearance for French Toast or garlic bread.

And so, I love to buy bread in bulk. Often I can buy loaves for only $1.00, and bagel and English muffins as well. The same loaf at the grocery store costs $3.49. Other treasures I've found at our bread outlet include spices, bakery buns, cereal, cookies, and specialty applesauce.

It seems likely that nearly every city should have something similar, and they are definitely worth the time and effort to reach if your family like bread as much as ours does. If you have a deep freezer, freeze the bread and it won't mold or stale.

For years to come, I have a feeling our "Bread Store" expeditions will be a weekly tradition.

Any other discount stores worth noting? Anything I'm missing?

Friday, March 30, 2012

For the Reflective Soul.

Listed below are my three most favorite prayer books. If they aren't on the arm of my chair, they're in my diaper bag. Maybe you've heard of these? Maybe you even have these? Either way, it's Lent, and I'm sharing my treasures with you.

Mother Love

Mother:s Manual

The Imitation of Mary

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today is our Paul's third birthday. Remember when he was born? I blogged about it! Three years ago already! *SIGH* 

This boy is wonderful. When I think about all the qualities that we tend to associate with boys, he has them all. But then, when you add the sweetness and gentleness that is this little one, it melts me. 
This is the boy who runs to me every morning with a hug and a kiss. My "Leech Monkey," I call him, because he's always stuck on mom or dad; always needing a snuggle and love. It's like he needs to breathe us in to function. 
This is the boy who, unprovoked, will tell me he loves me, climb on daddy's lap and kiss his cheek, or randomly say, "Mommy, you're beautiful." Snakes, snails, and puppy-dog tails indeed, but there is so much more. 
Paul loves books, and carries them around until someone reads to him. He loves cars, and carries his cars to bed, bath, and beyond ;-) . He loves his big brother and little brother so very much. If Luke leaves the house, Paul cries at the door for him. The baby is never without kisses or a playmate. 
 Happy Birthday Third Birthday, Paul! You are loved immensely by your family. And your mother couldn't be more happy by the joy that comes from caring for you and sharing in your sweetness everyday. I have a special feeling about you, my new little preschooler (!!). I think you will surprise us with your humor and quickness; I think you might end up as our comic relief; but reflective thinker. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that you'll be the kind of person that everyone is going to like to be around. We love you. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grocery Store Reflections.

I was in the checkout lane at the grocery store late last night, behind a family of five from a semi-agrarian religious community. In my head I was thinking of how much I admired their testament of faith--to wear their dresses and bonnets, but to also be out and about as their faith allowed.

At the end of their checkout, something wasn't quite right. Part of their purchase--the nutrient dense foods like cheese, milk, and tuna, weren't getting rung up right. There was a problem, and then a delay. The mother was getting flushed.  At the end of her purchase, six cans of tuna fish weren't able to be subsidized, and she told the cashier she wasn't going to buy them.

I am not a saint or missionary. Heck, I'm not very generous either. I mean, most of my life is spent scrubbing dirt under filthy boy fingernails, and unmentionable substances off of little boys' buns. There are times when I long to serve, to love the little orphans in Africa and Haiti, to win the lottery only to give it away to those who are hungry and cold. But, I am a mother of three young boys, and my time, treasure, and talent is wrapped up in loving and serving these souls.

But, since I was without my three amigos at the grocery store, I gathered up all my introverted courage, all of that welled-up missionary waiting to get out and shower love, and intervened. "Ma'm," I said, "I will pay for those."

The Ma'm looked confused, then quickly said, "No, no, it's okay really," and her face turned red. Then I felt really bad because I realized I had embarrassed her.

"No," I pressed on, "I would really want to buy those for you." I thought I was more serious this time.

She paused, then went on again. "Thank you, but really, no." And it was final. I did the best to hide both of our embarrassment by cooing at her little baby and talking about my own little baby.

I hesitated to share this story because I thought it made me sound a little presumptuous. I wanted to give, perhaps because in many ways I am unable. But with this one thing I could help, with this tiny purchase, I could make a difference. I wanted to love, and I wanted to share that with others outside my family.

On my sidebar is Minnesota Mom's blog. Several years ago she wrote a story about shoe shopping with her (then) five kids. At the checkout the bill was much more than she expected, and it shocked her. "I have to think about this a minute," she said to the cashier as she mentally processed the numbers. Then, a woman came up and said she was going to pay for the shoes. Maggie refused. Then, after some discussion they each paid half.

The story stuck with me. Minnesota Mom accepted the generosity of others, even though it goes against just about everything in our culture to accept someone's graciousness. I think I would have blatantly refused the same offer Minnesota Mom did, and instead been scared and skeptical.

The "pay it forward" mentality definitely has merit. People I don't even know have done very kind things for me and my family--covering whole dinners at restaurants, giving deep discounts or not charging for services, and people going out of their way to encourage us one way or another. These are not easy things to do, and I am always humbled by the gesture. Being so busy at home, when I'm out alone, when an opportunity presents itself where I can actually contribute something is rare.

And you, on the side of the road with the smoking car hood up...sorry...not pulling over. Sista doesn't do that.

In this case, at least I tried. My intentions were pure and I just wanted to do the right thing. I mean, could I have really done nothing and not felt like I was doing wrong by the omission? Until the next opportunity, I will do what Mother Theresa said to do to promote world peace, "Go home and love your family."

For now, that's all I can do. With great love.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Someday, when he's older and raised; when he's done crawling in on stormy nights and no longer needs help getting pants buttoned or shoes tied...

Someday, when all I have left is gratitude for the opportunity to raise a son, I want to remember him this way...

As the little boy.