Sunday, February 26, 2012

Things I Love/Penance.

I go into writing this post with my head sunk low. There is a little known secret about me that only those who have actually ever lived with me know.

And that is???

I love potato chips. LUUUUV them.

(These are the chips I eat. My favorites. The kids call these "Mom's Chips" when they see them in the store. They are melt-in-your-mouth Amazing.)

I could eat an entire bag right here and now. I would, I could, it's been done. 

When Mark goes on a snack run, he doesn't even ask me what I want. He just knows. And the reason Mark is the one that goes on snack runs, is that I don't buy chips. Ever. If I buy them at the store, I am more than likely going to open them in the car and eat them on the way home. If a bag makes it home, it will be gone the next day.

No kidding.

I have so many stories about eating momentous quantities of junk  food, but I'll spare you. I mean, I eat my fruits and veggies, and I try extra hard to cook healthy foods for my family. But still, there are some guilty pleasures that can't be broken.

I like my coffee, I like my chips. Who doesn't?

I gave up chips for Lent. I've never done this before, and I'm thinking it's pretty courageous. I used to give up pop (diet coke) for Lent, but since I've long broken the habit of drinking pop as an afternoon pick-me-up, I thought pop was too easy.

And, since giving up coffee would be CA-RA-A-ZEE, chips it is.

This is my Lenten Penance. Along with some great reading (which I will share later...) this Lent is bound to improve my spiritual and physical health. ;-) .

Any takers want to share their Lenten penance?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kitchen Face Lift.

Another weekend brought more projects that were started, and now almost completed with the exception of a few finishing touches. Our kitchen is now largely done, as is our bedroom.

These accomplishments are huge considering that Mark was gone from morning until night on Saturday at a men's retreat, and that my baby has been sicker than anything I've ever experienced for the past week.

Since my bedroom is being used a folding station today for all the laundry I haven't kept up with during our projects, I'll save those photos for a more presentable day.

The kitchen, however, is a work to behold.
This is a photo taken while Mark's grandmother was packing and moving. It always looked immaculately clean and decorated, but here you can at least see our starting point.  
 On our wishlist was 1) New flooring 2) New countertops 3) New backsplash 4) A dishwaster 5) More counterspace 6) New Range
What we were able to do, for a few hundred dollars, was huge. In this space we were able to paint all the walls and cupboards, get used, but updated appliances, a dishwasher and gain more counter space.

This wasn't a remodel, but just some touch ups to update the kitchen and make it more accessible for a family who would be spending a lot of time in here. 

My dad helped tremendously in this space. Projects that seemed insurmountable to Mark and me, were a piece of cake for him. A contractor by trade, he put ceramic tile on the counter tops and back splash, and installed new floors to replace the linoleum. Wow!! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Habits.

A few months ago I read the Book 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, by Stephen Covey. I won't do a review of all the habits here; only one that I found to be worth noting on right now, and that is the need for families to establish traditions.

We all think of traditions as what we do on Christmas Eve, or an annual summer picnic, but I liked what Covey said about making the seemingly mundane a tradition. Some families have a family game night, or a movie night. The author wrote that for some families, a weekly trip to a bagel shop, or making a special meal is a great tradition.

My college roommate had a family in the double-digits, and their lives amazed me. They all got to Mass at 6:30am every morning and the whole family sat down for an actual breakfast afterward before dad went to work. This same family had a Friday night tradition of ordering pizza and watching old black and white films, and a Saturday tradition of date night for mom and dad. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in their home now as a mother instead of as a naive college student.

We are still working on traditions in our male-dominated domain. Our boys are just getting to the ages that they are able to remember birthdays and holidays of previous years, and are able to expect a routine. We are trying to establish their memories rooted in the traditions we are creating with the hopes of being a strong and effective family :-) .

One of our mundane, but special, traditions are our Saturday mornings. We call them "lazy Saturdays." Instead of rushing to get dressed, fed, and on to our day, we take it slow. Mark and I take the coffee carafe in to the living room and visit with each other while the kids sit and listen or play cars at our feet. It's so small, yet, we've come to expect that on most Saturdays, before 10am is sacred time for our family. It's the first time in the busy week that we are all able to sit together and not be thinking about washing dinner dishes, giving evening baths, or preparing for the next day's work.

And while the above tradition is special to us, as I thought about other traditions we have, like book reading, family prayer, Mass and brunch on Sundays, having music in the background of our days, and making the effort to include our family for learning experiences, while they aren't huge and elaborate, Covey says that they make a huge impact on thriving families. That is my hope. (*EDITED TO ADD: the first sentence of this paragraph has 63 words in it. I usually blog early in the morning. Have I mentioned I'm a morning person and have the IQ of lawn furniture after 8pm? Forgive me, it's late.)

I am curious to hear about the small, but special traditions that other families keep. Going out to lunch? Family bike rides? Campfires? Cooking together? I love all of it, and hope that we can all find Grace in the day-to-day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Little Victories.

Speaking of projects, since Mondays are reserved for putting away mounds of laundry and digging around in the fridge for what made it through the weekend, we kept things pretty light yesterday.

On my list, however, was getting some toys out of sight and out of reach. It's not that we have too many, or that they have mismatched pieces and are junky. No, I like toys quite a bit.

Toys are going because they aren't being played with. It's a happy amazement to me that the more children you have, the less toys you need. These babes much prefer playing with one another and trying to keep up with the older one than playing with some rattle or a singing nursery-rhyme clock thingy. (Nothing against nursery-rhyme clock thingies.)

Indeed, my ten-month old won't play with any toys, unless you count the remote or my cell phone. Michael is much too consumed with keeping up with his older brothers to pay any mind to the toys sitting on the rug.

Scratch that. There is one thing Michael can play, although it's really more mimicking. And that's "vrooming cars." Complete with sound effects, the baby moves toys and objects around like the big boys. I tried really hard to capture this on my camera, but I couldn't quite capture the humor of Michael "vrooming" around this bottle of Miracle Grow.

(I'm such a good mom, right!!)

We're not big Valentine's Day celebrators around here, but since the kids have so much fun with it, we made brownies for dessert tonight and bought fresh fish for dinner. And since I couldn't make up my mind on rice or pasta, I'm compromising with Orzo and making a risotto. (Have you ever made real risotto? Oh my goodness, the best!) 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Up to/House Art.

Things are starting to feel like home as we settle into our new house. There are projects to do, namely painting, but I have the feeling that we will always be in the middle of a project, or at least have our eyes set on a project in the future. It's a little bit tiring, but it's a lot of fun, too. 

My biggest problem with myriad tasks on my to-do list,is that I end up doing constant maintenance on every room I walk into. Let's face it, there is always a toy to pick up, an aimless sock, a cheerio on the floor, a blanket that needs to be folded or a light that needs turning off. When I get into "maintenance mode," I end up running around like a crazy woman with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. It also isn't a very efficient use of time or energy! 

Since starting our new beginning, I have been trying, TRYING, to keep my projects at a minimum. "One at a time," I keep telling myself. "Finish one room, one project, one task at a time," I keep forcing my brain to understand that I can't paint, fold laundry, sweep and cook lunch at the same time. And trust me, I've tried! 

Instead, this weekend we took a different approach--one project--started, finished--done! We painted our mudroom this weekend. In the scope of projects, this was a small one, but that's what we wanted. 
 This is a huge space! Grandma always had it looking really cute, but for our family, we are going to take a more utilitarian approach. We have plans to put our washer and dryer on the wall shown. For me, making the boys strip down in the entryway and throwing their clothes right into the wash will make life a lot easier. 
This is our garage and front entrance in the same room. This small paint project makes a big difference to us, since this is the first room you see when you walk in the house. Even though it wasn't a big priority, it makes a big difference for us to have it done!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Is This Thing On?

Santorum won at the caucuses last night.

I was sorta surprised, especially after the not-so-stunning results of the other primaries.

As a matter of principle, I am not a president basher. I am, on occasion, a little bit political. In the case of Santorum's win, I definitely think the win was political.

America votes for the religious man when Americans are posed with losing their religious freedom from the incumbent.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't America founded on the premise of religious freedom? Isn't that why a new colony was formed across the ocean?

Food for thought.

Monday, February 6, 2012


After a bit of reluctance, I relented and watched Rio with Mark and the kids. Mark had already taken Luke to see it in the theater last winter, and then we watched together as a family when it came out on DVD a few weeks ago. I have to admit that I absolutely LOVED it.

The majority of the movie takes place in Rio, but I have to give props to Minnesota, because some of the characters are from Moose Lake, MN, which is a real, live, small town in MN (wouldn't you know it, I used to run track against Moose Lake). 

After watching Rio with the kids, I bought the music and put it on my iPod. OH MY GOODNESS. I know I'm going to lose all my street credit by writing this, but I really like percussion. Seriously, love percussion. And since Rio is famous for Samba, there is percussion a-plenty. The boys and I have had a blast dancing around the living room to the bird-laden beats. 

I love it. I'm probably a little bit 'gangsta.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Storybook Ending.

...and then we closed on our new house. The boys frolicked in the yard, we sipped cups of coffee in front of the fireplace, wine on the porch in the summer, and thanked God everyday for the blessing that after all of this time of wondering and waiting, it all worked out.

And we lived happily ever after.

Thanks, everyone! I am very excited about blogging in our new space. To "Homestead" is a peaceful feeling. We're here to stay. It's truly wonderful.