{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 17

Welcome back to PPP after a bit of a hiatus!  Nothing major going on (as I mentioned last post), just the general business of life and constant other demands on my time.  Stuff has not calmed down in the least, but I realized that I need my writing time.  I function much better when I’m doing it regularly.  This blog is the closest thing I get to therapy, so I need to make an effort to keep it out of the backseat!

This is something of a Weekly mishmash “Catch-up”, plus with a few more recent goings-on.  So, what have we been up to over here?

1.  EASTER.  Here we are after mass.  We showed up 40 minutes early, got to sit in front, and the kids weren’t horrible.  It was an all-around win.

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2.  I took the kids on a day trip to The Museum of Clean.  They loved it!  There were toys and antique toilets!  Fun for all ages!

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3.  We got a new kitty in January.  We adopted her and did not change the name the rescue group had given her: Beatrice.  Once the kids got over the need to carry her around by the neck, it’s been good.  Beatrice keeps us young; she is really hyper.  Especially at 2am.

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4.  I stayed up late every night this week to declutter the basement.  In the ensuing time, I went through 6 Rubbermaid totes of “Keepsakes” that my mother had saved for me from childhood.  Here is what I learned:

First of all, I don’t advocate for throwing out all of your kid’s artwork, school projects, writing assignments, etc.  But you certainly don’t have to keep every. single. one.  I think my mom was sweet for doing so, most likely under the impression that someday…..someday….it may mean so so much to me that I have my junior high math tests and my preschool macaroni art, but I realized that I can really live without those things cluttering up my basement.  I filled an industrial-size garbage can.

However, I appreciate my mom keeping some of those things, because there were some gems.  Like all-caps handwritten notes from my grandmother for me when I was first learning to read.  And the cute little artwork from my younger brothers and sisters.  And the kitchen-table notes from my mom to my younger self that reveal, not only what kind of kid I was at a younger age, but what kind of mom she was (and looking at it with my mother-eyes now, I realize I totally get her in a way I didn’t at the time.)

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Well, thank you, Caity. I WILL have a hippy barsday!!

I also realized that as an adult, I am coming full-circle into what my likes and passions were at that young age.  Gretchen Rubin says in her books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home that we need to look back at what we enjoyed as children to figure out what we enjoy now.  Now, for some people this may be a “duh” moment – “I played matchbox cars as a child and now I love my job as a mechanic!” – but for others of us, myself included, our likes can sometimes be obscured by what we feel as adults we should do.  I graduated from high school thinking I should be a doctor.  Not necessarily because science was my strong point, or because I truly enjoyed all those labs in high school.  I just thought it was what I should do because my parents were in the medical profession and it was a good job.  I failed to consider that I was not really a people-person (not all doctors are, but doctors with the best bedside manner certainly are), nor was I ever good at handling stress (which can be a little bit of an occupational hazard in a stressful profession).  I also was never a science or math person and my grades reflected this.  So, when I finally conceded defeat as a pre-med student, I felt relief but also felt a great deal of self-hatred for “not being able to cut it”.  I wasn’t good enough.  I wasn’t smart enough.  I might still be able to graduate from college with some sort of degree, but I would always consider myself a failure because I couldn’t follow through with my initial goal of being a doctor.

So I majored in history.  Which I loved.  Which didn’t guarantee me a job (as my mother constantly reminded me).  But I figured that if I chased my love, and something I was good at, eventually I would figure something out.

And I had to laugh as I went through those keepsake boxes.

There was a running theme through all of those papers and assignments:  History and writing.  I found an assignment I had to write in 5th grade – a letter to my parents about why I was excited for the beginning of the school year.  I wrote, “I am so excited for 5th grade because we finally get to learn history this year!”  I discovered a nightshirt I had craft-painted that had a picture of a boy and girl in colonial dress, and emblazoned above them in bold letters was “HISTORY”.  I found dozens of stories and plays I had written.  I found a note from my sister telling me that she always thought I would be a great historian or writer.  I understood that all throughout my childhood, I always knew my likes and my strengths.  I just thought that they were stupid and I should try to do something more “realistic” (and probably more lucrative monetarily) than writing or something with history.  Ha.  It would have taken less time and heartache if I had figured that out earlier!

And this super-long take leads to the next take….

5.  I’ve decided to become a middle school/high school history teacher.  I graduated with a history degree but opted not to do the teacher certification at the time because I didn’t think I wanted to teach.  This may have been another fallacy of thought; growing up I heard disparaging things about teachers – despite the fact my grandmothers and aunt were teachers – hmmmm…I’ll have to maybe analyze that in a future blog post….  At any rate, I didn’t think I would be a good teacher, plus I figured I’d hate it.

What changed my mind?  Volunteering at my children’s school.  I have been participating voluntarily for several years doing this program called FAME.  It stands for “Fine Art Mini Experience” and every month volunteer teachers present lessons on one work of art/artist and one musical piece/composer.  I have had so much fun with this!  The kids are always really interested and ask the best questions.  I love doing the research and I learn so much.  It is right up my alley because both art and music are closely aligned with history and I love helping kids make those connections.  The best part is how energized I feel after spending all day at the school teaching these lessons.  As a SAHM, that doesn’t happen very often at home, and I got to the point where I realized I wanted to have that experience more often.

Hubby was very supportive of this.  I am doing an online, accredited program where I can take the teacher certification test in Idaho and can be in a classroom within a year if I so desire.

My youngest, Evvie, is only three, so I have been dealing with some anxiety/guilt about possibly going to work full-time before she is in school full-time.  I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but my main concern is to get my teacher’s certification by next spring and then decide at that point if I want to begin looking for a job or wait a bit until Evvie is in 1st grade.

Ultimately, though, I am confident this is what I should be doing at this point in time.  It took a lot of prayer and soul-searching but I feel excited for this next phase in my life!

6.  We had an awful day on Monday where we had 50 mph winds.  It was terrible!  Power poles got knocked over and trees fell into buildings.  I am so grateful we rarely get tornadoes here but I am beginning to wonder if these high winds we’ve been having lately are not nearly as bad!

7.  I’ve been rocking out to Ed Sheeran.  When I was in Europe this summer, Galway Girl was on the radio a lot when we were tooling around northern France and pulling in British radio stations.  My kids, though, love Shape of You.  For the beat I think.  The lyrics aren’t the most G-rated which makes me a little leery when I listen to it.  There’s that part that goes, “Last night you were in my room/ And now my bedsheets smell like you”

Spike was in the car and yelled up to me, “Why does it say ‘my veggies smell like you’?”

I replied, “Yes, yes, that is what he’s saying, isn’t it?  I guess sometimes that happens.”

And now, every time it comes on my kids crack up because it is SUCH a SILLY SONG!!

Veggies.

Heehee.

 

 

Have a lovely week!

 

 

 

 

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Good Friday Venting Session

Hello!  Yes, unlike the Easter Bunny on his little hippity-hoppity way, I DO Exist!!  It has been a crazy and hectic and all-around exhausting school year with the kids thus far.  And I am not shy to say I am going slightly batty with all of it.  Deep breath.

Life is good.  I can’t complain about anything major.  We are all in good health, Hubby’s job provides well for us, we have clothes and food and leisure time.  Lots of blessings and things to be thankful for all around.  I hate to be a complainer.

But….

…..Ugh.  Sometimes I just need to VENT.

I have somehow gotten into the “thinking falacy” of believing that Everything Is (Or Should Be) Great.  All. The. Time.  Even if it doesn’t feel like it.  Even if you are going slowly downhill after the drive to school, then the drive to ballet, then the drive home to make dinner then thirty minutes later the drive back to ballet to pick up the ballerina before dropping of the karate master at karate before driving home again for an hour of waiting to leave to pick up the karate master and then driving home again.  And this all in the middle of a 45-minute production where the toddler hosts a massive and completely ridiculous screaming session in the car because I took away the pound of bubble gum she had “collected” from the minivan garbage can and the (not potty-trained, not trying) 5-year-old demands time on his portable video game for the 47th time today (…the answer STILL being surprisingly, “No.”) as the unmistakable scent of urine wafts up to me in the front seat.  And then go to bed and repeat!!! And repeat.  And repeat.pexels-photo-208216.jpeg

I haven’t vented to anyone in quite a long time because I don’t feel I deserve to vent.  I feel like being frustrated with life is an inexcusable sin that a “good” person (especially a good mother) doesn’t get the luxury of feeling.  I mean, I chose this life, didn’t I?  I chose to have a bigger-ish family; to have 4 beautiful and special yet ofttimes extremely challenging children.  I chose to live 30 minutes outside of the city limits, necessitating long and dull commutes rife with the opportunity for siblings to fight and every last one of them to take of his or her shoes and socks and make a “quick run to the store” a virtual impossibility.  I chose to put my children in after-school activities that they seem to enjoy.  I am not being forced to do any of this.

Motherhood, for all its joys, can just be plain hard sometimes.  And it seems to be even harder when you don’t have a good outlet to vent.  I have a few very close friends, but I don’t feel comfortable venting to them.  Why is that?  I know they won’t judge me for complaining about life.  Maybe I feel it is that they won’t understand?  Which is stupid because, even though their youngest children are older than mine, they have still been there!  Of course, maybe it is also because most of my good friends (all with older school-age children, now) have gone back to a career and no longer seem as “desperate housewife-y” along with me as they once did.  Their frame-of-reference has, quite simply, shifted.  And I no longer feel as though I have that many friends who are “down in the trenches” with me.

Anyhow.

This being Good Friday, I should probably note that Lent has been a bust over here, folks.  This year I started off with the best intentions (not going to give up anything, but add in daily Bible reading and rosary) but that fell by the wayside about three days in.  I wanted to get the kids to Stations of the Cross at least once but realized yesterday that the last opportunity (not having partaken earlier like I had wanted) was today at 3.  I suggested to the school-agers that I pick them up from school to attend, at which I received a steady stream of whining and complaining and then getting stuck at the grocery store with the two youngest who were fighting over “unicorn poop” (those pastel multi-colored mini marshmallows I intend to put on the Easter jello) at the top of their oh-so-shrill little lungs, I just decided that I COULD NOT HANDLE Stations of the Cross this afternoon as a good Catholic.  Instead of focusing on the suffering of Jesus on His way to death, I would just be sitting there thinking about how much suffering I was enduring caused by my children elbowing each other maliciously through me (as I tried to separate them) and the negative effects of child self-applied sugar.

I ask forgiveness.

Sigh.  Well, I feel better cyber-friends.  I think the glass of wine helped, too.

Let’s try and make this more of a regular thing, shall we?

 

 

 

Siblings Abroad: My wild European Adventure

I have been sort-of persona non here-a this summer, sorry about that!  But I have a lot to share!  I DID take my Mommy trip (sans family but avec my littlest brother) to Europe at the beginning of August.  And it. Was. Fabulous.  I plan to write a more detailed set of posts all about it soon, but here are a few highlights:

DUBLIN, IRELAND

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This is me and my brother outside the gates of the Guinness Brewery (or, as I like to think of it,  “Disneyland for ale-drinkers”)

THE HARBOR AT COBH, IRELAND

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Most likely, if you have Irish ancestry, your forbears left from this port.

COUNTY KERRY, IRELAND

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It was a dreary, wet, rainy day but Ireland was still magnificent.

LONDON, ENGLAND

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I didn’t realize it at the time, but when we heard Big Ben chime the hour it was one of the last times it would chime for the next couple of years!  They are going to be doing extensive repairs on it through 2019 and the bell (which is the actual “Big Ben”, not the clock) will be out of commission.  It was lovely to hear!

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON

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I love these Tudor windowpanes!  This is at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom/ former town Guildhall.

WARWICK CASTLE

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I’ve been slightly obsessed with Warwick Castle and “Warwick the Kingmaker” since I saw the Starz miniseries The White Queen.  Both my brother and I really thought seeing this fabulously maintained and imposing historical structure a highlight of our trip!

PARIS, FRANCE

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This was my second trip to Paris and it is still my favorite city in the whole world!  A lot has changed since 1999, but Paris still had all of its old charm in abundance.  Je t’aime, Paris!

THE LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE

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Chateaux country!!!  I think I may retire here…there are so many chateaux to choose from, and a dilapidated one probably wouldn’t cost too much, right?  One of my favorite things about the Loire Valley are the gorgeous gardens and flowers everywhere.  (This is the Chateau du Langeais, isn’t it delightful?)

NORMANDY

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The World War II sites at Utah and Omaha Beaches were poignant reminders that we owe so much to those brave young men (and women) who gave their lives to stop Hitler.

BELLEAU-WOOD, FRANCE

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This World War I battle site and village were of special interest to my brother and me for two reasons: our great-uncle fought here and was permanently blinded by German mustard-gas; and US Marine Corps history was made here when those men held the line and kept the enemy from advancing toward Paris.  My brother (a former Marine) was honored to see where the men who came before him fought so bravely.

More soon!!

{7Quick Takes} Weekly mishmash: Vol 16

Oh Lordy it has been awhile since I’ve been on here.  Lots of stuff happenin’, lots of craziness as usual.  Check in with Kelly and then enjoy my 7QTs:

ONE.

Spring has finally sprung, to put that silly little adage to use.  I love to see all the verdant life coming up everywhere.  This year Hubby took some of our scrap metal and made a huuuuuuge garden box that sits now off of our back deck.  We have planted herbs, lettuce, and tomatoes here.  The idea being this will serve as our “kitchen garden” so I don’t have to run all the way across the yard to our larger patch.  (When it comes to gardening, I am lazy.  The easier and closer it is for me to care for and harvest my produce, the better.) We’ve also created a starter “Fairy garden” in the garden box for the kids.  They seem to enjoy it:-)

TWO.

Hubby is always bugging me to take more of an interest in yard maintenance.  It’s not that I don’t want to help, it’s just that I am usually preoccupied with children’s needs and mountains of laundry.  Last week I decided that since Evvie was down for a nap and Spike was enthralled in Netflix, I would take this year’s maiden voyage with the John Deere riding lawnmower.  To help Hubby out and also because the grass was looking a bit on the shaggy side.  Well, toward the end of my grass-cutting adventure, I inadvertently drove into a cleverly-concealed hole just big enough to entirely swallow my right front wheel.  Needless to say, that tractor is heavy.  I managed to push it out of the hole, but I noticed hours later the forearm above my wrist was swelling up with a giant bulge of pain.  I thought I might have a stress fracture or something.  The good news: the urgent care PA said it was just tendonitis.  Also good news: Hubby may be a little less harpy about me helping in the yard since, after all, I did help.  I helped so hard I had to go to the doctor.  And that is hard core.

THREE

My oldest, Junior, just turned 10.  I think I have mentioned previously that he has, to date, been our most difficult child.  He has always been more intense, more destructive, and much more moody than any of our other children (to date…Evvie is showing signs of being the same way, but this could just be a result of being 2…hard to tell….)  After a pretty stressful weekend, Junior came home from school earlier in the week with a massive chip on his shoulder and spare anger for everyone within throwing distance.  After talking with him on the way to his karate class, Hubby determined that Junior feels left out and ….gulp…bullied at school.  Now, Junior tends to be a little melodramatic, often erring on the side of negativity.  Whenever I visit the school or ask his teacher how he’s doing socially, everything seems fine.  Kids sit by him at lunch.  They say hello to him in the halls.  But clearly something is not right if he comes home from school and takes his anger out on everyone so forcefully.  I think one of the hardest thing about being a parent is trying to figure out what the right course of action is when your child is having a hard time.  Sometimes it can take years of trial and error before finally finding a solution that works.  And it is hard to be patient when your child is in emotional pain.  But I guess the way forward is to try some things, perhaps meeting yet again with the school counselor, trying to teach Junior ways to manage his anxiety and anger, maybe seeing a professional therapist.  We’ll keep you posted.

FOUR

3 Months to Europe!  I am getting pretty excited.  This summer up until then is jam-packed with activities, so I am probably going to be mentally and physically wrapped up with those for the first few weeks.  But I feel pretty ready: everything is booked, reserved, and planned.  I gotta figure out the whole cell-phone-in-Europe thing, but that is about the last thing on my to-do list.  Super duper excited!!!!

FIVE

I mentioned above that Hubby has been nagging me more and more about helping him out with the yard-work.  I don’t blame him; we live on 2 acres of a yard we’re still trying to tame into shape after buying the property just under three years ago.  My issue is that if I devote a large amount of time to helping outside the house, the inside things that need to be done DON’T GET DONE.  Home ownership is hard work.  It’s a trade-off in the attention department, too.  What I mean is, when I spend all afternoon weeding the wilderness mess that is my front flower bed, that is time taken away from doing something else equally fun, like scrubbing the bathtub.  So prioritization is a MUST!  In my book, things like tilling the garden for the 57th time rank lower than say, trying to deal with the mountainous pile of laundry that is now in my bedroom.  The tasks around the house are never going to disappear.  Grass will always need to be mowed.  Weeds will always need to be pulled.  Laundry will always need folding.  Butts will always need changing (well, it feels like anyway…#notpottytrainednottrying).  I think Hubby’s and my solution is to sit down together and prioritize the housework, yardwork and maintenance and then do what we can and not stress about the things that don’t get done.

SIX

I am not the best dog owner.  I love my dog, and he gets all of his needs met, but usually at the end of the day if I have one more creature demading anything from me, I can’t take it.  So he gets most of his attention from the kids.  But, sometimes, when you wake up in the morning and step in a large warm puddle of doggy diarrhea, the animal-lover in me does an about-face and I mutter under my breath that I wish I had reconsidered my decision to adopt a shelter dog 13 years ago.  Of course it wasn’t my dog’s fault: he had picked up some sort of stomach bug.  But after spending two full days cleaning up foul-smelling liquid poopie off the carpet (interspersed with human toddler diaper needs) I was through with that s**t.  Is it too much to ask to get a break from poop?  I think I am going to ask for that for Mother’s Day. (note: Winston the dachshund is doing much better, thank you.  The vet gave him some great drugs to get his bowel operating normally again.  Praise be!)

SEVEN

Existential question of the week: Will my van ever be clean?

 

Have a great week!

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Depression sucks edition

So, spring is finally here but…ugh…gray, cloudy, and rainy days are making my spirits droop.  Which reminds me of the insidiousness of the depression I suffer from and how I need to constantly be on my guard.  Here’s some ins and outs of the past week feeling not-quite-100%:

ONE.

So our little spring break trip up to Jackson was -eh- fun.  But a far cry from the relaxing vacation I was anticipating it was going to be.  We did some cool things, and saw some neat animals, but I was struggling the whole time to keep from crying.  Hubby was pretty sure it was PMS (and don’t you know how delighted women are when you point that out to them, hmmmm?) even though I don’t know if you can claim that for an entire month of crabbiness.  Anyhow, I snapped at my kids and felt myself wanting to cry through much of the trip.  I kept thinking, “I need a vacation” even though I was on vacation!

TWO.

It’s a bad idea to skip medications.  I never forget to take my antidepressants on purpose, but sometimes I am just so exhausted at the end of the day that I forget.  And it usually happens that I’ll be feeling fine…..feeling fine….feeling fine….HIT A BRICK WALL.  And that is when I stop and ask myself if I have been taking my meds faithfully.  And the answer is generally no.  I need to come up with a better system to remind myself…such as a phone reminder or sticky note on my mirror.

THREE.

We weren’t meant to parent alone.  And with Hubby working 14-hour-days as part of his current crazy schedule, I never see him and he gets home after the kids are in bed.  This is stressful for both of us.  Single parents out there, I salute you!  I don’t know how you do it!  I just got to the point this week where I felt like ALL I DID WAS YELL.  And I felt like a terrible parent.  I stopped at one point and realized I wasn’t enjoying my children.  At all.  My days just felt like a long loop of feed the kids, pick up after the kids, listen to the kids fight, yell at the kids to pick up their stuff and not fight, put the kids to bed while tripping over Legos and crayons strewn all over my messy messy house.

I don’t really have a solution to this malaise I find myself in right now with regard to motherhood, but believe you me, I am having these lurid fantasies of having a nanny who comes over for two hours in the afternoon, teaches my children foreign languages while helping them finish their homework and who lets me take a nap!

FOUR.

My house smells like pee.  The four-year-old is *potty-trained*.  But I use that definition very loosely.  I will pass Spike while I am tearing through the house cleaning up some mess or other, and ask, “Did you pee your pants?  You smell like pee.”  And he will say, “Well, I just dribbled a little.”  I might be completely daft, but my definition of “dribble” does not consist of a football-sized wet spot on the crotch of one’s trousers.  ???

FIVE.

Sometimes I feel like running away.  Not to anyplace exotic or far.  Just to Barnes & Noble.  By myself.

SIX.

For those of you who have loved ones who suffer from depression:  It is not helpful when you say something along the lines of, ” Well, you can be bummed out today, but I expect you to get yourself together to not drag the whole family down this weekend.”  I love my husband but sometimes…like I said….not helpful.

SEVEN.

Something to say that would be helpful for a depressed, overwhelmed, and trying to dig herself-out-of-a-hole-of-despair wife and mother:

“I’m here for you.”

“I understand you probably want some alone time right now.  I would be happy to take the kids off your hands so you can do whatever you need to do to get yourself feeling better again.”

“What is something I could do in the future to help you out so you don’t get so low again?”

My current depression, which I would describe as a malaise, is not life-threatening or hospital-stay-inducing, thank God.  It is managed beautifully on medication 99% of the time.  I am just a little low.  And my personality makes it very difficult to ask for help when I need it.  But I think I need a little help right now to get back to being me.

 

Hopefully next week will be better!  Don’t forget to head over to Kelly’s to see what everybody else is up to!

 

{7QuickTakes} Spring Break Edition

The calendar finally says it’s spring!  Hooray!  Be sure to check with Kelly to see if everyone else over there is as excited about it as I am!

Here’s what has been going on here lately:

ONE.

This last week was my older children’s spring break.  Because Hubby had to work most of the week (ugh…he is on an insane schedule currently!) we were only able to take a few days away.  Our destination: Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

I am a mountain girl and I love me some Tetons.  We stayed up at the ski resort but, mainly due to the expense, did not downhill ski.  We settled for going into Grand Teton National Park and doing some cross-country skiing.  This was the first time Spike got on a pair of skis and he was a trooper!

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The couple that skiis together…is probably yelling at their kids through the course of this photo shoot because the oldest is hogging the camera, the middle two want to take pictures too, and the youngest one is trying to eat something in the snow that looks suspiciously like a chocolate egg but is more likely elk poo.

TWO.

This Lenten fast from alcohol is hard for me, not gonna lie.  Before, I enjoyed my glass of wine with dinner most nights and usually a cocktail or two on the weekends.  It was something I looked forward to.  Especially after a long day of dealing with the demands of several small (and oftimes crabby) people.  And now, I realize, maybe my alcohol consumption was tipping the scales at being a little too much.  Particularly because I miss it so much after only a few weeks of abstaining!  Yikes.  But maybe that is good.  To step back and reassess exactly how much I had been drinking.  Along with that, just to see if I can fill my craving for something more healthy (or…how about spiritual…since this is Lent, after all?).  But still it is hard.  I absolutely love wine.400px-glass_of_red_wine

THREE.

Earlier this week the two younger ones helped me clean.  I have to remember that it is the effort that counts.  Even if I have to clean up after them cleaning up.

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This is right before she ran off to do something else and slipped dramatically in her puddle of doom.

FOUR.

My framing project of a few weeks back is complete!  I ended up ordering a custom frame for the oddly-shaped oblong poster (which STILL wound up costing around $70 – AND I had to assemble it myself) and then bought a $15 poster frame at Michael’s for the other one.  The problem was this generic frame was slightly too big and I was faced with the problem of trying to make my own mat.  I had initially thought of buying matting board and cutting it to size, but ended up using a burlap ribbon I had lying around.  I glued it onto the backing and it seemed to work OK.  I was worried it was going to look goofy, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

FIVE.

Evvie (at 2 years 2 months) is currently in the violent throws of the Terrible Twos.  Today she had a knock-down drag out tantrum because I refused to let her play with a colorful feminine sanitary product she found in my purse.  This morning at breakfast she was upset that she wasn’t permitted to eat off her sister’s plate. She tossed her bacon onto the floor in disgust, loudly proclaimed, “No WAY, Mom!”  After a two-second pout, she announced, “I hung-y” (toddler speak for “hungry”), climbed down off her chair and, before I could stop her, grabbed the floored bacon and put it in her mouth.  Mommy’s gray hairs are fast appearing thanks to this one!

SIX

I have been really, really craving some alone time lately.  I am an INTJ on the Briggs Meyers personality scale, and that basically means “I Need To Just be alone sometimes for my sanity”.  Just kidding.  But it does mean that I am an introvert who recharges by being by my lonesome.  Which is really hard to do when you’ve got a family that includes young and hyper-demanding children.  Whom I love very much and would not trade for the world.  Just need a break from once in a while.

In the last two weeks, I have gotten the following exciting and fun opportunities to recharge:

1) One hour sans kids at the Public Library.  This pretty much is like winning the lottery for me.  I mean, going to the library alone. Never. Happens.  It was so invigorating.  I got to look at books without a devious toddler methodically playing snowplow with the books on the bottom shelf.  I got to read the summary on the back of a novel that looked interesting without my preschooler tugging my shirt and whining that this was boooooring.  I didn’t have to be embarrassed by the stern-looking adult book section librarian when my older two decided to illustrate their maturity to the masses by kicking each other and then announcing in very-unacceptable-for-the-library voices that it’s her/his fault, not mine!  Sigh.  Heavenly.

2) Annual lady exam at the gynecologist.  Well, the exam was not the rejuvenating experience to which I refer.  It was the waiting room.  Alone.  I got to read a magazine.

I guess I need to take what I can get!

SEVEN.

It was with great sadness that I heard about the latest terrorist attack.  In London, no less, where I anticipate going later this year.  With every fresh and horrific (and need I say, senseless) tragedy of this kind that occurs around the world there is an aura that we are not safe.  There is an insidious yet persistent scuttlebutt that fuels our worries: We are not safe when we travel, we are not safe when we are at home.  There is terror and mayhem lurking everywhere.  There is evil everywhere and there is no recourse for us.

Pretty much every time there is another extremist attack, another bombing or assailant driving a truck into crowds of people, my mother contacts me in fear and disgust.  Fear generally provokes her to say how crazy it seems to her that I want to travel to Europe. (I think she would be happier if I had announced I was going to sneak into and flamboyantly wave an American flag in North Korea).  Every new terror attack seems to cement in her mind that Europe is a dangerous, unstable place teaming with evil-minded religious zealots.  And she tries to make me feel nervous and bad about my decision to travel.

The truth is: travel will always be a bit dangerous.  It is fraught with risks.  But then again, so is life.  You have the option to embrace it, and open yourself to the opportunity for growth, or you can “play it safe” and stay home.  At home, you may never put yourself in the kind of situations where you might be unsafe, but expanding your horizons is a whole lot harder when you’re standing in one place.

So, that is my operative philosophy going forward.  I definitely hope and pray that a terror attack doesn’t ever affect my daily life or that of my loved ones.  I pray for the victims and for the souls and minds of the attackers who feel murder and mayhem is the answer.  But I am not cancelling my trip because it comes with risk (sorry, Mom!).  And, like wiser people have said before me, that the best way to stand up to terrorism is to show the terrorists that we will not be cowed by attempts to make us so.

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Have a wonderful week!

 

 

Get over here and fast: Lent at my house

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Talking to Hubby last night, I asked if he remembered the “rules” of fasting for this week’s Ash Wednesday observance.  This is probably the first year I have not been either pregnant or breastfeeding (and so excused from the fasting obligation) in a long while, so I obviously would be forgiven for being forgetful about what the Catholic Church means when they admonish one to fast.

(BTW: The USCCB website states:

“For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.”

Okie dokie.)

Most of my non-Catholic friends are completely baffled by a religion that tells one, among other things, what to eat and when (fish on Fridays during Lent) and makes you quit eating for certain amounts of time!  Of course fast and abstinence during Lent has a whole lot more theological significance than just the acts themselves, for which some are needlessly wrapped up in the idea of “stuffy old men in Rome telling me what to do” (to paraphrase a beloved relation of mine).

Observing Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter) has, in recent times, become the deepest spiritual experience of my entire year.  Because, for me, meditating upon the willing acceptance of Christ’s impending death (and, by association, His Resurrection) and how that coincides with my own existence is both strangely comforting and, at the same time, disturbing.

And disturbing it should be.  Lent is about suffering.  And sacrifice.  And realizing that all the wonderful gifts and blessings in our lives are not things we should ever take for granted.

If you are anything like me, we spend most of our year wrapped up in ourselves, our own lives, our own families, our own rushing around trying to get Something Accomplished.  The frustrations we feel and the difficulties we face during the year are needless nuisances.  They are unfair.  They make us mad.  We don’t know why they are happening to us.  We’re good people.  We don’t deserve this!  We soldier on, perhaps getting burnt out with our daily lives.  We are trying to Accomplish Something after all.  Once we get that raise, once we get that toddler potty-trained, once we take that trip, we will have Arrived.  Let’s hurry up and get there.  And in the meantime, we have Lost the Point. 

For me, Lent helps me to get back where I need to be.  To make God #1 in my life where he should be, instead of having fallen pretty dang far down the list.

With God, I know what my priorities are and my goals.  His goals, not the world’s goals.  I know what is expected of me as a wife, and mother, and woman.  I don’t have to fear suffering, because with God, suffering can become beautiful.  I sacrifice for Him (in my measly little fasting and abstaining from meat) in celebration of all that His Son did for us.  It may be difficult, but it is nothing compared to innocently suffering and dying for a lot of people who didn’t deserve it.

Lent becomes a time of “centering” for my spiritual life.  And with life as crazy as it is, I really need it.

So what do we do for Lent in my house?

Well, in addition to the obligatory fasting and abstinence, this year, we are braving the 7pm mass on Ash Wednesday as a family.  I can should be able to count on the kids to behave later than their 8pm bedtime so we can do this as a family.

Luckily, everyone really loves fish so coming up with appetizing meal plans for the Fridays during Lent is easy.

To strengthen my faith in the next 40 days, I have committed to saying a decade of the Rosary every day (which becomes surprisingly smooth after a few weeks) and also….eeek…giving up alcohol (this one is going to be hard!).   I figured I could do it for my babies when I was pregnant, I should be able (with God’s help) to do it for Him!  I will keep you posted on this one!

I am also going to try harder to offer up my daily “sufferings” and frustrations to the Lord.  I am hoping this will make me a less frazzled and resentful homemaker (I hope) and help me to express my love to my family better.  Again, I will let you know how that goes!

If you celebrate Lent, what are your traditions or commitments?

 

 

{7QuickTakes} in the midst of family dance party!!!!

So, it is Friday night and Hubby just called to say he has to stay late at work…ugh.  So I sit here with a glass of vino and KidzBop playing on the iPhone while the kiddos run around like banshees.  TGIF!  Here’s some more excitement akin to the party over at Kelly’s.

ONE.

Not gonna lie, some days parenting is hard.  Sometimes the kids are running around like banshees (oops, already mentioned that…mommy brain…) and you have a sinus infection and the LAST THING you wanna do is make another friggin’ peanut butter sandwich.  But then oldest daughter has to do her reading homework and decides it is a good idea to read to younger brother while channeling her first-grade teacher at storytime.  I had to smile.  So cute.

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TWO

I am not the most confident person in the world.  Luckily, as an adult I have been nowhere near where I was in that regard in high school!  However, I have been going through a rough patch lately.  I am just feeling…I don’t know….frumpy and uncool.  I think it has to do with it being February.  Not a fan of this month.  We’ve all been sick and stir-crazy and I am ready for spring!  But I think that since I’ve been fighting negativity on that front it has come over to bite me on the confidence front as well.  Nothing specific, just an overwhelming feeling of disliking myself.  This, too, shall pass, I know.

THREE.

But…but…something wonderful has happened to my sweet younger sis!  She is engaged!  Yay!  So happy for her and her young man.  We are looking forward to a fall wedding.

FOUR.

Since I suffer from depression, I have always been worried about my children ending up suffering from those sort of things as well.  My oldest, Junior, has always been extremely sensitive and intense.  This year he has been suffering from panic attacks and seems to experience anxiety that is really hard to get a handle on.  We have been in communication with his school counselor and she has been really great about teaching him relaxation techniques and just being available for him to visit with about his concerns.  However, it is scary when he gets so worked up that he can’t calm himself down.  He has especially been stressed-out this week about his upcoming karate testing and a school program where he has to memorize a speech.  It is really hard for me, as a parent, trying to help him through dealing with this anxiety, especially since he is only in 4th grade!  It seems too young to have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

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My favorite stress relief: the sunset out my back porch:-)

FIVE.

Bellie sat and watched the entire 3-episode special of Rick Steves’ Travel Skills television shows with me.  At first she was irritated that I wanted to watch that while I folded laundry (folding, which I hate…sometimes the only thing that gets me through is Rick Steves and wine), but then she was kind-of interested in the lovely locales Rick was visiting.  I think she was most impressed with the tiny Swiss alpine villages.  (I hope we can take the kids over there some day!)

SIX.

Oh the Trolls soundrack.  We have moved on from KidzBop.  Which I have something of an affinity for…I now have small ballerinas dancing to Anna Kendrick’s version of The Sound of Silence.

SEVEN.

I made a promise last weekend that I had to keep.  It was hard.

I let my kids do painting.

It was stressful.  It was messy.  Spike dumped an entire water cup of green-tinted water on the floor but did not seem concerned in the least.  I think they had fun.  And that is what motherhood is all about.

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I can’t resist making my children’s dreams come true.

Blessings for a great week ahead!

 

 

 

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 15

I am feeling rather caught up in the whole “blahs of winter” right now.  It is still a little chilly, still a little wintry (although the ugly kind of winter, where the snow is partially melted and icy and dirty) and the sun plays hide and seek most days.  Add that to a severe cold…riiiiiiiiight after recovering sufficiently from the stomach flu….and I am feeling a little gloomy.

Of course it helps to remember that spring is in sight, that the blahs give away to warmer temperatures and being able to spend time outdoors without coats on.  So we soldier on…enjoy these Quick Takes and be sure to check out some more at Kelly’s !

ONE

I scored big at the Used Book Sale (referenced last week)!  Two giant piles of books for $8.00.  I am glad I brought along Junior, who helped me lug my treasures to my car.

TWO.

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Is this not the cutest Valentine ever?  I especially love the Quarter.  Not sure if the drawing is supposed to be of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, but I truly appreciated how the kids worked together to make this extremely thoughtful card.

THREE.

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I love this poster by Arnold Lobel

I have these really cute literary posters that I want to get framed and hang up in the kid’s “book corner”.  The problem is that they are odd sizes, and I am pretty sure I won’t be able to locate ready-made frames and will have to get them specially framed, which I hear is expensive.  I do want them framed, but wondering if there are cheaper options for odd specifications?  I am not very skilled at the whole DIY-thing so making the frames myself is probably not a great option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOUR.

I am thrilled to be able to bring dinner to a friend and her husband who recently adopted a baby.  They have had dreams of parenthood for years and I am so happy that their prayers have been answered!  I am so awed by how the Lord works through adoption.  Adoption has definitely proven to be a  blessing in my own (extended) family.  My little niece is so fiercely loved.  Thanks be to God!

FIVE.

Sometimes you just want to rub a corn dog on your head. #Spikesgreatideas

SIX.

I had a weird dream last night where all these people were being assassinated at our house (thanks, I think to the Kim Jong Nam assassination).  But apparently Dream Me was less concerned about people meeting their deaths at my home than that fact affecting our social life.  “Nobody’s going to want to come to our house anymore,” Dream Me told Dream Hubby.

SEVEN.

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Castle Combe, a Cotswold Village in Wiltshire. Courtesy of Saffron Blaze, via http://www.mackenzie.co

Trying to make a final decision on a mini-bus tour from London.  In the running: Warwick Castle, Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon; some sort of Cotswolds-centric tour; and Dover, Leeds Castle, and Canterbury.  Any suggestions?  I love the extensive history of Warwick Castle (plus what historian doesn’t find Warwick the Kingmaker fascinating – I loved his portrayal in the White Queen miniseries).  The Cotswolds, of course, are delightfully English.  And I have always wanted to see the White Cliffs of Dover.  Also, one of my best friends used to live in Canterbury and I would love to see where St. Thomas à Becket was martyred.  Hard decisions when you’ve only got one day to devote to one of these tours!

Wishing you a blessed week!

 

{7QuickTakes} Weekly mishmash: Vol. 14

I couldn’t stop laughing at Kelly’s 2nd Capsule Wardrobe post!  There are more funny folks over there, be sure to check it out!

One.

This has been week numero dos for the Great Stomach Bug of 2017.  Every time I keep thinking the family is finally through it, somebody else vomits in my car.  I was feeling better myself and then, a week later, was sick again.  So far, Hubby and Evvie have not gotten it, but the incubation period seems to be about 7 days, so I am sure this time next week I will probably be needing to buy more bleach.

Two.

Hubby and I don’t generally make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  Hubby also doesn’t generally send me flowers, particularly not for specific holidays – he likes the element of surprise, he says (which, also, he says, has nothing to do with forgetting most of the time).  One day I told him, “Gifts are my Love Language.  I wish you would think about sending me flowers once in a while”  and then the joke became him telling me, “I thought about sending you flowers today.”  I would always nod appreciatively and say, “Thanks, It’s the thought that counts!”

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In an about face, eschewing just The Thought of Sending Flowers, I received these via delivery on Tuesday.  Along with the card (no signature, who could they be from?:-)  Which leads us to

Three.

After the delivery guy left, I asked Spike who he thought could have possibly sent me these beautiful flowers.

Spike: I don’t know!  The guy that just dropped them off??

Me:  But why would he do that?

Spike: ?? Because he loves you??

So, if that is not a testimony to all husbands out there to set an example by sending your wives flowers more often, I don’t know what is.  You don’t want the children thinking there are random flower delivery guys who love your wives more than you do!

Four.

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I have to remind myself to be grateful for the quiet moments when they are getting along courtesy of Netflix.

Five.

I like to try to make Valentine’s Day special for the kids.  This year my goal is to make them hand crafted Valentines, complete with personalized love notes and carefully selected candy.  Haha!  Just kidding.  It is more like I will scatter some Hershey’s kisses on the table Tuesday morning, while scrawling I Love Yous on Post-it Notes.  It’s the thought that counts.

Six.

As soon as Hubby gets home from getting a haircut we are planning to do a major Slash and Burn of the kids’ bedrooms.  It has gotten Out. Of. Control.  They are pits of despair.  Well, mainly, dirty laundry, misplaced bric-a-brac, and garbage.  Oh the garbage.  Apparently the physical act of getting trash into the proper receptacle is lost on my children.  Except Bellie.  Because, for Bellie, there is no such thing as Trash.  It is all art.  Or could be used in the future for art.  At any rate, it is NOT WORTHY OF BEING THROWN.  This is why I need to clean out her room in secret, or if she is at school.  Otherwise what generally happens is that she tearfully picks through the garbage bag, taking out every last worksheet and piece of candy wrapper, saying, “Don’t throw away my stuuuuuuuuufffff”  It is dramatic.  Garbage might just be her Love Language.

Seven.

My library holds quarterly book sales of donated used books and withdrawn library titles.  I am mildly obsessed with used books.  I honestly have no need for any additional reading material right now.  I honestly have no more bookshelf space for any additional reading material right now.  But, yet…I am trying to decide if I should head on down to the library this weekend.  Just to see.  Just to browse.  Many books are 50 cents!  I am Rebecca and I have a book problem.  Anyone else?

Have a fantastic week!