"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reality Check

Arwen: "Your blog posts are getting kind of boring."

Me: ok?

Arwen: "They were more fun to read in, like, 2013."

Apparently, I've been sharing too much "about my own life, and how thankful I am," and "all of my boring Mom thoughts" and not enough about the funny things my kids do.

Got it.

No more on house cleaning.

Here's a start (I've been meaning to post this):

Cute Eowyn:

(singing) "Froooosty the Snowmaaan has a very shiny nose!"  (not Rudolph).

In other news,

Aragorn got hit on the other side of his face (you saw his black eye, right?).  Legolas threw a toy at him, it cut and swelled out.  So, two black and blue sides of his poor handsome mug!:)  He looked pretty tough playing his basketball game this morning.

And as soon as I get pictures, this is the spot for Arwen's showcase of her oils for the art studio.  Check back soon!

(I hope this is an ok start).

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thinking about Restoration

I've been talking and talking about my spring cleaning efforts.

Do you know that my husband actually complimented my clean SPICE CABINET?!! I cannot imagine what he was looking for in there.  Salt, maybe?

It reminded me that I have done some things.  {And here I'm letting out a really big, pregnant sigh}.

Because, I have just SO many PEOPLE in this home!!!  And a labradoodle (are you sick of hearing about her?  She's super cute, and for that matter, so are all of those little people!!).

Elizabeth Foss just posted a really big "catch up" on her life--and it is really something to make the rest of us count our blessings (unless you are covered in welted burns...)  She's gearing up for another "Restore" workshop this Lent.  But in all of that amazing post, you know what stood out for me?  Her list of things she wanted to do with her girls.  Zoo Lights and iceskating.  Sewing, reading novels.

It struck me.  I don't put things like "take the kids iceskating" on my personal "to do" list.  Lately, it's been all "Magic Eraser the foyer walls" and "Deep clean the kitchen".

Elizabeth didn't even get to do those things (yet), but she totally inspired me (as she usually does) to renew myself by focusing my attention on my precious children.
Yes, I'm re-posting the toes!:)

If I keep adding to my list of places to clean, I'm finally just going to burn out.  Honest truth: it sort of happened.  For the past couple of days, I've started yelling and whining and sulking about how I need more help (!).   I think, maybe, the house is ok.

I've gotten the cobwebs.  Apparently, my spices are orderly (it sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?!).

Maybe now, I need to make a new bucket list: get chai with my oldest daughter.  Go on a walk with my 5-year-old.  Read "Little Bunny Follows His Nose" six times in a row to my 2-year-old (as opposed to the five times I read it last night and then said "ask your dad!").

I've got plans for making about 20 bags of take-home pink playdoh for our co-op valentine's day party next week...and there's some big storm headed our way next Tuesday.   [Did you read that sister-who's-due-any-day-now?! A storm!! Barametric pressure drop = my babies always come! Get ready!]

I'm thinking lots of hot chocolate, maybe the help of a couple nieces, a trip to Michael's and we could have us a big big playdoh play date to bring all kinds of messy fun into my weary little soul.

Children are so good for us mothers.  I think I just need to stop "managing" everything and remember that "mothering" has to include enjoying, cherishing, and simply basking in the joy they bring.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

{P,H,F, R}: January Edition!


 I promised a better picture of the china plates I hung in our kitchen.  I still love the light that reflects off of the white, and I do like the blue accents.   Add in some Trader Joe's flowers and my kitchen is a happy place!  (Am I the only one who is a complete sucker for TJ flowers?!  I feel positively giddy upon entering that store.  The flowers, closely followed by the boxed mango slices...I have my weaknesses.)

...when it's gray outside, color in the school room gives me glimmers of hope!  (That, and the Trader Joe flowers...)


Eowyn "works" at a little table in our schoolroom.  we've been making lots and lots of valentines lately.  I noticed her bare little toes the other day--made me so happy I didn't care about everything else that littered the school room floor!

After snapping the picture of Eowyn's footsies, I came into the kitchen to see this sweet moment between Legolas and our doodle.  she's pushing ten months, which means she's honing in on her full size.  Reina is so sweet!  It almost makes up for the fact that she's a really big puppy, and has lots of kinks to work out.


I was clearing pictures on my camera phone.  My two year old had been snapping pics all morning apparently.  Wanna take a tour of our home through the eyes of our toddler?

 (Love toes)!

First selfie!!

 And, then she hones in on the dog:

What is she eating?
 Yes, those are toys littering our school room floor.

Yes, our school room is a mess this morning... any other questions?

 Wait: those are my toddlers at the table in the background!  Who took these?  Rosie? Bilbo?


Ouch!  Poor Aragorn caught a fly snowiceball on Tuesday.  Gimli felt terrible.  He didn't actually throw it at Aragorn.  It was launched over a large vehicle in the general direction of Aragorn.  Anyway, lesson learned.  No snowballs after the snow has sat long enough to turn icy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Morning Daybook

Outside my window:  I'm not sure yet.  It's getting late for us not to have our shades drawn yet, but I slept in with a certain cuddly little two-year-old this morning.  Her room is at the extreme of our home, furthest from the furnace, and this winter we've had to rescue her from her crib a few times and let her warm up with us.

I am listening to:  plastic guns and shouting from the basement.  I'm not sure what game is being played, but they're playing nicely, so I'm going with it.

Around the house: Sadly, and for unknown reasons, Bilbo's precious turtle Arnold died last weekend.  I was going to blog about Arnold, but didn't get the chance.  Arnold lived in a 40 gallon aquarium, ate minnows (that was really fun to watch!) and got to have excursions to the living room where he'd chase some 2-and 3-year olds around to their great delight.

Arnold was kept in the boys' room, and Bilbo would love another for his birthday.  I, however, have been hoping for a pretty tropical aquarium for our schoolroom!  Is it bad for me to be angling for the aquarium?

Creating: Valentines!  Lent is so early this year, we decided to celebrate Valentine's Day on our first day of co-op.  That way we can enjoy our Valentine treats without feeling like we're breaking our Lenten resolutions.  Not that we couldn't eat candy during Lent.  But I'm coming up with craft ideas for the first co-op day that falls during Lent.  Now let's just see if Michael's and the dollar section at Target are good to me!:)

Along those lines:  Is the dollar section at Target everyone's favorite little place?  Right now they have these darling votive candles for $3.  Candles are expensive, so I'm tempted to stock up.  I just got one...but I tell you, my heart was tugging as I pushed that cart away.

Spring Cleaning:  During the cold and gray of January there's just one thing to do: brighten up my home!  For me, this means de-cluttering, cleaning, and restoring order.  The thing is, I've been intentionally working on this front, and I still have a rather impressive list of places to, um, "address".

My refrigerator and stove, the pantry, and the linen closet are topping my list.  Then there are the other and assundry cabinets and the bookshelves that really need a good re-ordering and dusting.  Because at least once a year you just have to take ALL of the books off and dust, right?

And I was reading about how antibacterial sunlight is.  I'm wondering how to capitalize upon this.  I sort of have the urge to drag my rugs out onto the ice and snow and let the sun kill the dust mites.  You know what's holding me back?  What the neighbors might think! (Well, and the prospect of wet rugs...)  Vanity dies slowly.

That is certainly enough rambling out of me for one morning!

Have a great rest of the week!

Friday, January 22, 2016

"First-time Mom"

It's funny, my oldest is "only" 14, but with 7 little siblings following in hot pursuit, at some point I sort of stopped tracking "firsts" with my First.  Most of her firsts happened before she was 6, including learning to read, starting school, and getting orthodontics (with a wicked underbite)!

Well, this week I am happy to record a "first"!  Arwen began her first real job!  She's been babysitting for a while, but I'm not counting that.  She is working one morning a week at a local art studio.   Right now it's just volunteer, but she'll be paid this summer.  Last Wednesday Arwen stacked canvasses, swept floors, and scrubbed 300 paintbrushes clean!  She cleaned out a storage closet and came home with candy canes that aren't seasonal, but can't be kept for next year (the studio has a candy caddy for painters' enjoyment).

She also came home with a dozen used canvasses that need to be repainted (by her) to hang on the studio walls.  The entire studio is covered with paintings, and the owner wants a new wall covered.  Arwen has been having fun coming up with enough ideas for all of those paintings, and the rest of us have been having fun watching her create.  I do need to go buy some more paint...

I think this is an awesome opportunity for Arwen, and I hope it continues to work out for us.  Pictures to follow soon!:)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

mid-January Daybook::It's Cold Outside!!!

Outside my Window:  Bright sunny skies!  Do you know that when it's freezing cold it's sunny out?  If the weather warms up to 20, it's gonna be bleak and overcast.  I will never complain about sub-zero weather so long as the sun is shining!  (But I'm not gonna lie: my poor labradoodle hasn't had a proper walk in days--my face freezes and I head back home half way down the block!)

From the Schoolroom:  Bunnies!?!  It's so so cold, my poor little friends have to come in and warm themselves a bit.

 I picked up an inexpensive indoor hutch and we've been rotating their visits inside.   Sometimes we get out boxes and bring all of them in to play...but the boxes don't work that well for these frisky friends:

 Little stinker.

Here's the scary truth: I can't be 100% positive that we won't have a litter of bunnies in a couple of months: my husband found a certain healthy buck with a certain healthy doe.  We frantically dashed to separate the pair and return them to their respective boxes.  I'm hoping we were in time!!

 Yep, he hopped right up.  Looking for his lady love.  (Rabbits! (eye-roll)).

Plans for the Week: I'm headed to City Hall to see if I can reserve rooms beneath our local library for a Spring Co-op.  With growing families it's really nice to find some larger spaces for get-togethers that doesn't place the burden of getting a house ready for visitors on any one mom.  This time of year I really start needing an outlet for my kids...and myself!

I'm hoping to make a pilgrimage on Friday to the local "Jubilee Doors" for the Year of Mercy.  Do you know about this?! You get a plenary indulgence if you walk through the special doors and fulfill the usual conditions (google it--this is an awesome opportunity!).  It's been forever since we've done a fieldtrip as a family, so this will be a nice morning off for us.

Basketball, basketball and more basketball...three kids, three teams, three practices and games and concessions duty!  Basketball.  It's been a good season, though.

Dentist!! I'm getting this blog post written as I wait for my last three to get their teeth cleaned! So love checking these little details off of the "good-mom" list!

Spring Cleaning:  I know I'm starting early, but it's my second trimester--there's no stopping me!  I'm still going from room to room washing walls and clearing out.  I want to post more on some of my little home improvements, but here's a preview.  My sister had me join her in doing "The January Cure" at http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/collection/january-cure-2016-895

you can check it out for fun.  I haven't been following it precisely, but it sort of keeps it in my brain on the day to day that this is something I want to focus on every day.  It also triggers thoughts about things I'd probably leave in the back closet of my brain.

I hung a collage of my wedding china on my kitchen wall and replaced a large, modern picture that I *used* to love there.  The picture had a lot of green color (it was a floral print of sorts) and had a thick black frame.  This picture isn't great (I'll try to get one with more perspective soon), but my kitchen is sort of a light grey/brown tone, and the white and reflection of the lights on the plates really freshens up the kitchen to me.  It also lends a bit of a sweet, old-fashioned feel to the kitchen, which I don't mind at all right now:).

Guess that's it for now!  Hope your week is going well!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pregnancy Ponderings

I was browsing my "Mommy blogs" when I came upon this little
article addressing home schooling while sick with first-trimester pregnancy:


I've been working hard on "spring cleaning", which for me means the deep cleaning I do cyclically throughout the year: Advent and Lent are big "clean and purge" seasons for me, but also before a new school year and at it's end, packing it all away for the summer.  So, post-Christmas, New Year's is also a season for me to clean out and freshen the house as we settle into a happy post-holiday season routine of good school days and healthy eating.

Here's my connecting the above thoughts: this year I came off of my first-trimester sickness and exhaustion right in time for the New Year cleaning and freshening season.  Here's what I'm noticing as I go through my home: I don't think I've cleaned my bathroom since the day I found out I was expecting.  My cupboards were filled with coffee grounds and crumbs.  My closets are all a-jumble.

Know what? It's really really hard on a household when Mama's out of action!

As I've been moving from room to room and mess to mess, I haven't been overwhelmed and discouraged.  I've sort of been chuckling to myself at just how bad it got while I was sick.  I'm happy to get back to the daily hum, spinning touches of order into the crazy of our life.  I LOVE the second trimester!!!

If I had one piece of advice to share it would be this: be patient.  In motherhood there are hours, days and even months of chaos that try our patience and take a big whack at our pride.  But there are also times of restoration: of order, of health, of dependable rhythms and routines.  And that ebb and flow of crazy and peace begins to emerge in its own little dependable rhythm, so that in times of chaos you can truly await the calm after the storm.  It does take patience, and it rarely comes as quickly as we'd like, but in God's time it really will come if we just patiently accept what each day brings us.

So, I'm off: my kids are rollerblading in the house and I really need to get them started on school so I can get the dishes in the dishwasher!  See: crazymess and order, all mixed up together!:)    

Christmas Season Daybook (Back posting)

I think I was holding off to put on finishing touches on this post.  That's not going to happen, so I'm just going to throw this one up "as is". (From last week):

Remember the Advent calendar I showed back at the beginning of Advent?  Here it is all full!  Aragorn had so much fun with this set.  Do you see the Advent wreath hanging from the ceiling of Santa's workshop?!

Outside my window: dark still.  Rain is supposed to melt all of the snow that I've been loving in this post-Christmas time of the year.  Then, an "Arctic Blast" is headed our way.  I'm stocking up on hot chocolate and tea.

I am listening to:  boys playing "Stratego" (a perennial favorite around here), and onlookers commenting.  Because in our house, there are always onlookers. Commenting.

Around the house: Our Christmas tree is still up, but it is on its last week.  I have begun a New Year's/ Second Trimester cleaning effort around here.  It will feel really fresh and clean when I pack all of the Christmas trapesings and trapsings away, but I just can't quite let go yet.  And it's not quite time to: the Baptism of the Lord is Sunday.  That's when I say goodbye to the Christmas season.  Right now, I'm still trying to bask...to open my heart to the grace of the season even as I look ahead and begin to set some hopes for the New Year into motion.

Resolutions...: I mentioned that I was determined to detox my family after all of the sugar of the Christmas season.  Well, I've been faithful to my resolution.  We are a week into the New Year and I have made smoothies and served salads daily.  You know what?  It is HARD WORK!  It's the quantity that gets me in a family this size.  I fill my 72 oz. blender to the brim each morning.  Then I make myself a separate one (that is either less sweet than the kids' or with protein powder, which I also do not feed them).  Whatever extras are left go into the freezer and the kids eat them later as a snack.  When you put three bananas, an entire carton of yogurt or kefir, a full bag of frozen fruit (or two) into the blender each morning, well, it takes a lot to stock up.  Last night I fulfilled a special request for "Ranch" dressing--we ate two full bags of salad at dinner.

I need to join a farmer's co-op!

(Can we just go back to picking up burgers?! (no.))

Pregnancy news:  Can I just direct your eyes to that cute little tracker at the top of the blog?  Do we see how I am nearing the half way point?!!!  My next appointment is the 20 Week Ultrasound!  We'll probably find out if we're having a boy or a girl.  It doesn't really matter to me (as in, I don't get excited for ultrasounds anymore because I already know the answer).  I will assent to the fact that I could be wrong, and I could be shocked.  I'm totally happy (thrilled) to meet whomever the Lord has chosen to bless our family with--boy or girl!  That said, since my sixth pregnancy I have discerned precisely what a "girl" pregnancy and what a "boy" pregnancy feels like for my body--and there's a significant difference.  SO, it's been a "girl" now for 15 and a half weeks!  For the skeptics, I'll confirm via ultrasound technology sometime early next month.  Or of course, you could wait for the birth announcement.  (But, it's a girl;)).

Monday, January 4, 2016

Feast of the Epiphany

I could just stop blogging...I can't find my phone! Connection? I'm so lazy, all of my pictures are from my phone...and we all know that posts without pictures are so much less interesting. Ugh.

Well, I'll post. Maybe I can pop in some pictures in hindsight.

At some point my children were made aware of the world-wide practice of receiving gifts (like Baby Jesus) on the Feast of the Epiphany.  Of course, while I'm pretty open to this idea, my kids would never give up presents on Christmas!  So, for the last several years, we've sort of given a nod of the head toward the tradition and let the kids put out their shoes for the "Epiphany camel."

I think I explained last year how we use the straw that they put in Baby Jesus's crib over Advent (for good deeds and prayers) to fill their shoes, leaving straw to feed the camels on their journey.  As a "thank you" from the Wise Men, they leave candy in its place.  Cute.

So, this morning my kids are eating a very final holiday sugar dose.  I am planning a New Year's detox for the entire family.  Hello kale and berry smoothies!  (I don't think I've ever eaten kale, so don't get too impressed).  I really will make smoothies, with eggs (and probably lots of toast), for breakfast.  I am determined to keep a very large store of fresh fruits around for snack-time.  My kids will eat apples and oranges like crazy if I can just keep enough in the house. And I'd much prefer that to having them dive into chips, just because that's what we've got in the pantry.

Dinner is a super-huge "New Year's resolution" for me.  I am resolved to always have both a vegetable(s) and a green salad along with whatever protein and carbs we might have.   It's completely simple to dump salad from a bag into a bowl...but do you know how many bags I have to buy to get through the week with a salad every night for dinner?  Plus, I like salad for lunch...  So, lots. But it's totally worth it for the sake of better eating habits for  the whole family.  It's lame to think my kids are happy to eat healthily if only I actually serve them the healthy food!

I gotta run this morning--say, how much longer are you all leaving your trees up for?  Mine is starting to drop needles, but I'm sad to say goodbye to the Christmas season...I think we officially have until next Sunday, the Baptism of the Lord, before the season is over.

Really going now.  Happy Monday!