A Late Monday Momily

Last night a friend of mine posted this on Facebook, “Anyone else’s kids impossible to take to church right now? Need some encouragement” Little did he know that hours earlier Josie and Rita had performed their greatest balance beam routine of their Sunday morning Mass gymnastics careers, as James repeatedly asked just exactly how Lazarus came back to life 25 decimals louder than the priest’s microphone, leaving me tired of taking them at all.

Few things in parenthood leave me feeling more defeated than my children’s poor Mass behavior. With three kids 4 and under, I realize solemn prayer and recognition of the pews and kneelers serving a purpose other than that of balance beams and things on which to tap dance is a rather tall order. Nonetheless, I want to believe it possible for them to do slightly more communicating with God than gymnastics.

The truth is we’ve tried everything from cry room to front pew, middle aisle to easy exit. We’ve packed fish and banned food the following week because purposely creating orange cracker crumbs is much too entertaining to a two year old. I’ve packed a Mass bag. I’ve forgotten to pack the Mass bag. We have attended daily Mass as practice. We’ve hired a babysitter and kept them at home. I’ve taken the older two individually for Mass dates. Punishments have been threatened and ice cream promised. I’ve turned away both laughing and nearly crying when hair is pulled or faces are scratched, or the word “poopy,” is said at moments of silence. Crayons have been allowed and then permanently banned and tend to stain pew wood slightly more than a baby wipe can fix. We’ve praised the good and ignored the bad. We’ve re-read our child psychology books, and put in a call to Pavlov’s dog. No answer. I’ve allowed the bad to ruin my own experience of Christ, and yet, I’ve been given the grace of deep union with God even while a baby pulls my hair and tries to open my closed and praying eyelids. I try frequently to remind myself that my kids are 4,2, and 1, remembering  that the concept of mommy and daddy praying while they sit quietly seems to carry about the same contextual weight as bathroom privacy or cellphone etiquette. As anyone who has once tried to maintain a conversation with me via cellphone, these realities of raising little ones can be frustrating. Most weeks Jim and I leave Mass and feel relieved that “it’s over!” And that, my friends, is the poorest of parenting techniques.

This week’s Gospel, however, reminds me of something very important. “He wept.” It’s the shortest sentence in the Gospel, and to me, the most amazing. I know I should maybe be more amazed with Jesus’ ability to raise Lazarus from the dead, but, the full humanity of a God weeping at the sight of His friend’s sorrows gets me pretty good. While I fully realize relating a weeping Christ to my qualms with poor Mass behavior is more than a mile away from a giant hurdle, as Rita began throwing each and every Missal out of the pew on purpose, those words struck me and eased my very real motherhood frustration. Jesus gets it. He is deeply human and fully understanding of every crushed gold-fish, fought over animal cracker, and tip toe balance beam performance. He hears my prayers and theirs in the fullness of their simplicity and/or complete silliness. And it is for that reason and that reason mostly that I will continue taking them to Mass, most weeks at least, despite their lack of readiness or ability to sit quietly or participate. He hears them as much as he hears me, and communicates with them just as much, if not more.

Moments, that may have felt like an eternity of stern staring and wrangling, I was given a glimpse of hope in what often feels like the strenuous task of family Mass. Josie began singing the Holy, Holy with almost all the wrong words.  “Holy, oh holy Jesus! The holy spirit is in the sky with the birds.” Her rendition is probably closer to the Norman Greenbaum song than any part of the liturgy, but that’s not the point. She then whispered “are the angels here now?” I smiled and breathed a small piece of heaven and was sure of the prescience of every angel in all eternity surrounding the altar of the feast of all feasts. Even though it feels like a tireless task of no results, she has been paying attention. And when Rita soon after offered an elderly woman, sitting alone, the sign of peace, the contagious joy filled up three pews of people and hopefully allowed them to forget about all the times she threw missiles and hymnals too close to their heads.

This week and all weeks I hope to remember that it’s not about me or even the other people in the pews. Taking my kids to Mass is a chance, frustrating as it is, to offer my kids an opportunity to hear and experience the voice of God in their own lives. Sure, the homily probably sounds just like Charlie Brown’s teacher. And the readings never have any pictures with which to follow along. But God is much more powerful than all of these things and I refuse to limit his power by keeping it in the tomb of my desire to control. So next week, God willing, we will fly by the seat of our amateur parenting pants, break dozens of parenting rules, hoping for the best but expecting the worst and annoying dozens of Church goers in the process. And in all of it, each of my babies will spend time in the presence of God, gaining access to his secrets and mysteries, his adventures and stories in ways I’m much too faithless to understand.

Happy Lent.

A Recipe: Honey Espresso Banana Muffins and A lot of Pregnant Excuses

This post is for Britt from one of my favorite blogs TheFiskFiles

Let it be known that on today, March 31 2014, the sun shined for the first time in ages upon ages in Pittsburgh, PA. With the healing power of the sun while I wrangled my people into the grocery store sans cart (I think someone likes to hide carts in the parking lots from moms and watch the chaos for entertainment) I began to feel a little more committed to feeding this new baby something other than crap. So I bought almond flour and decided to attempt healthy baking. My resolve weakened each and every one of the six times I inadvertently walked past PopTarts, and I most certainly picked up a box and stared at the strawberry filling on more than one occasion. The only fake sugar to make it home, however, was contained in the Peanut Butter cups that Josie managed to either shoplift or tricked me into purchasing without my notice.

I’m seriously hoping Spring can give me more motivation to eat better because not even Lent has saved my appetite from wanting much else other than Frosted Flakes with a side of Wasabi Peas and guacamole or a Salmon salad followed by a dessert of 7 cookies and fried chicken (true life: i have disgusting pregnancy cravings). For the record I have never had pickles and ice cream but who knows what will happen in the next 26 weeks.

Rambles aside, I am going to try and be better because the sugar is helping nothing, especially not my veins, swollen face, or extreme tiredness. Yet, I have full certainty that my cravings are going nowhere.

Years ago in graduate school, I became certified in a mega hipster nutritional counseling program where I learned that cravings are a sign that my body needs something specific. The craving might be physical, emotional, sometimes even spiritual. For instance, I read about a dieter who tried to eat carrot juice because she hated vegetables. After said nasty juice, she wanted crunchy potato chips than anything and usually ended up binging on them. The craving came from what she missed in eating the whole carrot: the crunch. PopTarts probably look so F-ing good because they are sort of loaded with things my body actually needs but in a super distorted and unhealthy way. Baby #4 wants more calories, and my body needs carbs for energy. The indescribable desire for strawberry filling is still a mystery. The dependability of a daily 2pm craving indicates a natural sugar and energy crash because moms tend to not have very much time to make a healthy and filling lunch. Its also one of the most stressful times of the day because I’m very tired and my older two children no longer nap, allowing for very little rest time. Sugar is what I want when I’m stressed probably for a myriad of psychological issues and if I ever earn my doctorate in psychology, I’ll be sure to do plenty of research on emotional cravings and stress eating :)

And as for the nutrient dense avocado and salmon: its my body being good and wanting omegas because little one is stealing them ;) The desire to eat them in combination with extremely sugary crap is still really weird and usually makes my husband want to barf (his version of sympathy morning sickness).

ANYWAY.

I sort of made up a relatively fake sugarless espresso banana muffin recipe because I know I’m gonna need something to get me through the sugar cravings and a touch of espresso is just a fantastic thing for a pregnant coffee addict like myself. I originally found this recipe while scrolling yahoo last night and ruined its intentions this afternoon. and if you have anything else healthy and reminiscent of cookies and would like to pass it along, help a hungry mom out.

I made these two ways because my husband is a normal eater.

The trying to be healthy pregnant girl version:

4- 5 very ripe large bananas (1 1/2 cups), mashed well (I used frozen ones because I think they get sweeter)
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt
The rest of the morning’s coffee (about 1/4-1/2 cup which is MUCH more than I was supposed to use BUT I’m REALLY tired)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (probably more actually, I’m liberal when it comes to coffee intake) ground coffee
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter)
Honey: (wish I could tell you how much I used but i just put a bunch in and I think it really helped balance the lack of elasticity in the almond flour but I could be making that up.)  I used local honey because we bought a whole bunch of it with the hopes of protecting ourselves from allergies and its taste is only suitable in baked goods. Use whatever honey you like, and I hope the bees that made yours had access to pollinate plants other than Western PA weeds.

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

 

I have zero baking ability so I just mixed all the wet ingredients and then put in the dry ones and it worked. There is probably a more skillful way of going about it, but I am entirely too impatient to read directions.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350. Be sure to keep an eye on the kids during this time because if they are anything like mine, they will be eating mud and they will be doing it too close to the road. 

AND LET IT ALSO BE KNOWN THAT ON MARCH 31, 2014 I DID NOT BURN WHAT I PUT INTO THE OVEN.

Taste Test: In all honesty, I really very much enjoy them but they are not nearly as sweet as a PopTart, which is a little bit of a dagger in my pregnant heart, but they got me through the afternoon in a big way. Honey butter makes them much better. I’ve had 4. 

 

For Jim or someone who wants something sweeter. Add some butter (1/4 cup??) and some sugar. Use normal flour.

 

If you hate them, you can be like me and blame everything on this pregnancy.

Happy Spring! I think for real this time!!!!

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When Toaster Strudel was the voice of God

The inanimate image of a soft flaky crust, strawberry filling, and sweet sugary icing took on a life of its own and lured my desire more fervently each and every time I allowed myself to walk by. As I gazed at it for the third time, I found myself stuck in that Giant Eagle aisle for several minutes just staring at it. It wasn’t that I had never had a craving for Toaster Strudel before. It’s just that the last time it happened I was a Sophomore in college and Diet Mountain Dew was the way I helped it or my Strawberry PopTart digest during finals week. That particular Wednesday morning, my nutritionally conscience identity was being thwarted by a strange craving for a food I haven’t eaten in years, and I wanted it soooo bad. I resisted based on the fact that a PopTart would indeed be a nutritional upgrade. Next, I found myself smiling uncontrollably in the aisle that sells a particular type of test. I splurged for the kind that has words instead of pink lines.

I waited until Rita went down for her nap. As the James and Josie practiced dunking each other in the bathtub, the suspicious craving for the Toaster Studel was confirmed on a silent stick that spoke loud and clear.

For the second time on the afternoon of January 22nd, the day we March for Life and stand for innocence, I was once again entrusted with a tiny little heart beat, a new and unique set of fingerprints, a particular mission in which I get to participate, teach, witness.

The feeling of surprise was surpassed by the type of joy that only comes as a gift from God, the kind that makes my stomach shake, puts shiver in my limbs and a quiver in my voice.

I let the kids play until the fingers were way past soggy and I jumped up and down for a solid twenty minutes while tears continued to come and confirm once again: definitely pregnant, and also pretty crazy with a considerable amount of uncontrollable emotion with which to grace my husband and children for the next several months.

I had been on this exact winter’s day two years prior and I had so not been ready to hear this news. I said “yes,” then, but it hurt, in a way that a really big sacrifice hurts. Through that experience I think maybe I began to scrape at the surface of what it really means to love, and to receive love from a God who has plans and ideas that I don’t always understand, or appreciate due to a hot summer and too many unwanted pounds slowing me down and hurting my feet. Its also the kind of pain from which true beauty and joy is born, the kind that pierces the heart and makes me long for God.

And this time, while my life and circumstances are probably even crazier, more chaotic, less socially acceptable than they were last time, I have all those feelings of excitement and longing and wanting every single part of this tiny little one at all moments, even the ones when my head is in the toilet or when I the think about all of the waddling. The gratitude I have for God’s generosity in bringing that moment of difficulty full circle is immense and I really hope I can let it edify me.

So on this special day on which the Church remembers Gabriel whispering the will of God to a young girl named Mary, I remember the time Toaster Strudel whispered God’s message to me. And I really wish I had some in my pantry.

Happy Feast Day!

Why a Mom can’t Pee Alone/ The day a pull-up saved my sweater and maybe my life (exaggerating).

The pink, loosely knit v-neck seemed like a good choice when I had .3 seconds to get dressed for morning Mass. It was heavy enough to keep me warm during the winter that will never end, but its spring color gave me hope for bulbs and flowers before June. It suited me well for most of the day, including the battle for the teddy bear socks between Josie and Rita during the Consecration of the Eucharist as well as the family of five trip to Sam’s Club during which Josie managed to make an avocado explode. 

Following dinner, a Sunday night meal of sweet spring flavors: risotto with honey glazed carrots, sweet peas, and balsamic chicken, JIm took the “big” kids to watch their big cousins championship hockey game. “Take an easy night playing with just Rita,” he said. I happily obliged and began to finish the dinner clean up while Rita played the game that seems to never end: peeling an onion in the middle of floor. Before I sound like a worse mom, I didn’t give her the onion, she found it on the floor after it fell and I didn’t take it away mainly because everyone was happy. As I saw her concentration in removing each layer of the onions skin, I thought maybe I could use the facilities with the door closed before she began the ugly onion cry. I’m not sure why I choose this time to close the door, but I guess its something I sort of miss about a life of privacy before kids and she had at least 5 more layers to peel through. Seconds later, as I washed my hands, I heard the pitter patter of my baby following me. Happy to have had the entire half minute to myself I went to open the door only to find it stuck. Like a full blown idiot, I tried nothing skillful or smart and just twisted it as hard as I possibly could. Then, just like in the sitcoms, there I stood with a door knob in my hand but not attached to a door and a now crying baby on the other side. My hands frantically felt my back pocket for my cell phone. “Its still sitting on the kitchen table playing James Taylor dinner music. Expletive,” I thought. “Swear words,” my interior thoughts continued. 

A few Hail Mary’s later I realized my only way out was through the window. I peered out my head to the sound of Rita’s cries. “Daddy!” she called out to me because he is her favorite and all she asks for even when I’m the only option. Maybe when she grows up and learns that her mother jumped out of a window to reunite and calm her tears she will like me more.

I calculated the risk. If I stayed and waited for someone to come home Rita might eat poison or my makeup or give herself a bath in the sink and drown. If I started screaming Child Services might take the kids away. Even though Rita may have also just stayed there and cried while trying to jiggle the doorknob while her mom sillily requested her assistance to open a door she can’t even reach, that’s not what a mom thinks about in a moment of very low risk and overly dramatized crisis. Instead, she uses all sense of crazy to determine that the window is the only way. 

“I can do this!” I said not at all confident in anything other than at least a mild ankle sprain. Since its a first story I knew I probably wouldn’t die or anything unless I choose the head first approach. But, since its a high first story window and I’m a total of 60 inches tall, its still a fall for a girl like me. So, I took a deep breath, and pretended I was Josie escaping from her crib for the first time. As I hung from the window pane, I encountered a problem of fashionable proportions. The pink sweater. The perfect for a winter’s day during spring, $7.99 Forever 21 find. “This is why there is an age limit on that store!” I grunted. There its knit hung caught on the shudder’s nail, perfectly deterring me from a pretty safe, but still very scary for a big fat wimp like me, jump. With a significant amount of all of my might, I performed a belly-button- to-window- pane strict pull up and broke free from the confines of cheap material that snags when jumping out of a window vowing to have some strong words upon its return to the store. The brief moment of free fall contained 5 billion dramatic thoughts including “thank God for CrossFit and all those pullups I always complain about.” Seriously, thanks for those. My sweater would be seriously ruined without them. Also, I think I would have had a really difficult time explaining why I was hanging by a sweater when the fire department came to rescue me. 

I then scared sweet Rita nearly to shock when I returned to her unneeded rescue through a different door than she last found me, muddy and hysterically laughing. She sat picking apart dryer lint from the filter, happy as a baby with free reign to dryer lint. 

And the biggest mistake in all of this, in my experience, is not shutting the door or forgetting my cellphone or any of that. Rather, it was telling this story to my husband while neglecting to notice of my being on speaker phone. So with two small children obsessed with the non perilous tale of “mommy jumping out of the window,” I beg for your prayers that neither of them try and recreate it. 

Happy Sunday. 

7QT: The Bright Side. Memories of a Family Weekend Getaway and the worst kind of Two Hour Delay

1. Managing to make it out of the door, into the car, without forgetting a single essential item or suitcase and thereby finding no reason to turn around the overstuffed vehicle should have provided my anxiety more comfort. Yet, the suspicion only welled, leaving me to wonder when, where, and how the difficulty of traveling in a crowded airport with three kids, a nervous mom, and a super calm dad would occur. With barely a hiccup at the check in counter, and strangely obedient children agreeing to hold my hand and carry their own things, I began to prepare myself for what had to be the worst security line experience of my life. Yet, we were “family of small children profiled” and put into the line that no longer demands the removal of shoes, laptops, breast milk, or requires a rather intimate feel up. Even if I was unwillingly participating in a TSA research experiment, only one of my kids ran around the metal detector and it caused more laughter than tasing, so again, seamless.  Personal experience then led me to discover that a fearless toddler, overly cautious and rather clumsy 4 year old, and a jumpily anxious mom in the middle is perhaps the worst combination for a ride on an escalator. We still had several minutes before boarding and enjoyed a happy and considerably quiet family airport meal during which the kids ate the cheese and chewed the turkey before they managed to spit it back out almost undetected. Then, the difficulty came. The evening flight, scheduled perfectly for a bedtime arrival, delayed by twenty minute increments for a total of two hours. The first delay was spent setting up and refereeing relay races in empty gates leading me to finally experience a bright side of my city’s airport losing major airline hubs. Next, we ruined an entire restaurants meal at TGIFridays and ordered the most dissipointing $7 ice cream dessert I have ever seen. With chocolate on my pants and ice cream in my hair, I begged the good Lord to get us on a plane, as the kids jumped along empty gate seats chasing planes taking off saying, “WE MISSED OUR CHANCE AGAIN!” indicating zero understanding of the process of airline travel or plane destination. At two hours past beditme we boarded and were asked to seek refuge in the last two rows of the airplane, also known as the baby ghettos, where all children under three who could potentially throw a tantrum or freak out when they can’t figure out how to pop their ears are forced to sit and repeatedly smell the altitudes effects on bathroom users. The bright side of landing 5 hours past bedtime? No matter how poorly behaved and bitey a baby is, several passengers will comment “she did so well!” And when we finally rent a car and make it to our destination slightly past 1:00 am, the kids sleeping in the back will be so knocked out that they wake up the next morning positive that it was magic that put them in their Florida beds.

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Helpful.

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Rita tampering with a stranger’s luggage.

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And in hour 2, the parents just take pictures when their baby grabs a knife on the table of an airport restaurant.

2. No matter how exhausting a travel experience is, even when a trip is only three days long, after 7-12 minutes spent in the sun, playing in sand, together as a family, while Rita and the birds run away from the waves with almost the exact same scamper, every delay, cold weather day, and recent annoying experience, will be forgotten and feelings of rejuvination will overwhelm. Even if the kids begin purposefully throwing sand in each other’s eyes at minute 13.

3. The Brightest Side: Without a doubt my favorite memory is the flawlessly planned night away given to me as a birthday present by my husband, and favorite dinner partner. As I nervously explained needless details to the kid’s babysitter, their big cousin, he whisked me away and gave me so much quality time my love tank almost exploded. First, a stop at a coffee shop where even the ice is made from coffee making every sip better than the last. Then, all my dreams came true as he pulled over at Nordstrom Rack and gave me free reign. One pair of Kate Spade heels coming in at pennies later, we arrived at our hotel and stuffed our faces with delicious food, more food, and more food, because, apparently, what parents do with a night away is eat like there will never be a tomorrow. There was a tomorrow, and we ate again. It was our first night away from the children in a few years and it was truly wonderful. I thought for sure I would be welcomed home with an open armed hugged from the baby I’ve never spent a night from. But, instead, she gave me an open palmed push to the face and ran to Daddy with excitement and cheering.

4. With a promise of a boat ride and conditions much too windy and wavy for a sane dad to take toddlers on a boat, we went anyway. The pontoon boat, made for smooth seas and low speed, met knew limits and high pitched screams. As the children begged, “daddy why are you doing this to us??!! Please daddy save us all!! Go back, daddy, go back!!,” and the raging rapids of the ocean drenched us all over and over again, I do not believe either parent has laughed harder in months. It wasn’t so much that we found the paralyzing fear of our children to be that funny, but more the fact that we realized how dumb we are and were so soaking wet with a continuous flooding of sea water on a boat designed for turtle speed.  We turned around and survived with a few family member beach onlookers wondering why God ever decided to entrust us with children.

5. 3 days of sun later, it was time to return to the frozen tundra of Pittsburgh on the 28th anniversary of my birth. With several birthday treats already had, Josie was the first to greet me in the morning with “mommy, its my birthday, where is the cake?” and soon after James said,”did you get me toys today for the birthday?” A card signed by each with the ever special message of “thank you for feeding me lunch and wiping my bum when I poop,” made a mom feel extra noticed. While driving late to the airport amidst a baby/toddler/little boy brawl of the century carried on nice and loud, my patience was lost and out I blurted, “ALL I WANT FOR MY BIRTHDAY IS FOR YOU TO STOP FIGHTING!!!” Silence ensued and as soon as my guilt cued the internal soundtrack of, “Its my party and I’ll cry if I want to,” James broke it up with “Sorry mom, but we were already planning on getting you a flower so….I think we can keep fighting.” And when the return flight is delayed just as much as the departure in a much too crowded airport followed a much too turbulent flight for a crazy person like me to handle, the mile high diaper bomb was generously disarmed by my husband. 13 decades of the rosary later we safely landed and I began to breath again. Then some lady named Sophia Loren accidentally stole our luggage mistaking it for her own. Maybe a diaper fell out along the way to indicate it was not hers but just as we were finished filing a missing luggage form, she brought it back. Also upon her arrival, the continuous cries of James regarding his “favorite football underpants being gone forever and stolen by a mean person,” were quieted. It was the GREATEST birthday and the BEST trip. Back to snow.

6. On Wednesday, sweet Josephine celebrated her “beast day,” also known as the Feast of St. Joseph. To mark the occasion we froze them with ice cream and played for two hours outside at a park. Her excitement for simplicity and fashion sense flare will forever make a mom smile. To Josie: May you always find a reason to dump out an entire bag of tortilla chips to “celebrate the morning.” May your humor keep your worries light, and may your big brown eyes always continue to look to God with the very same wonder and delight. Thank you for teaching me how to have fun and open things.

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7. This week I learned to never let a baby near freshly squeezed orange juice, a container of strawberries and that no marriage has truly been tested until the sink breaks. A very special thanks to my husband Jim for his dedication to solving the problem with the Walmart special bathroom faucet. While the kitchen has never looked better, I hope the only plumbing issue we attempt to ever again fix together is playing Super Mario Brothers.

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Happy Snowy Spring. 

A few Confessions to end my 27th year

1. On Monday, I’ll officially enter my late twenties and turn 28. Remembering the new number to indicate my actual age will surely require concentration considering I already often forget my age as it has little consequence on my day-to-day life. Often, when I do reveal my age, its telling is met with concern for my child spacing, a reminder that I have at least 15 more years of potential child rearing, or the ever confusing comment, “at least you are getting the baby stage out of the way why you are still young so that you still have the energy to return to your career.” 27 for me marked my first complete year of being a mom to three kids, and was indubitably, the year I laughed the most. I probably also cried the most, but such is young motherhood. And this weekend, the Guinness will be flowing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, in mom moderation, of course.

2. Sweet Josie revealed career aspirations of her own. It was a public display met with the unrivaled enthusiasm of an innocent toddler. At noonish on Tuesday, our Target trip ended with a rather exhausted mom and hungry cart full of three children. The Starbucks inside of the Target seemed to have all of the overpriced treats for my needs and a picnic at the park. As I ordered my drink and their snacks I began to notice her acute attention to detail, eyes widening, breath stalling, amazement in every sense of the word. She began to speak. “When, when, when…” The studder increased in volume with every repeated word. Confined by sitting, she decided to stand and wave her arms with a few claps in between more studdering. Several more “whens” were spoken, each one growing closer to a piercing shout. She managed to unbuckle her seat and its broken chains seemed to give her the freedom she needed to finish her shouting sentence. Most, if not all, of the store had her full attention, which sounds like a mom exaggeration, but the girl was LOUD and people notice loud. Finally, she announced, “WHEN I GROW UP, I’M GONNA MAKE SOMETHIN IN DHERE!.” Her announcement was met with thorough enjoyment from several adults most especially me, and it was abundantly clear that the girl meant what she said and won’t be forgetting it. So, it is with my full parental approval that I say, although I prefer my coffee black, I’ll let you make me a vanilla latte, extra shot 1/4 syrup, anytime you like, sweet baby barista Josephine.

3. Today for the first time in months, all three of my children are napping. We are traveling later and I threatened each of them with the “we cannot go unless you nap,” and somehow, my joke of a disciplinarian voice worked. Though I felt that I appreciated nap time when it was almost guaranteed to me, I wish I would have taken Billy Madison’s advice to “cherish it,” just a bit more seriously. And since vacation threatening seems to work, there may very well be a few pretend safaris planned around here in the future.

4. In an effort to encourage a Lenten spirit of sacrifice, even among the youngest in the household, I did my best to put on the ever rare in this household craft spirit. First we baked expired pie crust and as it was baking I explained that we would be making a “crown of thorns,” for Jesus out of dough and toothpicks and everytime we do something nice we can pull out a toothpick and “make his head feel better.” As Josie tried stabbing James and James tried stabbing Josie, I did my best to explain the rules again. “We undertand” they said and stopped stabbing for the moment. With high hopes I took the crust out of the oven and we began putting in the toothpicks. Next year, I will remember to explain “this is not for eating,” a bit more clearly.

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5. Thinking we were well and done with the flu, Jim and I gave a talk on “Rules for Fair Fighting and Conflict Resolution,” to engaged couples in our diocese over the weekend. With Rita’s snot on the back of my pants, we arrived with a relatively solid message about dialogue and the importance of expressing in I statements and echoing with empathy. Yet, minutes into the talk, distraction and sickness began to take over once again and though I think we sort of made it through, we basically taught them nothing about good communication and I shared a lot of gross stories about cleaning vomit and the perils of momdom. When I made it back to the car we looked at each other and said, “what did we just say to those poor people?” My apologies to all of you, and I promise, though similar to a frat house in some ways (puke, no sleep, lots of bottles) marriage and parenthood is wonderful and not nearly as gross as I made it out to sound.

6. But actually, sometimes parenthood is really gross. Like when your naked baby runs away from you as you are taking care of another child’s bathroom business and also trying to talk to your sister-in- law on the phone and she climbs on the table, steals the fruit smoothie, spills it and then does the deed that fruit smoothies make babies do at record digesting speed. But this little detail in no way belongs in a marital communication talk, so again, I’m sorry.

We are off to enjoy a few days as a family, recharge, and maybe mom will find a few minutes to catch up on blogging too. The happiest of days to all of you.

Sundays are for Resurrections

…Mondays are for making up lost time on this blog…

After 8 straight days of someone expelling stomach acids, one day off, and two days back to all family illness hell, it seems like finally, maybe, just maybe, the highly contagious sickness has moved from this house to the one next door, so say a few prayers for my sister.

After two bouts each person, we woke up yesterday feeling strangely better, and extremely grateful for an opportunity to spend time with my family that did not involve sickness, crying, or sleeping. Following Church, we got crazy and seized the heck out of the Spring ahead.  With 15 minutes before showtime the attempt to make it across town to catch Disney On Ice without tickets was in full “pile them into carseats!” as fast as we could buckle.

Questions on the way included, “where are we going?” and “why are we going so fast?” I dodged the first with “its a surprise!” after learning the very important parent lesson of never revealing the fun location unless absolutely positive it will work out. With no tickets, 12 minutes to spare and poorer than poor planning, I was less than convinced. I suffered the consequences of then being asked if every house/building/tractor/large truck that we past was the “surpwise??” but I’m positive it was better than the time we promised riding roller coasters only to find the amusement park was too crowded and I blamed it on the police.

As we pulled up and illegally parked, James shrieked in excitement about seeing the “Penguins!” and the “guy that looks like Daddy.” I let him down by building up the parts with Buzz Light Year. Still confused, he decided to hold my hand anyway. Hands down, we looked like the worst parents in the building when only one child had a coat and the others loudly cried about being freezing. In we walked to a bombardment of $30-45 pieces of plastic worth a maximum of pennies and thousands of children dressed like princesses. In an effort to evade a future money pit vacation, I hinted at “being in Disney world,” and somehow managed to escape the well placed marketing of spinning-light up pieces of junk with, “I’m so sorry, but someone would probably lose an eye at our house. Let’s admire the dresses!”

While walking past the concessions to our cheapest seats, Jim and I began to experience the natural consequences of skipping lunch to make a show with only 15 minutes to spare, and only had ourselves to blame and a few almonds in my pocket. Peanuts are sort of healthy? And also highly choke-able. Nasty popcorn for the lunch hold-over.

We made it to the seats only 9 minutes late. The memory of the squeals as they witnessed the Beast skate onto the same ice as the Penguins are gold to me. And the skit included all of my favorite Beauty and the Beast banter, so it was a win all around. Since my children, for the most part, only have a general understanding of “princess,” and tend to think that all of them have guns like their favorite Leia, there were many questions as the several Disney princesses skated in the scantily clad ice outfits. And James, in his most polite voice, wondered, “these pritty girls are nice, but when do the race cars come out of that castle?” As well, “will anybody be using a hockey stick?” It then took a whole family effort to keep Rita from jumping out of her seat and onto the ice as dozens of “Its a Small World” singing skaters were released from the castle and brought onto the ice in sparkling ice vehicles. Our cue to exit was 30 minutes past nap time when Rita began pulling hair and stealing other people’s slushies. Not only did we beat traffic, but also, a parking ticket.

The rest of the day was spent outside in legitimate sunshine. They wore costumes and begged to go trick or treating. They played “Ring around the Josie, let’s all fall on Rita,” and she hardly minded at all. Jim gave them blueberry pie and they all cried because “there is jelly on my ice cream.” Darth Vador and Superman found unity in stealing M&Ms. Rita learned to say, “what’s that?” and “give me banana.”

Thank you Jesus, for the break from Lent, and for such a wonderful day.

“…how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man, Jesus, overflow for the many.” 

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The ticket seller was super nice when he said, “please sign this,” to which James began to write his name explaining “I thought that man would like to see my J’s,” and after the repeated screaming into the microphone because “I still don’t think he can hear me!”

 

 

 

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Hopefully big sister can fill little sister in on the proper way to approach a selfie.

 

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Instagram repeats.

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This picture accurately depicts several reasons why I chose Jim as my husband. Abides he does.

 

Happy week’s beginning.

The Flu.

It began with the sound heard and most feared by every mom around the world in precisely the wrong place: the newishly carpeted hallway, far away from a toilet, bucket, garbage can, or any other surface or container that could be easily cleaned or appropriately discarded. This week, that’s what I’ve learned about the flu. Itprefers to lash out on things that can be ruined once every twenty minutes for 24-48 hours per child and husband.

The flu also has particular time proclivities. While it can strike at whatever inconvenient time it likes, its initial attack is best initiated between the hours of 12am-3am, approximately 10-15 minutes after the matriarch and patriarch fall asleep. This leaves Dad pretty much impossible to wake up, and Mom solely responsible, at no fault of his own naturally deep, and deeply envied, sleeping state.

Even if it is begged, the flu does not spread quickly so as to get it over with. No, it lingers in a way that just when it appears dormant, the baby releases its virus all over the dinner table. This occurs approximately 20 minutes before the parents made dinner plans with friends. Its ability to make the warning, “eat your vegetables!” meaningless, fully covered in bacteria, yet not entirely unwelcome by those seated at the table under the age of 4 is most impressive. And 20 minutes before a fun thing is about to occur seems to be its second most preferred time strike.

Ruined plans, full-blown isolation from the exterior world, and various pieces of furniture and carpets ruined is annoying. Yet, there are few things harder, in my experience at least, than refusing a baby water or a bottle, words she has just learned to use politely with ‘please’ attached, when she desperately wants one and has absolutely zero understanding as to the reason for her mean mommy’s refusal.

As the others are slowly nursed back from pale, the last remaining child appears impervious to the flu’s peril. She runs, plays, all while laughing at the flu in the face of her older brother and younger sister for so long that it really does seem impossible that she will catch it, too. “What an immune system she has,” her mother brags. “It’s almost stronger than her personality,” she continues to her husband as she is about to fall asleep. The sound strikes again just as her eyelids close. This time, it’s from sweet Josephine’s bed. Favorite attachment objects and long blond curls are involved and very dirty. Somehow she still laughs when it’s over and immediately asks for a popsicle and milk. It’s a long night filled with a lot of “no’s.”

The next morning that proceeds zero sleep from either parents is welcomed fully by the recovered older brother with energy and a whole lot of Carpe Diem. “Could you go visit your (thought to also be recovered) baby sister for a few minutes?” the parents beg. “Sure!” he scampers. Approximately 30 seconds later he returns confused, bewildered, and apparently unfamiliar with the contents of vomit. “Um Mom? Rita did something in there. I’m pretty sure its paint or something. Like red paint, with some pink, a little bit of owange and some green. There is no blue. And she painted her whole bed. And it smells weal weal bad.” The description, though possibly concerning for his context clue reasoning, is clear. It’s never leaving us.

The flu is the worst and it comes to ruin at least 7 days and maybe the washing machine, too.

If the flu were a body part, I think it would be a raised middle finger.

Also, if money is promised for making it to an appropriate puking place, the kids count, and it adds up pretty fast. FYI.

May the Fat Tuesday Revelry be fun and stomach flu free.

Prayers all around for a Holy start to Lent mañana.

“Hey Kids, Where are you?”

Parenting has had a funny way of revealing the external realities of my behavior and likes to continually deliver it to my awareness brutally, honestly, and, most likely, pronounced incorrectly. For instance, before my son turned 2, I had little to no awareness at the frequency or the intensity with which I reacted to a mistake, mishap or mess by use of the exclamation “Damn It!” While I might have to spend a good amount of time with Pavlov’s Dog in a cage of my own before I officially break my reactionary bad habit, at least I’m aware? I’m sorry to James, Josie, Rita, and their future and current teachers, friends, and parents of friends for their frequent use of a word they really should not know, and my inability to break my bad habit and theirs. On a number of occasions, under the maternal wisdom of my big sister, mother to 6 non-swearing boys, my attempts to curtail its usage and convince my kids that what I actually say is “Slam it!” a phrase that just rhymes with the nonsensical “damn it!” has also proved fruitless. Please note that it has been successful in turning “moron” into “linora” (magic, i guess?) and Sh*t into “I quit!” Most of the conversations involving a much more frequently used ‘damn it’ have ended much more dismally for me with a convinced and confident James explaining, “no mom, it is definitely ‘Damn it.’ YOU taught us it.”

During today’s late afternoon, pre dinner hour of desperation appropriately coined “The 4′ O’clock Meltdown,” for all family members, especially Mom, my children began to play house as the parents with their invisible children. I learned a few new things:

1) Though it often feels like my children do not give a “damn it!” as to whether or not they flee the table before they finish their “wreckfist, wunch, or dinner,” bringing to the forefront of my psyche a sense of inferior disciplinary skills and presence, they do in fact experience a very strict tone, inflection, and the sound seems to come mostly from the throat.

2) As the title of the post indicates, I often lose them. And most often, they are found in the bathtub.

3) 10 minutes into their role play, the children received a visit from their grandmother. She brought presents and James and Josie, the parents, had absolutely no control over their contents or whether or not they could have them. Even after a stern warning from Dad, “eat your dinner first, kids” the apparent disobeying left him rolling his eyes in powerlessness and “I guess this is what’s happening.” Kids: this is your mother speaking. Your awareness is duly noted even though I can do nothing about it.

4) I ask the question, “were you playing in my make up again,” much more than I realized.

5) I think, as indicated by what appeared to be lots of refused hugging kissing and back pats from the invisibles, that maybe they find me a bit too affectionate.

6) They want a dog.

7) I have successfully communicated a love and enthusiasm for grocery shopping and bringing them along with me despite my true feelings.

Additionally, when I interrupted their play with “how many children do you have?” both of the capable of semi-coherent verbalization said “7.”

No, Kids, there are 3 of you. 7 is just what it feels like. Looks like I taught them that too. 

5 Favorite Spring Trends and Where You Can Find Them on Sale Today

Each year for Lent I tend to fast from shopping. So for the next to weeks, I plan on binging :)

Inspired by the Runway, economically delivered to your Wardrobe! Most of the sales are today and tomorrow only so hurry!

Banana Republic: 35% off

JCrew : 40% off

Anthropologie: Tons of Legit Fresh Cuts

BCBG: additional 30% off

Piperlime: always great deals

First! Here are my favorite of many trends from the Runway according to the Harper’s Bazaar. So what if most of these are from 2013? I googled incorrectly. 2014 to come to you soon!

1. Black and White Geometric

Found at Piperlime

Chevron Stripe Peplum TopNavy Stripe Ponte Flounce Dress

Banana Republic 35% off

Inked Brushstroke Tank

Find it at Anthro. 

And if anyone could find a knock off of last years Oscar de la Renta? Please?

2. Monochromatic Color Theory

Sabine Pleated Maxi SkirtHive & Honey Mixed Stitch Sweater

Wear them together! Found at Piperlime and on sale.

Runway Celine Cascading Silk DressLoading zoom

Runway Celine Cascading Silk Dress

BCBG: majorly on sale and comes in 3 bright single colors

3. Whites and Delicates with a side of Frills 

Snowmeadow DressOrigami Shift

Both found at Anthro

White Collars: Found at JCREW

4. Florals

Found at Piperlime for under $40

Framed Pink Floral TopFloral Sequin Peplum TopPoppy Print BlouseStriped Floral Fluted Skirt

Banana Republic extra 35% off

Go Comfy: Left Anthro, Right Jcrew

Patched Brocade Sweatshirt  

Go Feminine!

Cheshire DressFiamma Pencil Skirt

Anthropologie

5. And a Leather bonus!

Mixed Moto Jacket

I own this and I can’t say enough great about it. Go get it way on sale at Anthro. The leather is phenomenal, the fit is fantastic, and its balanced in a way that I don’t actually feel like I need a motorcycle, because let’s be honest, motorcycles terrify me.

Happy Shopping, go see Hallie! and then go see Fountains of Home where the link up is this week.