Mass Grades and a Momily

Mass Grades and a Momily.


F is for Family and also failing.


Mass attendance with children is all about learning. While certain souls of piety may focus on the ever- incredible qualities of God (preferred), sometimes the biggest lesson is more practical. For instance, this week I learned to never sit behind a man who has crutches. Unless, of course, I prefer being both accidentally and purposely whacked and necessarily preoccupied with continually removing children #3, 2, and 1 from inappropriately handling the kind stranger’s metal walking device/irresistible weapon within a toddler’s reach instead of soaking in the message of Jesus. Lesson: live and learn pew placement and do your best to avoid accidentally sitting near an arsenal.


And while I strongly wish I could say the armament of two toddlers and a baby was the only distraction of the hour, the fat lip, but thankfully not lost front tooth, received from Rita’s impressive head flail, as a display of her physical repulsion to any limit to her crutch and kneeler acrobatics, also played an important role in the family’s worse Mass showing in weeks. In a dramatic “am I bleeding!?” head turn I was told, “its not even a little bit swollen, pipe down and grab Josie.” Her impressive, yet still inappropriate, kneeler turned balance beam splits and jumps paled in comparison to the should- have- been- napping breakdown of her older and louder, melting loud by the minute, big brother. The fire hydrant running of two noses made for a great hour to forget bringing tissues and/or baby wipes. Rita discovered and finished a half eaten pretzel which I realllllly am hoping came from her own car seat and not the floor but whose to know? Josie spotted and announced each and every “bad guy!!!” spotted in the Stations of the Cross, just as Rita decided to throw books at the floor, me, and other childless adults. To the cry room we went to stand off in the distance just like the tax collector in the Gospel except not as holy or genuine. And in one final blow to the ego, in a most impressive move, Josephine managed to carry the toy boat I specifically requested stay in the cry room pew for Communion and whispered “ I pulled a fast one, momma” with a grin and a giggle shattering any last bit of her duped mother’s pious effort to receive the Eucharist with a straight face.


But maybe bad behavior from 3 kids is what a righteous mom needs to realize its not about me and what I want and maybe the 45 kneeler- crushing- toes were each a humble reminder to de-Pharisee and worry less? Or to buy steel toe boots? Its one of those, I’m sure.


Come at me with some spiritual lights, it’s a bit dim over here 🙂

7 quick Mom Confessions

7 quick Mom Confessions

1. The baby can safely make it down the steps alone. The way in which I found out this little piece of dangerous information is only because I found her on stair 6 or 7 after taking an extra 2-3 seconds to button my pants. Also, my two-year old can unlock my master bedroom door. And evidently, the best way to lure a baby to a staircase is by opening a door and saying “here Rita, Rita, Rita.”

2. This morning I spent a solid 60-70 minutes killing imaginary dinosaurs and, their friends, the bears from the woods. Death to them was warranted by their vicious attacks on the family’s toothbrush supply. Even though each princess/superhero brush was locked safely in James’ Lightening McQueen lunchbox, two toothbrushes were sacrificed in the waging dental hygiene war and nearly flushed down the toilet when Mom was too busy sword fighting the Velociraptor and his friend Care Bear. Things turned a bit too real when baby sister Rita was suspected of transforming into a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex and the weapon of choice became a pillow and suffocation the almost inadvertent course of death.

3. And speaking of death by suffocation, plastic garbage bags are now hidden much higher than their already high above a toddler’s reach position. It was one of those “only on the news or in scare tactics used to makes moms crazy paranoid but don’t actually happen in real life” actual real life moments. In an effort to wipe a counter, I turned a corner. A friendly giggle, giggle among the 3, 2, and 1-year-old turned a bit to jovial just as the actual surface of the granite began poking through. I took three steps towards the family room anticipating to catch a purposeful spill or mess being made in action only to find three children covered in plastic bags pretending to be ghosts while playing the piano (irony? Foreshadowing?)

4. My crazy started showing pretty clearly when getting into the car in a parking lot after an unsuccessful school pants run to Target and James telling me, “don’t worry mom I will go super fast so nobody gets us.” I did buy glitter nail polish and new pajamas, so not all was lost.

5. And somewhere in between James refusing to hug me on his way to school because “he would be late for work,” and Josie’s decision to only wear high heels, Rita started walking. She usually wobbles her way right to the spice rack and then into the cabinet underneath the fish tank and then to the garbage. It’s a pretty busy schedule.

6. I gave Josie a Popsicle as bribery for a shower. It had been three days of sweat and grease pile up and Rita was napping and she wanted no part of “too hot and speamy” shower, but I needed every part of one, and before I knew it she was sitting on the floor gleaming in skills and manipulation enjoying a delicious treat and I lathered thinking, “is popsicle bribery really the only way towards cleanliness?”

7. I brought my own chicken to McDonald’s. I know, I know, what is the point and how crazy can I get? And if there is ever a reason to pass the politically incorrect judgment card over my way, this one deserves it. It was leftover from a “but I don’t like chipkin” dinner the night before and packed up in the car on the way home from a weekend getaway. It was dinner time and we were driving and before I knew it we were at the golden arches and the last time we tried fast food I had spit out chipkin all over my car and I put the leftover in my purse and when Jim was in line ordering I tricked everyone and fed them “special chicken nuggets!!” And everyone ate it and loved it and I felt sort of like a genius.

May all of your weekends be lovely and long!

Go to Clan Donaldson for more! and as always, ConversionDiary for the best blog.

How to Make a Poor Mom’s Black Velvet

Thirsty Thursday! Just like college except not anything like it.


How to make a Poor Man’s Black Velvet

As an amateur blogger, I figured the best way to follow up a post on the importance of working out would be to post about how to make my favorite alcoholic beverage.



It tastes best in the Fall and feels most appropriate in an Irish bar, particularly when Irish guitar players are strumming slightly inappropriate songs (Alice, I hope you have made yourself known).


The truth is, I’ve only ever been to two bars that have made it properly and if you are in the DC area, skip the homemade version and go straight to Murphy’s Pub on King Street. And while the ingredients guarantee delicious despite technique, A Poor Man’s Black Velvet proper is the perfect mix of heavy and light, tart and bitter, delicious and delicious.




Hard Cider or Champagne


FUN FACT: (!) The drink was originally made with Champagne and enjoyed by people who could afford champagne. Cider, easier to come by and able to be made at home by the Irishmen who most commonly enjoyed it, was a cheaper substitute. In my taste buds opinion, Cider is the better way to go and reminds me much more of Fall.


On tap is best, but since most of the bottles in the households of my readers probably consist of plastic and have nipples attached, a can is just fine too.


Necessary Items:

A glass: preferably a clear one so as to showcase the density magic.

A metal spoon.

Paper towel (possibly).



  1. Put the kids to bed.
  2. Grab a glass.
  3. Pour the cider until the glass is half full (optimist!)
  4. Place the spoon over the glass. Pour the Guinness onto the spoon. It is very important that the beer touches the metal first. Why? I don’t understand science so I don’t know. I do know that if a spoon isn’t used the whole thing looks like a normal Guinness and it is just not as fun. Also, if you are clumsy and messy like me, may I suggest pouring in the sink, or use the possibly needed paper towel.

5. Drink!

Another fun fact! Attention all breast feeding moms: Guinness is good for milk production.  According to people who do understand science, “A polysaccharide in the barley used to make beer seems to stimulate prolactin, which helps moms make more milk.”


Happy Drinking, Happy Nursing! Let me know what you think.

Five Favorites, Crossfit

It’s been five weeks since my husband first tricked me into believing I beat him in a Burpee race. I hit that ground and bounced and clapped with stamina and speed, racing to the end number with all my might, as he pressed on cool and collected, planning on doing one more than me no matter the number completed. It was sort of like the first time I discovered that he liked me during a game of Ping-Pong played with his non-dominant left hand, but way more frustrating and sweaty.

Before I digress further into what its like to be a competitive woman married to a non competitive man entertained by my feats and efforts, I feel the need to express my new-found appreciation for Crossfit, mainly because I’ve never experienced a work out like it and I do think like-minded moms may agree. The following are my five favorite things about it. Go to MoxieWife for more and better.

1. It focuses on the function of the body, not on its physical appearance.

There are few things I find more frustrating in our skinny is best and sex is supreme obsessed culture than workouts, gyms, billboards, ads, etcetera x  5 Billion that focus on what we look like and how it can be better/sexier/more defined and with less clothing, bigger boobs, and more abs. My goals in working out are simple: to maintain mental sanity, and to better and more comfortably endure the demands of a mom’s day chasing and lifting small people and repeatedly squatting and squatting and squatting to wipe spaghetti sauce among other liquids off the ground. And I’d like to maintain enough strength to continue having more bambinos while keeping all of my real joints. Sure, appearance is important, but not having sciatica numbing shooting pain every night because I am actually strong enough to handle a day’s labor is the real goal here, especially during the pregnancy months. Repeatedly hearing “just think about how many calories you are burning, and how much smaller your waist will be” makes my head spin in “but I don’t care about that!” frustrated circles and it is absolutely the worst way to motivate a person who believes eating should be guiltless and enjoyable. True health to me is a balance and an integration of our physical, spiritual and psychological natures. And while a better butt is surely a warmly welcomed effect of a hill run, usually, I would much rather imagine grabbing a cheeseburger and a Guinness at the top rather than a bikini and a diet pill. The bikini will ride up, anyway.

Crossfit, at least at my gym, is based on the work out serving us, rather than us serving the work out. 50 crappy situps might make my waist line better looking. Crossfit, though, is much more interested in one good sit up that will make me stronger and better able to support the rest of my body picking up my 20 pounder baby, 30 pounder sprinting toddler, and 40 pounds of the most densely concentrated muscle that makes up my little boy who will probably continue asking to be held until college. Proving against mental doubts and all of our “I can’ts” is just as important, if not more, than actually performing a pull up or lifting a weight off the floor. But, can I mention how much easier it is to fulfill my daily tasks of lifting, setting, lifting, wrangling, changing, holding in place, bouncing, carrying, halting, with better form and less chance of injury?

And one of the best parts? I’ve never once heard the word Calorie. Amen and alleluia, finally. I like to eat them not talk about how many there are in an avocado or egg yolk (eat more fat and enjoy it!).

2. Time effective

I’ve been in search of quick workouts ever since having kids. I try and steal away several minutes for long therapeutic runs or relaxing walks/swims when I can, but let’s face it; those opportunities are few and far between. In the exact same amount of time as it takes me to break a sweat on a treadmill, I’m finished with my work out of the day at Crossfit. It’s like all those magazine advertisements of “6 pack abs in 3 minutes!” only true, and with a lot less abs counting. And the more I go to the class, the more I learn how to do it on my own (probably not what my coach wants to hear, but…)

So if I’m home with my monkeys with no chance to get out or work out without an average of 17 tantrums, I can look up a workout and confidently get full body, effective, intense (or not depending on my mood) results in less than 10 minutes. Additionally, my kids can learn how to count my reps while I do it. And as I have mentioned before, watching a child do a burpee is truly one of the funniest, most enjoyable, energy sucking activities of all of my mom tricks.

3. Teamwork

Communities are fun! And when 100 lunges are on the line, friends are made quickly.

4. Equal playing field for husband and wife.

Since I trip just looking at a soccer ball, co-ed intramural wasn’t an option, and ice hockey seems like a fairly terrible idea considering my stature and love of teeth. Barre classes seemed like a cruel and unusual punishment for a man and 2 days into our marriage after running with me during the dating days Jim admitted he was just trying to impress me. We agreed that Crossfit was worth a try.

He’s good at most things, I’m good at fewer things, but some things, and partner workouts are a barrel of laughs.

5. I’m learning things and reaching goals.

In addition to all of the new and admittedly extremely confusing acronyms, I’m learning about how my body is meant to move and lift, and seriously!!! Lifting my kids is so much easier than it was just weeks ago. And even if one of my goals is to do a singular push up or one day graduate from the child training bar, reaching a goal is a good feeling, and protects against that whole haggard feeling that waves its literal ugly head at me in the mirror when I forget I haven’t showered in 3 days and am still wearing the same mascara from two days prior.

So, just like Green Eggs and Ham, try it and you may!

And if you are in the Pgh area, go to Alpha Athletics and ask for Tony and tell him I sent you. (I feel so Italian.)

Happy Tuesday.

1. I received an unappreciated once over at the grocery store from a strange man undeterred by babies as a sign of a women being attached. I steered my cart away with a “cheese? Oh we don’t need any cheese,” and scampered to the cereal. He found me near the asparagus and in his most natural creepy voice said, “I like your boots and your face.” Before I could nervously quiver, Rita gave him her very best and unbelievably appropriate dinosaur growl proving further her position as perfect child and natural born feminist.

2. Josie’s baby took a tumble. She might need some oxygen soon, as well.


3.  James asked if he could read to me. He opened the children’s bible and found the story of Moses. He began, “in this story one time upon, this girl had a baby and the bad guys were there so she put him in the water. He couldn’t swim but he floated and somebody else took him. Happily after. The end.”

4. The following prayer requests were made by 11 second graders at tonight’s CCD.

– “Please God help that animal that my mom ran over by accident, and please, please, please don’t let it be somebody’s pet.”

– “I hope my grandma’s headache goes away soon and I’m sorry we gave her one by cheering for the Steelers and stealing so many cookies.”

– “ I would like to pray for world peace and my hamster.”

– “Please, Jesus, bring back my turtle’s appetite.”

– “ I saw a dead raccoon on the way here. I would like to pray for it and also that someone cleans it soon.”

– “God, remember all of my nine dead pets.”

– “My grandmother’s mom’s friend’s sister or maybe her cousin? I don’t know actually, I just know she knows her and her name is Violetta.”

– “For everyone’s health and lots of candy on Halloween.”

5. The following things were said by the same second graders.

Teacher: “And when is Jesus’ birthday?”

Ecstatic children: “Christmas!!!”

One girl: Additionally, I do believe, if I’m not mistaken, that Christmas is also the day that Santa Claus got married.”

“I know God made me but what I want to know is can we make hot chocolate or not?”

“Yea I know what the Trinity is, my dad works there. He can put a refridgerator on your bike and he will do it for free.”

“Could you hold my tooth? It fell out.”

“When I grow up I’m going to be a peanut butter and jelly sculptor and even though it will be hard for no one to eat my art I’m going to make something beautiful.”

“Does Mary where high heels or flip flops?”

“Has Jesus ever farted?”

Happy Tuesday. May you all know a second grader.

Pearl Jamming.

Each trip to Marshall’s/church/pool/anywhere she would let me tag along was the same. She would tell me about what it was like to have a real boyfriend, or what I should look for her to where at Marshall’s as Pearl Jam’s Ten played in the background. We usually skipped #7 Deep because she was afraid of Eddie Vedder’s scream in its beginning. Then, just before we got to where we were going we put repeatedly laughed at Jay Z’s phrase “Bounce, B**tch.”

Although Eddie failed to incorporate the lyrical genius of “Bounce With Me,” fifteen years and 9 collective children since our suburban rock/rap joyrides, my sister and I, along with our husbands, attended to opening night to Pearl Jam’s latest tour. And as a 20 something mom blogger, I feel the need to broadcast when I do something even semi removed from diapers, and since it was an especially cool night, here it is on my silly blog. (Before leaving the house there were three explosions and two spaghetti sauce hands very close to my non- spaghetti sauce friendly material pants.)

The man is an unbelievable performer, and he continued to dazzle the fragrant flannel crowd long after the center’s workers union turned on the lights to kick him out. He invited the Pirates pitcher, Jason Grilli, on stage and drank Franco Harris wine. He told tales of his and Bruce Springsteen’s shared mutual love and respect for Pittsburgh. He continued to confuse my brother in law on lyrics and song titles, and although “I can’t find a pyramid,” (better man) does have a certain ring to it, all those people he called to say “it’s Jeremy!” during “Even Flow” were probably the most confused.

And while most of the crowd would most likely point to the music as being the star of the night, I’d like to point out my sister’s fashion, mostly because she’s wearing my clothes and I CONVINCED HER TO WEAR LEATHER PANTS!! In a sea of oversized flannels circa 1994 which are still being worn by today’s youth although I do believe their social message is one much different than the grunge stance of the 90’s (who knew flannels could stand for so much), her perfectly fitting vegan polyurethane was a refreshing mix of fake fabric, and the gold pointed toe heels stepped up her strut even more.


We topped off the night with Primantis and the men enjoyed more cheap beer.

I tried listening to some of my old favorites in the car this week. I checked the rearview mirror to find Rita’s foot violently kicking, James instinctively head banging with a super serious brow, and Josie with the perfect hair for baby rocking as she chanted, “its party time.” It was truly the State of Love of and Trust.

I’m committing to at least 5 posts this week. Join me!

Happy Weeks beginning.

A meeting with James’ teacher

When I was a little girl, Parent-teacher conferences were pretty much my favorite day. I was almost guaranteed a delicious treat for good (suck up with the brownest nose) behavior. There was, of course, the one unfortunate year when my third grade teacher called me a “social butterfly that flutters from conversation to conversation” in which my mom was less than thrilled with her little chatter box. Even with all that flutter I managed to negotiate a singular piece of peanut butter cup because of my stellar cursive and continued cooperation with the side ponytail and massive white bow every morning, and of all the insects, butterflies are definitely the prettiest.

I had the pleasure of speaking with James’ preschool teacher yesterday afternoon, and the fluttering occurred mostly in my stomach as I wondered what she would say and how many times he pulled down his pants to pee. (The answer is once, which is still infinity too many, and the slide was cleaned.) The report is as follows.

Dear James,

In no way do I mean to inflate your artistic abilities, but when I say your tree trunk was the straightest of all of the other brown construction paper rectangles, I mean it. Your decision to demand a second piece of paper to make it straight seemed to pay off in the form of “it really does look like a tree.”

Additionally, I commend you in your role as line leader. Even though you are on the small side, the way you stuck out your chest, lifted your chin, and walked on your tippy toes so as to effectively guide your peers towards the library and playground was indeed a valiant and successful effort.

I apologize that the number 3 is not in your name, like you think it should be, because 3 is your age and James is your name, and clearly they should be always united.

Your friendship with Bailey, both in an out of the classroom, runs deep. Whether you are flying planes, being planes, crashing cars with toys or your bodies, holding hands, or reviewing the stipulations to your best friend and cousin contract through questions like “will you still be my friend if I push my sister?” its plain to see, you two are made for each other. You take over an entire table at lunch to dump out your boxes and make buffet style trades. Bailey is not likely to take your carrots or sandwich, but you continue to try and pawn off your least favorite items with impressive negotiation skills including, but not limited to, “but my mom packed this for YOU, Bailey.”

You are sure to tell all your friends that hitting your sisters is “NOT COOL, I REPEAT, NOT COOL.” Curiously enough, Josie is also “your sweet baby sister who is your best friend.” I’m certainly proud of you for speaking of her in such kind ways, but if we could address the slight disconnect between your words and actions your mother could possibly retire to a life of peace and happiness for all eternity.

It has also come to my attention that you’ve developed a new type of game on the playground. The teachers refer to it as the “damsel” game. It is created and led by you and you alone. You instruct the two blond beauties in the class to pretend to be in “danger.” Sometimes the danger involves sharks, alligators, or tigers. Other times, there is a fire or thunder. They flail their arms and say, “help! James! Help!” To which you climb the latter or hill in a fury of masculine strength with the words “I’LL SAVE YOU!” You then proceed to carry them down the hill, or the slide and resuscitate. I was unaware of your hopeless romantic persona until now, and clearly, you’ve spent some time with your uncles on your mother’s side. Even though you told me that you want to be “Jesus” for Halloween, may I suggest firefighter, and/or first responder? Also, I think firefighter might be less accidentally offensive/sacrilegious.

I am proud of your enthusiasm and zeal for school and learning. You count loud and you sing louder. You smile and bat your eyelashes in an effort to hoard all of the classes’ toy penguins. You build zoos and racetracks and you love books. This morning you cried because there is no school today and you already had put your uniform on by yourself. May you continue to learn with gusto and excitement all the days of your education.

To James future wife,

You are probably enjoying a nice applesauce snack while combing your dolls hair. As evidenced by my son’s school behavior, you are a blond and you are adorable. Please prepare yourself for some type of grand romantic gesture/public proposal in your adult life. And if you ever do find yourself in need of strong arms to carry you out of somewhere, fear not.

And I will add that meeting with such a wonderful teacher is a #1 comfort for a nervous mom, and witnessing her enjoyment in teaching is refreshing. And if anyone should write a book of quotes, it should probably be her.

Happy Friday!

Seven Minutes.

As Rita sat wondering which of her siblings would feed her another whole grape next, despite the repeated “she will choke!” warnings, I decided which mess to clean first. I smelled the first on step 3 of the stairs and heard the second splatter with an “uh oh (indicating accident) /chuckle (indicating he’s still entertained) in the same spot. “Poop. Always, the poop” I prioritized as I grabbed the baby. It was a clean up on aisle “I’m never potty training!” where the carpet was confused for toilet paper and the bed sheet a toilet, and her hands were included just for fun. “Throw my diaper in the garbage, mom, and then, wash my hands,” she parented me. “Josie, you were supposed to be napping,” I said to her but more so, myself. “No, nap, Momma. Just poop.”


I’ve decided in moments when there is literal sh** spread generously all over favorite area rugs that anything I desire to say to a child the age of “I still poop on the floor,” is better left unsaid. “Just put it in the lawndy” she told me as I half scrubbed, half begged Rita to play with a toy of which she was really quite bored on the other side of the room as far away from the bacteria spread as a Curious Georgita allows.  “Make Daddy do it,” Josie suggested.  It’s an interesting thing, really, that a child can still struggle with diapers, but can grasp a practical understanding of the female power of manipulation just fine. 


“Stay here for one minute,” I said to her in the bath filled with less than one inch of water, as I ran down to assess the smoothie mess. Which brings me to my next nonpoint of the refrigerator and three year olds. In they go, up they climb, things they spill, leftover birthday cake they eat. The mess was bad, but not the worst I’ve seen so I handed him a paper towel and went to retrieve his bathing sister.


It was probably a 45-60 second time period spent alone. But, for a two year old hippie child who lives by her feelings and fun is always best mantra, its 44 seconds too many to be left alone with a cup and water in a tub, and for this, I’m an idiot. “The ceiling is leaking!!” smoothie man warned as I stared at the empty tub, flooded floor, grinning child, and an inch of tub water looks 20 when its covering a surface its not supposed to.  


I strapped on the wrong Dora Pull-up, which made her cry because the butterfly ones are not cool and I should know that she only likes the yellow flowers, and Rita asked to do the steps alone by jumping out of my arms almost breaking her neck, and in a sea of paper towels I saw a singular drop of water on top off what it looks like when James tries to clean up yogurt smoothie unattended. 

“I fixed the ceiling, mom. Can we make Popcorn now?”


Happy Thursday, Go Pirates.