Thursday, June 22, 2017

In The Midst of Your Work

What amazes you seems quite natural to me: God has sought you out right in the midst of your work. This is how he sought the first, Peter and Andrew, John and James, beside their nets, and Matthew sitting in the custom-house. And -- wonder of wonders-- Paul, in his eagerness to destroy the seeds of Christianity!
The Way, 799, Saint Josemaria Escriva

Saint Josemaria is one of my all-time favorite saints, his feast day is coming up on Monday so it seemed liked an apt time for a little post in honor of him, or at least in honor of how his spirituality impacts my days.

Every single day I struggle to pray. I struggle to prioritize some quiet prayer time, and since Fred is still up at all hours of the night nursing, I have not gotten back to waking before the kids to pray, (because that is obviously the ideal and I hope to attain it one day, but I'm not there yet). At this point my goal is to send them outside or downstairs to play after breakfast so I can shoot for my whopping 15 minutes of prayer time, and you would think that this could happen easily, but that would mean you have never met my children.

It currently looks like this:
Breakfast is done, baby is back down for a morning nap, kids are dressed. 

Me: Ok kids, head outside to play!
Kids: Ok! all run outside

3 minutes later

Kid #1: running in the house I need to poop!
Mom: Ok
Kid poops, goes back out

3 minutes later

Kids #2&3: running in the house screaming, She hit me, she kicked me, she called me ugly and stupid!!!!!!!!!!!
Mom: handles squabble, sends them back out

3 minutes later

Kid #4: runs in the house I pooped!!
Mom: changes diaper, sends him back out

3 minutes later

Kid #4: Runs in house screaming THERE'S A BEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mom: Did it sting you?
Kid: NO BUT IT LOOKED AT ME LIKE IT WAS GOING TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mom: Calms kid, send him back outside

3 minutes later


I would say that this is just summer time, but at this point in my life summer time is life time. They are always here, they are always needing me, the work never ends and the struggle to find quiet time is constant. I won't ever stop struggling to find it, I can't and won't give up the struggle to pray, but there is another important struggle that I neglect to see right there in the above detailed events: God finding me in my work, in the work of my children.

The above detailed situation is a mish mash of a thousand different scenarios that happen every single day, 20 times a day, and not because there aren't enough items on our summer bucket list to entertain the minions, but because my kids are weak, fallen individuals, and I am a weak, fallen individual. They fight, they scream, they are discontented and entitled, and they remind me of myself to a tee. But I am called to love them, to serve them, to deal with ALL of their poop, every day, all day-- and that is where God's will is being done in my life, that is where prayer is actually happening.

The quiet prayer needs to happen, and I will continue to fight to fit it in where ever I can, but I cannot lose sight of God's presence in the work of this house, and the power of prayers uttered in the midst of my work. That is why I love Saint Josemaria, he will not ever let me forget these things and so I will continue to seek his advice daily, as a supplement to prayer. These are some of my favorites by him, in order of my very favorites first. I know there are so many more, recommendations welcomed!

1: The Way of the Cross. I realize this is mostly a Lenten resource, but I really love it as an every day prayer companion. There is a short description of each station of the cross and then several small meditations by Saint Josemaria.

2: The Way, The Furrow, The Forge. These little books are perfect prayer companions. They have little bite-sized meditations on the spiritual life, but they pack a holy punch, I love them.

3: The Holy Rosary. These Josemaria wrote this book of little meditations on the mysteries of the rosary in one sitting and are wonderful- they have a strong theme our spiritual childhood.

4: Friends of God. I had a chapter from this book printed out years ago and I read it probably 100 times, it was so good. I am finally reading the rest of it and it is blowing me away the same way that chapter did.

5: I think that I've read some of Christ is Passing By, but it's up there on the top of my must-spiritual-reads. 

I haven't used it as much as I should but this website is a really great resource for all things Josemaria as well as Escriva Works, where you can find most if not all of the above linked writings.

I have been reading the biography At God's Pace over this entire year-- it is super detailed and not a huge page turner (hence why I've been reading it for a year, very much at Ana's pace) but it's really good.

Basically I have no idea what I am doing and so I am constantly going to him for help, I absolutely need it.

Saint Josemaria Escriva, pray for us.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Walmart, Wine, & Summer Sickies (7QTs!)

Linking up with Kelly! It's been a while.

1) I'd say I don't know where the time went but that would be a lie because I know exactly where it went:

I know the last thing you really care about is the time line of my baby's sicknesses, but that has never stopped me from over-updating you before, nor will it now. The last time I posted was May 30th, which was sweet baby Fred's second full week of sickness, 2 weeks before that post he got roseola (if you've never heard of it, it's nothing huge except that the fevers that babies get with it are scary high) and the week after that he got hit with a cold virus, which was also accompanied by fevers, though not as scary high. After my sister left all parties in our family affected by the cold got better... except Fred. His fevers persisted and then started to get higher, until finally a week ago I got him to the doctor where they discovered double ear infections, gave some antibiotics, which I figured would work within a few days-- but not so. The initial antibiotic did not work and his fevers just got higher and he was the most miserable human being on the planet. Long story {NOT} short, they gave a second antibiotic which kicked in within 48 hours and he is finally on the mend, after having a moderate to high fever for the better part of 3 weeks (and a totally confused, insane mom for the duration as well).

2) All that to say: a) sick babies are always the hardest, no matter how many you've had, and b) parents with children who are sick with frequency or have disabilities--- you are incredible, you are the most amazing people in the world. How do you do it? My heart broke and then broke again and then broke some more. Every instinct I had was wrong, I felt like I was parenting for the first time and I cried so much (me, not the baby. Even when the baby wasn't crying I was). And it was just viruses and ear infections. We have been so blessed to have healthy children and I am not grateful enough for that-- so the last 3 weeks has at least helped me to realize that and resolve to not take it for granted, it is such a blessing. It has also made me realize I will never have parenting figured out. Ever.

3) Onward and upward-- now that the baby is better and I can leave the house again I made a run to Walmart with the kids for 4 items that I forgot earlier in the week. I almost never take them to the store so they are always super excited to go (also I make it a point to always beg bakeries to give my kids free cookies so their excitement is pretty understandable). On this particular trip the bakery was giving away free Twinkies and since my kids had never had Twinkies before it was the best thing ever...

4) If you haven't watched this viral video of a toddler eating bacon for the first time you should go fourth and watch it and then imagine my kids being the same exact way over their first Twinkies. I might as well have flown overseas and taken them to a French patisserie and gotten them their first authentic chocolate croissant. Except, no, they would have liked the Twinkies better.

5) These 2:

They have perfected and daily execute the "love/hate" relationship so beautifully, it's absurd. I am sure that the gender difference (which is entirely new to me at this age) has everything to do with it but they will be hugging and laughing one second and tackling each other to the ground screaming the next. Vocal communication hasn't really entered their particular dimension of play yet, we'll get there.

6) Went to a winery with the kids today: sipped wine with friends while the kids climbed on giant rocks--

Now I am wondering why there is any other kind of play date at all.

7) I think I have put you through enough for today, have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

sista, sista!

(If you aren't singing that title to this tune, you weren't a middle schooler in the 90s.) 

My sister and her fabulous family came over the weekend and, as is the case whenever family time comes to an end, I am still basking in the goodness and repeatedly scrolling through pictures trying to burn the memories into my mind-- it was just so good.

I am the 5th of 8 kids and this is the sister right above me, the one I was closest with growing up, the one I shared a room with-- the one I thought was one of the coolest people in the world (and still do).
When we were younger she used to let me watch The Crow with her and listen to her edgy music, now she gives me sour dough starters and homeschooling tips.

She is and always has been one of my very closest friends, and since having 5 children around the same time as her, I have been able to share so many new and unique experiences which motherhood has brought about. She was my inspiration to try out an all natural birth when I had Naomi and we bonded over our love of epidurals with later children.

I've read lots of really beautiful cases for siblings, so I don't feel like I have much to say in that regard except DITTO! My siblings are such trusted friends, every single one of them. We have bond that is truly special and that I don't have with any other friends and I am so grateful for it. But there is one other things that, as the 5th born, I have been able to experience as a truly amazing blessing of siblings, and that is their children.

This weekend I watched my kids jump into friendships with their cousins-- who they haven't seen in months-- like they were with them yesterday. I watched them work together to include each other and the littler ones, I watched my older two take care of their little cousins with so much gentleness and I watched the very close bond that certain pairs have grow even stronger. It was so special.

Then when all the kids were sleeping we got to stay up way too late and watch John Mulaney and laugh so hard that I spit beer into my hair-- again, so special.

Naturally I got zero pictures with my sister (something to do with herding 12 kids around all weekend) but that's just a really good excuse to share this oldie, circa 1985.

And one more oldie of us all with our Aunt (Bernadette and is me as a child, see all above pics)

Siblings be da best.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

sit on the porch with them

We have this really wonderful wrap around porch and for Christmas my parents got us a porch swing, it's positively lovely and happens to be Fred's favorite spot. He is crazy and always getting into trouble, but if you go and sit with him on the swing, he will just sit, which is in itself a small miracle.

I have never been good at just sitting still. Prayer is one of the hardest things for me, sitting to read a book takes serious self control- the second I sit down my mind starts reeling with the thousand things around the house I could be doing: homeschooling tasks we didn't get to that I could accomplish, or 10 other more "productive" things I could be doing. This need for constant should not be mistaken with actual "productivity" or being anywhere close to "on top of things". Think of it more like a chicken running around with it's head cut off, or a hamster running on a wheel-- I just need to be moving, and doing, regardless of whether it is something that is actually productive like cleaning the bathroom, it often takes the form of stupid crap like glue gunning family portraits of my kids' play family to their doll house. Needless to say that just sitting with my children-- on the porch swing with my baby who will not be a baby for much longer, with the older kids, who always end up joining us-- is hard.

As difficult as homeschooling is for me, I actually think I thrive on it in a lot of ways because it gives direction to my constant need to do things. This year has been crazy-- there has been near non-stop doing, which is actually kind of right up my alley and I have taken very few opportunities to just sit with them. The new job, the new baby, the move, and then I jumped into homeschooling in the fall (I also worked really hard to get the baby weight off and dropped 30 pounds from August to April) and now we are all done. We are all done settling in, we are all done with school, I am all done losing the baby weight. It's time to just stop for a little bit.

I am looking ahead to a summer of not much-- and I'm a little nervous-- because I stink at not doing much. There will be some light travel and, you know, feeding and clothing this brood, but mostly we will just be staying put and resting as a family, (as much as you can "rest" with 5 small children under foot at all times). Either way I will need to force myself to slow down, to be still, to read more, to pray, to nap, to hang out with the kids-- as opposed to being their constant school-drill sergeant-- to take my time nursing and enjoy these last days of babyhood, to let Joe "hunt" me with his homemade Lego gun, to maybe even bust out a board game or 2 with the older girls, but above all to to soak them in, to enjoy them and just slow down sit on the porch swing with them.

Friday, May 19, 2017

another year down

Today marked the end of our official school year, so how about some celebratory quick takes with Kelly!

1) I had a meeting at the beginning of the week at the superintendent's office for the state to sign off on the older girls' school for the year-- I opted for this instead of testing since they're still so young. The girls came with me and I brought their portfolios and they had to bring a book to read aloud for some lady. I was super nervous about it because of the crushing self-doubt that accompanies homeschooling for me, but it turns out I am not screwing them up and they got the big OK to head to their perspective next grades!

2) I had already sort of planned for us to be done this week, but once the meeting was over on Monday the deal was sealed and I was completely determined to finish everything, which would not have been a big deal but then Fred decided to spike a relatively high fever Monday which persisted through Thursday, meaning he was up all night every night and I was a positively peachy teacher during the week. But we still finished! (And Fred is all better) We celebrated with a picnic with friends (some who also happen to be family) and we will continue the celebration with a family outing tomorrow.

3) Last year Naomi, Bernadette and Lucy had been taking ballet lessons with the parks department there in SB and they were all set to have their recital last May when we realized that we would be needing to leave town to house hunt in Virginia the same time as their recital. I pulled them out of the class and they had to miss their recital, which wasn't that big of a deal for the older 2 who had done one in the past, but Lucy was so upset to miss her "time on the stage!" I was a blubbering, pregnant hot mess and totally cried over her missing the recital, but I made it up to Lucy this semester with a different ballet class and her first ever recital tomorrow. She had her dress rehearsal yesterday and the older girls were basically green with jealousy over the fact that she got to wear makeup.
I need to work on my 4-year-old makeup application. Or maybe just never do it again.

4) I am sitting in some serious shock that one year ago tomorrow we were celebrating the sale of our South Bend home, and under contract to buy a home here, I was 34 weeks pregnant and would give birth 4 weeks later, and 3 weeks after that we would move to a new state for Mike to start a new job with a new born. I have felt a sense of accomplishment about lots of things in my life, but the sense of accomplishment I feel over not only not dying this past year is right up there at the top.

5) So that makes Fred Bernard a full-fledged 11-month-old and he is playing the part beautifully. His favorite toys are all the trash cans in the house and his favorite food is every non-edible thing he can find on the floor. He bites while nursing and is acting like he will wean real soon, which I am not entirely sad over (see beginning of sentence) but am still pretty weepy over (cuz I'm nuts).

6) I made the margaritas I was going on about (several times) and they were delish-- definitely recommend for the special occasion. I pulled a muscle in my forearm from juicing so many limes though so I think I will be taking a break from fresh and stick with the bottled mix for a while.

7) I did a little poll in the Facebook group for the CWBN Mid-Atlantic conference to see who is thinking about coming, but if perchance you don't have Facebook or aren't in the group and you're reading about it here and thinking about coming, please comment to tell me so I can pencil your name in!

Friday, May 12, 2017

come to my house and party! (7qt)

Is anyone else having a "wait, wasn't it already Friday?" moment because they were sure on Wednesday that it was actually already Friday at which point they began drinking? No? Just me? Linking up with Kelly and TGIF quick ones, because seriously, Thank God.

1) Last Friday I got to go out with my sister-in-law (who is blogging again! wooooot!) and our good friend to drink and laugh and not feed any human beings but ourselves and it was so glorious. While we were out I was raving about a margarita recipe I used to use (from Hallie) that is so good, and then Hannah found this one on America's Test Kitchen and you best believe I hopped right on it. I have the citrus base refrigerating now-- I am over-zealous when it comes to margaritas-- happy Friday, indeed.

I will keep you abreast of the results. You're so welcome.

2) This should have been #1 because it is amazing (margaritas always come first inside my brain) but I am hosting this year's CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference here at our home-- all the "eeeeeeeks" and all the "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!s". If you are anywhere in the Northern Virginia area or have any possible excuse in the world (ahem, our nation's capital, presidents, patriotism, hello?) you should COME!!!! Kelly, Mary, Elizabeth, Ginny, Meg, Rosie ,and of course myself, will be there, so basically it will be a party. Hit up the website for information, which will be updated constantly with more info in the coming weeks. Registration is not open yet, but will be within about a week and I will be sure to post everywhere when it is, get yourself here and I will give you a margarita.

3) We saw this double rainbow last week and I actually succeeded in photographing it, though you can't see the "double" part, whatev.

I feel like I should save this picture for a future inspiring blog post but my current track record indicates that may never happen again. Remember the double rainbow guy? He made our lives so much better, those were the days.

4) Fred is almost 11 months and I am dying inside at that thought.

5) And how are my girls this old? Somebody tell me!

Taken before their May Crowning with their Little Flower group the other day.

6) I have been keeping Bonnie and her family in my prayers, if you haven't read about her daughter's condition, they can definitely continue to use the prayers. Her updates on Instagram have been super hopeful, praise God!

7) Swimsuit update: I ordered the fringe suit from last week's post, got it, tried it on and sent it back (returns are super easy and free!). It was super cute, but the fringe was more sparse than the photos made it seem like it would be, so I think I may go the peplum route, I'm not sure, but as alwasy, I am sure I'll let you know.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday Fiesta

Linking up with Kelly! Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

I polled Instagram the other day to make a final decision on summer swim wear and I am now going to have to try to NOT use Instagram polling as a general life-decision-making method because it was so very helpful. 
I went with the fringe.

I've recently started to try to get into reading some T.S. Elliot and Hemingway, partly because I am not a well-read person and I'm attempting to remedy this and partly because (let's be honest) it feels cool to say "I just read Hemingway's/Elliot's...(fill in the blank) ..." Also we watched Midnight in Paris recently sooo.

But seriously I did enjoy Murder in the Cathedral and this short story was good, but also v v sad. I am super into The Catholic Table right now and feel a full review coming on because I really think everybody should read it. 

Mike and I watched the movie Silence during Holy Week and while I wouldn't recommend watching it more than once, I would definitely say it is worth one watch. It's extremely heavy and stays with you for a few days, but it is a catalyst for good thought and good conversation. And because we like to mix things up we watched American Hustle last weekend -- all I came away with is that Christian Bale is the very best actor in the world, or at least one of my all-time favs.

One of the girls asked the other day "when I learned to cook" and I had to laugh out loud because, um, I haven't. Seriously, I am the lamest when it comes to creative, fun meal planning and I generally stick to the same weekly staples (meat+side+veggie, every, single, meal). I have, however, had to mix it up recently because (she says in the hush-est hushed tone) I cut out gluten a few months ago and I am trying to cook without expensive manufactured, gluten-free goods and just with naturally GF foods (potatoes!! all the potatoes!!). Anyways, I have never made risotto before but I am busting out of my shell this weekend for this recipe (thank you, Emily!). Also I have made and loved these chocolate muffins (dairy and GF), and actually the whole family loves them.

I am the biggest idiot in the world and decided to workout the last 2 days without my shoes on (because of the absurd amount of time it takes to apply footwear) and now I have to limp up and down the stairs. I will be sticking to strictly upper body for a while, I think. Also if you were wondering whether high knees sans shoes are a good idea-- they. are. not.

-Home's Cool-
I taught Naomi and  Bernadette to read using this program that Mike's mom used for all of her children, and while it has yielded some really great fruit (they are both reading really well), it has been at the price of much of my sanity and many grey hairs. The program works, however it is not user friendly, but I felt like I had to use it because it worked so well with Naomi, (I tried 100 Easy Lessons and loathed it). But FINALLY!! I started The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading with Lucy a few weeks ago and I am in love. I never thought I could enjoy teaching a child to read, so I am considering this straight-up miraculous, and this matchy pic of me and Fred adequately captures my excitement.


Because why not?