Friday, October 21, 2016

All you need is love...

Today I found myself bumping along the worn gravel parking lot outside of a local K-mart. The boxed bassinet I had just purchased was filling the entirety of the child seat in my cart and Francis in his car seat filled the empty space behind it as we jostled and jumped along the old, cracked gravel towards our car. The day was hot and sunny and so I leaned around the big cardboard box to take a look at the baby- the package so large I couldn't even see him without craning my neck around the edge of it. He looked pretty unsettled as we bumped along. The street was more uneven than most and the cart was buzzing and humming with the sound of the metal on that pocked ground. I kept my eyes focused on him around the edge of the box as I pushed, cooing and shushing him as we rolled on towards the car. "We are almost there, baby, almost to the car, don't be sad..." over and over as I smiled reassuringly and kept his eyes on mine.

My first thought was, "This poor seventh baby..." always along for the ride with me, even in this hot, beat-up parking lot. He is such a good baby putting up with our crazy life- constantly awoken from naps and sitting in pee diapers way longer than any first child ever would... being nursed in the car, at the park, as I'm tying the shoe of a sibling, in the cold and in the heat.

And then I saw a bird's eye view of us in that moment as we bumped along with the cart and the box. That bassinet wasn't for Francis. He doesn't even have a bassinet. He has a moses basket on the floor next to our bed but he spends most of time on the bed, if I'm being honest. I've gotten used to that little perpetual drool stain on my sheets from all these babies over the years. And when we kick him out of our bed and the room he will move on to a little crib used by Clem, Pete and Joe before him, and from there to the run-down crib that Pete uses now. He will be the seventh baby to sleep in that crib if it doesn't fall apart by then.

The bassinet was for a baby released yesterday from a local NICU, for friends in a desperate emergency foster-to-adopt situation. You see there was a baby born, one month early. And while I bounced through the K-mart parking lot with his new bassinet in my cart, with my three-month old in his old, stained carseat, jostling along with me towards the car, I looked at my Francis and was overwhelmed with the awareness of how much I loved him. That he was loved. He was so deeply, deeply loved. Despite his hand-me-downs and his lack of stuff and his forever bouncing along with me as we bustle through the day, he has my love. And not only my love but Kirby's and his six siblings as well- not to mention our rich community of friends, his godparents, and his grandparents. In his home alone, he is deeply, intensely loved by 8 individuals. Who all want him... everyday. We all want him.

And he will have that, assuredly, for his entire life.

And then I thought of the baby for whom the empty bassinet was for. Born one month early and alone. God willing for not much longer but alone. And I was stunned in that moment at the frivolities of modern life. How silly and obsessive we can be over what we can or can't give our children. I've felt those feelings, too. Particularly at the start of my pregnancy with Francis. How can I give him what he needs with how much our life demands of me? With all the world tell us we've got to give? College tuition? After-school activities? Private school? Their own room? Toys? Clothes? Stuff??


In that moment in the parking lot under the sun, with that bassinet and my baby and his big blue eyes I realized that he has got it all. He's a king among babies. Because he is loved.

And, quite simply, that covers it.

All the superficialities that consume us as parents, all the demands we place on ourselves to give our kids "everything they need" or "everything they want"... it's all a fraud, wrought in our own consumption and insatiable thirst for more, better, more. It's conceived in the fear of our own failure and inability to love... again. It gestates in our obsession with cultural approval and wanting to avoid, at all costs, it's downward gaze at us and another one?! And the lie grows in us instead, and it takes up the space.

And more often than not, it keeps so many of us from the joy of giving our love away to another... to a new set of eyes to stare into in the K-mart parking lot, a new one to coo at and assure that the ride will be over soon, a new one to hold and to dress in hand-me-down clothes... and cribs... and things.

And, damn, are we missing out.

It's a reminder I need for myself- that despite all this there is love. There is always, always love.

And so we have it all.
And so we have all of it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

That one day one the porch

So back to when we saw my brother play at the Greek. Remember the part about staying up almost all night? Ok, yes, perfect. That's essentially what this whole post is about. Not the staying up all night part but the aftermath of staying up all night which was p much just as fun as the night itself. We had a collective 11 children in our home overnight with our 7 and some of our dearest, life long friend's 4. We had made a plan to leave all the kids with a sitter while we went to the show and then spend all day Saturday hanging and catching up. We don't get to catalog good hang time often so this was a little treasure for us both- to have the day free to do nothing while our kids spent time together. And our kids know how to spend time together. A mere 4 hours after we went to bed, I woke to thumping atop the roof and it took my groggy brain a good handful of minutes to realize it was children thumping atop the roof. Specifically my Johnny and Lindy's Titus who are (in their own words) bobblegangers.

Lindy and I can't get enough of how similar these two are. Mostly because she is my oldest friend and the only one I really grew up alongside. To see our kids so naturally be besties is the sweetest gift. The are poster children for hereditary friendships. These kids just go together, the same way the two of us did. And so we've come to accept that, naturally, Johnny and Titus equals a fair amount of nudity and mud and climbing roofs.

Anyway, it was one way to wake up (eyes rollin).

The funny and awesome thing about the day is that we were all sooo exhausted that we were completely unmotivated to do a damn thing. Which ended up leading to the best, strangest, funnest day we have ever clocked as a group because all we did was sit ALL DAY LONG. We honestly clocked 12 hours on our front porch and that is not an exaggeration. From about 8-8 we sat there, drinking coffee at first, then beer- listening to music, talking, laughing. It was incredible! Apart from hopping up to make food or change a diaper or put someone down for a nap we just sat in the same spot all day, until the sun went down. And meanwhile our kids just ran around doing whatever. I feel like things are often pretty Lord of the Flies-y around here but this day was off the charts. We would watch them roll past covered in mud and dragging lumber, then a hose would turn on somewhere in the distance, then they would be naked, then a little one would curl up in one of our laps for a bit, then they would send some representative to ask for popsicles, then a movie, and we just let them do it, over and over all day long until the sun went down. It was amazing.

Anyway, Lindy snapped a few shots of the kids in action and I thought you'd love them as much as we did. True kid tribe life (plus a few shots of the house/yard which might suffice for the house tour I keep promising and never delivering).

I realize that I might never feel the freedom (/be so tired that I just don't care) to have a day like this, locked in one location with friends while our children run wild from dawn till dusk, but I hope I do because the experience was golden. Try it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Just a little something for your Thursday

Earlier today I was explaining to Clem that she'd be missing a fun visit from some friends of ours tomorrow because she's spending the night at my parent's house. I was trying to avoid her to get caught off guard at the last minute and wanting to change her plans, so I mentioned it to her today. She stopped to think about it for a moment and turned to look at me and said, "It's ok. Because sometimes peoples get left out and sometimes they doesn't."

Too true, baby girl.

Hope you're day is golden. Xo!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

All that's busy makes you busy

I need to hit the life reset button. I was out in the yard earlier today thinking how much scheduling helps my life. The past few weeks have been such a flurry of busy. Awesome busy. But busy. We had Kirby's mom out to visit, then bought the van, then packed it up to head to Big Sur. We got home from Big Sur last Tuesday, recovered Wednesday and Thursday, had some of our best buds over Friday, went to see The Head and the Heart Friday night, stayed up almost all night, recovered all weekend and now it's now (and maybe, probably I'm still recovering). I just feel kinda overwhelmed with how behind I feel in life. I think things can so so so smooth when we've got absolutely nothing going on, and then we get busy and I'm like a little sand crab getting tossed around in the waves (what a bizarre analogy....) I finally went through my desk drawer yesterday and found my drivers license renewal and a medical bill all ready to be mailed but I'm out of stamps. And although both were probably due about two weeks ago, the thought of hauling up everyone for stamps feels like the stupidest thing ever. My laundry pile is smh and everything just feels 10 steps ahead of me. You feel me, right?

I took the time to go clip some roses this morning just to check one baby thing off my list and it hit me how nice planning things out is, even planning time to recover. I realized that if I had told myself "Hey, you have two weeks to catch up from all this" I would probably feel less anxious about getting caught up. I'm not sure why that is but I feel like it's a solid note to self. I have similar feelings about chill time. If I make a plan to chill, it always way more enjoyable than haphazard chill.

Anyways, these be my thoughts.

On a different but the same note, all the business has been so, so fun. Big Sur was the best and none of us wanted to leave. I think we've garnered some experience a few essential camp items that made our lives way easier (and thought I would note them bc a small many of you were like camping. with kids. and babies. what is wrong with you? etc.) A new staple was the travel bassinet which turned out to be such a nice, compact little nook for baby. Another were these little metal pop-up lanterns . We left one in each tent and had two available for easy use in the evening time (I mention each tent because the bigger kids all slept in their own this year... so nice). One thing we fail at every year is camp coffee accessories. The cold weather makes coffee get chilly in like ten seconds flat so I scooped up these babies from the REI end of season sale for next year. The very, very best kids sleeping bags are these flannel lined bags from L.L. Bean. The big three have had theirs for years and Clem graduated to one this year. If you can find them on sale, they are super well priced and worth it. The bags are sturdy and stay really warm. Our tall 9 year old will still be in hers for a few years, I bet, so the functionality for multiple ages is awesome. Also, and maybe most best, they are easy to stuff in their handled bags so all my kids can pack and carry their own. Bless. Our tent had two pack n' plays in it for Pete and Joe and along with the travel bassinet it looked like a freaking day care center. Bless.

We had also invested in a prep table this year which was so necessary for storing pots and pans and our stove instead of taking up picnic table space. Oh! and a clip on baby chair (we have this one). Every year we've had a baby spend 45% of their time in this thing while we throw snacks at them and I could not do without.

The trip is always so dreamy and such a perfect welcome for the fall season. Even though we come home to 96 degree weather and blasting Santa Ana winds we still feel ready for it.

The show on Friday was so, so, SO fun. They haven't toured in two years or so and as soon at they started their first song, it all came rushing back to me how much I love seeing them live. I was on my feet, singing and screaming like a psycho the entire time (much to Kirby's chagrin) and over-snapping like crazzzzzy. Afterwards we hung back stage and I happily accepted other people's offers of gin + tonic until late into the night. I left the baby for the first time and it was so. nice. (I also equally loved clocking major snuggle time the next day to make up for it). The cherry on top was, and always is, seeing my little brother crush it on stage, doing what he loves the best and doing it so well. I'm always overwhelmed with pride for him. He's the best. (If you get a chance to see them live, you've gotta. They are soooo good!! Tour schedule here.) The other cherry on top was that we accidentally wore matching outfits. Heyyyyy losers!


Okey doke, back to all that catchin' up and stuff. More Big Sur photo dumpin' soon!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

We bought a van + practical friends with temperament based seating assignments


How dumb is it that these are the things that excite when you're seven kids deep?

We've been looking at them for months. Especially since, you know, we had baby Francis and could no longer fit in one vehicle as a family. Taking two cars places was just fine. Really! Not ideal but fine. Even the big kids clambering over babies to get to the back row was fine, too. We could totally have hung on a bit longer. But we are closing in on paying off Kirby's car which leaves us with a car payment sized hole in our monthly budget. That little fact plus feeling kinda bummed that we would be taking two cars to our annual family camping trip to Big Sur plus finding the car we really wanted at a better price tag than we've ever seen sent us making a lickety-split decision to do the damn thing. On Tuesday.

The funny thing was that the dealership was a 2 hour car ride away and Kirby had to work so our only options were to drive together in rush hour traffic (2 hour drive potentially becoming 4) or have him take the train down, which was a 3 hour trip but, no traffic. So, here we be, needing to drive Kirby to the train station to buy a van that could fit our whole family, but we can't take him because... we don't all fit in one car -__-. I admit it took me some time to work out the complex puzzle that was giving Kirby a ride somewhere but we did (cue my dad). Thus commenced Kirby training it from 5 pm-8 pm, walking from the train station to the dealership in the dark of night, buying the bus, and driving it home. I'm pretty sure he still made it in before midnight which is WHOA. He is the man.

On Wednesday, I was installing car seats and having a bit of trouble figuring out who should go where since only one side of the van has a door (which babies where??) and lo and behold, Jenna- in her amazing practical wisdom, thorough knowledge of the temperaments, and desperate need for me to figure my shit out- drew out a seating plan for my kids that ended up being totally perfect. I mentioned that I wasn't sure where to stick people and < 5 min later I got this text:


Joe and Pete side by side so car seat buckling is as easy as possible. *sanguine *sanguine
Baby Francis closest to the door for easy car seat removal.
Johnny up from so he doesn't get into trouble. *sanguine
Mary in the one jump seat so she can be in on the action and still have her own space. *choleric
Hero *melancholic in the massive 4 person back row, basically alone, far away from Johnny  along with Clem, the other *melancholic.

I owe you one, J.

So, today I spent all afternoon tetrising our camping gear into the back of this massive busvan. And it all fit. IN THE CARGO SPACE. And so do we, with three seats to spare. That means people can kinda spread out. Amen so good I could cry.

Aren't kids in the car the WORST?? I'm SO GRATEFUL they can spread out. Amen, amen.

Big Sur tomorrow!! See you babes on the flip side.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Hey hey! It's Wednesday and man does it feel like Wednesday. The talk went great! I think. People laughed at me which is basically all I could ever ask for (poor priorities? Maybe...) I keep replaying what I said in my head and I thinkkkkk it all made sense. I think... Anyway, the one thing I did learn is massive amounts of my functional abilities were handicapped in the talk prep/stress/prep/execution that by Monday I found myself pretty behind on life. House managers do not do themselves any favors when their energy is elsewhere, that's fu sho. For all my previous life is dreammmmmy and eassssy days this week has been a relative shit show thus far. But it's only Wednesday and I did spend yesterday morning Craigslisting... again. All for a good cause. And more on the talk soon, btw!

I though I would just hodge-podge a little currently-style post and then get back to folding laundry so here goes!

Currently loving: my CL chairs and subsequent finished seating area. Pretty much finished, at least. I could use a better rug situation but this is what I have so I'm going with it. The rattan hoop chairs make me soooo happy and here is why - I almost bought them at Target in June when we moved but didn't because they had a pretty nice price tag even for Target. But I almost instantly had major regret over them! Especially when I saw similar ones in the lobby at The Parker in Palm Springs (the decor is bonkers good). Anyway, they flew off the shelves at Target and that was that UNTIL someone hawked a pair on CL for $25 a piece. Holla.

chrome floor lamp / faux sheepskin / cool similar chair / pillow + pillow / cute basket

Currently eating: Tj's new artisan bread any chance I get. It is made of yeast, flour, water and salt. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?

Cuurently reading: Just started Kristin Lavransdatter. I know I know!! I'm a convert, remember? It makes me a little slower on the uptake in generally every category. I've only read about 4 pages but I can tell I'm going to love it and that it will be perfect for fall.

Currently reading to the kids: The Mysterious Benedict Society which we are all totally loving. Kirby is reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle while he puts the boys to bed. No idea how that's going.

Currently annoyed by: Peter's new found fondness of smearing things into things. This morning alone was a back to back avocado all over the kitchen floor situation followed by a banana all over the carpet and Francis situation. Pete! Such a stinker. He has been wearing a plastic Dodger's nacho bowl as a hat for a week straight even though he sweats profusely under it. I can't be too mad at him. As for Francis, he didn't care in the slightest.

Currently rejoicing over: the fact that above two year old has decided to start napping again. Praise be.

Currently listening to: My brother's new record - Signs of Light! Which is killing in on the charts, btw. Go Kenny! Also, Bishop Barron's podcast on the daily. It's perfect to stick in my back pocket while I'm tidying up. A favorite part of my routine rn, tbh (thx, J, 4 the rec).

Currently watching: Just finished season 2 of Jane the Virgin and I'm super ready for the 3rd.... kinda the perfect fall tv fix. Also, Kirby spontaneously pulled the trigger on a new tv which is VERY unlike him. It was surprisingly inexpensive which... I'm happy about but also don't quite know what the catch is. Maybe it will spontaneously combust in 3 months. All I know is it has made television viewing much more enjoyable than our wonky old box propped up on a programming manual.

Currently wearing: My newest trusty jeans and these Madewell sandals which were an impulse buy that I DO NOT REGRET. They are so cute and comfy and the look with my high-waisted, high-waters is my favorite right now. Perfect transitional fall combo especially with the other impulse purchase that I failed to tell you about  (also from the Madewell sale with an extra 30% off thank youuuu Jesusssss). SO, SO CUTE.

Currently looking forward to: Big Sur in a week and half, my brother's show at the Greek, and fall. Fall!

Currently wanting: This bag! I did just get this cute little purse from Old Navy so that'll just have to do for now... or forever. (Someone help me justify a $140 bag purchase...)

Currently doing: my laundry on M,W, F. This schedule has really been working for us! I bust it out three days a week and the work load is never too much. It seems like a good combo of work vs time off which I really prefer on the off days. I'm always trying to figure out the best way to get stuff done around here and I like not constantly worrying about switching out another load which is helped by having a sched. Do you have any good big family laundry tips? (I want/should prob buy this book book, right? And every other book in the customers who viewed this also viewed section.)

That's a wrap, babes. Make sure you check out The Haul this week (it's a good one)


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sir Links-A-Lot + a bee sting

I definitely have time to blog but I'm in a moment of suspended paralyzation due to the fact that I'm speaking this weekend and I feel vvvvvvv inadequately prepared (pray for me?). I'm psyching myself out into thinking that I should be prepping every spare second of the day even when I can't and, thus, I am treating this post as if I had no time to blog even though, probably, in the land of the sane, I do.

So I will just leave you with a few quickie tidbits to munch on.

First, this weekend was crazy busy but super fun. We had our house blessed by our friend Father Jim (who happens to be the son of the late, great Mr Stehly). Father Jim gathered all the kids around and marched them from room to room, blessing our new home. It was surprisingly powerful and wonderful to hear the prayers read... prayers for our guests and our children and our marriage. He made sure to spend extra time dousing the boy's room with holy water which made all the littles crack up. Super sweet. We barbecued with a good amount of his family afterward, including his amazing mother who had ten children of her own. After dinner, she quietly sat on the couch for ages. Father Jim kept leaning in to see if she was ready to leave but she'd shake her head no every time. Finally, Joe burst into tears over something and she looked up and said "I can go now, I've heard one of them cry." (LOL) She is one of those that makes you feel like you're a goddess for mothering small children even though she did it with even more. I want to be that way to young moms when I am old and grey just like her.

Like gluttons for gluttony, we had a few good friends over for drinks later that night which was super fun in our freshly blessed pad. We took care of three bottles of rose, decided we need some poufs for around our coffee table (any rec's on good poufs? Why are poufs so stinking pricey??), and found three raccoons peeping us through the bushes.

Sunday we had the family that bought our old home up for another bbq. We had fun reminiscing about our old place and hearing about their plans for it now that it's theirs. Man, it feels good to pass that kind of torch to people who have become friends.

Yesterday, I hunted down two sets of chairs via Craiglist (as I do). One pair for outside and one for in, but the set for in is seriously messing up my vibe because now I feel despo to finish the space. The chairs are grey and I'm currently eyeing these Target stools for it but I need some color. Maybe these tables instead (I love me some Nate Berkus). Maybe another pouf? (We can all agree that we hate that word, right?)

Today our good buddy sent me a photo of a super cute minimal playhouse and now I'm set on him building it for our kids for us for a group Christmas gift. Wouldn't that be so good? How can I bribe him to do that? But how to hide a construction zone.... Tips?? (Cute playhouse and children whoever's photo this is...)

Hmmmm oh yes, I had my first ever allergic reaction on Friday night!! I stepped on a bee in our backyard and while the girls were playing nurse on my toe (ice pack and bulb syringe... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) the palms of my hands started to itch. At first I thought maybe I had touched a weird plant or something but then the bottoms of my feet started itching, too. And then my legs. It was maddening! I hid in my room and looked up bee stings itchy hands and feet and realized I was having an allergic reaction. Then I started looking up bee string reaction and that made me feel mildly spooked. You know, the whole anaphylaxis in 4 min thing. I took some children's Benadryl bc it was all we had and a few minutes later I began to break out in hives all over my torso, thighs, and arms. I was itching so badly that I took off (most) of my clothes and sat of my bed demanding Hero scratch me as hard as she could. (Don't worry, I realize how sketchy that sounds. But she wanted to and we were laughing pretty hard about it). At that point I started to look up bee sting allergic reaction when to go the the hospital and that made me feel about 100% freaked out. My right eye started to swell a bit and I decided that I definitely did not want to be the woman stumbling from the bedroom, covered in hives, unrecognizably swollen, screaming at Kirby to take me to the hospital in front of all our of children (my imaginary self). I preemptively struck and called my mom to see if she could take me to the ER before things got any worse and she did. On the way to the hospital I bought some adult Benadryl and be the time we got there I was feeling mucccch better. We decided to drive around a bit to see if I continued to improve and I did. So we got Foster's Freeze, turned around, and came home. Aside from feeling fairly waisted by the Benadryl, it ended up being over within a few hours with no real lasting effects PHEW. As far as I understand, reactions will most likely get worse, right? Which means I now have to be scared of bees which seems highly inconvenient. That's pretty much my only takeaway.

My brothers new record came out on Thursday (Colbert tonight!!)

My friend in life and The Haul shared this really profound article on 9/11. Worth the read (warning: it's pretty heavy)

Even though it's not sandal season, I just bought these. So help me (eyerolling myself as I type, don't worry).

We are headed to our annual Big Sur trip in two weeks (can't wait) and I snagged this travel bassinet for new baby. Seems legit and well-priced! Have any of you used it?

Off to not prepare my talk! Wish me luck.