Friday, December 2, 2016

7 Quick Takes: Presents Edition AKA Is This A Blog Or What?!

PHEW. Life has been busy assss usualllll (cliche's all around people). I thought I would jump in for a little Friday fun ala quick takes to dump on you all my gift ideas for the kids... because it's the week after Thanksgiving, everything is on sale, and it's just what bloggers do. #holylens. #justkidding.

Ok, so on Monday I jumped on the old Amazon and decided to knock out Christmas in one swoop. I decided to stick with two gifts per kid which I feel great about. Every year I think I haven't gotten them enough and so I get more. And then on Christmas morning I realize we have aunts and uncles and grandparents and Santa and... everyone suddenly has way too much. I made a commitment to myself to reign it in in the only controllable manner I can (our own gifts to them) and hope everyone's gift pile evens out to nice, normal size. Also, in a moment of pure genius, I talked my kids into just asking Santa for whatever he thinks is best... which turns my two gifts into one + Santa. Anyway... here they are. In QT version. (I can only play on the 7 kids, 7 takes things for so long, ya know...)

1. Hero

Maybe my biggest issue with the girls room/things is all the little obnoxious, precious, thisismine-type chotskis. They always end up stacked in piles or found under beds but we can never get rid of them. In short, they each need a place to put things. And if Christmas presents an opportunity to buy something we actually need, I am all over it. So, I got each of the girls a cute, crate style shelf from Urban Outfitters (on sale!) to hang by their beds and store said "treasures."

For Hero's second present I got her a sweatshirt (so, weird, I know). The other day she made a BIG point to say "when I grow up I really want a sweater that zips up with a hood" with straight up STARS IN HER EYES. I was like, girl, you can have that now. At first I ordered a super cheap grey one off of Amazon but then I decided to peep a few cuter options and ended up with Boden... because 30% off and Christmas. I'm not finding the one I got but it's similar to this one here. I also got her some sweats because they are another... life long dream... of hers... #goals.

2. Mary

Same as Hero in the shelf department. Which is part of a larger scheme of hers to fulfill all her plans of "dream bedroom"... which basically consist in adorning the wall above her bunk with a. a guitar b. a shelf for her things and c. a "singing girl" poster... which I'M SURE is more Hannah Montana-ish in her mind but I'm leaning a lot more heavily this...
Anyway, we got the guitar portion of "dream bedroom," plus a wall hanger to keep it up up and away from the masses. 

3. John

All John is about right now is PokeFREAKINGmon (which his uncle was also all about in years past.) Because Uncle Kenny is a serial nostalgist he has lit'rally thousands of Pokemon cards at his house, hundreds of which he lovingly bequeathed my children. John has just been carrying around the most obnoxious fat stack of cards everywhere he goes. They spill everywhere. They drive me insane. He must count and organize them over and over. So we got him a Pokemon binder (naturally) with plastic card thingies

For presie #2 I got him a crystal growing kit to feed his science brain a bit. Kits are my favorite because you use them once and then they go away. Amen.

4. Clem

Again, shelf

And.... clogs

She's a simple girl and FASHION RULES ALL. I mean, what else do you do when HA presents you with 50% off glitter clogs and your kid is still squeezing herself into a pair she's had since she was 3? You buy the glitter clogs

5. Pete

Pete is getting a wooden pop gun (wood so it will probably last around here, gun so it will probably get used around here, and inexpensive so... I bought it). Plus, holy crap, with a description like that....

He also got a wooden shapes puzzle... filling the cute, useful, cheap, we could always use one of these, I have to get you another thing category. 

6. Joe

Joe is big into putting things where they go, clasping buckles, etc so I got him a this cute little (pricey) sorting bus. The kid doesn't have a thing to his name so I feel less guilt about a splurge I know he will really love. But I'm sure he would have equally loved something like 
this. He is a baby after all. He only cares about, like, 4 things.

I just realized I didn't get him a second gift but I'm sure I will so as to not make either Santa or us look like total jerks. Maybe something very fance like a new bottle. Dreams do come true, Joe.

7. Francis

I'm feeling a little who am I?? with this purchase but we don't have one anymore and I'm sure we could use it. So I ordered him a sweet little wooden hanging toy frame off of Etsy. I also ordered some wood beads and twine to make a few simple hanging toys for it. I can't wait to be like WHAT! SANTA KNEW WE NEEDED A FRAME FOR THESE TOYS?! Because that's all this bb be getting.

Anyway, that's that. For stockings I am doing socks, holy cards, honey sticks, and oranges. Because deep down inside of me I am old-timey and LAME. (takes a bow).

Linking up with Queen K.

Here is a pic of Clem putting up our first Jesse Tree ornament yesterday. I'm so so so grateful to have the space this year for the pot full of big branches I've always wanted but never had room for. We didn't do a Jesse Tree for the past few years mostly because of pregnancy but also because of space. It makes me so happy to bring back this little Advent tradish. And I'm so glad presents are off my mind already. Did you get all your shopping done?? Time to Advent, ya'll. XOX


Thursday, November 17, 2016

OI VEY

THAT ELECTION, RIGHT?

I've probably already said way too much in my mind and on Facebook and in my mind again so I thought I simply leave you with a photo pictorial of what my life looked like in the days following the election. It just s w a l l o w e d me up.

Anyone else relate?







 I'm dying at that top still on the television. **Make each day special** HA! Also, endless Caillou = a portrait of all hell broken loose.


and finally... THE COUP DE GRAS, this fine piece of art presented to me by Clemmy. Clem yelling, me smiling, and my phone.

It's true.

I am the world's shittiest mom.

Let it be known.



Anyway today, by the skin of my teeth, we made it to mass. Before communion we sang the prayer of St Francis and, man, I have heard that song 1,000 times but it never struck me like it did today.

Particularly: Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned... 

And then I thought of Facebook... -__-


Aside from the obvious ill that comes from rabid consumption of anything, the tone in the frustration from every side was rarely consoling, loving, pardoning ETC... particularly the tone is my own head. Yuck. I know I could use a double dose of those sentiments and then some. Plus a mental cleanse of some sort. Can the lemon juice/maple syrup/cayenne thing take care of that? 


Anyway, I'm resolving (resolution no. 76,453) to do all the right things more and do it all as far away from Facebook as humanly possible. Lord Jesus.


Anyone feel me?

Why is it so hard to stop staring at a car accident?
Why do we think we can fix the world via Facebook?
Why do we let our kids watch Caillou?

Wishing you a glorious, happy, spiritually productive Thursday. May it be free of arguments and snark!


XO

Monday, November 7, 2016

13 monthers

Since we had two girls first I always imagined us a girl-dominant family. I'm still getting used to the idea that we are boy heavy. It feels strangely fresh and new even though we are seven kids deep. Here is our spacing break down in case any of you cared - Hero and Mary: 15 months,  Mary and Johnny: just under 2 years, Johnny and Clem: 22.5 months, Clem and Peter: 21 months, Peter and Joe: 19 months, Joe and Francis: 13 months.

So now, almost 10 years of parenting later, I find myself with three little dudes piled into a 2.5 year stretch. And with my most crowded kid spacing ever, as a tasty little cherry on top. So, how has the 13 month gap been? Fine, I say! I think it's mostly due to the holy trinity of parenting more kids which is 1. you just get better at it 2. you lower your standards 3. you lower your standards all the way.

For instance, after Hero was born, I woke her up a bazillion times a night to nurse and lost sleep watching her breathe just to make sure she'd stay alive. Now, I don't. I can carry around a newborn without even giving it a second thought. I bounce around when they need to be bounced and I stop supporting their heads when they don't need me to any longer and I don't even give this any conscience thought. More newborns to carry around has made me better at it and therefore 10,000 times less stressed out. And I just don't care anymore! You can find my baby wearing the same outfit for 4 days in a row or hanging around in weird locations while I get stuff done (chair, floor, etc), you can find my toddler chewing on some lint, I do not care. This not caring is another big, crazy heap of anxiety off my back. Parenting is much, much easier than it ever was, in a way. So, 13 months? Fine!

More complicated? In some ways, yes. Joe just decided to walk at an ambitious 16 months so life is certainly slower and a bit trickier. But I've also been refining my technique for almost 10 years so it's probably still not as tricky as it was. Take, for instance, going places. I just don't. Kirby mostly grocery shops, Target and Amazon now deliver my essentials, I get babysitters when I need them and that's that. I much prefer slow home days where we can all move at a non-frantic-mom pace which usually isn't the case when I'm putting people in and out of cars and carseats and shopping carts. NO THANKS. 

On the off-chance that I run an errand with the littles, I put Francis in a carrier, Joe in the cart and Pete piled under my purchases in the back of the cart where they tell you your kids can't sit. Clem sticks near by and we just cruise along looking like a bunch of maniacs, but it's not my preferred method. My preferred method is to leave my kids behind and fly solo as much as humanly possibly. Because a big part of lowering my standards has been lowering them for myself, and saying goodbye to that impossible picture of a mom who does all the things. I don't want to do all the things the most difficult way, I already do enough things! I think that concept was pretty hard to grasp but I'm grateful life got crazy enough to set my free of those bizarre do-it-all standards we heap on ourselves. And isn't that the irony? The crazier life gets, the more you let go of, the less stressed you are, and the more you enjoy yourself. That's the truth for me, anyway.

When people ask how I'm so relaxed I think my most honest answer is that I kept having kids. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I also think personality type has aided our family flow in a big way. Those three little goofs are all turning out to be major, major sanguines. They laugh and smile and sleep and take bottles and mostly don't seem to care which way is up or down. Part of me wonders if this was God's little gift to me as a way to work it all out, us having these three boys so close. They torture each other but they take it. God bless dis mess.





Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thursday Shmursday

I've got to be honest, I feel like life is kinda drowning me right now and I just can't get out of it. I can't even really say why but I feel like I'm scrambling almost all the time and not much is ever feeling truly handled. Do you guys feel that way ever? Smh I am just eyerolling myself for the post I wrote a few months back... and also, what changed?! Who knows. It's all just a season, right? (eyeroll again for that)

Anyway, I've been kicking myself for not posting! My goal for today is to revamp our family schedule. Hopefully bring more order and, therefore, mas peace. Please Lord let it be!

I thought I would give you a much approps rundown of the little sweet things that are keeping me afloat lately. Maybe you can tuck them in your back pocket for some good ammo on a crazy day.

1. Konjac sponges. Holy crap how have I missed out on these? I've been taking great pleasure in my daily skin care regiment. It's so, so nice to have about 35 seconds on face-spa time at the start and end of the day and these sponges are the best. The can last a few months (or so I hear?) and give your skin the most gentle exfoliation. I use them with my cleanser and my face looks so bright after. Go nab some!

2. Skin care! I know, I know, I already talked about this but Juice Beauty is the real thang for me these days. I love every single thing of theirs I have tried. Each shipment comes with a generous amount of samples which I squeeze to the last drop. And I know these are kinda pricey but I feel no guilt because, damn it, I am a grown ass woman. They are having a 20% off sale today so I'm gonna treat my little aging skinned-self to the Green Apple Peel (and maybe hand cream... and maybe serum...). So far I have the eye cream, the green apple moisturizer, the stem-cellular moisturizer, and the gel-cleanser and my skin is changing... I am telling you. Treat yo self, babe.

3. Potty training Pete. I won't post a pic a here bc it would get flagged for all sorts of offensiveness but let me just tell you it contained a lot of poo and a lot of pee on my kitchen floor and I was thanking Jesus for my concrete floors. I took a photo to text it to my friends, naturally. Anyway whyyy oh why am I including this here? It's essentially only due to the amount of diapers I have not changed these past few days. And any less diaper I am changing is good for me.

4. Speaking of diapers... I only recently realized Target has a subscription service and I'm pretty sure my life might be changed forevermore because of it. Target dipes and wipes are my all time faves and I think they are even cheaper than Costco brand... (dare I say that in this sacred space?) but going to Target (or anywhere, really) is one of my top 5 most hated things. TURNS OUT THEY CAN JUST SEND YOU THE DIAPERS GUYS, LIKE EVERY MONTH. Died and gone to heaven.

5. Bishop Barron's podcast. I'll just mention it again. For all the time I feel like I don't have to replenish my soul on the daily, this podcast playing in my back pocket while I do housework makes me so, so happy. Listen!

6. Hot yoga. Jenna and I have been taking hot yoga classes for the last few weeks and it is on, hot yoga. ON. We go one night a week which seems so lame in terms of work-out standards but it kicks my ass so hard that I feel like it must roll over at least a day or two. The first class I took I felt like death afterwards- shaky, nauseas, headache, blegh. I did a little research on how to hydrate before and after and that made a huge difference the next class. And now I'm even starting to feel a teensy bit cool in the class (at 102* say what?) and significantly less toxic imho. Anyway, Jenna said something so true last night after class- that it's the only time during the week that her thoughts are completely turned off and man, that is the truth. I am realizing how good for my mind and body a weeknight away is to sweat and stretch so intensely that all you can think about it survival.

7.  Drawing moustaches on my boys for halloween. Just cause it's the best.



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??

Nothing.

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!