motherhood

All of this Life

My daughter’s birthday was over the weekend, sandwiched in between two separate family funerals (and a soccer lesson). It’s one of those delicate parenting moments. Of course you want your children to feel they are safe and secure while acknowledging the reality of loss… You still want your child to feel special on their birthday. So as life goes on, you are pressing dress shirts for your sons to wear to a showing, and explaining to your 4 year old how we are related to those who have passed. You need to make sure your daughter has her 22 snacks to bring on her appointed day to her kindergarten class. It’s important that your 5th grader still gets his homework done. And when you realize on one of the evenings you are too exhausted to stay up with him, you have to make sure you write the teacher a note explaining you’ve been to a funeral and ask for another day to make it up. (Then, if you’re like me, you judge yourself for not planning your timing better.) I am in remembrance that it was about this time last year that I lost one of my best friends, Barbara. I miss her. And sometimes all of this life feels like it’s coming and going so fast.

You try to keep it in perspective, right? It’s a balancing act. I have so much to be thankful for: My children are healthy. My two year old is having the longest period ever of clear skin on his face, and we haven’t been to ER in over a month. We made it through the last asthmatic attack right at home! We are warm, even though it is snowing outside… because I managed to locate two AA batteries to put in our digital thermostat that stopped working. We have food on our table… Which reminds me someone still needs to pick up the birthday cake…

What would I do without my support group?

My husband? Who takes the day off of work to attend my great-aunt’s funeral with me. And exits with my 2 year old when he claimed to have pooped during the service. Diapers still need to be changed.

My parents? …Who offer to pick up the cake and bring it to the party. Who say, “Do you and the kids have something to wear to the funeral? Do you need us to come watch the kids so you can go shopping?” I still have to get dressed.

And I realize that I have loved ones who just lost a mother, an aunt, a sister, a grandmother… It’s a time of reflection, grief, appreciation… But you can’t just stop. There are still wishes to be made.

Through all of the uncertainty that’s going on in our country, in the media, in our families, in our homes… You realize the significance of family and the strength in love. And sharing that love.

Hugs help.

At times, I know we all feel like we are in a wind tunnel… a storm with things coming at us from every direction. Sometimes, it’s really hard to navigate. My advice? To myself? Remember this is temporary…

Look for the good. Be the good.

Love.

Happy Birthday Naomi! Mommy loves you!

Laundry Day

You know when it’s time to do laundry… but you woke up feeling like you’re just zapped and you have done all of the laundry that you are ever going to do? But then somehow you doubtfully convince yourself that you will feel better tomorrow. Then the next day comes around and you’ve got an attitude about it, and you’re like “There is no way I am doing laundry today.” So when day four approaches you have to prioritize, and you say to yourself “We are out of bread and milk, I can’t do the laundry! I have to go to the grocery store- like now!” Then on day 6 you look at the mountain of laundry and admit defeat. And you’re kind of depressed because you know in your heart of hearts that you can’t possibly do all of that laundry. That’s it, your kids are never going to have clean clothes again. And you’re at least thankful that one of them just had a birthday because they should get like two more good days. It’s about the next day when you just have to suck it up, because giving up is really not in your nature; so you do like 10 loads in one day? Well, I would have no idea what that is like.

Okay, I lied. I wrote this about me.

Loving Lately 👚

Loving lately: Clothes Recycling
I love getting rid of stuff. Decluttering is like the best part of organization; which I think is directly related to my good mental health. 


I’m a part of this very well orchestrated system of clothes recycling. In a group of friends of mine, I have the oldest son and my sister has the oldest daughter. It all kind of branches out and braids back in from there. 


I pass the outgrown clothes of my oldest son to my sister’s son and likewise she passes her daughter’s clothing to my daughter. Then when her son outgrows the attire, they get passed back to my third child, my second son. After that, it starts to get fun because when my second son gets too big for his wardrobe, it is passed to my sister’s sister-in-law, Annie’s oldest son. 


When he’s finished they get pass back to my back fourth baby and final son. Anything that is worth passing, which always seems like a lot because things are always being added, gets moved to my sister’s other sister-in-law, Erica’s baby boy. I also pass anything from my daughter to Erica’s oldest child and daughter. 

She passes those close back to Annie who has a baby girl. And I’ll admit I feel very good about our system, because everything gets good use. For those of you keeping track, that is a total of 10 boys and girls. 


The kids have clothes. It’s a blessing. It’s also a big head ache. My basement is like a storage unit. I could probably use a better labeling system. But the best part of my organizational day is when I pass my only daughter’s or my last son’s clothing on- because I know they’re never coming back. What Annie and Erica do with the clothing after that, I don’t care. Good riddance! And sure there might be a day when I’m’s stricken with grief for times gone past about my kids who are all grown up and don’t fit into those baby clothes anymore. 

But today’s not that day. Today is the day I pass on totes or large plastic bags or even a little grocery bags with stuff that I don’t have to see again or at least isn’t taking up space in a drawer for a child who can no longer wear it.
(Healthy sigh of relief)

And thank you to my brother-in-law, Ryan, for many of these adorable pictures of all the clothed children.

Visions of Grandeur – Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

I love my family. I love my children. I love that we, as a family, have the opportunity for me to stay-at-home. I never want to take that for granted. That said, I have more to give! Ok that’s an overstatement, I’m exhausted. Maybe it is more accurate to say I desire to do more.

I don’t want to quit my day job. I don’t want to give up my nights and weekends, sacrificing our only all-member family time, for a part-time job. But I do want a connection to the outside world. As of late, that yearning has lead me down a path of expression through blogging; writing and dabbling in the art of photography- specifically food photography. I’m inspired to write short stories, mostly in the form of plays and dialogues- but first I need to get the kids on the bus. It’s the regular routine of changing the baby’s diaper, making breakfast, packing lunches, cleaning up breakfast, getting the kids dressed (or checking what they have dressed themselves in), inspecting teeth, braiding hair, etc. It’s a sigh of relief when the oldest two out of four are on the bus and on their way fully prepared.

Now would be a great time to enjoy a cup of coffee and jot down that funny thought I had earlier! What was that line again? …But realistically, first I should probably start the dishwasher anyway. That reminds me I have a load of dish towels in the dryer. Crap, the dish towels are still in the washing machine. I need to bring this load of boys clothes upstairs so I can dry the dish towels. “Kids, we’re going upstairs.”

Laundry, my nemesis. They say write about what you know. How can I personify laundry? A dark, looming presence always growing in strength, a force my heroine has to face head on. A little dark maybe, but not untrue. Meanwhile in the real world, what is Noah playing with? It looks like he is in his sister’s jewelry box.

“Oh no, mom, you have to see this!” Elijah yells. Ah! Noah has painted his bangs with nail polish. Oh Noah, I’ve already cleaned up two large spills from you this morning! (Which meant his sister wasn’t on the bus fully prepared, because her baby brother swiped her water bottle -that he poured all over my comfy chair- as if I was going to sit down anyway).

“Noah, No!” I say realizing that at this point it’s not going to make a difference. Let’s get you into the tub. Where is my nail polish remover without acetone… “Stay here.” Okay, I’m back let’s get off that diaper. Plop! Are you kidding me? I just changed a poopy diaper 20 minutes ago!

“Don’t move!” Thankfully it’s in a tub right? (Optimism gets me through the day.) Poop has been transferred to the toilet, now to disinfect. Joys of motherhood. And finally, let’s get to that hair. That is not coming off. I can’t use acetone, this is too close to your eye. What am I going to do? Shave your head? Well, looks like you are going to live with it for a while.

I have a headache. “Everybody downstairs.” I am not doing laundry right now, someone has to keep an eye on the baby. Drats laundry, you win again.

“Yes, Elijah you can have your snack now.” While we’re in the kitchen I should get started on dinner. Crockpot dinner tonight! We need to eat early because Naomi has gymnastics. 

Still, somehow I know these are the best days of my life. I want to cherish every moment. A couple weeks ago, my then still 3 year old said when it was raining “maybe the clouds are crying” -a theory he discovered all on his own. A couple days later, my 5 year old daughter was not feeling well and misquoted a popular saying by explaining “I’m feeling over the weather.” People always say it goes by so fast, and I know it’s true. In the midst of it, it feels fleeting.

So, I am by choice a stay-at-home mom. Coincidingly, I realize the importance of “mommy time”, the need to preserve my sanity and identity. I still have goals! However for me, right now, it’s a necessity that takes a back seat to the priority of “being mommy”. As for my writing career, my prospective coffee shop, my strategy du jour; I’m still dreaming.

What’s Up: Summer’s End, School’s In & Photo Fixes

Summer vacation has finally come to an end. We spent our Labor Day weekend at Lake Michigan. Naturally we spent Labor Day itself getting the boys haircuts, buying last minute lunch boxes and finding new school shoes.

By the way, this is what little siblings, not going to school and still in their pajamas, do on the sidelines while camera crazy mom snaps 1 billion photos of the school kids waiting for the bus… (Do however notice the haircut and new shoes, not to be completely left out of all of the fun.)

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In blogging news I finally started to redo some old pictures- it’s part of my revamping plan. For example, my very first recipe was Jambalaya (sans Seafood). It’s one of our favorite family recipes and we probably eat it once a week. I didn’t even have a picture when I first posted it; then I found one on the internet; next I replaced it with my very own picture (much like the one I found on the internet); this week I took a couple different shots to try and replace my original.

The original:

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The almost replacement:

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The final replacement:

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I have no rhyme or reason for why I choose my photos. I usually try to poll my kids- if I can get their attention. I don’t have fancy lighting… or a studio… sigh.

In other exciting news (I understand that is relative, but I’m excited), I have been passed some new recipes that I will be sharing soon. My new “How to use my camera for Dummies” book has been delivered and I intend to practice my photography. I am looking forward to the blogging future! (As soon as I have a minute to write cook think.)

Featured image courtesy of my brother-in-law, Ryan French.

 

 

Mommy Blogging

If a picture is worth a thousand words; this is the my definition of mommy blogging. Something’s got to give in order to make it happen. 

Have a good weekend! (I’ll just be over here cleaning up…)

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When your 3 year old takes advantage of your open laptop…

So sorry!

But how could you get upset with this face? (Him taking selfies with my phone)

21 Days of Crazy

Alright so I’m using the term “crazy” loosely. I mean I guess it’s only if you think getting healthy is deranged. Or trying something new in fitness and diet to bring balance and wellness is cuckoo. But I’ll be honest and tell you I’ve never been so nervous about a dietary commitment in my life. When my 30 year old sister told me she wanted to do the “21 Day Fix”, and that she wanted me to do it with her, I jumped on board. “Who can’t do something for 21 days?” she asked. Did I mention I am almost a decade her senior? But I’ve been wanting to shed some baby weight for a while. It’s particularly disheartening since I’ve practically gained 20 pounds since my lowest number on the scale after having my fourth child. I’d like to place the blame on a few different reasons. Yes, I have hypothyroidism. Yes, I have PCOS (confirmed even after my last pregnancy; which BTW could be a post in itself… because everyone loves to read about other peoples’ trivial health woes). And not to name names but I have a finger pointing at a little food blog I’ve come to know too. But in reality, I need to take responsibility- and I know what I have to do; especially with a few odds stacked against me! I need to concentrate on eating healthy and exercising, because -as I have admitted in the comments section of a previous post- I will be 40 next year. And I have 4 little children, the youngest who will be 2 this year… I owe it to them, and myself to try hard.
I have followed multiple plans before, but not with such limitations on food and never with this strict of an exercise regimen. Which I realize is major. I have exercised in the past… but not quite like this- not since high school anyway; which wasn’t because of a diet. Anyway it’s all new. And let me tell you what I like about my new endeavor: They list all of the foods, along with portions, that we can have. So initially you’re like “Wow, look at all of this food!” instead of focusing on what you can’t have. Mentally I appreciate that. When I look closer at the plan, I can see it has eliminated refined sugar, white flour, butter, etc.. It limits the amount of starches and healthy fats I can intake everyday. The plan encourages lean proteins and definitely more vegetables than I eat on a regular basis. Actually, that seems to work for me, because if I am counting calories I am often likely to cut out nutritious food to save 100 calories on something sweet; which isn’t necessarily bad, except I have a tendency to rob myself of nutrients that could actually make me feel better for “empty calories”.  Something else I like, as opposed to other popular plans I’ve tried, is there is no calculating, just measure and stick to the list. But the best part is, if there is something I really want, I tell myself “Eat that in your 7 days off!” Because the program, if I should choose to stick with it after my committed 3 weeks, is 21 days on and 7 days off. So I don’t feel like I have to banish some of my favorites or deny myself treats for the rest of my life. The idea is that if you are  eating right and making healthy choices the majority of the time, you will reap the benefits. Of course you’re not supposed to go bonkers during you’re time off. Am I going to eat fettuccine Alfredo and onion rings? Maybe. Just probably not all at once, and in moderation, because who wants to squash all of the hard work they just put in? Not me!
Here’s the skinny: (haha) This morning was 1 week in. I’ve lost 2.4 pounds and even more excitedly 2 inches down in the stomach. I still have a way to go before I reach my goal, but I am doing something to get there. Is it easy, no. Is it doable, yes. So I’m doing it, because I can; and really that’s something to be grateful for… but not nearly as gratifying as the results. I think I might just be crazy enough to stick to it a little longer. 😉

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately: Life

I’m not gonna lie, lately I’ve been distracted. I’ve been making dinners and not taking pictures. I’ve hardly done any blog reading. I’m day 4 into a 21 day fix eating/workout challenge, and my out-of-shape self is really sore!


All of the kids (okay 3 out of four) have started their sport programs. (Between that and church, there are my weekends.)

I’ve redecorated my downstairs bathroom, and around my fireplace. My “country cottage” look is finally taking shape! (I can’t wait to tackle the kitchen.)


The yard is screaming for some attention. Thankfully that is not my yard in the picture. But spring has sprung and a couple of my flower beds have (almost) as many dandelions!


You know that saying “there just aren’t enough hours in the day,” it’s true- at least concerning all of the warm weather outdoor play time.

Identity Crisis -of Sorts

It’s in those times, when you’re ready to do a full-on overhaul; because nothing you’ve done seems right, when you have to ask yourself the hard questions: “Who am I? …Do I even have a style?” It’s as if all the sudden, or actually maybe it’s been progressively happening for a while… anyway it is in this moment… that I admit I can’t stand the color of my kitchen!

Oh sure, like half of America, I’ve been watching Fixer Upper. And I’ve convinced myself that unless Chip and JoJo Gaines come and do a complete renovation; tear down walls, access all natural light and put up as much shiplap as we can find, my home will never be complete. Of course, without any real experience taking care of animals, I consider myself to be a farm girl. So naturally I have a tendency to think my home should resemble a farmhouse… But in reality I’m far more traditional (and my backyard is more pool than lawn). I do appreciate country decor; primitive, traditional and inspired by folk art. I really love English Cottage. I can be carried away by the contrasting elegant and rural touches of French Country… the idea of a beautiful chandelier with tear drop glass prisms over a rustic farm table. Swoon. I’ve been known to walk out of Pier I with curtains replicating fabrics straight out of Bombay. I love my traditional Irish plaid wool blanket we brought home from the Emerald Isle (it’s my favorite throw for the back of our rocker)! Maybe my “look” is considered eclectic? But I don’t want to be eclectic! What does that really mean anyway? Hodgepodge-esque? (Which is even more upsetting when you add in that on any given day I’m really inclined to feel like I live in a toy store!)

Thankfully, before I got too crazy, my mother talked me out of painting all of the refurbished brick in my living room around the fireplace. It seemed far less permanent to paint the walls a trendy light blue/gray. So in true DIY form I put down drop cloths and rolled out a color coating adjacent to the brick, and fortunately I only covered 1 and half walls before I came to my senses and realized I hated it. It’s sooo bad. Ugh! But I really like the black cast-iron-ish paint we put over the out-dated brass fireplace frame. And I love the darker stain I put on the mantle. Baby steps. Slowly I’m figuring it out, I’m thinking I am Country Cottage (it makes sense in my head)… and soon I will tackle that kitchen.