yes. and thank you.

img_3910I’ve often felt that modern motherhood can be pretty isolating. Talk to any woman and she’ll tell you that it can be a lonely road, and a challenge to make friends in the beginning of the journey.  People often muse that we’ve lost the “village”- the female friends and relatives that live in close proximity and are constantly ready to pitch in to help.  And this is probably partially true.  But sometimes I wonder. Continue reading

library haul link-up

I mentioned in my last post that I kind of dig the idea of sharing our library hauls each week, so I decided to give it a shot this week.

I love libraries.  I spent a lot of time at the library as a kid (thanks, Mom!), I worked at a library in college, and now as a Mom, I take my kids to the library at least once a week, often to find books, but more often to get them out of the house and save my sanity.  The library has somehow become like a tantrum-free demilitarized zone.  My kids are happy, I’m happy, it’s all good.  And we always leave with a heavy, full-to-bursting bag of books.  I could go on and on about how great I think libraries are and all the reasons I think they’re so important, but I’ll leave that for another time.  For now, I’ll just show you some of my favorite things from this week’s haul. (I picked all kids’ books this week, but I’d love to include all kinds of books in the future!)img_3891

  1. I’m a Duck!  Even if your kid isn’t as obsessed with ducks as mine is, this is a really cute one.  Not HALF as annoying as other duck books out there.  And trust me, I really know a lot about duck books.  Not by choice.img_3892
  2. Let The Whole Earth Sing Praise  As if Tomie dePaola could produce anything less than a delightful, wonderful, amazing children’s book.  This is such a treasure- and I was actually surprised by how much my kids loved it, even though there is no “story”.  This one might go on the “to-buy” wish list.img_3893
  3. My Village, Rhymes From Around the World Well, it’s no secret that we like poems around here a whole lot.  So I’m not surprised we love this one. But I think this book would be really great to have around if you’re doing some geography or studying other countries… a fun way to bring some poetry to lessons about other places.img_3898
  4. The Artist and Me This is a sweet story about Van Gogh and a little boy who gets to know him.  Not only is it a great way to expose your kids to some tidbits about the artist, but it also has a great anti-bullying message and talks about seeing things from other perspectives.  I loved this one.img_3899
  5. Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes  I grabbed this one because I recognized the author as someone whose books we’ve enjoyed.  Nicola Davies also wrote this little treasure that we read from almost every morning during our circle time.  Joey found this one fascinating, and Davies has a way of explaining scientific concepts in a way that’s story-like and engaging.  The illustrations in this one rock, too.

So tell me, what did you pick up at your local library this week?  Tell me in the comments, or better yet, write a whole blog post about it and link up below.

*Another note: I’ve linked each booked through Amazon Associates, but the whole point is that these are LIBRARY finds, so head to your library and find them there!*


we’re all alive (and 7 other things)

Well, I’ve kept all the children alive for another full week.  Yay for me! Here are 7 other notable things going on lately:

  1. Joey and I started back up with our reading lessons.  We took a break after we reached a point at the beginning of the summer where Joe was saying it was too hard and he was NOT wanting to do it anymore.  So we’re slowing down, doing only a half lesson a day, and it seems to be going much better again and he’s excited about reading again.  I was worried he would completely forget everything we’d done up to this point, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  We’re doing some review, yes, but I’m pretty surprised at how much he’s picking right back up.  So I’m happy about that!
  2. One thing I’m not happy about: everyone touching me all the time.  There are people who love to be touched and hugged and snuggled and those that aren’t super into it.  I’m staunchly in the latter category.  Sure, I love a good snuggle from one of my kids, but I need my alone time, too.  Like, more often than not. The problem?  Turns out that when you have more than two kids (more than one kid? any kids at all?), someone is literally touching you 100% of your waking hours!  Just kidding… 100% of ALL your hours, because if you think you get to sleep alone, you’re mistaken. ALL KIDS TOUCHING, ALL THE TIME.  And all of a sudden, both of my big kids want my attention 24/7, too.  While they’re touching me.  Over and over, all day, my brain keeps replaying this:  tumblr_mw6nk6svnb1t0j0mdo1_500
  3. Am I the last person on earth to read Room on the Broom?  A friend of my mom’s came over the other day and brought my kids all kinds of sweet books that my kids are loving, but I’m really enjoying reading this cute little book over and over.  It’s got all the makings of a favorite here- kind, inclusive storyline, melodic rhyming, and fun illustrations.  We’re digging it and my kids are really loving Halloween stuff right now. She also brought them a new Little Blue Truck (a Halloween, lift-the-flap version- Grace is PLEASED).
  4. Speaking of books, after a great library haul yesterday, I’m thinking it would be kind of fun to do a series of posts about great library finds, for kids or otherwise.  Maybe even a linkup? What say you, internet?
  5. I just discovered Dwell + Slumber via Instagram and I’m wondering where these dresses have been all my life.  Think stretchy, comfy flowy dresses that are designed to be worn to sleep AND during the day.  LIKE OUT IN PUBLIC.  I finally found my perfect wardrobe.  Like, they look even comfier than yoga pants, guys.  And the prints are adorable.  I’m only mad because I didn’t discover these while I was pregnant.  I think I would have bought one in every color.  I’m waiting for a restock to order one, so I’ll report back.  But I expect to be in love.
  6. I read this article this morning, and then proceeded to be inspired to give away/throw away/otherwise purge so many of my kids toys and my own clutter.  Now, I think the article miiiiight over-promise a little bit when it comes to the effect of de-cluttering, but I do totally agree that a cleared space makes me feel more sane, and thus (probably) a better mom. I think it’s worth a read, if only to motivate you to clean out the junk drawer.
  7. Miriam continues to slay at being an adorable, chill baby.  She’s pretty much just soaking it all in, trying not to look too horrified at her lot in life.  We’re a motley crew, but we love her a whole lot, so I hope she realizes it’s not all bad.img_3661

*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7QT. Head over and check it out… she’s got a hilarious solution to our election woes today!*

why i let my kids fight (CAPC series)

img_4445*For the past several years, I’ve been contributing to an amazing site, Catholic Attatchment Parenting Corner. (What can I say, I’ve really got a thing for niche-writing, yeah?) Due to all kinds of life circumstances, the site won’t be live for much longer, and the editor and creator of that site will be focusing solely on her other (wonderful) endeavor, Intentional Catholic Parenting.  So I decided to run a few of my old articles as a little mini-series, so they can find a new forever home here. Some of them are recent, and some of them were from a few years ago, but I hope they all speak to the experiences of different stages and moments in motherhood. *

Why I Let My Kids Fight

And no, it’s not because I’m starting a baby fight club. Or because I’m lazy. Or because I think I need to “toughen them up.”

This title might surprise those of you who know me. I’m a pretty gentle parent. I take my kids’ feelings and thoughts seriously. I strive for kindness and peace in my relationship with them and try to foster that in their relationship with each other. So why do I let them whale on each other sometimes? It’s all about forgiveness, baby.

I kind of came upon this concept accidentally. I had a quick, important phone call to make, and left the kids peacefully playing Legos in the living room while I stepped into the bathroom. (What, isn’t this where you go to make important phone calls?) Obviously, as soon as I began this important conversation, I heard shrieks coming from the living room. Yelling. Screaming. Your average toddler and preschooler brawl over the Lego they both want. But I was somewhat stuck — I had to finish this phone call and hope that when I emerged, things would still be salvageable. A minute later, my call ended and I unlocked the bathroom, ready to admonish someone (whoever looked guiltier? whoever wasn’t bleeding?) for being unkind and kiss any booboos, emotional or physical, of the innocent party. But what I saw when I opened the door stopped me in my tracks.img_3638_2

My 4 year old was kneeling on the ground, hugging his little sister, saying in a soothing, quiet voice, “I’m sorry, baby. I know you wanted that Lego. I’m sorry I hit you.” And to my surprise, she replied, “I fine. I fine.” As they sensed my presence, they both turned and looked at me like nothing had transpired. They returned to playing happily until the next argument broke out, as they inevitably do.

But it got me thinking. As a parent, I am constantly putting myself in the position of referee. The moment I hear someone cry, I spring to attention and ask, maybe for the 20th time that day, “WHAT happened?!” I then try to figure out who did what to whom (not an easy task), tend to the victim, chastise the aggressor, and basically, in the end, everyone is angry and crying. But what I witnessed that day gave me an alternate view of how it could be. When I don’t jump in to punish (or even gently admonish them to “be kind”), it takes away the immediate defensiveness of the one committing the error. It leaves room for genuine regret that they hurt and upset someone they love. It gives them an opportunity to make it right of their own accord. It allows them the chance to take responsibility for their actions, without me having to guess exactly what those actions were and respond accordingly.img_3128

And maybe most importantly, it gives the one who’s been hurt a chance to forgive. Because when I step in and deal with the aggressor in these fights, I rob both kids of the chance to be the forgiver and the forgiven. I insert myself in the middle and act as both. And that’s not fair. Because it’s not nice to fight, but there is joy in being merciful and showing mercy. This might seem like a stretch when talking about toddlers and pre-schoolers, but so often, when given the chance, our kids will surprise us when given the opportunity to forgo parental justice in favor of sibling forbearance. And doesn’t it follow that if we give our kids practice in being merciful that they will grow up to appreciate mercy as a very real and vital virtue?

Since I had this epiphany, I’ve tested this theory many times, and the results have been pretty consistent: my kids want to forgive each other. They want to make it right. And I can’t help but notice the other effects it has on them. When they are playing together and my little one gets hurt, instead of immediately turning to me, she will often cry her brother’s name and turn to him for a consoling hug before quickly getting back to their game. Sure, I still kiss my fair share of booboos and break up some fights before they get ugly. Some days it feels like that’s all I do. But giving my kids some space in their arguments and disagreements has been fruitful in a surprisingly real and glorious way. No referee whistle necessary.

7 favorite Mother Theresa quotes

I’m pretty excited about Mother Theresa’s canonization this Sunday, aren’t you?!  Over the years, I’ve collected so many of her words of wisdom, scribbled in notebooks or tacked to my fridge.  In honor of her becoming a saint, I’m sharing seven of my favorite Mother Theresa quotes! Also, I made ’em kinda purdy.  Happy Friday, all!

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*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.  Go check out what everyone else is up to!*

hello from baby land.

Oh, hiiiiii.  Remember me? I used to hang around here a lot and write really interesting/insightful/hilarious blog posts. (Ha! Just testing to see if you really remember me.) I’m pretty sure last time you heard from me, it wasn’t such an interesting blog post, maybe just me whining about being super pregnant? Yeah?  Remember me now?

Well, folks, my blog posts might not actually be more interesting/insightful/hilarious now, but they will definitely be more adorable, because…

We have a baby!  IMG_2288 Continue reading

random things

I’m almost 39 weeks pregnant and I’m tired and can’t string enough coherent thoughts together to write a full on blog post, so here are some completely random things.  Don’t you love random things?! I sure do.

Random thing #1: My kids have discovered Charlotte’s Web (the movie version) and they love it, so I went to find a copy of the book so I could read it aloud to them, and found that the hardcover version is only $5.16 right now!  That’s a steal!  I try to buy the hardcover versions of classics like this, because I know they’ll get lots of love over the years.  When they’re on sale for even cheaper than the paperback version?  SCORE!61+3z1o4oUL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_

Random thing #2: Have you ever heard of prodromal labor?  I hadn’t.  But now that I’ve experienced it and googled it a lot, I’ll give you the rundown: It basically feels like you’re going into labor and getting contractions, but the fun part is that you’re NOT!  Psych!  No baby, just contractions that wake you up in the middle of the night!  And maybe, if you’re lucky, your labor will be quicker when it finally happens, but you know, MAYBE NOT!  SO fun, right?  Riiiiight.  So much sarcasm. So over being pregnant.Orangatan-Pregnancy-Meme-Humor

(photo cred: Motherhumor.com)

Random thing #3: For a long time, I’ve really wanted to get my kids involved in some kind of community service, but struggled to find a way to include them in the opportunities that are available in our community.  They are too young to bring to most homeless shelters (per their rules) and they don’t hit the lower age limit for places like Feed My Starving Children yet. But today I found out that our local women’s shelter accepts meal donations- as in, you make a meal for the residents and bring it over on the night you sign up for.  I love this!  I can get my kids involved in making a meal for the shelter residents, we can take the extra time that’s necessary for them to be of help, they can come with to drop it off, and it still benefits people who need the help.  I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I think once we get back on our feet after this baby, I’m going to sign up.  What a great way to get your little ones involved in helping others, yeah?

Random thing #4: I’m intrigued by this Osmo Genius Kit.  It looks really cool and like something that might be really helpful for when we start working on some “math” skills type of stuff with Joey this coming year.  Anyone tried it?  I’d love some input if you’ve tried it or something like it! I’m thinking ahead to Christmas. I know, I astound myself.  Marvel at my forward-thinking and organization!

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Random thing #5: I finally bit the bullet and threw away my non-stick skillets that were like, crazy chippy and flaky and cancer-causing to the max.  I’ve been mostly using my cast iron skillet anyway, but it was still really hard for me to throw them away because they were expensive.  Even though I really know that even in good condition, that nonstick stuff isn’t great for us.  I have issues.  But I did it.  But I took a picture of them before I threw them away… because… I have issues.FullSizeRender

Random thing #6: I’m at the stage in pregnancy where so very few of my clothes fit that I wind up wearing the same 2 dresses over and over and over (because at the moment, pants, even maternity pants=the devil). So obviously, I’m not doing much clothes shopping at the moment, but I saw these tees from Ekubo Ministries, I had to knab a few.  So cute, and for a great cause!  They’re running a summer sale at the moment, so if you head over to their instragram, you can get a code for 25% off. I can’t wait to wear my tees once I can fit in them again!

Random thing #7: This open letter to Mindy Kaling from my girl Shannon had me cracking up SO hard. If you need some feel good chuckles, give it a gander.

*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.  Head over and check out all the other posts that are most likely much more coherent than this one!*

*This post contains some Amazon affiliate links, which means if you click over and happen to buy anything, I’ll get a small commish and you don’t have to pay anything extra (that would be rude!) It’s a win-win!*

seven favorite freezer meals

So I’m in full-fledged nesting mode over here, and by that I mean I’m stocking my house with food like the end of the world is coming.  Some people nest by cleaning, others nest by organizing the nursery, some people nest by clearing their e-mail inboxes.  I do basically none of these super useful and sensible things to prepare for the birth of my next child.  HOWEVER, I have enough spaghetti sauce in my freezer to feed several dozen people. Need a chicken casserole?  I have 3, just waiting to be popped in the oven. Continue reading

the hardest job in the world (CAPC series)

*For the past several years, I’ve been contributing to an amazing site, Catholic Attatchment Parenting Corner. (What can I say, I’ve really got a thing for niche-writing, yeah?) Due to all kinds of life circumstances, the site won’t be live for much longer, and the editor and creator of that site will be focusing solely on her other (wonderful) endeavor, Intentional Catholic Parenting.  So I decided to run a few of my old articles as a little mini-series, so they can find a new forever home here. Some of them are recent, and some of them were from a few years ago, but I hope they all speak to the experiences of different stages and moments in motherhood. *IMG_1266

“Being a mom is the hardest job in the world.”

I hear this a lot, both from people who are mothers, and some who aren’t.  I even read an article some time ago that said that if a stay-at-home mom’s jobs could be quantified, she would earn $115,000 annually.  When I first read this, I thought to myself,  “Wow! How validating!  My job as a mom is worth way more than any other job I’ve ever had!”

And yet, so many moms feel lost in these important, demanding “jobs”.  I have often felt this way myself.  Even though I knew that these jobs were part of the foundation of love and security that I was establishing for my son, my day-to-day tasks seemed empty.  I would clean the kitchen only to turn around to face a decimated living room.  I’d fold a load of laundry only to have another three appear in the hamper.  I’d finish the dishes from breakfast only to realize that it was time for lunch.  And as if that wasn’t enough, the management didn’t even have the decency to give me a solo bathroom break! I started to think that this job didn’t have the benefits that I had expected.  And where the heck were my vacation days?!

Oh yeah, and you can’t quit.  Ever. Continue reading

seven quick takes: good stuff this week

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  1. The Library Thing App! As someone who has so many books that I often forget which ones I actually own, I’m kind of in love with the idea.  It’s super easy to scan in all your books, and you’ll never be stuck in a bookstore or library wondering, “Wait… do I already have this?”
  2. I’ve talked before about how much my kids love their Magnatiles, and I was shocked that these existed and I didn’t know about them. I love finding ideas for Christmas gifts in July! If there’s anything my kids will love more than Magnatiles, it’ll be trucks made out of Magnatiles.
  3. I’m still reading Kristin Lavransdatter.  Still.  I am really loving it, but I keep getting distracted.  For example, I got my advanced copy of Who Does He Say You Are?: Women Transformed by Christ in the Gospelsand when I started perusing it, I got sucked in and of course read the whole thing in a couple of days because it’s SO good.  Colleen Mitchell is so warm and funny and thought-provoking and has some wonderful stories to tell.  Likewise, I did the exact same thing with the copy of Everyday Grace: The Messy Sacrament of Parenting that I got at the Finding your Fiat conference last month. So… yeah, I’m still reading Kristin, but I’m focused now and I’m sure I’ll be done before this baby comes.81L73O6nxNL
  4. Speaking of which, holy contractions, Batman!  This baby is definitely a mover and a shaker and I’m under strict midwife instructions to take it easy, at least until I’m officially at 37 weeks and can deliver at my birth center, just to be safe and ensure that this nugget doesn’t try to make an early appearance.  I SERIOUSLY doubt that an arrival before 40 weeks is going to happen, but my children DO like to be unpredictable, so you never know.  As long as I make it to next Monday and 37 weeks, I’ll be a happy camper.  Please remind me of this when I’m 42 weeks pregnant and want to die.  Thanks.
  5. I’m running out of my mascara this week, so I’m re-ordering it.  You guys.  This mascara.  I have used so, so, SO many different kinds in search of the perfect mascara- one that’s not full of harmful chemicals that make my eyelashes thin and fall out, that goes on smooth without clumping, that doesn’t wind up giving me raccoon eyes halfway through the day because it melts off.  Last year, I had pretty much given up on such a mascara existing.  Then I got a sample of this Jane Iredale Mascara along with this primer and was immediately hooked.  It’s a bit pricey (but not too bad as far as makeup goes), but it lasts FOREVER. Like, I’ve been using it for at least six months, almost every day, and I’m just running out. They’re not paying me to say this or anything, I’m just a girl who understands the quest for the perfect mascara.  It also makes me super happy that most of Jane Iredale‘s products fare really well on the EWG’s SkinDeep Database. Which, if you’ve never checked out, is an amazing resource!
  6. I nest really weirdly, it turns out, so instead of doing things like pulling out bins of baby clothes, preparing a nursery, or making healthy freezer meals, I’m cleaning out my closet, stocking up on mascara, and filling my freezer with random things like naan and sourdough and ice cream.  Anywho, I found some sweet stuff in my closet and made the slightly hormone-fueled decision that ALL THE SMALL CLOTHES MUST GO, so I set up a fun auction-style sale over on Instagram. Come and buy all my clothes and shoes and benefit from my strange nesting tendencies. It ends at 11 am CST today, though, so hustle! 😉

  7. I know basically half the internet has already read this, but I really loved this piece on “Scruffy Hospitality” I read last week. Because, you know, you can call me Scruff McGruff when it comes to pulling it together to entertain friends. If anyone actually remembers Scruff McGruff, you get the prize and all the internet gold stars.

*Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.  Head over and check out what everyone else is up to! *

*This post contains some Amazon affiliate links, which means if you click over and happen to buy anything, I’ll get a small commish and you don’t have to pay anything extra (that would be rude!) It’s a win-win!*