Saturday, August 27, 2016

7 quick takes vol. 25: summer wrap up

linking up with Kelly for some quick takes.

It's always hard to say goodbye to summer, but it seems especially hard this year. Summer was this beautiful oasis of rest and family time and no obligations. And now it's almost over. Alex starts school on Monday, and the following week Johnny starts school and I start teaching piano lessons again.

Here's a little summer wrap-up before we dig back into schedules and homework and deadlines.


We redid our front porch! We have a three season porch on the front of our house that we like to hang out on, even though it sort of looks like it's about to fall off the house. But we had hardly used it this spring or summer because the carpet that was out there (for who knows how many years) was so dirty it would turn the bottoms of our feet black. I didn't like the idea of Trixie crawling around on it. We decided to rip out the carpet and just paint the wooden porch floor. But since we had the carpet out, we decided we might as well go ahead and paint the walls and trim as well.

I forgot to take Before Pictures until after we had started. So they're not truly before.


And After:


And After:

This was the first house project we'd done since Trixie was born, and it gave me a new respect and admiration for people who remodel/renovate their homes while living in them, with kids. It took us almost a week of late night painting after the kids had fallen asleep. One week and one Ikea trip later we had a new front porch that we absolutely love spending time on. But we were exhausted and I vowed no more house projects for the summer.


But then....

We decided to replace our bathtub! 

The bathtub that was in the house when we bought it almost 7 years ago was a whirlpool, but we never used the the jets because they leak water into our kitchen. Over the years we've been sort of worried that the unused jets were just harboring all sorts of mold and bacteria, so this summer we decided we couldn't bathe our children in there one more time and we had to put a new tub in. 

The online tutorial said you would need one day and two people to get this done. 

I'll spare you all the gory details, but one WEEK later, we had our bathroom back to normal.  Once again, I have no idea how you DIY-fixer-upper people do it. House projects make me really crabby. But I do love the end result. 


During: I cannot handle chaos!!!

And After:

Mad props to Alex for getting this done without having to bring in a professional. (Besides my carpenter brother.) Now that's it's over I'm really glad we did it.  But, #neveragain.


In knitting news. I made this sweater!

And also played around with some sewing and crocheting. Now I am turning my attention to Handmade Christmas. I'd like to make everyone in my family something, even if it's just a little thing. But I have to start now! 


We lost control of the garden. I weeded once in July. But somehow we're still managing to get quite a lot of vegetables! Here's a list I made a couple years ago of things I like to do with my tomatoes. 


Alex and I finally finished Downton Abbey! We had given up on it after Season 3. Too many people had been killed off, and the story felt too contrived. We didn't feel like we were missing out on much, but then I kept hearing from people how great the final season was. So we gave it another chance.  Parts of season 4 were sort of painful, but once we got to season 5 I was thoroughly enjoying myself. And I cried my way through season 6. 


We had a very brief stint of potty training. Johnny doesn't have to be potty trained for his wonderful deaf and hard-of-hearing preschool; they don't want any barriers between DHH kids getting the aural training they need. But I thought it might be nice to have him potty trained for this fall anyway. Day 1 went ok. Day 2 was a nightmare which left me in tears and consulting all my mama Facebook groups. And this, my friends, is why it takes a village. I got so much encouragement and helpful advice. I felt released from trying to get him potty trained right now, and I didn't feel like a failure because of my decision to quit. We are going to wait a few more months and see if Johnny takes any initiative. Thank you everyone who advised me! 


Calling all bloggers! My friend Jacqui and I are planning a Midwest-region Catholic Women Bloggers Conference for March of 2017 here in St. Paul. We're still in the early stages of planning but I can guarantee you it's going to be so much fun!! If you blog and you want to stay in the loop about this you should join our Facebook group. We want to see you all there! 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

t h i r t y

During the very early hours of the day I turned 30 my ears were greeted with the sounds my baby stirring in her crib on the far side of the room. I got up and stumbled through the darkness to scoop her up and bring her back to bed to nurse. The best birthday gift everyone could give me right now would be a stretch of sleep longer than three hours. But with a baby cutting four teeth at once, that was a lot to hope for.  A streetlamp on our block shed just enough light for me to make out her features in the darkness, wispy hair, long lashes, a little button nose, and the chubbiest cheeks you every saw. My body ached for sleep, but I still couldn't help but smile as a little hand reached out and wrapped around my index finger. I know all too well that nothing in life is guaranteed, not another child, not even another day. So I stuffed my tiredness down, whispered "happy birthday to me," and decided to enjoy this early morning snuggle.

A couple hours later we could hear our toddler coughing in the other room. He'd had a cold the last couple days and it always seems to get worse when he's lying down. My husband was just getting up to make sure he had enough water when I heard the unmistakable sound of a child throwing up. Then we were both up, one of us comforting Johnny, and the other one changing the sheets on his bed. "So, it's going to be one of these night," I thought to myself. But it was impossible to feel mad when my three year old, who normally doesn't have to time of day to sit and cuddle with his mama, was sitting on my lap with his arm around my neck and his head against my chest. Some of the most rewarding moments of motherhood for me have been when being with mom is the only thing that comforts my babies.

Growing up we had a tradition in my family of birthday breakfast in bed. We all knew it was coming, but would stay in bed and pretend to sleep until the rest of the family came marching in with a breakfast tray, singing the birthday song. Alex and I have adopted that tradition in our own little family. But it's getting harder to execute with small children. Johnny was having such a rough night that Alex ended up sleeping in his bed with him. Trixie was a up once more during the night, and then up for good at 6:30. When Alex realized Trixie and I were awake he tried to convince me to go back to bed so he could "surprise" me with breakfast, but at that point it seemed better to just stay up.  So I wrestled two babies through two diaper changes while Alex made coffee and put together a tray of the international cookies from Whole Foods. My favorite. We had a nice little breakfast picnic on the playroom floor. Coffee that I didn't have to make always tastes better.

My parents came over to watch the kids so Alex and I could go out for dinner. We slid into a plush corner booth in a very hip lounge that my very hip younger sister recommended.  After the server had brought us our cocktails Alex leaned back and said, "It's nice to be out without kids." I agreed. I also observed that our server did not card us. When Alex and I were dating and in our early 20's we always took it as a small triumph when that happened. I was about to have a similar reaction just out of habit when I noticed her carding the much younger looking couple at the table next to us.

I'm 30. And I guess I look it.

But in all actuality, I'm really ok with being 30. Sure, the baby weight is not coming off as easily the second time around, and I may be a dress size or two larger than when I was in college. But my body has grown and birthed two humans. It's ok with me that it looks like it's done that. There are a few more life skills I think I should possess by now, like how to file our taxes, and deal with insurance stuff, and make a spread sheet. I guess that's why God gave me Alex. (Wink.) But I'm proud of the other things I've accomplished in 30 years. Staying home with my kids is challenging, but I chose it and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I'm happy with where I'm at and I feel comfortable in my own skin. Yup, even the looser skin.

As nice as it was to go out with Alex and have an uninterrupted meal, it was even nicer to come home to our house with our sleeping babies in it and sneak into their rooms to plant little kisses on their little heads. It's a good life, even though I know in a couple hours one, or both of them, will wake up needing me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

trips with babies.

We had our final trip of the summer last weekend. We did our second annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse with our good friends (and Trixie's future in-laws) Ian and Jacqui, and their boys. Last year was our first trip and I was pregnant, this year Jacqui's pregnant. Maybe next year no one will be pregnant. Ha!

We've had a lot of vacations this summer, and by vacations I mean doing all the things we usually do with our kids, only in a different setting. It's been really great to have so much together time, but the introvert in me was starting to feel a little burned out. Going to the Shrine, however, is the perfect little trip to make with little kids.  It's about a two hour drive for us, we stay one night, and we keep expectations pretty low.

The main objective is walking up a hill to the church. The scenery is beautiful.

We were a parade of  double strollers.

 Once we got up there the grown ups took turns going to confession while the kiddos played in a fountain.

 There's a beautiful garden with a shrine to the unborn. Jacqui and I have both lost little ones to miscarriage, so there's something very special about seeing all our children there together.

Next on the agenda was trying to get 4 kids under 4 to all smile for a picture.  It didn't happen.  Better luck next year 

 After that we hit up the hotel pool and wore the kids out so that they would go to sleep and we could stay up and drink wine out of plastic hotel cups and talk without being interrupted.  Until 12:30. Yikes! Not smart with babies that wake up multiple times during the night!

Trixie loves chilling with dad in the hot tub.

Sunday morning we got one final dip in the pool, went to mass at the Shrine and then ate a Jimmy John's picnic down by the river. We got a tip from one of Alex's classmates about an old-timey ice cream parlor in La Crosse, so we walked there for some ice cream. By the time we finished the babies were turning into pumpkins so we loaded and made it home without any stops. Success! And next year will be even better. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Family Vacation Photo Dump Pt. 3

From the Family Farm in Ohio we headed just a little further east to stay with Alex's sister in Pittsburgh, where Johnny got some extra time with his cousins "Bictor, Hemby, and Belo" (Leo). And Alex and I even got out for dinner one night sans la babies.

On our way home the AC went out on our car and with temps in the high 80's and two babies in the backseat, no AC was not an option. We took a long lunch break somewhere in the middle of Ohio to get it repaired, and Alex and I may or may not have gotten margaritas with our Chipotle. We spent tht night in downtown Chicago where we met up with another one of my cousins for lunch the next day.

All the driving was starting to be a little too much for our kids by the end. But I think they did pretty well considering they are 3 and not quite 1. When we finally made it home and I think we were all very happy to sleep in our own beds. But Johnny keeps asking for all his out-of-state cousins.

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