Monday, March 27, 2017

the young and the restless

The girls and I have been reading a little biography of the life of Saint Thomas More and I have basically fallen in love with him as a saint-friend. Last weekend we watched A Man for All Seasons with the older 2 and between that and the book we are reading, when Mike let me know that the Saint John Paul II National Shrine currently has a huge exhibit with multiple relics of the Saint, I was fairly dead set on going. So this Sunday our little family ventured into the city to pretend that we are adventurous.

The thing is we never, ever do adventurous things as a family and the reason is....


The boy is crazy. Crazy cute, crazy hilarious, and just plain crazy. I was a tad nervous about is little pilgrimage with him but I hoped that the grace of God would compensate for what I lack in dealing with his shenanigans, and maybe it did but holy moly it was HARD. He was fine on the drive there, he was fine for roughly the first 4 minutes within the Saint Thomas More exhibit, but once we got about 1/4 of the way in he just sprinted off, all the way to the entrance door and would have made a total break for it if only some unsuspecting stranger had opened the giant door for him.

I sent Mike to catch him since I was holding Fred B in the carrier and from that point in it was basically one reeeeeeeeally long tantrum/effort to get down and run/angry winning at being held/freaking out about being strapped into the stoller.
 Not the real ax and chopping block, but a replica of the one with which he was beheaded.

I am not asking for advice on how to take him places, though I'm sure I could use some on how to be more virtuous and patient with him-- I KNOW I could. I have absolutely come to the conclusion that we simply should not take him places that aren't completely fenced in right now and where he can't yell-talk about everything he sees. That is the solution. We almost never split up Masses on the weekends, but he is necessitating such extremes because he be cray.

I found myself getting really bitter about it and upset last night because I felt like "I should be beyond this now!" When, oh when, will I be at the point of mothering where my older ones can really help out and when the entirety of the car ride there and back is not full to the brim with a screaming baby and a screaming toddler?! (it totally was)

The answer is when my older kids are actually older. Naomi is 8, not 18 and that's just the reality of it right now. I cannot jump ahead 10 years into parenting and be at some magical easier place just by dreaming hard enough about it. In many ways I'm still in the trenches-- ok, in most ways I am.

For right now I need to relish the new and lovely parts of having some who are old enough to enjoy new things with me. It was so wonderful and lovely to read about the life of this Saint with my 6 and 8 year old and be amazed together at his life and death, and then stand in awe with them as we reverenced his relics. This is new and this is good, despite the fact that I'm still in the baby-toddler trenches with the younger ones.

Each new phase does not have to be perfect and easy breezie to be very good and to have really awesome new elements. For example, Naomi can hold Fred on her hip for little spurts, but only for about 30 seconds before she gets too tired (he's a chunker), but just because she can't hold him for 30 minutes doesn't mean those 30 seconds weren't blissful.

This is where we are right now and it is good, and it although it was insanely crazy taking the 2-year-old a' pilgrimage-ing, it is so good that we went.

Friday, March 24, 2017

{sqt} piƱatas, my new child and more!

Linking with Kelly for weekly stories! 

1: Joe Pio's name day was Monday and sadly it being the feast of Saint Joseph did not make it any less of a MONDAY. It was so rough and Mike wasn't going to be home for dinner or bedtime and that prospect was basically killing me. Finally right before dinner, against every desire in my being, I threw together a cake and the lamest little Saint Joseph alter with and we prayed and sang and I am positive that Saint Joseph went ahead and saved the day.  It honestly felt like Saint Joe stepped in for Mike and maybe that sounds weird but it ended up being a lovely evening and not because of anything  I did. He is the best.

{Hunchback} Saint Joseph, pray for us.

2:  Naomi turned 8 yesterday-- I almost blogged a super sappy post but I spared the masses, suffice it to say my inner emotions were high. The main thing she'd been begging for was a pinata, but my inability to pay $ for certain things is an issue. Don't get me wrong, I can spend with the best of them: new jeans? I'll spend. New house plant (that's for later): I'll spend. More spray paint? I. will. spend. But I literally could not bring myself to fork over anything for one. I mean-- really-- $15 (And that's without the candy?!) for a thing that you are buying with the sole intention of completely destroying? No. I couldn't. This fact coupled with my insatiable desire to use a glue gun whenever and wherever I can made the thought of fashioning my own gaudy, breakable, candy receptacle pretty exciting.

The setup.

On the oven, nothing could possibly go wrong here. I just used a cardboard box to hold the candy, wrapped in in some birthday wrapping  paper, made some cones out of card stock and wrapped them as well and went crazy with the glue gun+tissue paper+purple ribbons. I had so much fun and while it did not turn out like any of the ones in the party aisle, the kids absolutely loved it, and I am fairly certain that's all the matters. Mercifully nothing caught on fire atop the oven either. And voila.

The 8th birthday was a complete success and now my kids finally have even ages: 8, 6, 4, 2 and 9 months which throws it off, but still those first 4 make my heart sing.

3: I know you've all been waiting with baited breath to hear an update on my big indoor or outdoor plant decision (please hear the thick sarcasm there), so without further adieu I want you to meet Denis:

Mike named him and I have no idea why he chose it, but I know better than to question the House Namer of Inanimate objects. He has spoken.

4: I walked into a local grocery store with the 3 youngest kids to grab some bananas and saw this beauty and I knew it was meant  to be. So we walked through the store and got bananas and previously promised free cookies and then to grab Denis. I had to move Lucy from her front seat cart position (she always insists on it even though she is giant) and replaced her with the plant (which completely obstructed my view and I am lucky I made it to the register and then out to the car) and in a way this was symbolic because he really is the newest family member and I do love him so. I am straight-up turning into a plant lady. Slowly but surely.

5: The previous owners left a whole host of various planters around the house and I have chosen this one from the front of the house because it is big enough to house Denis's large footprint (sorry, Denis).

6: Now I get to do some more spray painting tomorrow, which is my all time fave weekend activity so it should be a good one. What's you're weekend plan? More fun than spray painting old plant pots? Doubt it. Do tell!!!

7: Like the rest of the female constituent in the entire world I have been hunting for an Easter dress and while I am really taken with this number from Old Navy, I am thinking about trying to duplicate this little number from middle school:

WITH the bangs, of course.
Let me know if you see anything like it.

Happy weekending!

Friday, March 17, 2017

snow day vibez

 Linking up with Kelly reeeeal quick like!

1) I cannot believe this week is over, it was sucked into the vortex of laundry and actually cleaning! my! toilets! for the first time in over a month. Noooooot joking even a little about that. Also, it snowed!!

And in true Virginia style the town nearly shut down for what turned out to be roughly 4 measly inches. Sorry, VA, I can't stop making fun of you.

2. The kids were utterly thrilled and made some more terrifying snow men:

3: Well the older 2 made them while the younger 2 stayed in the kitchen tapping the hot cocoa and marshmallows like the sugar addicts they are:

4: Also I almost killed our fish from overfeeding him, but he has beat the odds and recovered like the fighter he is:

5: Freddie is officially 9 months old and I am pretty sure he slept through the night twice this week. I literally can't remember whether I got up with him, but several mornings I've woken up looking like this so I am going to go ahead and guess that I didn't nurse him.

6: Joe is still waking up every night from his tonsil/sinus issues so it's not like I'd be feeling rested from the baby sleeping or anything. That would be too much to ask.

Thanks, J.
Speaking of rest, I read Blythe's post this week and can't stop Amen-ing. A really good reminder to rest as a mortification this Lent.

7: My wonderfully beautiful mother is adopted and so we don't know as much about her lineage as we would if we knew her biological family well.

However after a recent visit (pictured above) she informed me that her maiden name is actually thoroughly Irish as opposed to what I thought it was growing up and so I am off to celebrate my now Irish heart out.

Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all!!

Friday, March 10, 2017

spring "break" takes

Linking up with Kelly!

1- Mike was on spring break this week so I decided to give the kids Monday off as their "spring break" (my kindness knows no bounds). This meant that Monday was the best day ever and Tuesday was from h-e-double- toothpicks, but that is generally how Tuesday's roll anyhow. I spent roughly an hour trying to remind the 8 year old what 16 PLUS ZERO is and the other one just stared at her papers and asked the same question 35 times I a row. My brain almost exploded. In an effort to turn things around I let the kids (read: Naomi) organize a snack scavenger hunt (or "Snackenger Hunt"):

This is an idea I had last week where I put clues all over the yard with tiny snacks attached to each clue and at the end they get a special snack. It was the brainchild of my utter selfishness because it buys me roughly 15 extra minutes in the morning to stare at the wall or stalk Instagram while I guzzle coffee. I'm such a good mom.

2- Since Mike has been working from home all week I've been able to replace stupid living room workouts with glorious outdoor runs and as I ran behind a very trendy looking lady yesterday I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, I should update my workout wardrobe. I still look exactly like this when I run. Plus I am too prideful to invest in some prescription athletic glasses with strap around the back of my head so I end up running with tee shirts and shorts that hail from high school, with my thrifted New Balances, without being able to see squat. I did find this border-line trendy sweatshirt at the Salvation Army recently,

It makes me look a tad less ridiculous, but I can only wear it when it's cold out and I hate running it cold weather.

3- Over the weekend I continued a recent search I've been on to find a nice looking, decent sized, CHEAP (under $30) fake plant. I would never have thought that a) I would be the crazy lady on this sort of a hunt and b) that this would be such an impossible thing, but here's a little story that explains why you cannot find any in this town: There was one thrift store (the "Family Thrift Store"- ha! sorry) that I had not yet perused to find this sought after ideal plant, so I decided to run over and check it out last weekend. My heart skipped a beat when I walked into this store-- it was fake plant heaven I tell you! ALL THE FAKE PLANTS you could ever desire: small ones, large ones, every size you ever needed, all over the store. I only had to look for approx 2 minutes before I found the perfect plant. It was exactly what I had in mind, so I ran over to the desk (hastily so no one else snagged it while I walked there) and asked for a price because there wasn't one on it. The saleslady was busy stuffing her face full of multiple types of fare from a Styrofoam container- the food looked and smelled like it came from a carnival- and she looked me in eye and explained (with a mouth half-full of spaghetti) that all the fake plants in the store were merely decorative, for store use only and NOT FOR SALE. Decorative use. In a thrift store. Not for sale. In in a thrift store-- you know, the equivalent of a year-round yard sale. I begged her to sell it to me but she refused and I walked out finally knowing  why I can't find one anywhere-- they have them all and they won't sell them. I'm thinking some Oceans 11 action is in order. Kidding? I'm insane.

4- My very-first-ever-real indoor-plant is thriving (shockingly) so I may go the real plant route after all. But the spot I want the plant (to the left in the pic below) is not near a window and clearly this plant does better near a window.
Welp, there's a new low for you, I just posted a collage of my indoor plant.

Anyways, give me all your best real plant recommendations for LOW light? Thank you!!

5- Fred is almost 9 months old and CRAWLING!!! He is the house favorite (not just my favorite) and every time I carry him into a room every child reacts as if it is their first time seeing him ever.

He's cutting 3 teeth right now and Joe is getting the last of his 2 year molars so it's like a toddler/baby college party every night, complete with excessive drinking (Fred) and high emotions (Joe) and loud noises and I wake up feeling hungover from lack of sleep. It's really fitting for spring break.

6- I actually thought that the only reason Joe was waking up at night was teething but then I something about his very, very rough behavior and the sound of his voice felt familiar and I thought to look into his mouth the other day and sure enough: giant tonsils, just like Lucy.

 Lucy had to have a tonsillectomy at age 2 and it was rather awful so I am praying that this will pass for him and we won't have to do it again, your prayers are so appreciated too.

7: I decided to act like a really cool, fun mom this week and let the kids erupt their first Volcano with baking soda and vinegar--
IMG 3187 from Ana Hahn on Vimeo.
Their excitement was arguably disproportionate as you can see. A little bit goes a long way, I guess.

Happy weekend!!

Friday, March 3, 2017

oh the difference some grey makes

Howzabout another sub par home decor post? It's been 2 whole posts since my last! Sheesh. I'll make up for it now.

This week's energies were focused on the most lived-in room of the house, with the exception of the toy landfill in the basement, which is where I throw the kids roughly 77 times a day so that I can rock back and fourth in a corner read peacefully in a corner. Our school room is also in the basement so we do spend quite a bit of time down there but the other room that sees the most use and is enjoyed most when we have company is the giant living room right off the kitchen.

I feel like "open concept spaces" are a tad overly sought after and when we were looking for homes that was not even on my list of wants because I like to do the opposite of what is trendy, and I also love me old homes with lots of partitioned rooms. However, it turns out that this area of the house has been the best. Thing. Ever. And I can totally understand why people are all about open living and kitchen spaces. This is what the room looked like for most of last semester (wife of a college professor will forever measure life in semesters, sorry):

Old super duper cheap Craig's List green microfiber couches which we've sported in our living room for the last 6 years. They were good to us.

Then a few months ago we scored this nice brown leather set on good old CL and I love them- comfy and in great condition, but dark. The only rug we've had in this rather giant room was this little 5x7 which was also very dark and after I painted the mirror such a dark brown I was pretty much done with dark. While perusing Overstock's stellar rug collection I was mostly drawn to blues and greys and in the end this is what I went for.

I was hooked on it as soon as I put it down- I loved how it brightened the room but there was still one more piece to this room's puzzle that was the most important in my opinion- those awful, awful sheer green curtains.

I have been whining like a baby to Mike about them basically since we moved here and finally, FINALLY!

On my weekly grocery trips I always stop into Walmart for any items I can't get at Aldi, and most of the time I take a little pause at their clearance fabric section, just for fun. Several weeks ago, after I was thinking of blues and greys in the living room, I saw this one but since the sale price was still $7/yard I didn't do anything about it. Instead of wasting precious finger energy typing it over again, here's my Instagram screen shot of my fabric excitement:
There you have it-- somehow managed to snag it for $1.50/yard and spent the entire week being awesome at neglecting my children and frantically sewing these which I paired with Walmart's cheapest curtain rods and voila:

Also this was the one room that I couldn't do anything with the brass light fixture because it's a ceiling fan and a ceiling fan that works really well so we weren't interested in changing it out, but I've decided to embrace it in this room and add some extra brass pops here and there that I like.

My parents came over the weekend and gifted me with this lamp from a local antique shop that I am a tad obsessed with and which jives rather nicely with my other antique shop find, these little vases.

SO before!

Then with the dark couches:

And NOW!

The end!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

how to eat pumpkin seed protein (and not vomit)

A couple weeks ago I went a'hunting for good protein powder of the non-soy non-whey variety. I am not a health nut and I am as far from "crunchy" as you can get, though we keep our Little Debbie snacks and fast food runs to an almost non-existent minimum (though that's more for financial reasons than health reasons, I love me a good swiss roll). I say is only to explain why, after I found and purchased this pumpkin seed protein powder at a local grocery store, I brought it home and stared at it in total confusion having literally no idea how to ingest the substance. I stored it right next to our plant food in the cupboard and found myself getting confused between the two every time I opened it.

Then one morning I tried it in a smoothie and almost gagged and threw it up with every sip. I was sure I had accidentally scooped out the plant food instead (in reality I hadn't, it just tasted that awful.) A few Google searches turned up very little by way of good ideas on how to use the powder so I started experimenting and came up with a couple good (one good and one VERY good) recipes that I thought I'd share in case anyone else in the world is confusedly staring at this weird powder on their counter and not sure how to digest it in a semi-palatable fashion. 

The first is the good one and is a spin off of Against All Grain's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Granola bars,

Here are the ingredients I had and used:
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup chopped dates (the second time I had no more dates so I tried raisins- stick with dates)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips 
  • 2 heaping scoops pumpkin protein powder
Throw all dry ingredients in a large food processor (I included the chocolate here so that it would be more evenly distributed and fool me into thinking there was more than there actually was), pulse away until it's finely ground.

Melt honey, peanut butter and coconut oil in a saucepan and pour over the dry ingredients, mix and mash into a well greased 9x13 pan. Freeze for 2 hours, cut into bars and refrigerate.

These have been super handy to just grab out of the container and eat when I have no time in the morning, or to take in the car if I have to leave and haven't eaten. And as an added bonus! My typically health-food hating kids loved them. Score.

The next is the VERY good one and is a spin off of Grace at Camp Patton's Grain Free Granola recipe.

Here's what I had that I used:
Missing the coconut since I had already thrown the empty bag away. Can you tell I shop at Aldi? Almost exclusively.

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup almonds
1 1/2 cashews
1 cup pecan pieces
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom (these 2 spices did a LOT for the flavor)
1/2 cup raisins(I didn't have any neat berries like Grace did in her recipe, so I just threw a few raisins in and called it good.)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey) (I used extra maple syrup and probably could have gone with less but I really wanted it to not taste like the pumpkin protein)
2-3 heaping scoops pumpkin seed protein powder

Pulse nuts, cocoa powder, spices and protein powder in large food processor, enough to get them semi-chopped, but NOT finely ground. So, a few times? (stick to non-recipe blogging, Ana, sheesh!) Throw them in a large bowl. Melt maple syrup and coconut oil in saucepan and pour over the dry stuff, then toss (ok, gently put) onto a lined, greased pan and bake at 325 for about 10 minutes,

(Take this opportunity to take a selfie of yourself in your apron to prove that you were indeed making this granola)

Then take out the pan, turn the heat up to 335 and mix your raisins (or whatever dried fruit you have) in with the granola and bake for about 5 minutes more (I had never done this before trying Grace's recipe and I really loved the outcome- thanks, Grace!) Store and eat with almond milk (my favorite) or with yogurt or straight out of the bag or whaaaatever)
I was so very pleased with the outcome of this and now I just have to try to not eat it all in one sitting.
The pumpkin seed protein added a really nice texture to the granola that grains would usually bring plus it boasts 15 grams of protein per scoop, so it's a nice addition for packing the extra protein punch you need when you're a tired, frazzled mother. I only did 2 scoops in this batch but I will probably go ahead and add a third scoop to the next batch so that each serving has an optimal dose of protein.

So that is that. This post is not sponsored in any way, but if you happen to pass this crazy powder in the vitamin aisle, I would actually recommend it because these 2 recipes are both ones I will be using again and again and again.... you get it.

Happy weekend! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

my 7 daily must-dos

Off the bat I am letting every potential reader know that this is in NO WAY WHATSOEVER a "how I do it all"-ish post. No way no how. I just never thought that I would be in this place: a mom of 5 little, dependent children and (cue dramatic "dun, dun, dun...") homeschooling.  I never thought I would homeschool, I don't plan to do it forever, and I will admit that some days it really brings me to my knees. Ok, all the days it does.

Honestly I always pictured myself in the school drop-off line, then while the big kids were in school I'd be out running errands with little kids, or at home cleaning toilets, doing laundry and keeping the house under control. However, these days the house stuff waits until the weekend and phonics, math, language arts, history and wiping butts takes precedent all day, all week. Seriously, you should see my house right now. Here, I'll show you.
You gotta wait for that mac and cheese to dry before you sweep it up anyways.

Enough. This is a positive post! There are a few things - really stupid, little things-  that even with a newborn, I have kept up doing almost every day that make it possible for me to stay alive, and give the illusion of keeping my ish together. Don't be fooled though, it's all an illusion.

1: Fix my hair. 
 I'm so vain, I know, but there is something heartening having fixed hair, and even though most days we aren't planning on seeing other people, it makes it easier to see myself. When I walk past a mirror and glance at a woman who doesn't look like she just rolled out of bed, I feel like I can take myself more seriously as a mom and "teacher". I would venture to say that it doesn't matter at all to the kids, but you never know. This means either straightening, curling, or at the very least grooming the front and putting it in a nice looking pony tail.

2: Mascara, mascara, mascara. 
But just once each day. I know this is so ridiculous, but I am telling you it is key for me. I can forget all the rest of the makeup but as long as I've applied a liberal amount of my favorite drug store pick, I feel 100% less zombie-ish.

3: Get dressed. 
Like really dressed, in clothes that could be worn to the store or the library (kidding, never the library) but clothes I could wear out. It makes life a lot easier if we do need to go out somewhere, and again, I take myself more seriously teaching in jeans and target tee shirts than my jammie pants. I am a huge fan of these pont pants- I have a Calvin Klein pair (only a legging fit) and an old pair from target- they are basically just thick black leggings -- but not athletic-- that go with everything, can be worn out and about, but feel like yoga pants.

4: Use social media! 
It gets a bad rap for being a time suck, and I know it totally can be, but if you are a super-extrovert such as myself and you don't get to leave the house and converse with humans your own age much, connecting with e-friends and real life friends via the interwebs throughout the day gives you your dose of interaction and makes it easier. I favor Instagram and Facebook, but also texting friends throughout the day because while phone calls are nice and more personal, my kids get all 28 Days Later undead crazy people on me as soon as they see me on the phone.

5: I kick my kids to the curb and DO NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT. This currently takes the following form: It's around 1 o'clock (sometimes 1:30 or 2) and since I have had nothing but face time with all the kids since 7:30, the 2 nappers go down and I send the 3 older ones down stairs to the basement toy room/school room to play, color, trash everything to their hearts' delight until 3 p.m. I choose as many of the following as I can during Fred's pathetic nap-- I workout (first choice because it's my fave), I shower, I do dinner prep, I read, I pray, I clean up around the house, I blog, whatever the heck I want and the girls know they do their own thing until 3. It is the biggest sanity saver and I am finally at a point where I feel no guilt about it. I've had people advise me to wait until the boys nap to do homeschooling with the girls, but that would mean giving up this absolutely vital nap time and I am absolutely not willing to do that. Naps are not an option in our house so it works out but even if Joe stops napping in the next year ( please God, no) I will just turn to screen time to get that little space for a breather, because I have tried not having it and I am not a pleasant person to be around.

This is where I would insert a angelic picture of one of my slumbering cherubs but I avoid their sleeping chambers like the plague so as to not wake them. 

6: I keep my kitchen clean (ish). 
Obviously this is not the case currently (see above pictures) but a valuable lesson I have learned about myself is that if my kitchen is "clean" i.e. stuff put away, counters wiped down, floors swept, the universe feels a little less like it is spinning out of control.

I currently have a constipated teething baby who will. not. nap. I have roughly 6 large loads of laundry to fold, I haven't cleaned my toilets in a month, but if I get this kitchen under control I will feel like this:

Hat, cocktail and all.

7: Get up and pray before they're up. I realize this should be #1 but it would be a lie because I am not doing it right now. Fred's sleeping stats are pretty abysmal right now and I just aim at getting as much sleep as I can but!! I have super high hopes of one day in the not-so-distant future being able to get back to morning coffee and prayer before the kids attack me with needs because I know how key it can be.

Alright I will stop now and since there are seven I am linking with the queen of lists of 7 things, Kelly!