Sunday, January 22, 2017

mirror selfies, books and more! {7QT}

Linking up with Kelly on Sunday, partially to distract myself from nerves over the Steelers-Patriots game tonight. Who have I turned into?

1) I was at a party last night with a game where you had to identify a bunch of celebrities by their head shots and I could not for the life of me remember Tom Brady's name, which Mike was thoroughly ashamed of (not really), but which I took as an omen for the game results. Also not really. But really-- I do not feel good about it.

2) I never go to parties. And I never take mirror selfies. But last night I did both:
Don't worry, it will not become a trend. My mirror selfies, that is.
Shout out to Alex who hosted one of the coolest, well planned parties I have ever attended-- it was really wonderful and a great way for this shut-in of a mother to meet some new peeps in town. I love the peplum dress that I wore, but it was unfortunately borrowed from a friend and now I want to buy one, but then I remember that I do not go out and I would likely have no where to wear it sooo, there's that.

3) Everybody was posting their yearly reading lists and I am still baffled at the sheer number of books you fellow mothers of tons of little kids read in a year-- hooooow do you do it?! I have set my goals nice and low with a short stack of 3 to start with.

I also decided to dig into our own book shelves here instead of stalking others' reading lists and buying or borrowing from the dreaded library, we have so many books I've never read. I made a small dent in my O'Connor collection a few years ago and while I enjoyed most of them, some of them (ahem, The Lame Shall Enter First) made me a depressed mess for several days. Would you Flannery Folks give me some suggestions of some of your favorites of the not-ultra-depressing variety (Christy? Haley?) Preferably ones with no kid deaths, please and thank you.

4) On the subject of reading, I read sweet Britt's most recent birth story this week and was literally on the edge of my seat, it was so good!

5) I know I've already raved about it on Instagram, but my very favorite Christmas gift this year was my Hatch Prints calendar- Katrina has such beautiful talent. I looked ahead to the painting for February and can safely say that nothing has made me this excited for February. Ever.

I would highly recommend it to brighten your home and your February.

6) I'm toying with the idea of enrolling in a curriculum for 3rd and 2nd grade (maybe Kolbe?) but I am wondering what the pros are considering the cost of it. I'm all eeeeeears.

7) Happy Sunday!!!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

if you give a mom some spray paint...

Once upon  a time (last year) Mike and I were starting to glance at homes on realtor.com knowing that it was becoming more and more of a possibility that we would be relocating to land of Virginia. It became pretty apparent that if we wanted a home bigger than what we were in (we did!), but also in a good area, it was not going to be easy to find.

In the end God blessed us with a home that is huge and in a great location but that has left us with nary a decorating budget to be seen and LOTS of polished brass light fixtures (and sooo much light oak)- I'm not talking pretty vintage brass, that I can get with, but the brightest, most polished there is, see?

         ^You're next, buddy.

It was built some time in the early 2000s, but holds tight to some serious late 90s flair and I am NOT complaining because I am just so happy to have a home for our family, but I am daily suppressing the desire to make it 100% less 90s-ish.

Some people have a theme for their home decor, think "Farmhouse Chic" or "Vintage European" or something, and in an ideal world I would love to refinish our wood floors to darken them and paint our kitchen cabinets white, but that is neither fitting to this season of my life nor fitting into our budget (again, there is no more budget). Whatever small budget we did have we spent on furnishing this home with various items from Craig's List (it's almost double our last home's size). So now my only goal for a theme in this house is simply: NOT 90s! No more polished brass!

I was at a moms discussion group a couple of months ago with the theme being "home decorating" when I discovered that yes, it is possible to get rid of polished brass monstrosities with some simple spray painting and since then I have been sucked in to the black hole of Rustoleum. I started with our dining room chandelier and was so pleased that I did the light in our future-piano-room fixture the same color. I failed big time in the mom blogger department and did not take befores of either light fixture, I promise to snap some of the next ones I do. Here are some anti-climactic afters.

Imagine them super bright, ugly brass and then not.

4 bottles of paint and 2 primers later I have nearly maxed out my spray paint budget and I have 4 more fixtures on the first floor that I am determined to finish with one bottle of paint and primer and we will see how that goes.

When it comes to domestic graffiti I do not discriminate and have ventured into the land of spray painting various other things as well:

First of all there were 2 mirrors I found at the salvation army for pennies and painted the same color as the light fixtures because ain't nobody got time for various spray paint colors also cheap is my middle name:

No befores, I am the worst. The big one was a craaaaaazy multi-colored thing and the other was gold.

Next are these brown vases that have been in home-decor rotation since our first year of marriage since they hailed from Mike's bachelor days.

I found those adorable little vintage brass vases at a local antique shop and felt like they would go so much better next to some cream, and I think I was right.


Then there were these candle holders I found for $1 a piece at a thrift store and some little candle plates that I have had for years that I painted and glued together to make one elevated chunky candle holder. I definitely prefer the result.


I found a super ugly planter on our porch from the previous owners and a little plant "table" or something out in the yard and I was racking my brain for something to draw attention away from an air intake vent in our non-piano-room so I went a-painting and came up with this.

No before picture but rest assured both pieces were naaaaaasty.

I'm sure you're thrilled that that is all I have for now, but I am also sure I will be back with more.

I feel happier with what is here now than what was there before, but I am also having to just stop looking at home-decor blogs and am working on trying to be content with what I have because we are so blessed.

Plus, I have definitely developed a bit of an addiction, it's kind of a problem- right up there with my glue gun issues. I am learning that my "design style" is just "pretty". I like pretty things. I am not really super-into ultra-modern looks, but more traditional and simply pretty things. I'm learning to work with the stuff I have (or um, paint it) and shop my cupboards for things I can decorate with that I had previously never thought could work-- like these crystal candle holders from Mike's grandmother paired with a beautiful silver serving tray from some close family friends turned dining room table centerpiece:

Whatever, it works. I'm done!
Peace out.

Friday, January 6, 2017

7 snowy takes

Linking up with Kelly!

1) We got hit with a bad stomach bug a few days after we got back from our great trip and are now finally out of those vomit-filled woods. Praise. The. Lord! I need to seriously count my blessings that that sort of thing doesn't happen more often because as Mike put it on New Years day: "people should only be puking on New Years because they drank way too much the night before". Agreed 110% to infinity. It was gross.

2) Part of the stomach bug was also a little bout with stuff that only the boys dealt with and which left their little bottoms in a difficult situation- some of the worst diaper rash I've seen to date. I only share this so that I can rave to the high Heavens about this Zinc Ointment that Nell's sister makes that she sent me after Freddie's birth- it was a seriously life saver and I wish I could get it for every single person in the world with a baby.


3) My sister had her girls make these adorable paper lanterns  as a fun craft that doubled as super cute decor for their room and in true little-sister fashion I stole her idea and mimicked it promptly after we got back from our visit with them.
The girls made all but the one I made to show them what to do, so it really was that easy and actually cute enough to hang.

4) Virginia got it's very first dusting of snow today, and just in case you were wondering whether 1/2 inch of snow can induce the same exact excitement in children as 1/2 foot-- wonder no more, it definitely can.


I had to laugh a little at Virginians for closing school today because after living in South Bend-- land of the eternal winter and insane amounts of snow that no one ever closes anything for-- it just felt like a little bit of an over reaction this morning, no offense, Virginia.

5) Speaking of South Bend, the father of a really wonderful family that are parishioners at our old parish wrote this blog post about a picture he took at the Grotto at Notre Dame-- I would normally be a little wary of these sorts of stories but since I know them I feel like I can confidently recommend reading it-- it's pretty amazing.

6) On the topic of miracles, Grace gave an update on sweet Joy, the daughter of some college friends of ours who was in a horrible accident but who is recovering miraculously- thanks be to God.

7) The girls have been playing an imaginary game downstairs where there is a war between mice and cats and the mice keep calling the cats the other name for "Cat" in a derogatory way. Think about it.
I'll just leave you with that.

TGIFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!





Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Another Tale of a Pregnancy Test Addict (+ a giveaway!!)

I could run down the list of every single cliche about how crazy it is that Fred is already 6 months old, and it still would not adequately express how simultaneously baffled, full of gratitude and sad I am about the fact.

This year has easily been the most stressful of my life, between the pregnancy, selling our house, moving to a new state, Mike starting a new job whilst us dealing with the capital C Craziness of the 4th trimester. I feel like little Freddie has gotten the shaft with regards to me being able to really soak up his infancy.

The stress of the year has also made all of the events surrounding his entire life run together in my brain, they all feel like such a blur. When I was pregnant with Joe I documented how we found out we were expecting him, and while I realize no one really cares to know all those minutia, I loved that I did it because those are the sorts of little things I forget, unless I blog them out.

I also documented how I have a little addiction to taking pregnancy tests, and to reward any reader who makes it through this tale, there is a little giveaway at the end for diapers.com, (home of the most accurate home pregnancy test.)

This one's for you, Freddie.

Cue last summer- not this past summer- but the summer of 2015, some time after Joe Pio had turned a whopping 1 year old and also some time around when the various bodily functions needed to be able to produce more offspring had reappeared (aka, return of the old cycle). Every time my babies are around 1 year old I get that itch, that baby itch, and in true Ana-form, Joe had his first birthday and I had it.

It was late summer and Mike and I were in the back yard talking about the coming year and the various possibilities. He was coming on his last funded year of doctoral studies, a year dedicated solely to completing the dissertation and looking for jobs, but as the year was getting started we both knew that it would be rather unlikely for him to do both of those things. It takes an annoying amount of time to apply for positions and fly to interviews and Mike needed every single bit of that time to write his dissertation.

We both came to the conclusion that the year would be entirely dedicated to writing, not applying to jobs, and the next year he could hopefully land some teaching at Notre Dame or a Post Doc and we would stay in South Bend 1 more year. I expressed my I love of this scenario excitedly to Mike because we had been in South Bend for 7 going on 8 years, it was home, all of our friends were there, I didn't want to sell our house yet AND we could have one more baby with my favorite doctor in all the world and at the best hospital ever!!

Mike looked at me like I was pretty crazy when I got to the part about the baby. Joe had not been the easiest baby, he was only 1, I get pretty sick with pregnancy and was planning on homeschooling the 2 older girls for 1st grade and Kindergarten. Yes, it was a little crazy. But baby fever prevailed and I got all giddy about the prospect of maybe welcoming another little one to our family.

I have overshared about my various physical phenomena which make it (literally) painfully obvious that I am in the fertile phase of my cycle, (go fourth and read if you dare), so trying for a new baby or trying to avoid a pregnancy is actually pretty straight forward for me.

I bought a few pregnancy tests toward the end of the summer and handed them all over to Mike (because I have a problem). We made it through one of my interminably long cycles, I took ALL the tests, and we weren't pregnant. Sad face emojis all around. At some point during that time of hoping and sort-of-trying, we had some more conversations about one school that Mike might apply to in Virginia. His sister lived there with her husband who also taught at the college and one of Mike's good friends from ND was teaching there and really wanted him to apply.

I was not happy about that thought and every time it came up I said it wasn't going to happen, though I knew he would apply just to see what would happen. However, if on the veeeery slight off chance he got the job and we went there we were entering crunch time with regards to having another child before a potential move. I had one more cycle left where, if we conceived, I could have the baby in South Bend, with my beloved doctor, before a potential move.

It turned out that the stress of all the unknowns made that cycle go several weeks long than normal, but as we came close to the point of finding out whether we were expecting I went out for more tests  and I handed them over to Mike per the usual.

By this point we we already into October and we were planning a little day trip to Chicago. The morning that we were set to leave for the trip I decided to go for it and take a test, I must have waited long enough to be able to convince Mike to give one to me, but not long enough because the line was too faint for Mike to be entirely confident that it was even there.

 
^^Pic from the trip, with the teeniest, tiniest Freddie already there 

But I knew the line was there and I was giddy. We went on our trip and I rejoiced internally, but was also a little terrified of the concrete reality of 5 kids in 7 years with a side of homeschooling. Within a couple of days *another test* confirmed that there was indeed another little soul growing in our family, we celebrated, told our families at Thanksgiving, and Mike continued with the application process to that one school.

By February it became evident that it was highly likely that Mike could get offered that job at that one school. I was still in denial and still pushing for us to just stay in South Bend and for him to finish the dissertation, but once the offer actually came we were in no position to turn down a good job, so we didn't.

I had no idea how the heck we would do it: sell our house, buy a new one, birth a baby, pack all our belongings, move to a new place with all these children. But we did it! And now here we are, 6 months later and still alive, no worse for the wear, and with the cutest little person to call our very own.

The good folks at Nakturnal have sponsored this post and are giving away a $50 gift card to Diapers.com, and if you made it through this Novella you deserve it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bad Pictures, Great Trip

What say we attempt one more post in the year 2016? Hit it.

The last time we went back to our home town to visit family was actually a stop-over during our move from South Bend to Virginia. I was 3.5 weeks postpartum, moving my new family of 7 across multiple states and dealing with a newborn who screamed every waking hour. I don't think that counted as a visit.

The time before that was my multi-week trip away from Mike so he could prep our house for sale and during which time we went house hunting. I was greatly pregnant, watching 4 kids solo for a good bit of the time and super-stressed over the pending sale and move. I don't really think that time counted either.

This trip back was one of the most highly anticipated of my life. Some of my family had never met Freddie, and we hadn't been back for normal visit since last Christmas, and the crazy stress of the last 6 months was making me pine for home and comfort like never before. All my expectations were met and then some.

My beloved sister-in-law, who we now live 5 minutes away from, is due with baby numero 3 TOMORROW, so we opted for an earlier trip where we could be back here in town to excitedly await our sweet new nephew's arrival and be here to help out when it happens.

My mom and amazing sister baked all sorts and kinds of cookies with the kids. I got to see my sisters and sister-in-law and the cousins got to romp and play to their hearts' delights.

These are the 4 boys (one Gemma missing) who were born in 2014:

These are the 4 babies born in 2016:
Common Fred.

So much life, so much love, so much noise. So worth it.

And I am still seriously kicking myself for getting next to no pictures at all with Mikes family, but I'm going to go ahead and count that as proof of the really wonderful time we had, since I was obviously more focused on enjoying each moment been trying so hard to take pictures of everything (or making sure Joseph didn't break all the breakable things at both of our parents' houses).

Also, I'm clearly failed photographer.

We did however manage to get a family Christmas photo at Mike's house, which I posted on Instagram but I cannot resist the urge to post a collage of outtakes, because Joseph.


And we also got a few Christmas morning pics at Mike's house of the crazy excited chillins.
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, December 2, 2016

What Internet?

Just like that it is December and haven't linked up with Kelly in weeks. Remedying that now.

1) One nice thing about life being  almost too stressful for me to handle is that I unintentionally unplug from all Internet things in a desperate attempt to just survive life. Don't go picturing me sipping cocoa whilst reading classics surrounded my loving offspring, don't picture anything very peaceful or quiet for that matter. It's accidental and I miss ye old blog, and Instagram, and adult interaction. Ok you get it.

2) Following my last post I fell down the rabbit hole of scouring Craigs list for couches and hot glue gunning all the things I could find that could be hot glue gunned. We found couches AND a dining set that actually fits our entire family plus guests and I spent last Saturday evening helping Mike move furniture, which my embarrassingly weak muscles are just now recovering from. I had the brilliant idea to make and glue gun little curtains (and bed spreads, pillows and table cloths. Yikes) to the girls doll house...

Then I took it one step further and staged a family photo of their wooden doll family, framed it and glue gunned it to the doll house living room wall. I have serious problems.

3) We've had some weird virus going through our house which only causes a fever and nothing else, but the fevers are scary high and Lucy's has already resulted in one ER visit. Of course by the time we got there the previously administered Tylenol had finally kicked in and they sent her home with the advice "keep up with the Tylenol!" Money well spent right there.

4) Joe had the high fever last week just in time for thanksgiving, but that didn't stop us from celebrating, or more accurately it didn't stop me from taking my glue gun to as many random table decorations as was possible and drinking mulled wine all day.


5) In keeping with my bad liturgical living I erected our Christmas tree the very day after thanksgiving and let the kids watch Christmas movies the entire weekend.

You see those pine cone decorations? I found a tree downtown with loads of pine cones under it and went to town filling bags like a crazy lady, then spray painted them gold and then (wait for it...) glue gunned them together and glue gunned a bow on them. I'm the Gayle Waters-Waters of the glue gun.

6) Fred turned 5 months some time after I last posted and I've staged several photo shoots in an attempt to get a good one for an 8x10 to frame and hang. Which do you vote for?

 I say #2

7) I'm off to attempt a lunch time hot cocoa party to boost the morale of the troops, wish me luck. Happy Advent!

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Finer Things Club and So Much Fall {Quick Takes!}

Linking up my my girl, Kelly!

1: I'm going back almost 2 weeks with this one-- All Saint's Day!!

The girls changed their minds approximately 50 times about which saints they were going to be, but in the end they went with Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Lucy. I went ahead and just sewed some fabric eye balls this year because this is the 3rd year in a row someone has decided on being Saint Lucy and I figure at this point we should just have them for the costume box (hashtag things only Catholic moms do). Poor Joe couldn't join us for the party at the local parish because it started at 1:30- aka smack dab in the middle of nap time- and if you know me you know I will never- never- forfeit that time for anything. Ever. Lucy for us the college Mike is working at now gave the faculty All Saints Day off (hashtag things only Catholic colleges do) so Joe napped his heart out and then had a fun filled afternoon complete with riding the tractor on dad's lap.

So fun was had by all.

3: Mike and I got back on the Great British Baking show train and just finished the latest season which explains why I've completely stopped losing any baby weight. Seriously, you cannot watch the show without eating during it, and it turns me into a crazy baking fiend. We finished the season last week and within one week I made the following:

-Challah

A Roulade, A Dutch Apple Pie, and Donuts

I have a problem and I need help.

4: Speaking of problems...

We have a bit of a leaf problem in our back yard. That pile took me more than an hour of raking with the baby strapped on, and they juuuust keeeeeep falling.

5: Fall in this town is absolutely gorgeous. We ventured out twice in the last week to this beautiful lookout up one of "mountains" and it was pretty ugly, I mean stunning.



6: We had our first tea party in our new house, I'm a really big fan of tea parties.

The girls wouldn't let Joe come unless he wore his special jacket, thus marks his official induction into the Finer Things Club.

7: I'll leave you with that.