Announcing…

No, not another baby.

Though our oldest has repeatedly talked on and on about “all the other baby girls we’re going to have,” and the next in line is so effusive in his love toward our youngest that he literally told her, “You are my dweam come twue” – so if another should ever come to pass, we know that at least half the crew in this picture would be thrilled.

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But that’s not what this announcement is about. No.

This is to tell you that I’m starting a new blog! The kind folks at the Catholic Review (the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore) have invited me to start a blog on their site, which will “focus mainly on issues related to faithful citizenship – offering commentary on the political world, legislation, civic responsibility and the upcoming election.”

I was thrilled to accept. The Catholic Review is the best-written local paper I’ve come across. I’m continually impressed with their work and I feel honored to be able to contribute to it in some small way.

I will still be here at These Walls on matters of motherhood, family life, and the odd political thing that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be a good fit for the Review. But most of my writings on politics and society will now be found over there, on my new blog, which will be called The Space Between.

The blog’s name comes from a conversation I had with a friend about what we see lacking in most political discussions today – a willingness to admit that each side is at least a little bit right, that most people come to their positions honestly, that there remains a space for real conversation – not just conflict.

I think the name is well illustrated by something I noticed the other day while praying at the grotto outside my parish in Libertytown: Two rocks stood against each other, similarly strong and stubborn-looking, with a slight gap between them. Through the gap, I could see light – sunlight filtered through the woods behind the grotto.

People tend to focus on the discord of politics – on fighting and nastiness and sides standing in opposition to one another. But I’m interested in that gap, that space between. I’m interested in the place where the sides bang up against each other, where we get to see how different (or not) they really are. I’m interested in getting to what we really mean, what we really care about, what really motivates us – and carrying on the conversation from there.

I want to use this blog to explore different political perspectives, to work through issues that divide us (especially those rising to the fore in the 2016 presidential campaign), to consider whether we’re well represented by the categories – political party and otherwise – that the real pundits like to put us in. I have a feeling we’re not. I have a feeling that we’re often better suited for the space between than we are the rocks pressing up against each other.

Read more in yesterday’s post – the blog’s first.

For the foreseeable future I plan to post links to each of that blog’s new posts on this one too. So if you’re subscribed here you’ll still receive notice of all my new posts. But I’d love if you could subscribe there too, and like the new blog’s new Facebook page.

Fair warning: if you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you’ll likely soon receive invitations to like both blogs’ pages. I promise to just do it once. (Or at least not again for a few years.)

Oh! And I’ve changed both my Twitter and Instagram handles to reflect my name rather than this blog’s. They are now both julievwalsh. I decided I could handle one new Facebook page, but I couldn’t handle duplicating all my social media accounts.

I think that’s it for now. I hope to see you over at the new place!

These Walls - Announcing

Always Starting, Never Ending: Monday Morning Miscellany (Vol. 11)

—1—

I think you should know that I’m really, really good at starting blog posts. Like, you would be amazed at the quality of writing I can pour into three opening paragraphs on any given subject. Especially Donald Trump.

I’m about 15% tempted to start publishing blog posts akin to those group story-telling games we used to play at sleepovers. I’ll write the first three paragraphs, then another blogger can take the next three, and so on and so forth until we have some wacky, meandering, hilarious tale like nothing any of us could have created on our own.

—2—

This happened over the weekend:

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That’s right folks – stare at it while you can! All of my dishes were clean at the same time. I washed the dirty dishes, cleaned the counters, bleached the sink, and then went to bed. Which means: I woke up to a clean kitchen. Just amazing.

—3—

This girl. She’s now four months old. I can hardly describe how smitten with her we are.

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—4—

Oops – I didn’t post anything on the blog last week. See number 1.

—5—

Nearly six years into this stay-at-home-mom thing, I somehow still struggle with how relentless the work is. I spent this entire weekend waiting for a couple of hours to myself (To organize papers and clothing! Not even to do fun stuff!) and when those hours never appeared, I found myself on the brink of tears. Not because anything was really wrong, not because the weekend had really been bad, not because I was overly tired – just because my days all look the same.

Monday through Friday, I’m in charge of four small children for something like 14 hours a day, I take care of all the cooking and dishes and laundry and cleaning and familial logistics, and I’m at the whim of ever-interrupting hands and mouths and diapers. Call me crazy, but I’d like the weekends to look a little different.

Sometimes they do, but lots of times my husband (who really is a very involved father) works on (necessary! good!) home stuff, so isn’t available to help with much other than breakfast. One part of me gets that. The other part stands at the end of a Sunday night and looks toward Monday morning with something like desperation. Because this work is constant. It is never-ending. And I still haven’t gotten used to that.

—6—

We had some storms Sunday evening and when they cleared, the sky was breathtaking. Though it wasn’t quite amazing enough to knock me out of the aforementioned funk, it sure did remind me that funks are temporary. Thank goodness for beautiful skies.

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Can you spot the beehives?

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—7—

Thank goodness for breezes and low-humidity days too. We haven’t yet turned on the air conditioner, so lately I’ve felt like we lived in a jungle or a swamp, or on cooler days, England or Ireland. But today! Today is gorgeously clear, dry, and breezy. It’s just glorious. Hopefully this bodes well for the week!

Happy Monday!

These Walls - Always Starting, Never Ending

Sunday Coffee

A few weeks ago I resolved to mark my third year of blogging (the anniversary of which is this coming week, I think?) by taking 30 minutes each day to write and by posting on the blog at least three times per week. I’ve mostly succeeded. I think I’ve written almost every day, though a couple were such blurs of activity that I’m pretty sure they were left off. I did the thrice-weekly posting for the first two weeks, but this week I’m likely only fitting in two.

Oh well! On we march. The whole point of that little promise I made to myself was to exercise my writing muscle, so to speak, and I’m doing that.

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Being the weekend and all, I have my mind on lazy mornings and delicious coffee, and I’m thinking about what I would say to you if we were sitting down together for coffee.

First

I think I would mention this post and how some people seem to have gotten the impression that I had lost my cool with my son and was therefore writing from a place of regret.

(Now imagine me laughing while looking a little embarrassed.)

Um… if you think that was me losing my cool, you are far too generous. I promise that I am capable of some truly outrageous meltdowns. Like, spittle and popping veins outrageous. Once I was so mad I even had to go outside to run laps across the backyard.

So that post? That was just me recognizing the opposing tugs a parent feels while administering a punishment. And being decently comfortable that (in that one particular situation) I’d dealt with it the right way.

Next

I’d remember that I never updated anyone on how my children behaved at Mass last Sunday. The verdict? I mostly got off easy. My second son turned out to still be too ill to be taken to church, so he stayed home with Daddy. As did the toddler, because… toddler. So I was left with the five-year-old and the baby. And it all went fine except for the two minutes in which the baby spat up all down her front and the boy exclaimed, “She exploded!”

Then

I’d probably complain about being really, really tired of having somebody in the house sick for, like, two months straight. Currently we’ve got two boys (hopefully!) wrapping up their colds. I’m praying that we enjoy at least a small period of good health before somebody else goes down.

I’m sure I’d complain about all this cool, rainy weather we’ve been having. (Seriously – where did May go? Haven’t we been having March for like three months now?)

I’d tell you that I’d failed, once again, to find lamps to replace the ones my boys destroyed ages ago. It turns out it’s not so easy to find lighting that is (1) sturdy enough to withstand being knocked off tables by little boys and (2) not so sturdy that it will seriously injure little boys while falling off tables.

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Finally

If you and I had time to discuss all the ideas we have for our homes and gardens, a la this post, I would report that I exercised some restraint by only planting tomatoes and herbs when I really wanted to go whole-hog and establish The Most Amazing Kitchen Garden Ever.

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I’d tell you that we really need some fresh paint around here. And that I’m itching to hang more things on the walls. (Any idea as to how to get your husband to take up a task without nagging him to do it?)

I might admit to making myself yet another schedule to try to get a handle on my life.

I’d say how we really just need to decide whether to get a playset and patio furniture, already.

And that Brennan and I are leaning toward putting on that kitchen addition one of these days, but that we also daydream about having This Old House do an entire home renovation for us. (Oh, the dreams that boring 30-somethings can come up with…)

By this point I’d have bored you to tears – and we’re caught up by now anyway, so I’ll sign off. Time to see what kind of Mass behavior my boys give us this time.

Enjoy your Sunday!

These Walls - Sunday Coffee

Three Year Itch

It’s been almost three years, you know. Three years since I began trading disaster-kitchens and toddler TV time for (interrupted) hours of mental stimulation courtesy of this little blog.

Goodness, how I miss it.

I’ve tried to be practical these last several months. We’ve been in survival mode or by-golly-I’m-going-to-make-all-this-work-somehow mode for most of that time, and I just haven’t felt like I could afford the luxury of writing (much). I’ve been pushing through my days, running running running (with the notable exception of social-media-fueled nursing sessions) from early morning to late night, desperately trying to get a handle on my mothering and housekeeping responsibilities.

And surprise, surprise – I can’t seem to keep up. No matter what little enjoyments I deny myself, there’s always something (lots of somethings!) left to do.

So at this point – nearly three months after baby #4’s birth and nearly three years after the blog’s – I’m ready to throw up my hands and say, “Hey, if it’s not going to all get done anyway, I may as well have a little fun around here.”

Tonight, I’m leaving the kitchen a disaster. Tonight, I’m eating a brownie and tapping away at my computer and scratching the itch that is wanting-so-badly-to-be-writing-but-never-feeling-like-I-have-the-time.

The blog will mark its third anniversary at the end of this month. To celebrate, I plan to gift myself with 30 minutes a day in which to just sit and write. (Dishes be damned.) I plan to publish blog posts (probably just short, simple ones – but still!) three times a week. And I’m going to work on a few “housekeeping” changes to the blog that I’ve been thinking about for some time.

I hope you’ll come back to check them out. ‘Till then!
These Walls - Three Years In

 

GoodBYE December, Hello January

Knock, knock.

Anybody there? Remember me – your unreliable blogger? The one with the three little boys and the political opinions and the big ol’ belly?

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This is the kind of shot you get when the 4-year-old mans the camera.

Yes, I managed to fall off the face of the internet again. At first it was, “Okay Julie, you really need to set aside the computer for a bit – you’ve got Thanksgiving coming up and Christmas to begin prepping for and all those jumbles of dishes, laundry, and toys you’ve been neglecting. Mom up.”

But after a few days of happy productivity (Thanksgiving dishes made! Christmas decorations up! House decently neat! Christmas shopping well underway!), we began our decline.

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I have to show off my Thanksgiving tart. Isn’t she lovely?

I didn’t so much notice it as we went along, but as Advent gave way to Christmas and events in our household took a step up in intensity, it really hit me: This month has been hard. I am worn down. And we’re not done.

Allow me to pause here to say to the few of you who noticed my absence for the past (more than a) month: I’m sorry. I do believe it’s been my biggest lapse yet. Until a few days ago, I felt this nagging guilt about it, especially regarding the things I’d left hanging (like my Home to Me blog hop). But now I feel no guilt. Now I realize that we’ve been in survival mode for most of this time. And as far as I’m concerned, things related to blogging simply don’t matter when one’s in survival mode. This is what matters:

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(Well, them and dishes, because if dishes paralyze the kitchen, then the kitchen paralyzes the household.)

So, what’s the deal? It goes something like this: sob story, sob story, icing on the cake, admitting how overwhelmed and worried I’ve felt, then a dose of pull-yourself-together reality.

Sob Story One

In the first week of December, I started to feel faint – like all the time faint, like “Gee, might something actually be really wrong?” faint. So I went to the hospital, where they found my blood pressure to be a bit high, but otherwise gave me a clean bill of health. (I had no markers for preeclampsia, for those of you who know about that sort of thing.) Another kinda-high blood pressure reading the following week won me another round of bloodwork, but that too, thankfully, came back normal. Since then I’ve continued to experience episodes of faintness (not fainting, thank goodness). At first they came every day, but now it’s down to every two or three.

In sum, I started the month by experiencing yet another round of “Julie develops weird symptoms that doctors get worried about until they realize she’s perfectly healthy.” The frequency with which this happens is, frankly, pretty embarrassing, and gives me very little confidence in my own assessment of my health.

Sob Story Two

As my daily episodes of feeling faint tapered off in the middle of the month, my husband began to experience some strange symptoms of his own: His hands went numb. Soon enough his feet did too. And his lower legs. And his lower arms. And he began to experience weakness in those areas. Last week, when the numbness reached his elbows, Brennan took himself to the ER.

The poor guy underwent a barrage of tests, one of which (spinal tap!) he’s been suffering the effects of for a full week. Thankfully, the tests quickly ruled out the scariest possibilities: stroke, brain tumor, multiple sclerosis. But we’re still waiting for the rest of the results. The doctor’s best guess at this point is that Brennan has a mild case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. (Guillain-Barre is a condition in which a person’s immune system attacks his nerves. It causes numbness, weakness, even paralysis – sometimes of a person’s entire body, and can take months to recover from.)

Scary and stressful enough, right?

But then there’s the context: It’s Christmas. (Brennan came home from the hospital the evening of Christmas Eve and felt too unwell to attend Mass with us the next morning, or indeed to make it to any of our family gatherings over the weekend.) We have three small boys. (Daddy was able to read “The Night Before Christmas” to them at bedtime, but barely had the energy to open gifts on Christmas morning.) And of course, we’re expecting a baby at the end of January.

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This pic will always make me a little sad because it shows that Brennan wasn’t with us.

Icing on the Cake

A few days before Brennan’s symptoms worsened, our toddler cut his eye on a decorative metal bucket, the other two boys had keep-you-up-in-the-night-coughing colds, and I started having “real” contractions. When my obstetrician confirmed their “real” work, she told me to take it easy. I laughed. “So… what about me taking three small boys into Baltimore this evening for a visit to a pediatric ophthalmologist? For the toddler? Who cut his eye?”

“After that,” she replied.

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Stupid decorative culprit.

In retrospect, my laugh should have been louder and crazier. It certainly has been in the days since. I’ve been telling my girlfriends that I don’t want to hear the words “You’d better take it easy!” unless they’re accompanied by a live-in nanny and/or housekeeper.

Overwhelmed and Worried

Ever since he came home, Brennan has been weaker than usual, exhausted, suffering headaches, and (in an effort to control the headaches, which come from a lack of spinal fluid) limited from carrying anything heavy or moving in certain ways.

So for me, “taking it easy” has looked like lugging around and wrestling into submission the 32-pound toddler. Through my contractions. It’s looked like three hours of sleep after a late, late Christmas Eve spent wrapping presents. It’s looked like ushering various combinations of three little boys to two Masses and three family gatherings by myself. In and out, in and out of the car, contracting and hobbling and feeling faint, loading and unloading ad infinitum.

Or at least that’s how it’s felt in my woe-to-me worry-fests. (What if Brennan’s symptoms continue to worsen? What if he’s out of commission when I have the baby and I have to manage all three boys, a newborn, and my own recovery without his help? What if he too ends up needing my care?)

Pull! Yourself! Together!

Calm down, Julie.

Honestly, I know the reality is much brighter than my worries would have me believe. Brennan’s health problems seem to be temporary. (Indeed, as of this morning, he was feeling better than he has in some time.) My wonderful dad came to help me with the boys while B was in the hospital so I could focus on him and on our remaining Christmas preparations. We’ve had lots of offers of help in the days since then. (Though, mundane as our needs are, I don’t know how to make use of them!)

And while, at eight months pregnant with my fourth child, I’m contracting all the time, occasionally feeling faint, and suddenly feeling very uncomfortable – I’m healthy. And so is the baby. Even if she comes early (and I doubt she will), she should be fine. Full term is just over a week away, and that’s a great place to be.

Our boys are dealing with nothing more daunting than colds and silly childhood injuries. (The toddler’s eye is healing nicely.) They don’t seem to have noticed our concern over Brennan’s health. (Me: “Daddy’s been feeling a little funny lately. He’s at the hospital to have it all checked out, so Grandpa’s coming to help take care of you.” Them: “GRANDPA’S COMING!”) Our mess of a floor is a testament to the many treasures they acquired over the past week, and they’ll probably remember this Christmas as the one when they sat on the sofa with Daddy to watch their first-ever Star Wars movies.

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Right now I don’t have it in me to write a grand “Year in Review” post. I can’t sit and reflect on the sum of 2015 or come up with resolutions for 2016. But I can tell you that December was hard and I’m hoping January will be better.

I pray yours will be too. I pray that your hurts will heal, your hopes will be realized, and your joys will be amplified. Thank you for reading along in 2015 (except… yeah… for December); I hope to meet you back here more frequently in 2016.

These Walls - Goodbye December Hello January

Home to Me

Over the summer, a beautiful post by Laura Kelly Fanucci got me to thinking about the concept of “home.” She writes:

Right now I am home.

Sitting in the house that we own. Where we are raising our children. Where mail arrives daily bearing my name. Where we welcome family and entertain friends. Where I pull weeds and paint walls. Where my car pulls into the driveway and my shoes slip off in the doorway.

And I am writing about going home. Which is not here.

“Home” is something I’ve spent much of my life thinking about: Growing up in a state where my family has been for hundreds of years (and so having a strong sense of place), but in a part of the state where I had no family (and so feeling disconnected from that place). Moving out of the home in which I was raised. Watching the land around my family’s homes sprout housing developments. Trying to find something to call home as a young adult, when I had no immediate family to bind me to the communities in which Iived. Building a sense of home with my husband and then my children. Working to feel like my physical, legal home is one on an emotional level too.

(Overthink things much, Julie?)

So I wrote my own post on home, trying to process it all. When I shared it, I found that the topic resonated with people. Friends and readers had had similar experiences – or different experiences, but similar struggles in coming to terms with what “home” meant in their lives. A couple of friends even suggested that they would like to share their own stories.

I stewed on that thought, wondering how I could encourage others to share their stories of home – where they’ve found it, how they’ve sought it, or whatever else feels meaningful to them on the subject. A couple of months later, chatting with some connections I’ve made through blogging, I settled on the idea of a blog hop. That is, of a series that is shared by a number of bloggers, each of whom contributes one post on her own blog.

So that’s what we’re doing. Now. This here post is the introduction to the blog hop, which we’re calling “Home to Me.” During the two weeks from Friday, November 13 (tomorrow!) through Thanksgiving Day, more than a dozen bloggers will share about what the concept of “home” means to them.

They include women who have moved from home to home every couple of years and those who have said final goodbyes to homes in which they’ve spent their whole childhoods. One woman is actually raising her own children in the home in which she was raised. Some are figuring out how to raise their families in proximity to their hometowns, some far from them. One watched in wonder as her adopted children found home with her. A German friend of mine will write about the sense of home she found here in the United States while a foreign exchange student. I, in turn, will write about the sense of home I found in the small German village from which one of my ancestors came some two hundred years ago.

“Home” can been elusive or steady. It can be found in unexpected places. It is sought and cherished and mourned. It is wrapped up in the people we love. As we turn our minds and hearts toward home at the beginning of this holiday season, please visit the following blogs to explore where/what/who is “Home to Me.”

November 13 – Julie @ These Walls
November 14 – Leslie @ Life in Every Limb
November 15 – Ashley @ Narrative Heiress
November 16 – Rita @ Open Window
November 17 – Svenja, guest posting @ These Walls
November 18 – Anna @ The Heart’s Overflow
November 19 – Debbie @ Saints 365
November 20 – Melissa @ Stories My Children Are Tired of Hearing
November 21 – Amanda @ In Earthen Vessels
November 22 – Daja and Kristina @ The Provision Room
November 23 – Emily @ Raising Barnes
November 24 – Annie @ Catholic Wife, Catholic Life
November 25 – Nell @ Whole Parenting Family
November 26 – Geena @ Love the Harringtons

These Walls - Home to Me

Well, Hello There

It appears that yesterday’s post hit on something.

At least the Big Family folks must have liked it, because that little written-when-I-should-have-been-doing-dishes ode to big families smashed every (modest) record this blog has accumulated in its young life.

So I thought – just in case any of yesterday’s visitors are tempted to pop back in – that I’d issue a little hello and a welcome and an I’m so glad you’re here.

Because I am!

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Julie. I’m married to the wonderful Brennan, whom (shhh!) I met on eHarmony. Together we have three beautiful boys, aged five, four, and 18 months. In January we expect to add our fourth child to the mix, whom we recently learned is a GIRL. (Pinch me!)

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Our young, LOUD, more-than-a-little-rambunctious family lives in my home state of Maryland, in a 150-year-old Victorian. Which happens to be rather formal, and so makes for some hilarious incongruity.

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Before my sons were born, I worked as a lobbyist for the Catholic Church, advocating on poverty, health care, and immigration matters. I lean right on some issues (like abortion and marriage), left on others (like poverty, immigration, and capital punishment). I think religious freedom is vitally important. I pay decently close attention to foreign affairs, including the recent horrors and happenings in the Middle East. I generally enjoy sharing my thoughts on (gasp!) politics and society. Indeed, lately I’ve been running a series on What This Catholic Wants in a President.

For the past five years, I’ve been your typical stay-at-home-mom. I do lots of cooking and laundry and far too few dishes. I send my oldest to Kindergarten and my second to pre-school. Lately my toddler has been keeping me on my toes by reaching ever further onto the kitchen counters, grabbing glasses or plates or moldy corn muffins. (Should I confess that the latter was partially consumed before I caught him?)

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Here at These Walls you’ll find a mix of motherhood, mayhem, politics, current events, and whatever else is occupying my mind at the moment. You can subscribe to my posts over there to the right, or you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Bloglovin.

I’m so glad to have you here!

These Walls - Well Hello There

Monday Morning Miscellany, Resurrected

A long while back, I pledged to publish a post every Monday morning – nothing too weighty, just some miscellany that was bouncing around my brain – because I made a habit of easing my way into the week via lazy Monday mornings of coffee and blog reading, but few of my favorite bloggers tended to post new content on Monday mornings. So I figured, “Why not me?”

I ended up doing it a grand total of, I don’t know… maybe four times? That’s me and my stellar follow-through!

Anyway, I currently have just such a jumble of miscellany bouncing around my brain and the household conditions seem somewhat conducive to writing, so I thought I’d give the concept another stab. (This time with no promises: I have no idea what next Sunday night/Monday morning will bring.)

—1—

Let’s start with some pictures!

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Isn’t that sweet? With their biggest brother now away at Kindergarten for so many (sooo… many…) hours a week, the younger two are already becoming closer. And littlest brother has begun to really look up to younger-older brother.

This morning I even caught him keeping his big brother company in time-out. (No, I’m not sure how effective that particular punishment turned out to be.)

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—2—

Biggest brother has been adjusting really well to Kindergarten – much better than I’d expected. As long as the days seem and as full as they must be for him, he comes home happy. I think his personality must be well-suited to the constant stimulation of school, because if anything, he’s seemed more satisfied and pleasant in the evenings after school than he normally is. The other day, he even decided to write a book:

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It’s done my worried (about him being away at school) heart so much good!

—3—

The other night I was perusing a few old blog posts on my phone that were similarly miscellaneous to this one – 7 Quick Takes and {pretty, happy, funny, real} – and I was enjoying them much more than I expected to. Until a month or so ago, I’d mostly stopped participating in those link-ups because I didn’t feel like many people were reading those posts, and if folks weren’t interested in them, then what was the point?

But now I see it! Looking back, it’s so fun to get a glimpse of what was running through my mind at the time I wrote those posts, not to mention the funny things my boys were doing and saying. So I think I’ll try to get back into writing them, even if it’s just a “Monday Morning Miscellany” every now and then. I have a feeling the little things are more worth remembering than I’d given them credit for.

—4—

Speaking of funny things my boys are saying… My second boy, this one:

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He’s something of the sensitive type. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a rough and tumble boys’ boy who says things like “I wuv you so much I want to punch you!” But he’s also a great animal lover and was disturbed to learn recently that – yes – people eat animals.

Poor guy.

He’s especially fond of pigs and chickens, so he really took the news pretty hard. (By the way, I get why he never made the connection with pigs, because we don’t exactly set a plate on the table and say, “Here’s some pig fer ya!” but… um… that’s exactly what we do with chicken.)

Kiddo’s been trying to solicit promises from me that we won’t be eating any of the animals he’s become acquainted with: “Mommy, we won’t eat the babysitters’ chickens, right?” Me: “No, we definitely won’t eat the babysitters’ chickens.”

And days after my aunt and uncle’s pig roast, he was still sulking: “Mommy, I don’t want people to eat pigs,” and “Who was dat pig we cut up at Aunt Kaff’s house?”

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But now!

The other day we were heading home from the grocery store at dinnertime with two hot rotisserie chickens in tow, and the very-hungry boys were admiring the smell of the chickens.

“Mmm… they smell so good! Mommy, how do you kill chickens? Do you shoot them?”

“No, you cut off their heads.”

“But where are these chickens’ heads? I don’t see them.”

That’s because they’ve been cut off.

The hungry tummy and the frank discussion must have caused some shift in my sensitive boy, because he suddenly shouted: “Mommy, I wuv pigs! To EAT.”

—5—

Let’s wash that down with a sweeter quote.

Last week I shared our very exciting news that Walsh baby #4 looks to be a GIRL. I’m still working on getting used to the idea (haven’t even bought anything pink yet!), but the boys are all in. The other day our second little guy put his head on my belly and said:

“Mama, I wuv your bewwy because a baby sister’s in it.” (Big cheesy grin.)

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The belly, along with the rest of us, just after learning that baby’s a SHE!

—6—

On Friday, the anniversary of September 11, I re-posted a link (on Facebook) to a piece I’d written a couple of years ago regarding my own experience of the attacks. If you haven’t read it, the story in a nutshell is that I was working about a half-mile from the Pentagon that awful morning. So in addition to the horror that most Americans felt upon learning what happened, I also experienced some of the real-world effects of those events: I saw streets fill with people and cars, I encountered heavily-armed police, I was temporarily stranded due to the public transportation shut-down, I could smell the acrid, biting smoke from the Pentagon, and the next day I saw it billowing into the sky.

The anniversaries of that day are always hard for me to bear, but for some reason this year’s really got to me. (I think because the weather was almost exactly like that of September 11, 2001 – gorgeous.) I ended up spending little time on Facebook, because all the memes and the images of the Twin Towers and the promises to “Never forget” and especially the videos – they were too much for me. I’d jump on my phone’s FB app thinking of something else and then WHAM, I’d catch a glimpse of the Twin Towers about to collapse and I swear my blood pressure would jump about a dozen points.

I can’t believe how much hold that day still has on me.

I was an awful grump on Friday, depressed and anxious despite the beautiful weather and the fact that I’m going to have a girl (!!!), and it took until mid-afternoon before I finally realized what was causing it: September 11 and that stupid, no-good, beautiful weather.

So I decided to do something about it. I took the boys straight from the bus stop to an ice cream shop, where we sat under that awful, clear-blue sky and thumbed our noses at it. We let ice cream and sprinkles and peanut butter and adorable, sticky faces work their magic.

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And work, they did.

—7—

Let’s come up from that heaviness with some pics of Baby Don King:

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This is what comes of finally deciding to comb all the tangles out of his hair. What am I going to do with this head of curly frizz?!

Also, have I told you that his big brothers have now Christened the poor kid “furball”?

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—8—

Well, I do believe I’ll be getting in this post just past my “morning” deadline. I’d hoped to finish it up before the boys woke this morning (HA!), but instead I chose to sleep in. (No Kindergarten to get ready for this morning. Bliss…)

So, though I had no early-morning peace to enable this post’s completion, as of noon I have: given one urine-soaked baby a bath, changed his crib linens, done three loads of laundry, gotten myself and three boys fed and dressed, done dishes and loaded the dishwasher, picked up a random assortment of stuff, gotten the baby down for a nap, and yes – finally finished writing this post. I’m proud of myself!

Have a great week, everyone! I hope to “see” you back here soon.

These Walls - Monday Morning Miscellany, Resurrected

Last Week of Summer

This week I have: Cleared away probably 30 pounds’ worth of papers from my kitchen “organization” center; gone to an ob appointment (baby’s heartbeat sounds good); taken three small boys to the MALL for new shoes; taken said boys to restaurants for lunch three days running; gotten two of them back-to-school haircuts; attended a parent orientation for one boy’s school and a volunteer training for the other’s; gone late-night grocery shopping; met up with two of my girlfriends to take our combined seven boys to one of those crazy indoor bouncy house places; taken the 3-year-old to his Pre-K open house and the 5-year-old to his Kindergarten orientation; spent an afternoon swimming with my three boys and a girlfriend and her three girls; and – joy of joys – discovered a (several times over) leaky bathroom ceiling and a roaring, sparking air-conditioning unit.

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This week I have not: Written another installment in my “What This Catholic Wants in a President” series. Oh well.

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I have high (and probably unreasonable) hopes for our schedule once my oldest begins school on Monday. For one thing, we’ll be getting up at an actually reasonable (meaning early-to-us-but-probably-not-to-anyone-else) hour, so we’ll have to be able to fit more into the day, right?

For another, I have this brilliant plan to do housework in the mornings (the only time of day when I reliably have energy), rather than frittering away those hours with coffee and Facebook and Diane Rehm. Productivity makes me so happy.

But really, my hopes hinge on that wonderful, almost-unknown-to-me, shimmering mirage that people call “nap time.” Because my biggest challenge in the napping department, the one who would creep into my space every five minutes rather than rest his beautiful head on the inviting (to me) sofa pillow – he’ll be AT SCHOOL. And I’ll be left with (1) the baby who naps for up to three hours a day and (2) the preschooler who falls asleep all over the place.

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I don’t think it will be that hard to trick him into falling asleep at a time and place of my choosing. (Yes, yes – I know: unreasonable hopes.)

At any rate, I’m hoping that as we settle into the school year and a schedule, I’ll have more time to dedicate to writing. At the very least, I know that I’ll have charge of my three-year-old for five fewer hours per week and my five-year-old for THIRTY-SEVEN AND A HALF (sob!) fewer hours per week and that has got to count for something.

We’ll see how it turns out.

‘Till then, I’ll be recovering from this exhausting-but-mostly-fun Last Week of Summer Vacation and haphazardly trying to prepare myself for the First Week of School. Wish me luck! (And maybe pray for some greatly multiplied sleep?)

These Walls - Last Week of Summer

Lately

Last week, as you may know, I launched my little “What This Catholic Wants in a President” series. It was great. I had so much fun writing the posts (yes – I’m a nerd) and I was gratified by the number of people who expressed their interest in what I’m doing.

But boy, it wiped me out.

I finally got Part Three posted after 10pm on Friday night, not having included half of what I’d hoped to. I promised to post the other half (immigration, foreign and military policy, etc.) on Monday.

But boy, am I still so wiped out.

So I’m moving back that date a bit – to sometime later this week. (Broken promises such as these are one of many reasons why I will never be a Big Blogger.)

Oh, well. I spent this weekend with my family, preparing for the upcoming school year and helping my husband install a couple of new storm windows. (We sure know how to have fun!) Yesterday we had a full day and today we’ll have another. Last week we enjoyed a couple of days at the county fair.

We’ve been good-busy, trying to fit in what we can before summer ends. And I thought you might like to see some pictures of it – of our good-busy, of what we’ve been up to lately:

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He fell asleep in baby prison.

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Playing Mass, complete with texting parishioner.

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I hope you’re squeezing a bit more summer out of August, before school and September and busier schedules. And if you’ve beat us to it, I hope your school year is off to a great start. “See” you later this week.

These Walls - Lately