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.

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FLOP {pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 19)

{pretty,happy,funny,real}

{pretty}

I thought it would be nice to do {phfr} this week, so I reviewed my phone’s photos (no idea where my regular camera is at the moment) to see what I could come up with. And I found, like, three shots that the average person would consider {pretty}. Which are pretty much duplicates of each other:

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See?

Otherwise, all I have to show you are scenes that are “boy” pretty, if you will. You know, like pirates and scaffolding and a jungle’s worth of animals gathered around a single model tree.

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Such is my life these days: a slice of regular pretty frosted with a thick layer of the boy variety.

{happy}

Those boys are so sweet, though. They make me so {happy}. This weekend they earned their own money for the first time. Their cousin had lost a small toy she’d brought with her to my parents’ house, so my oldest son asked his grandma:

“Can I do some work so you can give me some money, so I can give it to Caroline, so she can give it to her mommy to buy a new Mikey?”

My preggo heart was full to bursting – my boy (sniff, sniff) wants to earn money so he can (sniff, sniff) buy his cousin a replacement for the toy she lost? (Sob!)

Both boys did a little cleaning around the house (just toys – not much of a feat) and when they’d finished, my mom paid them each SIX quarters. Man, oh man – were they proud of themselves!

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No, they’re not begging for food — they’re showing off their hard-earned quarters.

And all’s well that ends well: My niece found her toy, so the boys get to keep their earnings. Now to decide what to do with them!

{funny}

Though my morning sickness is tapering off a bit, it still won’t let go entirely. Which is mostly annoying, but once in a while makes for some {funny} when it has the effect of keeping me on the sofa. Because sometimes when I sit on the sofa, my boys decide to do my hair. With tools.

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{real}

I’m kind of cheating here – I grabbed this pic out of my files from a couple of years ago and doctored it up to fit the following {real} thing around here this week:

FLOP

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Yep, my “7 Posts in 7 Days” was a flop. Sigh. Why do I do these things to myself? There was no way I was up to publishing a post every day this week. No way, no how.

Morning sickness is still hanging on. Baby hasn’t been sleeping well. We’ve had commitments. Brennan’s been completely occupied with the roof. Boys have been bickering. I keep walking into the kitchen to find the baby on the table. Then I turn around to find him back up there.

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But I’m going to take Heather’s advice and try to KEEP GOING. I’ve blogged more in the past couple of weeks than I have in months. I have another post partially-drafted on paper and more in the beginning stages in my head. I have some wind behind my sails. So forget the 7 in 7, right? I’m going to KEEP GOING.

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Thanks for joining me, all! Be sure to head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {pretty, happy, funny, real}!

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 34): He’s Not Afraid to Climb the Roof, But I’m Afraid to Ride a Bike

Seven Quick Takes Friday

—1—

Wait, what did I say about posting every day this week? Because yesterday came and went, and as far as I know, I didn’t post a thing. (Shhh…)

For those of you visiting from 7QT, here are links to Monday’s (late) 7QT post, Tuesday’s post on a man who saved 669 children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of WWII, and Wednesday’s post on my 12-week sono and thoughts about mothering all boys.

There’s more to come – I promise.

—2—

If there’s one subject that I’ll spend hours writing on and still not get it right enough to publish, it’s racism. That was my problem yesterday, and it’s been my problem many times before. Can’t… quite… get… up… the… nerve!

—3—

After a kind of foggy/dreamy Wednesday because I was living inside my head, trying (to no avail) to get that racism post right, I took a break yesterday. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and Brennan had taken off work to tackle a project (see below), so we all spent more time outside than usual. I made a stab at weeding the jungle behind our house, the baby sat in his stroller (poor guy – I don’t trust him to roam free), the boys busied themselves with sidewalk chalk and sand, and Brennan went about his work…

—4—

… which kind of terrifies me.

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Do you see the chimney at the top of that photo? Well, there are some pieces of (wooden) siding just next to it that are rotting because there used to be a leak in the roof. We had the roof replaced a couple of years ago (THAT was a PROJECT), so the leak is no longer an issue, but the rotted siding still needs to be replaced. (Or at least that’s how I understand the situation.)

Anyway, Brennan is a worker-bee kind of a guy who would rather do just about any home-repair job himself rather than pay someone else to do it. So here we are. He bought scaffolding (which he plans to use in the future to paint the entire exterior of the house), a harness and other safety equipment (thank goodness), and replacement siding, etc.

Now he’s off to the races. Yesterday he erected the scaffolding and secured it to the house. I believe today he’ll be building some sort of a platform to reach the roof. Then, hopefully, he’ll be able to complete the actual siding work.

Please pray that he does it all safely!

—5—

As I said above, we all – including both boys – spent more time outside yesterday than usual. For one child, “more than usual” ended up being a couple of hours, maybe. For the other – my lover of the great outdoors, his Daddy’s helper and shadow – “more” meant all day. It was so sweet to see: He followed Brennan back and forth between the house and the garage, he helped me weed the garden, he drew “storms” all over the brick patio, he played in the grass next to the scaffolding while Brennan worked to build it, and he even ate his lunch on a picnic blanket with a perfect view of the thing.

I love that child.

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—6—

Since I’ve got a whole “link to an article and write some commentary on it” thing going this week, I thought I ought to include at least one such piece in this 7QT. A light one, with a little personal story rather than commentary. So here’s a Wall Street Journal article on adults who never learned how to ride a bike.

Alas, I fit into this category.

In my case it wasn’t the whole “kids don’t spend much time outside anymore because of cable and videogames” thing – I spent plenty of time outside. It’s just that my outdoors time was mostly spent loading my favorite possessions into a little red wagon, trekking through the neighbor’s yard as if across the prairies, and then building forts behind his forsythia bush.

For me, it was that we lived on a pretty busy rural road, so we didn’t have a ready-made place to practice. And I needed ready-made, because I was a huge wimp about it. My brother grew up in the same house and on the same road I did, obviously, but once our dad had taught him the basics in the back yard, he took off with it. Soon enough, Eric was riding through the yards and the little streets behind our house. Later, he got into triathlons and long-distance cycling.

(Yes, he and I are very different.) When our dad taught me the basics of bicycle riding in the backyard, that’s where I stayed. To this day, I can make a bike go, but I can’t safely make it turn or stop. If I’m lucky, I’ll do a continuous loop of big, wide circles in the grass.

But really, I can only think of one time in my life when my inability to ride a bike was anything near problematic. And that would be on the campus of Stanford University in the fall of 2000. My senior year of college, I was dating a guy who had just started a master’s program at Stanford. I flew out to visit him a couple of times (which felt like a BIG DEAL) and found, to my dismay, that riding bikes around campus was the thing. My boyfriend had borrowed a bike for me to use, and he clearly intended for us to spend much of the weekend seeing the sights on two wheels.

“But I don’t know how to ride a bike.”

“What do you mean, you ‘don’t know how to ride a bike?’”

“I mean, I don’t know how to ride a bike. I never really learned. I can make one go, but that’s it – I don’t know how to control it.”

He was flummoxed and incredulous and determined that we were going to ride bikes anyway. (Clue #47 that he was not the right guy for me.) So I got on that bike and white-knuckled it across campus. I honestly don’t know how I made it. I know I was terrified, especially whenever we were near roads. I also know I was shaky and wobbly and just about at the end of my rope. On the return from our lunch (or whatever kind of outing it was), my luck ran out: I first ran into a (parked) car, throwing the bike out of the way to avoid damaging the vehicle. A few minutes later, I ran full-on into a bush. At that point, I snapped.

I do not know how to ride a bike. I will not do something I am uncomfortable with.” (Death stare in his direction. Clue #48.)

Fun fact: Just before I was due to fly out to Stanford the second time, the boyfriend dumped me. As I had already purchased the ticket (and had very little money at the time), I informed him that I would still be coming. One night I prepared he and his roommates a delicious home-made dinner that caused the roommates to gush that I was a princess and that the (ex)boyfriend should marry me at once. 😉 The other night, I made him take me out to an expensive dinner. It was overlooking the Pacific and incredibly elegant and I ordered whatever. I. wanted.

—7—

Back to my life in the here and now. (And can I just tell you, when I think back on that boyfriend, how very, very grateful I am to have ended up with Brennan?)

I forgot to include sono pictures in Wednesday’s post! So here’s our little cutie #4:

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Have a very happy weekend, everyone! Don’t forget to stop over to Kelly’s to check out all the rest of the Quick Takes!

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