Snapshot (Not) Saturday: Fits and Spurts

(Everyday Bravery, Day 11)

What was that about blogging every day this month?

Sheesh. By now I’ve lost count of how many days behind I am. Part of me feels guilty about this failure but the rest of me just throws my hands in the air and sighs and acknowledges that I’m not physically capable of every day blogging. At least not until I can get a nanny. (Ha!)

And by “physically,” I mean physically. Earlier this week my friend Rita (who is also doing – as in actually doing – the Write 31 Days challenge) asked me how I was doing with it. I answered with three photos. “This is how I’m doing. And this. And this.”

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My house has become a wreck, just as I feared it would. My paperwork/school organization has come undone, just as I feared it would. And I became sick, just as I feared I would. (On the mend now though, thanks.)

And that’s with me having not-blogged most days this week.

But I’m not giving up! Not entirely. I’m still enamored with this project and I want to see it through. (Plus, I figure that if I want this bravery thing to mean anything at all, I’ve got to finish what I started.)

I’m just acknowledging that it’s going to take a good bit longer than a month for me to hit that 31 days mark. If I were very clever and organized, I’d time it to end on Election Day. But I’m neither of those things, so that’s probably not such a safe bet. We’ll have to see.

For now, allow me to share a few more snapshots with you from the past few days. We’ve been busy: On Friday I helped at my oldest son’s school and then took my two younger sons on a pumpkin-picking field trip. (With the best, bumpiest hayride.) Then on Saturday we took all four kids to the zoo to belatedly celebrate our son’s birthday, and on Saturday night I took the two oldest boys to my cousin’s farm for his annual moonlight hayride and bonfire. So much fun.

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Anyway, this afternoon, I give you this post. This evening, I’ll give you another. And I’m almost done with yet another, to be posted tomorrow. I suppose I’m doing this Write 31 Days thing in fits and spurts.

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This post is the eleventh in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

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


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

Allow Me To Interrupt This Holiday Weekend

… to talk about the last one.

No, not this holiday. Rather, the last popular, commercial-hoopla kind of holiday: Halloween. Because even though my Facebook feed is filling up with Christmas tree photos, I keep thinking about the ones of my little guys in their Halloween costumes.

I simply can’t allow November to close without showing you my robots.

When I asked my boys in early October what they wanted to be for Halloween, they mentioned robots in an off-hand sort of way and I grabbed on to the idea as fast as I could. “Robots? Nothing scary? Nothing branded, nothing commercial? I can do robots!” I thought.

I like to make our Halloween costumes. For one thing, I’m just not crazy about the super commercialized character costumes on the market. I won’t be surprised if my boys want them someday, but for now, since they’re still pretty much unaware of the things, I’d rather side-step them and go for something creative.

For another, I enjoy being crafty, but crafting is just not something I make time for in my daily life. I’ve got other priorities right now. But! I love making Halloween costumes. So one time a year, I go all out: Once I made my friends and myself into “Rub-a-dub-dub, Three Men In A Tub.” Another year I made Brennan into a Wonka chocolate bar while my girlfriends and I were Ooompa-Loompas. Last year I made one of my boys into a knight and the other into a dragon.

This year my mission was robots, and boy, did I have fun with it.

I gathered my supplies from Walmart (sweat suits, “helmets”), Amazon (Mylar blankets), and Lowes (signs, reflectors, number/letter stickers, electrical fittings, etc.) I also used some felt and batting I had left-over from last year.


My thought was to use the Mylar blankets as the exterior of the costume and to use the batting to fill it out in interesting ways. However, the only easy-ish way I could think to attach the blankets was with a glue gun. And that process was more cumbersome than I expected.



In the end, my patience only held out for my three-year-old’s pants. After that I took the easy route of hot-gluing the mylar to the felt and then the felt to the sweatsuits.

I used two very thin metal “CAUTION” signs, which had rounded edges and nice, shiny silver backs as “control panels” for each big boy. I’d split all the goodies from Lowes into thirds and let each boy choose how they wanted to arrange theirs on their control panel. I also attached reflective tape to their arms and more of the hardware-store-gotten goods to the backs of the costumes. I hot-glued strips of Mylar to the control panels so that I could tie them to each boy. I also made little batting-stuffed Mylar pillows of sorts, to insert into the “helmets” (i.e. a colander, a pot, and a funnel) to keep them in place on the boys’ heads.

A few reflectors on their helmets, and we were set!






They weren’t the hardiest of my creations (bits of both control panels fell off along the way), but the boys really took to their roles. If the residents of a house we were Trick-or-treating at admired their costumes, they’d stiffen up and jerk around a bit, saying “Beep beep boop boop beep!”

I just about giggled my way down the street.

The work (which was not insignificant) was so worth it.

There! I’ve finished telling you about Halloween a mere 30 days after it happened. Maybe I’ll recap this coming Christmas season in February or something.

Taking A Weekend For Us: {pretty, happy, funny, real} Vol. 8

I’m taking a gamble here. Though we do have power (thank you, Lord!), the ice storm has left us without cable, phone, and internet, leaving me rather more removed from my daily doses of communication than I’m used to. So, I’m going to take the risk of drafting a blog post on my phone, spotty cell coverage and all. (I am a CRAZY risk-taker, what can I say?) I may well be found shrieking in frustration every few minutes, but we’ll give it a shot.

Anyway, I have some unusually fun stuff to share for pretty, happy, funny, real this week, so I thought I should do what I could to cobble it together. You see, my husband and I went away this weekend – as in, without our boys. (What a revelation!) For Christmas, my oh-so-generous parents gifted us with a weekend at a B&B, while they watched the boys. It was lovely. Beyond lovely.


Our visit was to Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, so of course we had to visit Longwood Gardens while we were there. We spent a couple of hours in its greenhouse on Saturday morning, and oh, my, was it ever pretty.











It was so nice for Brennan and I to have this time away together. We don’t go on regular dates (I know, shame on us), nor do we take purely recreational family vacations, so between all the child-free time on our hands and the license to do whatever-the-heck we wanted with it, we were just about giddy. Or, I was. Brennan doesn’t really do giddy.


We stayed at the Fairville Inn, where we had a lovely room with a fireplace (perfect for this winter weather!) and a balcony (umm… currently very snowy). We’d definitely recommend it to any of you considering such a trip: our room was attractive, comfortable, and clean; the breakfasts were delicious; and the innkeepers couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful. And they had great suggestions for activities and restaurants. We ate very well this weekend, let me tell you.




After our visit to Longwood, this pregnant lady was ready for a little break. (I always get contractions when I’ve been walking for any length of time. My babies like me to take it easy, I guess.) So with a few items in mind, we decided to make one quick stop at an antique store before heading to lunch. In particular, we were looking for twin beds for our boys’ new big boy room. (They’re both still in cribs. I’d been planning to get stackable twins for them so we could do the bunk bed thing in the future, but when the price made me nervous, I figured we should check out antique stores first.)

And, whadd’ya know? We found them! Up in the attic, in a corner, behind other furniture: matching antique twins, just the style I had in mind, listed for – get this – FORTY dollars, altogether. Plus we ended up getting 10% off, bringing the grand total to $36 – just $18 PER BED. I think we were both giddy at that deal. (To be fair, I have to disclose that the beds have no side rails – they’re just headboards and footboards – but my handy hubby already has it all figured out. He’ll build them, no problem. Hopefully.)


Anyway, what’s so funny about our little antiquing venture? Brennan’s ingenuity in packing our purchases for the trip home. We had the two beds, a dresser (another great deal!), and a child’s chair to fit in the back of our minivan. And we hadn’t really expected to buy anything at all, so we didn’t come prepared with packing materials. So B had to get creative about padding the goods.



Our boys also had a great weekend. In fact, when we went to my parents’ house to pick them up on Sunday, we asked them if they missed us. The younger one nodded but the older one said, “No, I didn’t miss you. I had fun!” Of course. Well, it was good to know that they were fine with Grandma and Grandpa.



Don’t forget to stop on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter to get a glimpse at others’ contentment this week.

And of course, I have to issue a huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to my parents, for their wonderfully generous and thoughtful gift. We appreciate it more than we can express.