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.


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.


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!”


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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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

Working With My Weakness

Last week included a higher-than-average number of meltdowns at our house. Not my boys’, mind you – my own.

One day I informed Facebook of my misery by announcing that I was researching au pair programs. (I was about 95% joking, but the remaining 5% was engaged in some serious fantasizing about how amazing life would be with live-in help.) Later that night I ushered in the boys’ early bedtime with a plea for cocktail recipes. I was tempted to follow one friend’s advice and just take a swig of each bottle:


Another day I ran around in a serious (and probably very scary) frenzy, shouting and shooing the boys out the door to an appointment. I was nearly wild from the pressure of getting everybody dressed, feeding lunch, brushing teeth, loading bags, wiping bottoms, and pinning down a certain (screaming, thrashing) baby in order to change his poopy diaper. In my mind, I screamed “I DO NOT UNDERSTAND PEOPLE WHO ARE ABLE TO ARRIVE ON TIME!” In the car, I forbade the boys from speaking for the first few minutes of our trip so I could focus on calming my bad self down.

Yesterday evening, I put an end to hours of (my own) agitation by plopping the baby in the stroller, taking the boys over to my husband (who was working in the garage), yelling “I’M GOING TO LOSE MY MIND!” and running back to the house empty-handed. (I literally ran, waving my arms and jumping around like some sort of madwoman.)

They deserve better.

They deserve better.

I’m not cut out for this.

It’s all I could think as I came back inside from the garage: I’m not cut out for this. I love my boys. I love being a mother. I love taking care of my home and my family. I believe that I’m the right one for the job. But I am not cut out to do it every hour of every day.

My brain can’t handle that constant stimulation. There comes a point in any given day around here, on any given task, when I just shut down. I sit surrounded by my work and by others’ needs and I fail to see a single thing I could do to make the situation any better.

I feel paralyzed.

I’ve already said it about a million times on this blog, but I am very easily overwhelmed. For heaven’s sake, I can hardly function in Target – let alone a shopping mall – I’m so affected by the overabundance of sights and sounds. So a day’s worth of demands and arguments and diapers and meals and chores and interruptions and interruptions and interruptions… they often put me on what feels like the brink of sanity.

Like this. And this. And this.

Thank goodness for sweet boys.

Thank goodness for sweet boys who bring flowers to their mama.



Not that it really matters, but I’m beginning to think that this thing about me is maybe an actual, diagnosable thing. (Lately I keep hearing about adult ADD. Could that be it? I’m honestly not inclined to find out.)

Why doesn’t it matter? Because whether or not anyone else views my thing as a thing, I have finally accepted it as a part of who I am – just as inseparable from my personality as my love for people or my inclination to broadcast my opinions. And after years of being frustrated with myself for my highly-distracted, easily-overwhelmed ways, I’ve finally (mostly) stopped beating myself up over them.

I’ve stopped telling myself that my personality is my fault. I’ve stopped convincing myself that I can just get over an elemental part of who I am.

I’ve started to figure out how to work with my weakness.


How? I’m giving it – them (I have many) – a lot of thought. I’m trying to understand how my weaknesses interact with my experiences and responsibilities. I’m strategizing ways to minimize their effects.

I’m paying attention to my triggers – the things that shut me down or heat me up. I’m doing little things to address the little ones. I’m chewing on how I should resolve the big ones.

I’m recognizing that clutter and unfinished tasks are deadly powerful (and harmful) stimuli to me.

I’m acknowledging that when I don’t take care of myself, I’m ill-equipped to handle not only the stimuli, but also the people I love.

And (after my week of meltdowns) I’m finally accepting that I indeed need help in caring for my children. I don’t need a lot of it, but I do need a few reliable daytime hours a week when I’m not ‘on.’

So I’m working on it.


Tomorrow, I’ll provide some examples of how I’m going about this work. (You know – in case any of you happen to share my particular weaknesses – or enjoy watching the sideshow that is the frazzled, overwhelmed, procrastinating, perfectionist, impatient, stay-at-home mommy trying to deal with herself.)

But until then, I’ll ask you this: Is there a part of you that trips you up? If there is, do you face it head-on, or do you wish it away?

Twenty Minutes (But Not Really)

It’s a blue-skyed, balmy 57 degrees this afternoon, so the boys are outside playing, enjoying the beautiful weather.


Let me re-phrase that: I’m enjoying the boys playing outside in the beautiful weather. They’d rather be inside watching a movie, but I told them their choices were outside play or naps in their beds. Surprise, surprise: they chose the former.

I have a million things on my to-do list, but thought I’d take a quick twenty minutes* to post a little update on the blog, because: Quiet! Ohmygosh it is never quiet around here! Boys outside, baby napping, and this the first quiet, awake, non-committed moment I’ve had in a week!

I’ve got to sit here and savor it a bit.





We’ve been very busy lately – the typical Christmas stuff, plus commitments and medical appointments and then, for the baby, a hospital stay. The poor, pathetic little thing has pneumonia. He came home on Saturday after two nights in the hospital and fortunately, he’s already most of the way back to his usual happy, peppy self. Brennan and I are slowly (slowly) recovering from all the sleep we lost during the ordeal.




But anyway, I’ve been meaning to note my relative absence from the blog over the past couple of months. And here I am, so here we go!

The thing is, I am an easily-distracted, easily-overwhelmed, easily-overstimulated kind of gal. And I’ve come to realize that I need to get a handle on the things in my life that distract and overwhelm and overstimulate me. Like, really need to – actually need to – not just acknowledge that I need to and promptly move on to something more interesting.

When I try to live my daily life (namely, when I try to mother) in the midst of those distracting, overwhelming, overstimulating things, I fail. At so much. I have too little patience, I enjoy too little time with my children, and I have far, far too many meltdowns.

A few weeks ago I told my boys that I’d be back in a minute: I just needed to take the baby upstairs to put him down for his nap. After I changed his diaper, I set the baby down on the rug with a few toys so I could wash my hands. But then I noticed some bins of clothing that I hadn’t put back in their place, so I went to move them. Then I noticed how dusty that corner of the room was, so I decided to sweep it before I put the bins away. Then I went into the laundry room for the Swiffer, where I remembered that I hadn’t yet switched over the laundry. Then I had to retrieve a laundry basket so I could get the already-dry clothes out of the dryer. Then, just as I started emptying the dryer, I heard (1) the boys erupt in a massive fight downstairs and (2) the baby screaming, tired, ready for his nap.

I ran downstairs, yelled at the boys, and ran back up, flustered. I still needed to wash my hands. I still needed to take care of the baby and the bins and the sweeping and the laundry. I’d wasted all that time, gotten nothing accomplished, and worked myself into a tizzy. This is completely typical behavior for me.

I know there has to be a better way.

So I’m trying to deal with the background noise – the unfinished chores lingering in each room, the fluid schedule, the tasks I’ve been telling myself I’ll get to for far too long, the disorganized ways in which I deal with the information and the responsibilities that come my way.

I’m nowhere near through, but I’m making progress. It’s come at the expense of blogging, spending time on social media, communicating and getting together with my friends, and pretty much any other fun thing I can think of.

For the past couple of months, I’ve tried to find something constructive to do with just about every spare moment I come across. Goodness knows that I could be in this mode for a year and not quite end up where I need to be, but my plan is to push through as well as I can ‘till the end of December. Come the New Year, I’ll try to stretch my legs a bit, to occupy this less-cluttered space (both physical and mental), and see how it works for me. I certainly can’t keep up my current pace forever.

So while you’ll hear from me a few times before then, I probably won’t get into a regular blogging routine until January. I’m hoping that by then I’ll have dealt with enough of my issues to operate on a more organized, more peaceful level.


Wish me luck! And in the meantime, I wish you a blessed Advent, a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.


* Ha! Did I really think I could get away with that? It took an interrupted two hours, full of potty breaks and crying babies, smashed fingers and late naps chosen over outdoor toy clean-up. C’est la vie!

Honesty From A Fed-Up Mommy {pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 15)

Welcome to another installment of “My kids are driving me crazy, so let’s focus on the {pretty, happy, funny} and – okay fine – {real} of my little ol’ life this week.”

pretty happy funny real[1]




Baby pictures, but of course. Because he’s undeniably, unequivocally beautiful. But also because he’s too little to be too annoying just yet.

Sure, a cold has transformed the poor child into a fussy, needy, restless little thing with a spigot for a nose, but… those cheeks. Those fat little hands. Those blue (if red-brimmed) eyes. He’s so {pretty}. And so sweet (for now). We’re so, so lucky to have him.



Three words: Gin And Tonic

Wait! Two more: Sleeping Children




I know – I’m a horrible mother to be classifying pictures of hard liquor and sleeping children (the two are completely, totally unrelated to each other – promise) as my {happy}. But I’m all about honesty, and those pics? At this moment, they’re honestly what my happy looks like.

It’s just been one of those days. Besides the baby being sick and the weather being miserable, this has been The Day Of Meltdowns. My middle son completely lost it this morning when he woke (very late) to find that his brother had already left for school. He’d wanted to say goodbye. Sweet, hm? (Hint: It would’ve been sweet if the meltdown hadn’t lasted nearly an HOUR!) Then when we picked up big brother from school, BOTH boys lost it over an umbrella – a stupid, yellow, bumblebee umbrella. We ended up walking through the rain in a huddle, me holding the umbrella aloft, them screaming and jumping and grasping and (I think) hitting.

Meltdowns continued in the car and at home, over the above and over who-knows-how-many other things. Just before dinner, I actually illustrated to the boys just how fed up I was by holding a glass under the tap and letting it fill to the brim, then spill over before their eyes: “See this, boys? This glass is like Mommy. At the beginning of the day, Mommy’s got plenty of space. But then lots and lots of noise fills Mommy up through the day and when she gets to the end of it, she doesn’t have any space left, so all the noise spills over and Mommy loses it.” (So please let’s just have a quiet dinner!)


If all that’s not {funny} enough for you, how about a bandit/cowboy? Gosh, he’s cute, isn’t he?


And then there’s the game “cowboys having a big cowboy fight.” Apparently it involves ropes (that’s what that toy measuring tape is supposed to be) and swords (sticks, of course).



We came unprepared (but of course) to the scarecrow-building activity at my son’s school last weekend, so this is as far as we got: scarecrow legs and torso. Nothing to connect them, no head save a precariously (and temporarily) perched pumpkin.


Thus it sits on our porch. It’s cheerful enough, if rather too {real} to be really well done: The thing is headless, propped up next to the two little pumpkins my boys decorated that scarecrow-building evening. It sits below the tacky, cheapy Wal-mart scarecrow I only purchased because my son tore off one of its legs. We are talented seasonal decorators, we are!


There! There’s some cheer for your Thursday! Even if it’s only the kind that comes at someone else’s expense. Ah, well… stop by Like Mother, Like Daughter to locate some nicer, kinder cheer – the kind that comes from lovely people reflecting on the {pretty, happy, funny, real} contentment in their own (probably less grumpy) lives. Enjoy!

Epilogue (Please) To The Day Of The Snake And The Water: One Hot Mess (Vol. 4)

I sit here, stunned, numb, in disbelief at all the unpleasantly wacky things that have happened in our home this week.

Tuesday, there was this critter, or one very like him:

Yesterday's specimen.

Amongst the toys. In our parlor. Discovered by our three-year-old. If you haven’t already read the happy tale, here it is. (Anybody visiting here from Blythe’s, do check out that post. If you like hot messes, you’ll love Tuesday’s.)

Quickly – before I get to the meat of this post – let me tell you that it has come to my attention that loved ones who read the snake story now no longer want to come to my house. So let me assure you, dear friends and family, that (I think) you have nothing to fear. Ours is a very large, very old house with lots of hiding spaces for critters.

Don’t let that freak you out. Rather, let it give you comfort, because the creepy-crawlies have better places to go than in your path. They have cool, dark, dirt crawl spaces. They have toasty-warm attics. They have cozy spaces in between plaster walls and wooden floors. This dramatic sighting was surely an anomaly. Surely. Or that’s what I’m telling myself. Over and over and over…

Now back to today.

You may hardly have noticed it at the time, but the snake story included a mention of a leak in the pipe that provides water to our house. It was way boring in comparison to the snake, I know.

But this afternoon. Oh, this afternoon…

We’d received a notice that they’d be turning off our water again for an hour or so while they undertook more repairs to the water pipe. Just an hour; no big deal – we wouldn’t even be home at the time.

Yay for play-dates with good friends!

Yay for play-dates with good friends!

A while after we returned home, I used the powder room. And when I flushed the toilet afterward, the thing jumped. The whole flippin’ toilet jumped. With a BANG!

I jumped too. Then I froze and stared as the toilet continued to hiss and sputter a bit.

Hissing and sputtering I get: air in the line. No big deal. But jumping? What in the world makes a toilet do that? (Hmm… could a certain snake have something to do with it? Shudder…) I was shaken, so I called the hubby. He’ll take a look at it when he gets home.

A few hours later, I went upstairs to use the bathroom again. When I flushed the toilet that time, I stood back a bit, wondering if it would jump too. It didn’t. Whew – just a bit of that hissing and sputtering.


Water started pouring out of the tank! Disgusting brown water! (Please let that be brown from the pipes and not brown from – ahem – something else.) I started and stopped. What should I do? Would it stop on its own? No? How much of this disgusting brown water would pour out of the tank and all over my bathroom floor? I’d better do something.

So I took off the lid to grab the chain/bar/whatever-it’s-called thing and WATER STARTED SQUIRTING INTO THE AIR. Out of some straw-looking-thing at the top of the tank, into the air, at the window and its brand-new blinds, and all over my arm.

I was in shock. Water squirting. Out of the toilet. At the window. New blinds. All over my arm. Some spraying up onto my face and clothing. I dropped the bar/chain thingy and held my breath.

It stopped.

It stopped, but there was still disgusting brown toilet water all over my bathroom. And on me.

What to do now? Nothing to do, I suppose, but wash off my arm, walk back downstairs, call the hubby to complain (again), and sit down at the computer to tell you fine folks alllll about it. You’re welcome.

Be sure to head on over to Blythe’s to indulge in more of this week’s hot messes!

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7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 21): Baby News, House FAQ’s, Toddler Meltdowns and Quotes

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!


In case you missed it, we had a big announcement on Tuesday: We’re expecting another BOY! Boy number THREE!

Heaven help me.

I’m kidding! Kind of.

After my sonogram, my husband headed homewards to pick up the boys from my friend’s house (thank you, Jenn!) while I went in the opposite direction to attend an evening meeting of the board I serve on. It was nice to get all that driving time to myself to help me process the news.

The primary fruit of all my contemplation was this realization: “I think I’ll just throw my hands in the air and tell the boys that I don’t care what they do to each other as long as nobody gets killed. Whatever! I give up! I concede that bones and furniture will be broken. I just can’t worry about it anymore.”

I decided to treat myself to a milkshake AND a big cookie on the way to the meeting. “I just found out I’m having my third boy,” I blurted out to the cashier. “I thought I could use some sugar.” Then, after a moment it occurred to me, “Gosh, I probably should have gone to a bar instead.”


In last week’s Quick Takes I bemoaned my recent blogging lull and vowed to kick it back into gear with three posts this week, on (1) the Affordable Care Act, (2) my parenting philosophy, and (3) a tour/history of my house. The good news is that I actually posted four times this week. (Woo-hoo! I think it’s the first time I’ve done that since Jen’s Epic Blogging Challenge.) The bad part is that I skipped over 1 and 2 and only gave you the house post.

I’d totally forgotten (how could I have forgotten?!) that I’d likely have a gender reveal post to do. And then my grandmother gave me an old washboard and I felt compelled to write about laundry instead. I mean, come on – who wants to finish their (mostly written! I promise!) post on the Affordable Care Act when you can write about laundry? This will teach me to ever announce posts before they’re completely hatched.


Speaking of the house post, I thought I’d provide answers here to two of the most frequently-asked questions we get from visitors:

(A)    How did you get so much furniture?

  1. We both lived on our own for years before we married, so we had two household’s worth of furniture to combine. (Granted, one of those households was a bachelor’s, but the other was of a furniture-loving pack-rat.)
  2. I spent years saying yes to almost every hand-me-down piece of furniture that came my way. (We also purchased and were given some pieces from the people we bought our house from.)
  3. When I first started making money after college, I spent it in true dork fashion: not on liquor and handbags, but rather on an antique dresser set and a custom sofa.
  4. My mother is an interior decorator who is kind enough to give me wholesale prices, so I get to purchase (said) custom, good-quality items at the price of medium-quality ones.
  5. I fill in wherever necessary with items from Target, Home Goods, and Ikea.

(B)    How do you keep this big ol’ house clean?

  1. I don’t. I try (and often fail) to keep it tidy. I clean when company’s coming.

And here are some bonus pictures of the house, which didn’t make the cut for yesterday’s post because it was already too photo-heavy:


My great-aunt’s bedroom set, which I used as a teenager. My parents were kind enough to let me steal it from them when I left home.


Isn’t this bed beautiful? We were recently able to buy it from my mother’s cousin, who had purchased it at my great-grandparents’ estate sale years ago. I love having something that was in an old family home.


No antiques here — wholesale buying from Mom! Yay!


What wacky things do your kids melt down over? Yesterday my 3-year-old lost it (for about 30 minutes?) because he wanted to go to the grocery store. And mean ol’ mom that I am, I thought one trip to the grocery store per day was enough.

After posting that lovely little situation on Facebook, one of my cousins sent me a link to a whole compilation of photos of toddlers who were crying for odd reasons. Check it out – it’s hilarious. I was just about crying myself.


Lately, I keep falling asleep on the sofa at 10 or 11 o’clock at night and if my husband’s already gone to bed, I don’t wake up until 2 or 3 in the morning. By the time I get upstairs and all ready for bed, I’m wide awake! On the one hand, it’s kind of cool because I’ve been able to get some writing done in the middle of the night. (Hello, 7QT Friday!) On the other hand, I should be sleeping. I’m starting to think there really is something to that whole two sleeps thing.


I wanted to have some NPR links to share with you, but I feel like all they talk about these days is the Affordable Care Act. Blah, blah, blah… I already said that one gets its own post; I’m not going to pellet you with links about it. And it seems like all the news segments make me cry. I did a “What made Julie cry?” Take last week. It probably shouldn’t become a weekly occurrence.


Let’s wrap up instead with some quotes from my 3-year-old:

Upon learning from his father that he too will one day grow a beard:
(Horrified) “But I don’t want to be all fikey!” (spikey) “Dose fikes would hurt me!”

After running all the way upstairs to the bathroom:
(Concerned) “My heart is beeping so fast!”

Him: “We’re goin’ have anoder Hawoween!”
Me: “No, the next holiday that’s coming is Thanksgiving.”
Him: “Yay! We’re goin’ to everyone’s houses and say, ‘Tanks-givin’!'”

Him: “Mommy, Mommy! Da baby’s out of your bewwey!”
Me: “Really? Where is it?”
Him: “It’s in the parwor! (parlor) Wiff its baby hammer!”
Me: ???

Happy weekend, everyone! Head on over to Jen’s to check out the rest of the Quick Takes. I’ll usher you out with the following pictures of when we told our boys they’re going to have another brother. They look thrilled, don’t they?