Messes, Monsters, Thunder, and Wasps: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 29) and One Hot Mess (Vol. 3)

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Today I’m linking up Seven Quick Takes with Jen and Takes 1, 3, 4, and 7 to be specific with Blythe’s One Hot Mess. (If she’s doing it this week.) Double-duty.


We’ve been busy this week, preparing for the baby’s baptism party to be held this coming Sunday. We had more than the average amount of party prep on our plates this time, given that until just a few days ago, every room in our house looked like it was staged to be photographed for Blythe’s One Hot Mess link-up.

Seriously – It was bad. There was the junk, there was the laundry, there were the boxes upon boxes of my mother-in-law’s things that hadn’t been gone through. There were the heaps of dust gathering on and around said junk, laundry, and boxes.

But! After a week of behaving like a responsible, party-planning mother (read: mostly resisting bloggy temptations), we’re very nearly there on the mess front. Just a couple more boxes and a bit more junk (okay, and a lot more dust) to go, and we’ll only have the “normal” amount of boy-wrought destruction. Which, though offensive to the eyes, doesn’t take much more than a whirlwind picking-up session to remedy. The end is in sight.

So I’m sneaking in a quick blog post. How about some of this week’s scenes from our home?


Yesterday morning I walked into the kitchen to the sound of roars and growls and shrieks of laughter. The boys were half-standing in their seats (a posture that is most definitely not allowed at the table), clawing at each other and at us. I expected to see Brennan looking agitated, but nope! He was cool as a cucumber. “I gave them Muenster cheese,” he said.

Aaahh, yes. Muenster cheese. So easily understood as “Monster cheese” and therefore taken as an opportunity to act like monsters. One bite transforms you into a monster, the next turns you back into a boy. And so on and so forth. You knew that, right?



The other evening I had a far less endearing experience in the kitchen.

We were in the middle of a big thunderstorm, so loud you wouldn’t think anything could be heard over it: Bang! Rumble… CRASH!

Yet I was hearing quite a lot besides the thunder: My eight-week-old son was screaming because… I don’t know why, exactly. He’s eight weeks old. He screams. My two-year-old son was screaming just for the fun of it. (I’m sure of that one. He looked delighted with himself.) And my three-year-old son was yelling about “Did you know that storms can make trees fall down, Mommy? Mommy! DID YOU KNOW THAT SOMETIMES TREES FALL DOWN IN STORMS?”

All of this was going on while I was attempting to assemble a sorry little dinner for the boys. I stood at the counter with my back to the noise-makers, “Rumble… CRASH! Waaahh! Aaaah! TREES FALL DOWN IN STORMS!” and I couldn’t get the stupid dollops of peanut butter onto the stupid crackers without the blasted things crumbling in my hands. “Bang! Waaahh! TREES!”

My brain could no longer take the sensory assault. I yelled something really charitable, like “OH MY GOSH! What in the world do you think you’re doing? I can’t take it any moooore!” I think I even waved my hands in the air to emphasize that I really was losing it.

Loveliness. Pure loveliness.


Later that evening, again in the kitchen (which is pretty much where I live), I was trying to nurse the baby. I should have been sitting in the rocker we keep in there, but par for that day’s course, I was distractedly walking around. (Poor, neglected third baby – he gets far too few peaceful, focused feedings.)

All of a sudden, I noticed it: an ugly-looking bug that I thought maybe could be a wasp.

I had to get it. I wouldn’t be able to rest peacefully knowing that that thing was flitting around the house, capable of terrorizing my boys.

But I had to nurse the baby. The poor little guy was so fed up with interruptions that he’d LOSE IT if I set him down to go hunt a wasp. Hm. I’d have do both.

I scurried to the broom closet, grabbed the fly swatter, and scurried back, eyes darting around looking for the maybe-wasp – nursing the whole while. I half chuckled at myself as I moved around the kitchen while nursing my son and holding a fly swatter in the air, stalking a bug which I wasn’t even sure was a wasp.

Then I saw it. On the floor. Right there.

I hastily set the kid down and then WHAM, got the sucker. It wasn’t a wasp after all. I sighed and wiped up the mess as quickly as I could, then I picked up my son and resumed nursing him. Poor, neglected, third baby…


Okay. Out of the kitchen and back to the sweetness.

Do you know how cute it is to hear this slow, metallic dragging sound, followed by a THWACK and a bunch of little-boy giggles? Very cute. And unnerving at first. What could make that sound? What could cause so much giggling?

Rest assured. It’s just the sound of boys playing with their measuring tape. One boy holds onto the thing while the other pulls the tape out as far as he can, and then – yes – lets go. Drag, drag, drag, THWACK! Furious giggling.

Once I resigned myself to the fact that, yes, they might hurt their fingers and no, that’s not such a big deal, the whole situation was really pretty enjoyable. Go ahead – get your children a tape measure.


Even more sweet, the other evening I came downstairs to find all of my guys putting on a little “parade”. One boy had a kazoo, another had an improvised noise maker, and Brennan held the baby, bouncing him and making a marching tune from silly little noises. They marched around the first floor in time to the tune – the boys very serious about the whole business, Brennan’s eyes dancing with the silliness of it all.

A moment before, I’d been flustered and rushing and… oh, how that little scene did my heart good. I love my guys.


Last night I made a late trip to the grocery store so I could do the party shopping without all three in tow. I took the baby while Brennan put the two bigger boys to bed. At first it all went fine – the baby looked around until he drifted off to sleep. Peaceful. Productive.

Then he woke with a little start and everything went right down that hill. Fast. The poor guy seemed so unhappy to wake up in such an unfamiliar and over-stimulating place that he lost it. Once I realized that some vigorous back-and-forth cart pushing wasn’t going to do it, I took him out of his car seat and carried him. Which still didn’t work. I hurried through the rest of the trip as he continued to scream. When I got up to the check-out lane, I started throwing items onto the belt as quickly as I could. One-handed. I was moving fast, but I’m sure it was obvious to all that I needed help.

And then somebody actually stepped forward and… helped.

The gentleman behind me in line, who had thrown me some sympathetic glances a few minutes earlier in the dairy section, started unloading my cart. My very, very full cart. I almost objected – it’s definitely my nature to want to do things myself. I don’t want to need help.

But I stopped. I let that kind man empty my cart for me while I focused on calming my baby. Soon enough, it was working. I soothed, baby relaxed, and my cart was emptied – then loaded – before my eyes. A few minutes later, the same gentleman handed me my bags while I loaded them into my van (to the background music of baby boy screaming, once again.)

How nice. How nice and helpful in that moment, how nice and sweet in my memory. Thank you, Mr. Kind Gentleman In The Grocery Store. You made my day.

Nothing Like A Sum Of Its Parts: One Hot Mess (Vol. 2)

I hate feeding my children.

In my imagination, where there are peaceful, still-warm meals in which everyone is actually seated, I love feeding my children. But in real life, I hate it.


He dropped his cupcake. I stayed up late last night making the stupid things from scratch, so that my son could bring them into preschool for his (un)birthday celebration. All that groggy work and the stupid things fell in on themselves. Ugly, ugly cupcakes. Still, his was a devastating loss.

Our meals are disjointed and loud and stressful. They are full of: “Face the table.” “Sit on your bottom.” “Start eating, please.” “Don’t bang your fork on the table.” “Just try it; you’ve always liked it before!” “Sit on your bottom. No, actually on your bottom.” “Stop dropping your cup on the floor.” “Turn around and face the table.” “Stop it with the fork!” “Sit on your bottom.” “Eat! Your! Food!

They also include a million-and-one parental hops up from the table to retrieve any number of food and cutlery items. Plus a hovering parent or two, feeding children bites of food because apparently preschoolers are unable to do something so taxing as lift a fork to their mouth.

Also, it’s not uncommon for mealtimes at our house to include vomit.


No, it’s not vomit. I wouldn’t do that to you. This is the banana my son told me he’d eaten so that he could get his cupcake.

Hate it.

Do you know what else I hate? Dishes. And diapering. And bathtime. And changing pee-pee sheets. And cutting food into small bites. And wrestling wiggly little limbs into pajamas.

When broken down into bits, I hate just about everything involved in caring for my children and my home. So it would make sense, wouldn’t it, for me to hate being a stay-at-home-mom?

But I don’t. Not at all.

It’s a peculiar thing, isn’t it? I have found that parenthood is nothing like a sum of its parts. My daily tasks are unpleasant, yet I love what I do.

I really, truly, love what I do. Even when I hate it.

There is something there – love, I suppose – that makes such a contradiction possible. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for it. I am happier now than I have ever been in my life – here in the midst of the diapering and the clothing and the cleaning and the bathing. And the feeding – even the feeding.


Another meal, another mess.

Be sure to stop over to Blythe’s to check out more hot messes!

One Hot Mess

Like a bunch of other folks, I suspect (or maybe I’m just the last one to the party – sorry, Blythe), I was introduced to Blythe Fike and her very lovely/funny blog “The Fike Life” last week when Grace recommended her and she was featured in this incredible video.

From what I’ve had a chance to read through/view so far, I’m loving her. Because of how lovely/funny/real/smart she seems, but also, I have to admit, because she strongly reminds me of one of my dearest, most lovely of friends, whom I rarely get to see. (Oh Becky, my Becky? Check out the video. Let me know what you think.)

Anyway. Blythe has just started a link-up, encouraging folks to lay bare some of the most real, usually-not-for-public-consumption scenes in their homes. And against what would surely be my mother’s advice, I thought I’d join in. So here it is, my “One Hot Mess.”


This is our second floor landing. I had many, many “hot mess” options to choose from, I assure you. I went with this one because it seems to taunt me more than the others do – probably because it’s been sitting there so long. For months. More months than I care to count.

If you look around the image, you’ll see a bunch of things that have been waiting to be returned to Home Goods for… far too long. (Up to 18 months. Cringe. I probably can’t even return them now anyway, can I?)

You’ll also see a jumble of Christmas decorations, which are sitting there because they’ve yet to be packed into their bins. Which are also sitting there.

We’ve also got a bag of give-away clothes, some dry-cleaning, some of my husband’s tools (no idea why), two baskets of miscellaneous papers, and some mostly-empty boxes and bags leftover from my mother-in-law’s move. I doubt she even realizes they’re there.

In the background, we peek into the nursery/laundry room/craft room/office, where there are piles of unfolded clean laundry and random bags and bins of stuff.

Just outside the frame, I’ve got baskets of laundry, a box of my mother-in-law’s cleaning supplies, and eight canvas bins of stationary and office supplies. (Eight. Yes, I know. I’m ridiculous.) I’ve also still got the lovely collection of items featured in this photo from last week, which are sitting there for no other reason than I just haven’t carried them downstairs yet.


Gosh, this is tedious, isn’t it? Oh, well. I offer it to those of you who have ever handed me a compliment on my home. Thank you for your kindness. And rest assured that our space here is very far from perfect. So, so much lurks just outside the frame.

Jump on over to Blythe’s to read her thoughts behind the “One Hot Mess” link-up and to get a look at other folks’ hot messes too. Enjoy!

An Honest Little Vignette of Home

I had a good but exhausting day today. We seem to have spent most of it running in and out of the car in frigid temperatures. (The boys actually, literally cried this morning when we left the house, they were so cold.)

We went to preschool, to home, to preschool, to pick up lunch, to drop the boys off at my grandparents’, to the hospital for a doctor’s appointment, to my old workplace, to my board meeting, back to my grandparents’ to pick up the boys (who were melting down for reasons like “I can’t believe you drained the water off my mandarin oranges!” and “I know I lost my mittens but you must make them materialize immediately! I am absolutely bereft without them!”), and then back to home.

By the time we came home at 9pm and I had lugged the 40-pound three-year-old inside, upstairs and into bed, I was DONE. I laid down on the sofa with the annoyingly-still-awake two-year-old and waited for Daddy to come home to put him to bed. My husband then woke me up at 10pm from my sofa-slumber for leftovers that he had lovingly heated up for us. Ah, this is the life…

Just now as I walked through the kitchen to put the leftovers back into the fridge, my eyes scanned my counters, completely covered with dirty dishes, empty cans, and boxes of food; my sink, full-to-the-brim with disgusting, days-dirty dishes; my floor, bearing piles of vomit-clothing, pee-clothing, toys, and stuff. And I thought of my family room, which is coated with a layer of toys and dust and dusty toys. And the rest of my house, which contains yet more piles of vomity laundry, not to mention a still-half-decorated, supremely crispy Christmas tree.

Why in the world am I telling you this?

Probably, in part, because I’m suffering some sort of exhaustion-induced delirium. Also because I thought tonight’s scene provided an honest little vignette of life in our home. I offer it up for any time I seem too preachy on self-help or something similarly nauseating.

Also – and this is probably the most sincere answer – because I want your opinion: A kitchen so covered in dishes that you can’t function in it means just one thing, right? One simply must take one’s children out for breakfast in the morning. The poor little dears shouldn’t suffer such a sight, should they? Rather, they should be strapped into their car seats as soon as they wake and whisked off to some fast-food establishment, where they can be stuffed with breakfast-appropriate fats and sugars. Right? RIGHT?

Please leave your answers in the comment section. But only if they’re in the affirmative.

P.S. Don’t worry, aunts and other worriers – I promise I’m nowhere near a breaking point. I’ve actually had some lovely little breaks lately, including the several child-less hours this afternoon. I’m just tired. Normal tired. Now, off to bed with me!

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 14)

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This week’s Quick Takes is a little different. I’ve got a riddle for you:

— 1 —


When I told my boys that it was time to clean up, my older son turned around, surveyed the room, and quite sincerely asked, “Why?”

— 2 —


— 3 —


— 4 —


— 5 —


— 6 —


So… have you figured it out yet?

— 7 —


That’s right!

Items one and two are brought to you by morning sickness and first-trimester fatigue. (And really, I could’ve shown you much worse pictures to represent that lovely, ONGOING stage. But I decided to be kind.)

Items three and four are brought to you by pregnancy cravings. (Yes, really. But no, not at the same time.)

Item five is brought to you by my boys’ bath toys. No, seriously – we’re pleased to announce that we’re expecting our third child!

Item six: Baby Walsh is due April 11, 2014. Which is just one day past my 35th birthday. (I was thisclose to escaping the “advanced maternal age” label.) To answer the obvious first question: Yes, I guess it would be kind of cool to share a birthday with my child. Except that I don’t exactly like the idea of being in labor on my birthday. Bah humbug.

Item seven: Isn’t it amazing to get a glimpse at that new, tiny little life? A life that, God-willing, we’ll soon wonder how we ever did without?

Please keep my wee little babe and me in prayer.

Love, Julie

P.S. Don’t forget to jump over to Jen’s to catch all the other Quick Takes!

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 4)

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— 1 —

This has been one of those weeks when I feel like I’m behind on every front: My house is a mess; piles of (possibly damp and smelly) dirty laundry and baskets of unfolded, clean (yet probably still smelly) laundry seem to be taunting me; a rotating collection of dirty dishes has been occupying my kitchen counters; I owe a long list of emails and phone calls; I’ve been getting to bed too late and my boys have been waking up during the night (usually with their sheets soaked – seven crib sheets in three days!); and my list of interesting-looking articles to read has been growing and growing…

I guess I feel like I should be caught up on something. Like, if I’m going to neglect my house, at least my mind should be stimulated with interesting reads. Or if I’m not responding to people’s emails, it should be because I was busy eliminating the mountains of laundry and dishes.

— 2 —

Also, someone has vomited every day this week. As anybody who is friends with me on Facebook knows, my boys are prolific vomiters. Some parents deal with children who won’t sleep through the night, or are picky eaters, or throw major tantrums. Ours vomit. All the time. And it’s not because they’re sick – we’ve never been so unfortunate as to have a stomach virus visit us. (I say with trepidation, because you know that once I say it, we’ll get one.) The boys are gaggers. We have to go to ridiculous lengths to feed them food in such a way that they won’t gag and vomit. And when we get a respiratory bug with phlegm and coughing: Watch Out.

Anyway, last week I made the stupid mistake of saying to my husband, “Can you believe that we’ve gone almost a month without anybody throwing up? Maybe the boys have finally outgrown it! And even if they’ve haven’t entirely, at least #2 knows to lean over the side of his booster seat so he doesn’t get it on his clothes anymore and #1 runs to get a bowl to catch it! Win, win! I barely even have a mess to clean up anymore!”

Yeah. So on Sunday, the little one throws up on his Grandpa. (Sorry, Dad!) On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, he throws up all over himself. On Wednesday, the big one gets carsick and throws up all over himself and his car seat. Once again, I have a load of vomity clothes to deal with. And a car seat to clean.

— 3 —

But. Yesterday when I came up the driveway, I saw this:


Isn’t it lovely? And have you ever seen a hydrangea with both blue and pink blooms? When I saw the bush after a long day out with the boys, I had kind of a funny response:

Wow, that’s beautiful. I love hydrangeas. I should cut some to put in vases around the house. That little white pitcher would look really nice filled with hydrangeas and placed on the kitchen mantle. But it’s covered with junk right now. What’s the use of going through the effort of cutting and arranging flowers when the house is so messy? I should clean. Really clean. I should do a big push and get the house in great shape and put hydrangeas everywhere.

Makes sense, right? That a five-second glance at a flowering shrub would turn into enthusiasm for cleaning my house? Whatever; I don’t care where the enthusiasm came from. After a week of vomit and no sleep and peed-on sheets, I’ll take whatever enthusiasm I can get. So let’s see what I can do today: Dishes and laundry and junk, here I come! Hydrangeas, don’t fail me!

— 4 —

I have to admit that part of the reason (besides the rough recovery from a full weekend and the boys not sleeping and the vomiting) that I’ve been in a funk this week (and btw, Grace Patton had a good post this week on being in a funk) is that I spent a couple of nights staying up waaay too late writing blog posts.

I am someone who is very easily distracted; I can’t concentrate well when there’s commotion around me. (Rachel Balducci had a good post this week about needing quiet in order to write.) So starting a blog with two toddler boys in the house was a great idea, wasn’t it? With my days full of monster roars and “pwetend kitty-cats” mewing at my feet and boys who like to act, alternately, like rock stars or members of a marching band, the quiet of a late-night, everybody-is-asleep-but-me house is oh so enticing. Enter one, two, or ahem three o’clock bedtimes. With 3:30 wake-up calls from a soaking wet 20-month-old. Yes, sometimes I am brilliant.

I’m nearly a month into the blog now and I’m trying to figure out how best to fit it into my life. Right now I feel like I’m in the trying-it-on phase. I’m hoping (hoping!) that once I’ve done it for a little while and examined its impact on the rest of my life, I can find the right balance of writing time to housework time to time with the boys. In the past year or so, I’ve done a pretty decent job of establishing some general guidelines for running my home and schedule to minimize my stress. Soon I’ll need to recalculate them to account for the blog.

— 5 —

In particular, I want to make space in my schedule to take on some meaty subjects. I was decently well-pleased with how these longer, more serious posts on my background, immigration, and parental love turned out. And I’ve done a few shorter ones that fall into the same mold. But I feel like most of what I’ve been writing so far has been light and focused on my home life. And though there’s nothing wrong with that (and I very much enjoy reading such things from other bloggers!), I’d like to keep a steady pace of at least one or two more meaty posts a week.

Like I said when I started the blog, I want this space to become a comfortable place for readers to dialog on some societal/religious/political issues. I don’t have in mind a certain number of visitors I want to attract; I only hope it’s enough to generate some good discussion in the comments section. So, (hint, hint!) speak up if you have something to say! For my part, I’ll try to keep up that steady pace.

Here are a few topics I’m thinking about right now, and on which I plan to write once I’ve read up on some of those interesting articles I mentioned in #1: The worth of the individual, religious freedom, Pope Francis and the liberal/conservative split, and global poverty. I hope you’ll come back to weigh in!

— 6 —

I spent a long time Wednesday night cooking a very complicated meal for my husband. On the one hand, doing so made me feel like a very good wife, because it took FOUR hours and like a million steps and it involved a couple of his favorite dishes: Spaghetti Bolognese (as in the real deal, with carrots and mushrooms, veal/pork/beef, wine, etc.) and a dark chocolate tart with a gingersnap crust (which, to be honest, sounds fancy and tastes divine, but isn’t all that hard to make).

Father's Day Dinner, 2013But on the other hand, Wednesday night made me feel like a bad wife, because (1) dinner wasn’t ready until 10pm, which (2) meant that the boys got their standard hot dogs instead of partaking in the deliciousness, (3) the whole reason we had a fancy dinner on Wednesday was to celebrate a belated Father’s Day because I wasn’t prepared on Sunday. (I’m blaming that one on our family reunion and the celebration of our son’s birthday, both this past weekend.) And (4) one of our gifts for my husband was the oh-so-thoughtful catalog in a gift bag, so he could pick out which item he wanted. (Though I was thoughtful about which catalog it was: The Great Courses, because we’re the kind of nerds who like to listen to recordings of university lectures.)

J Coloring Card

Working on a Father’s Day card for his grandpa — also belated.

— 7 —

I’ll sweeten the end of this mildly negative Quick Takes by leaving you with some of the cute/funny/stinkerish/sweet things our big 3-year-old boy said this week:

“I’m havin’ a bad, wough day!”

After being put into time-out for yelling a nasty “No, Mommy!” at me:
“I sorry for sayin’ a bad no to you, Mommy.”

“Dere’s a bug in my back! Es eatin’ me!”
(There actually was a bug under the back of his shirt; it was not eating him.)

“Yiyons and mans and bears, oh my!”

Lunging and dancing while singing into his new toy microphone:
“I yike a wock sar!”

Pointing out the sunset:
“Yook! A boo-ful sy!”

Just after I walked away from him and his little brother, who was pretending to be a cat. I’d heard the little one scream and marched back into the room, asking big brother what he’d done.
Him: “I hit da cat.”
Me: “Do you mean you hit your brother?”
Him: “No. I hit da cat.”
Me: “Did you hit the cat that is your brother?”
Him: “Yes.”

After I gave a quick kiss to his injured thumb:
“No, not a pwetend kiss! I want a weal kiss yike diss.”
(He demonstrates.)

“I’m a man washin’ my hands.”

Him: “Mommy! Da table is waffin’ at me!”
Me: “The table is laughing at you? Why?”
Him: “Because, es funny! I bedder take a nap.”
(He lays his head down on the table.)

Dark Chocolate Tart

“Dis is a tart.”

At the playground as I was pushing him on the swings:
“You’re good. You’re a nice mommy. Sank you pushing me SO fast.”

Now be sure to go vist Jen and all the rest of the Quick Take’ers!