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



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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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.


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!


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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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:


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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… Monday? (Vol. 33) – A Mash-Up of Weddings, (Not) Delightful Baby Phases, and a Possibly Rabid Fox

Yes, I realize that 7 Quick Takes are supposed to be a Friday thing. And that it’s been months and months since I’ve linked up to 7QT (Hi Kelly! It’s my first time linking up with you!) But hey, my morning sickness is beginning to fade so I am blogging. That’s good enough for me.

Seven Quick Takes Friday


Other than the sobbing child who attempted to chase us down the driveway as we pulled out (stab me in the heart, why don’t you?), last last weekend’s wedding/anniversary festivities went really well.

On Saturday we jumped from (1) a formal wedding at a gorgeous gothic-style downtown church to (2) a more casual outdoor wedding at a country club just outside the city, then (3) back downtown for a waterfront reception on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Whew!

Both weddings were lovely, both brides beautiful, both families happy. We were able to visit with both sides of my family, we enjoyed a delicious meal, great views, and even a special dance for our anniversary. I call that a win!

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On Sunday we celebrated my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary with almost every member of my mom’s side of the family. With relatives having flown in from San Diego, St. Louis, and Chicago, I believe we hit over 60 people, missing only my Uncle’s family in Maine.

As one of my aunts put it, “So glad to be sharing the 60th celebration with these two in the same way we grew up – a casual picnic, surrounded by kids & adults alike running around catching frogs & lightning bugs, playing games, singing & dancing. Always someone passing a baby or toddler to another to enjoy, & simply catching up with the everyday events as the generations grow!”

She’s right – the anniversary party was very ‘us’ – a potluck meal, lots of talking and laughing, lawn games, group pictures, kids running around in packs, even random wildlife. Granddad kept saying that we shouldn’t have made such a fuss, but I think we made just the right kind of fuss.

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I’m enjoying reading the recap posts from those who attended this year’s Edel Gathering. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I very much regret that I wasn’t able to hear Rachel Balducci’s talk, watch Jen Fulwiler record her radio show, witness Rachael Escandon’s craaaazy shoes, visit the beautiful city of Charleston, and hang out with so very, very many wonderful women. But I don’t at all regret missing out on the extreme humidity or (worse yet) the hotel’s plumbing problems. Not. at. all.


Here’s something I never thought I’d be glad to hear: “Jude spit on me!”

My poor little three-year-old was suffering a stomach bug last week. The other morning, once he finally seemed settled and the baby had gone down for his nap, I grabbed a quick shower. I’d given firm instructions to my oldest to run to get me if the baby started screaming or the three-year-old needed my help. So imagine the panic that set in when I heard a shriek shortly after I’d gotten out of the shower: “Mommy!… mumble, mumble… MOMMY!… indiscernible shouting (during which I imagined vomit sprayed over half my family room)… Mommy!… Jude spit on me!”

Aaah…. What a relief! I’ll take a brotherly spat over vomit clean-up any day.


And here’s something I never thought I’d have to say: “If you see a fox, I want you to run as fast as you can back to the house!”

My mother-in-law returned from her hair appointment the other day to tell us that her hairdresser had recently had a terrifying experience right in front of our house. The woman was walking up the street when she saw a skinny, mangy-looking fox run out of the woods. And it chased her! She started running, but it kept chasing her, and she was seriously frightened for her safety until some Jeep pulled up and placed itself between her and the fox. The fox attacked the Jeep’s tires and the woman ran to safety.

So that’s just great, isn’t it?

(And what a quick-thinking, amazingly helpful person that Jeep’s driver was!)

It looks like we have a very sick, possibly rabid fox in our neighborhood. I didn’t let the boys go outside to play (well, the one wasn’t feeling up to it anyway) for a few days, but I finally let them out with that warning. I can’t keep them indoors forever, can I?


We’re officially in the phase where I walk into the kitchen to find the baby standing on the table. I hate this phase.

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When it comes to caring for small children, workloads are a funny thing, aren’t they?

In some ways it doesn’t take that much more effort to care for three than it does for one – you’re already cooking the meals and doing the laundry and running the errands, so what’s a bit more? At any rate, my first child was much harder to work around than my three now are together. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight. He wanted me to be engaged with him during each of his waking moments. They have each other to play with, so they come to me for mommy things: comfort, nourishment, arbitration. They go to their brothers for entertainment.

But on the other hand, caring for three sometimes seems exponentially harder than caring for one. For instance, in the last two weeks, my two older boys attended swim lessons together while the baby and I participated in a little Mommy and Me swim class. (It seemed like the best way to keep him from screaming for the duration of the boys’ lessons.) It was great: the boys loved their lessons, I could watch their progress from the other side of the pool, and the baby was sometimes kinda sorta happy to be in the water. But it was so exhausting.

Getting everybody up and fed and dressed and out of the house each morning… keeping up with the pool bag and the towels and swimsuits… crouching on the pool deck to pull off boys’ shoes and shirts and hand them their “gobbles” (definitely my favorite preschool mispronunciation)… then rushing over to the other side of the pool to pull off my own cover-up and wrestle the baby into his swim diaper and suit… wrangling everybody into a changing room afterward… managing four rounds of showers and drying off and dressing…


The last two days of lessons, the three-year-old was in the middle of his stomach bug, so my husband went into work late so our oldest could still finish his lessons. The baby was left home too, for convenience’ sake. And it was so much easier! Taking one child to swim lessons is about 100 times easier than taking three and being in one of the classes yourself. I seriously felt like waving my (empty!) arms around to demonstrate just how freeeee I felt.

Next year’s kindergarten/preschool combo? I’m coming for you!

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As I mentioned above, my morning sickness seems to be fading away. Thank the Lord! I still have it for much of the day, but the intensity is decreasing and I’m actually starting to have some short windows in which I don’t feel sick at all. And I have some energy – what an amazing feeling!

So I think the time is right for a little jump-start to my blogging efforts. Partly inspired by the 7 drawings in 7 days Heather is just finishing up (they’re great! check them out!), I thought I’d commit to 7 posts in 7 days.

But, needing to not get too ahead of myself, these posts are going to be pretty simple. Every day I run across news articles or blog posts or radio segments that make me want to answer them aloud with my own take on the situation. So that’s what I’m going to do. For each of the next seven days, I’ll take a recent item (by someone much more original than myself) and I’ll comment on it. That’s it, but that’s something!

I hope to ‘see’ you back here this week for my itty bitty baby steps back to regular blogging. And I hope you’ll go check out the other Quick Takes over at Kelly’s. (For those of my readers who don’t regularly follow Quick Takes, 7QT used to be hosted by Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary, but now it’s hosted by Kelly Mantoan of This Ain’t the Lyceum.) Have a great week!


Another to Love

On Saturday I wished a happy Independence Day to my friends and family and the blog’s Facebook page with the following photo, captioned:

Happy Fourth of July from me and my FOUR!

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Yes! We’re expecting our fourth baby! This newest little guy/gal (who are we kidding – it’s probably a guy) is due to arrive around January 31st, 2016. I’m currently about ten weeks along.

In the interest of openness / I can’t seem to get anything else posted these days anyway, I thought I’d pre-emptively answer a few of your questions. (Assuming your questions are anything like the others I’ve received lately.)

1) How are you feeling?

Awful. Thanks for asking.

I’m not actually throwing up, so I know I shouldn’t be complaining (especially because I have a couple of relatives who had that truly awful hyperemesis gravidarum – IV’s and hospitalizations and all), but being nauseous all day, every day really sucks.

(Can I say here how appreciative I am of my ability to get pregnant and how much I love and empathize for my friends who are unable to? And that I realize I’ve been given a tremendous gift in this child? But… that… um… I still don’t like feeling so sick all the time?)

My afternoons have been especially bad, leaving me lying on the sofa trying to keep it together while my boys use me as a prop in their doctor/hairdresser/wild animal play.

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2) Are you hoping for a girl this time?

Yes. Absolutely. You will not catch me denying it.

Were we trying for a girl? Nope – but do I relish the idea of pretty little dresses and dolls and pink finally making their way into this overly-boyish home? YES.

Not that I think our chances are all that great. Last week I found out that my two girlfriends who had their firsts the same year I did and are now expecting their fourths have each stuck with their own streaks: one is expecting her fourth girl and the other is expecting her fourth boy. So even though I greet 3 boy/1 girl families with “You give me hope!” I can’t help but think our own family is in this all-boy thing for the long haul.

Not that I’d mind having another boy! My boys are three of the best things to ever happen to me and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Not for girls, not for the world. Should Little One #4 prove to be another boy, I’m sure I’ll feel the same about him.

Indeed, I think my husband would be very happy to welcome another boy. When I announced my pregnancy to him, this big grin spread across his face and he said, long and slow, “Four boys!”

3) What do your boys think about welcoming another baby into the family?

They’re thrilled! They want to know how big the baby’s getting and what she looks like, when they can feel her move in my belly and when she’ll come out. (I say “she” and “her” because they’ve decided they’d like a “sister baby” this time, so of course the baby has got to be a girl. I keep reminding them that they might be getting another brother.)

The five-year-old told me (very seriously) that he knows how much work babies are, so he’ll be sure to help us take care of this new one.

The three-year-old keeps telling people, “My Mommy’s going to have two babies!” To which I quickly follow up: “He means our current baby and the new one. We keep trying to tell him that his little brother will no longer be a baby by the time this new one is born!”

The fifteen-month-old is clueless. It’s probably better that way.

4) Are you sure you’re only ten weeks along? And that you’re not having twins? Because I see that picture of you up there and you definitely look more pregnant than you should.

(Note: This one really should be addressed to nice old ladies at church and kind but nosy grocery clerks.)

Yes, I’m sure about the date and I’m sure I’m not having twins. Yes, I concede that I look more pregnant than I should. Welcome to my world. Some women are shaped like apples, some like pears – I’m shaped like pregnancy.

I don’t really look all that different now than I did before I became pregnant, it’s just that now that I feel so gross, I figure I may as well wear comfy maternity clothes.

That said, I’ve actually lost a few pounds so far from not eating much, yet my non-maternity clothes are fitting a little more snugly around the waist. So I guess my body is already changing shape? I suppose that’s what you get when you’re pregnant for the fourth time in six years!

5) So are we ever going to see you around these parts again? Why haven’t you been blogging lately?

Sadly, I have to point you back to #1. I was so excited at the beginning of the summer to really dig into some good writing, but for the past month I’ve just been feeling so sick. Not only do I feel nauseous and woozy, but I swear my brain has been affected. I have been writing, but I’m having such a hard time putting my ideas together and tying up loose ends that I haven’t been able to finish anything.

Remember that mother’s helper I have coming once a week to watch my boys so I can get in some writing? Well, since the morning sickness kicked in, I’ve spent a couple of those mornings wrestling with words and ideas that just won’t fit into place. And during the other, I took a nap.

I’ve probably got another three to four weeks of feeling sick. I’m really looking forward to August. Though I expect to start feeling better just in time for my mother’s helper to head off to college. (Gah!)

I’m not giving up entirely – I’m going to keep plugging away, keep trying to finish my thoughts – I just can’t make any promises that I’ll succeed.

Until then – whenever “then” may be – I hope you’re well and that you’re enjoying a fun, relaxing summer. I’ll be right here, probably lying on the sofa, surrounded by my hooligans – and waiting on another to love.

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7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 17)

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

— 1 —

Well, it looks like I’ve done it again: I’ve fallen into the rut of only blogging when I have a list of miscellaneous items to post. 7 Quick Takes? {pretty, happy, funny, real}? Monday Morning Miscellany? Check, check, and check. Anything requiring more substance and focus? Nope and nope.


It’s just that, well, I have a schedule all-of-a-sudden. I know, I know: Most of you have bunches of kids, or kids in big-kid school, or kids Who Do Activities, or official jobs, or all-of-the-above. I only have a preschooler and a bunch of doctor’s appointments.

But still, I’ve gone from a wishy-washy “Schedule? Who needs a schedule?” mentality to an “Oh-my-gosh-I-actually-have-to-be-someplace-at-a-particular-time?” one. All-in-all, this is a good thing. I’m a happier person when I have places to go, people to see, and a bit of structure in my life. And my boys seem to be too. But it’s been taking some adjusting.

This week we had two playdates, two days of school, a sonogram, an ob appointment, a 2-year-old check-up, and the arrival of an out-of-town guest. It’s not like I wasn’t busy before the start of the school year and the onset of prenatal appointments; it’s just that life seemed a little more malleable back then. Now I’m (shocker!) relying a lot more on my calendar to get me through my week. I’m prioritizing sleep. And I’m having to plan. What a concept.

Looks like writing time will be the next thing to plan for. Because I can no longer trust that a sufficient period of available time will magically appear. And apparently, I can no longer stay awake past 11pm.

— 2 —

Speaking of the pregnancy, here are some quick updates from this week:

(1) I had my 12-week sono on Tuesday and the baby was very stubbornly uncooperative. After three tries, the doctor just kind of went with what she had. The tech said that it had been a long time since she’d had such a stubborn one at 12 weeks. Wonderful! It bodes so well, doesn’t it?

(2) Morning sickness has made a comeback – every day this week. I feel like trying to cajole the baby, like s/he can somehow put a stop to it all. But… what was I just saying about stubbornness?

(3) Last night I asked my two-year-old where Mommy’s baby was. He lifted up my shirt and gave my belly a kiss. Be still, my heart! This older-children-aware-that-they’re-getting-a-new-sibling thing is going to be so cool. My first two are just 15 months apart, so there wasn’t exactly any awareness coming from big brother back then.


(4) Yesterday I tried on a pair of shorts that I hadn’t worn in a few weeks and I couldn’t come anywhere close to fastening them. As I haven’t gained any weight in the past month (wonder of wonders), it’s got to be that my shape is starting to change already. I’m just 13 weeks! Craziness!

(5) The other day, my three-year-old asked me if the baby was going to come out of my mouth. Fortunately, there were no follow-up questions.


— 3 —

I’m a little freaked out by the animal presence in my house right now. No, I suppose it’s not as bad as Jen and her scorpions. But this morning my husband came upstairs from his morning workout in the basement and said, “Just so you know, I found a snake down there.” I’m sure my eyes got all bugged-out big as I looked at him, begging him to be teasing. “You’re kidding.” “No.” “Really?! How big was it?” “Very small – small enough to get caught on the glue trap.” (We have mice too.) “Why would you tell me this?! I don’t want to know this!” “Because if you see the boys playing with a ‘string’ at some point, you should know that it could be a snake.”


And then this afternoon, I found a bird flying around upstairs. Inside the house. I ran around closing doors and opening windows and opening doors and closing windows on all three floors of the house, squealing and jumping most of the way, until I became fairly confident that the little stinker had flown out. For now, a couple of windows remain open, and interior doors remain closed, just in case it’s still inside. When my three-year-old (who was very excited about the whole thing and presented a box that he suggested the bird could live in) gets up from his “nap,” I plan to let him look around for the bird. Surely he’ll do a more thorough job, with far more delight, than I’m capable of right now.

— 4 —

Said three-year-old is currently singing Fountains of Wayne’s “Radiation Vibe” in his crib. You can blame his father.

— 5 —

I heard a fascinating piece last week on one of my local NPR stations’ midday programs: “The McCormick Spice Guru.” According to the station’s website, “As the chief spice buyer for McCormick, Al Goetze regularly travels the globe seeking herbs and spices from farms in some of the world’s most exotic regions. Goetze joins us to talk about his job and what goes into bringing the spices to market.”

Like I said, the piece was fascinating. I think it was one of the most enjoyable hours of listening I’ve had in some time. Mr. Goetze spoke about his travels, how spices are grown, what they look like in the field, how they can be used, etc. If you have any interest at all in cooking, gardening, plants, or world travel, you should check it out.

— 6 —

Do you remember my mention of Nella in last week’s 7 Quick Takes? She posted the happiest of updates on her blog this week: her cancer is in remission! Stop on over to her place to share in her joy. And please continue to keep her in prayer. Nella still has a couple of chemo treatments left, just to be sure she’s done everything she can.

— 7 —

Our sister-in-law is visiting us this week and we’re so happy to have her with us. She’s a jewelry designer who is in town to participate in a couple of local arts and crafts fairs. Her designs can be found on her website. If you like glass beads and creative, high-quality jewelry, you should check her out!


Stop on over to Jen’s to see everybody else’s Quick Takes. (And to wish Jen and her hubby a happy 10 year anniversary!) Oh, and if you haven’t “liked” These Walls on Facebook, I hope you’ll do so. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday Morning Miscellany (Vol. 6)

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I promised myself that I would stick something, even if just a bunch of miscellany, on the blog every Monday morning. I like myself some fresh reading material on Monday mornings, when I’m working to recover from the weekend and gear myself up for the week ahead. I thought perhaps you good people would too.

But more Mondays than not lately, it seems, I’ve written nothing. I blame morning sickness. And boys. But mostly morning sickness. Now that that fog is (hopefully? please?) beginning to lift, I’m trying to get back into it. I’ll start with a couple of updates:

— 1 —

That whole fiery, electrical knives stabbing me in the side of the head thing? In case any of you (maybe as many as two or three?) were wondering, it’s been resolved. I gave in and took myself to the doctor’s on Friday, who diagnosed my usual nemesis: sinus infection. She said that the faulty sinus was probably pressing on a nerve, thus all the burning, shocking, stabbing pain. Three days into my five-day antibiotic, I’m feeling worlds better. What a relief!

— 2 —

I still haven’t read that America piece on the Pope. Maybe this afternoon? After I’m done I’ll have to read a handful of the reactions/explanations, to get a little lay of the land on the controversy. I’ve been holding off on these pieces until I take a look at the original. Which is, I think, a good thing to do. Except that by the time I finally get through it all, I’ll be a good week behind everybody else. Such is how I roll.

— 3 —

My three-year-old had a massive temper tantrum on Sunday – possibly his worst ever. It couldn’t help but make me think of Ana and her girls’ expert tantrum-throwing abilities. (My sympathies, Ana!) But I have to admit that, ugly as it was, I couldn’t help but find some humor in the whole thing. Mostly because of the underlying reason for this tantrum: he did not want to be home.

This kid never wants to be home; every time we’re out somewhere, whether a play date or the doctor’s office, he wants to stay. In fact, he has never once asked to go home. Ever since he was a baby, he has fussed and whined (or worse) as we drive into our neighborhood. He knows the signs: x scenery = almost home. Nooooo!

This Sunday’s tantrum started on our way home from church, when the little guy asked, “Can we get wunch on da way home?” He didn’t like our answer. So we heard variations of “Wunch! I wan wunch out! Not at home! Don’t go home! Picnic wunch! Wunch at park! Paaarrrk! Go back! Not home! Stop! Stop dwiving, Mommy!” (when I wasn’t even the one driving) punctuated with sobs, for our entire twenty minute drive. He grew absolutely desperate as we came up the driveway: “NO! STOP! DON’T! GO BACK!”

We had to wrestle him out of the car seat (he tried to stop us from unbuckling him) and drag him into the house while he tried to throw himself on the ground and/or escape down the driveway. It only got worse when we came inside. He was inconsolable: lots more shouting and sobbing and thrashing around on the floor and trying to get out of the house.

I suppose I’m fortunate in that tantrums have no power over me. I think I see them as something distinct and separate that (so long as no one is getting hurt), I can just ignore. I tend to just zone out and wait for them to end. But I could tell that this one was starting to get to my husband, so I tried to calm my boy down. I held him on my lap and did my sweetest best, but it was no good. I finally had to carry him upstairs and put him in his crib. (Yes, he’s still in a crib. Yes, he’s three. I like to keep them contained as long as possible.)

Anyway, to make a long story less long, I’ll just say that the crib only served to kick his tantrum up a notch. He went wild. I’ve never heard him scream like that: I thought he’d lose his voice. But he also began to tire himself out. So after a while, I was able to bring him downstairs and start feeding him his “wunch” and the tantrum finally, finally broke. Whew.

— 4 —

There were, however, two upshots to the tantrum. First, this:


They almost looked drugged, don’t they? My mom says it looks like I slipped something in their milk. But on my honor, I swear that it was nothing more than a missed nap on the little one’s part and The Big Tantrum on the big one’s.

— 5 —

But better than that short-break-because-the-boys-fell-asleep-on-the-sofa: we got a dinner invitation out of the tantrum! Woo-hoo! I complained about it on Facebook (of course) and one of my aunts commented something to the effect of: “Don’t make dinner tonight, Julie. Come over here. We’re eating at 5:30.”

Seriously? I complain about a tantrum and a boy who doesn’t want to be home and we get a dinner offer out of it? Yes, please! It was great: lots of yummy food, adult conversation, and lots of space and toys and cousins for my boys to run around with. I love this living-near-family thing. I did not grow up with it, but I feel oh so lucky to have it now. Thanks again, Aunt Barb!

— 6 —

To shift gears quite a bit here, what awful news we got this weekend from around the world, didn’t we? First (and still!) the attack on the mall in Nairobi, Kenya. And then yesterday, the attack on the Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan. At least 60 people have been killed in the former, at least 80 were killed in the latter. Such horror. To suffer a shocking, sustained tragedy on what you thought would be a cheerful Saturday? It’s almost unimaginable. And worse yet, to be targeted in church, while you were worshipping God? It’s a special kind of horrible.

Do you know what I regret at this moment? I regret my reactions to these two terrible events. I normally feel such things acutely; they normally get to me regardless of how far away they seem. But this time, my reaction was muted. I said a few prayers, but mostly, I didn’t want to think about it. I was tired of tragedy. After Egypt and Syria and the anniversaries of September 11 and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, after the Navy Yard shooting last week, after hearing of a few very sad local deaths and incidents, I guess I was just tired of grieving.

I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to be numb to sad news and indifferent to others’ suffering. There’s quite a lot I need to work on right now, spiritually. I’ll be adding this one to the list.

Please, join me in praying for those affected by the awful attacks in Kenya and Pakistan.

— 7 —

Have a good week, everyone. I’m hopeful for a brightness, a lifting of my own mood. And I hope to be back in this space a few times in the coming days. ‘Till then, be well.

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 15) / {pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 2)

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

— 1 —

I’ve got one complaint to get out of the way, and then I promise that the rest of this post will be kinder/gentler/sweeter. Probably somewhat mushy, but hopefully not altogether sappy. That’s the goal.

But first, the complaint: Between the morning sickness and a cold my three-year-old brought home last week, I’m feeling pretty awful at the moment. I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t be feeling so bad: “Buck up, Julie! You’ve got things to do, boys to care for! You’re almost done the first trimester anyway! Your hormones can’t be making you that sick anymore! And it’s just a silly cold! Get with it!” So I go forth and try to seize the day or something, and then I come home and collapse and I’m no good to anyone for 24 hours. Repeat.

Tuesday it was a board meeting/reception with the boys in tow. Thursday it was volunteering at my son’s preschool. Both times, I deluded myself into thinking it would be no big deal. Both times, I arrived back home overwhelmed, exhausted to the point of numbness, and pretty much unable to move.

The morning sickness would be bad enough, but this stupid cold/infection/whatever is pushing me over the edge: sneezing, blowing the heck out of my nose, sore throat, head congestion, and now this stabbing/burning/shocking pain all over the right side of my head. Woe is me.

Last week was a good week for the blog: Even through the morning sickness I was able to write four posts, that people liked. And people I don’t even know were stopping by to read my stuff. I should have capitalized on my temporary surge in numbers by writing several meaty posts this week. But given the fiery, electrical knives that were attacking the side of my head, the best I could muster most days was to lie on the sofa and plead with the boys to not wrestle on top of me. I’ll say it again: Woe is me.

— 2 —

Okay, I’m done now. I have enough perspective to know that (a) all of the above is temporary, (b) I could be feeling significantly better as soon as next week (I’m almost at 12 weeks! Woo-hoo!), and (c) my life is full of good things. The best things, like love and family and God’s blessings and security and friendship and hope and grubby little boy faces.

I think I might have had three days this week without any nausea – the first in over a month. So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! I’m hoping that I’ll fully turn the corner next week. Not only am I just plain ol’ ready to be done with it, but I have a few serious blog posts in my head that I’m itching to get started on. I also want to tackle (i.e. carefully read) the America piece on Pope Francis that everyone’s talking about. Maybe nausea/fatigue/burning head aren’t the best reasons to not have read it yet, but I have a feeling that I’ll need to have some clarity of mind in order to take it on. So c’mon, good health and decent energy levels! I know you’re out there! Come to Mama!

— 3 —

As you see in this post’s title, I’m kind of cheating this week. I’d started writing my {pretty, happy, funny, real} Wednesday evening, but quickly found that I just couldn’t do it anymore: sleep beckoned. And it beckoned again Thursday afternoon, when I’d hoped to have time to finish the post.

And then Thursday evening, when I began thinking about what I’d write for my 7 Quick Takes, I kept coming back to contentment. As in,
{phfr} contentment. (Okay, okay: contentment and that one complaint in #1.) That evening as I watched my little boys play so well together on the playground, I mulled all the little signs lately of how deeply they love each other. Yes, they fight and wrestle and get angry, but they also seem to be each other’s greatest delight.


Witnessing my boys’ growing love for each other just wows me. I never imagined what a joy it could be. Talk about contentment.

So, enter {pretty, happy, funny, real} for Quick Takes 4 through 7:

— 4 {pretty} —



The boys and I were in Annapolis Tuesday evening for the aforementioned meeting and reception. We don’t get there too frequently these days, given what a hike it is for us, but each time we’re there, I’m struck with how pretty that place is. And how blessed we are to get to spend any time there at all.

— 5 {happy} —





I’m not sure that 2- and 3-year-olds are capable of experiencing elsewhere the unadulterated happiness they find on a playground.

— 6 {funny} —



We spent our time in Annapolis this week at the Charles Carroll House and Gardens, the Annapolis home of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. Fittingly, the boys were gifted with a pair of tricorn hats and Revolutionary boy dolls. They were so funny running around with their hats and dolls. Of course they’re too little to have any concept of American history and what those gifts represented. Rather, by their cries of “Aargh!” as they ran around, I realized the boys thought those hats made them pirates.

— 7 {real} —


I have this dream of being a farmer, or at least a major gardener. But I (big time!) lack the knowledge base to get me there, and at this point in my life (that is, a chaser of small boys every time I’m outside), I don’t have much time to practice the little I do know. But I figured I could handle some tomato plants this summer, so I sweet-talked my hubby into planting six different and interesting varieties for me.

I did a decent job of tending them at first and I was overjoyed when they bore their first fruits. But then I was struck with a powerful, pregnancy-induced aversion to the things. I can hardly stand to look at the little beauties right now. Goodbye, dreams of tomatoes with fresh basil, fried tomatoes, BLT’s! Hello (because of both the aversion and the morning sickness), neglect and waste.

Which is why I now have a garden full of overgrown, collapsed tomato plants, full of fruit that will mostly go uneaten. (My husband has no great love for tomatoes and most of our local friends/family seem to have their own gardens.) Ah, well… maybe next year.


To end with a bit more contentment, though, let me give you a peek of the view from one side of my garden and another of the view from behind it. I have great hopes for this spot.



Have a great weekend, all! Please be sure to stop by Conversion Diary’s 7 Quick Takes Friday and Like Mother, Like Daughter’s {pretty, happy, funny, real} to see how everybody else is wrapping up their week!

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