14 From ‘14

Merry Christmas to you! And a happy New Year too!

As we wrap up 2014, I thought I’d do a little recap o’ the blog to highlight some of my favorite posts from the year. (I’ll admit – it was pretty fun to scroll through them all.) And since I want to do you the favor of making it obvious as to why I chose these particular posts, I thought I’d include each in its own category. So… without further ado (since there’s plenty of it below)… here are 14 From ’14:

1. The most viewed post (and the closest to “viral” that I’ve ever gotten):

When Breast Isn’t Best

Wow. I knew this post in opposition (so to say) to Breastfeeding Awareness Week might attract a bit more attention than usual, but it went and blew “a bit more” out of the water. In the post’s first day, I received nearly ten times as many views as I usually do on post-publishing days and I more than doubled my best day ever. All told, the post has gotten more than a dozen times the views of my average post.

So let’s see… what element of the mommy wars should I tackle next?

(No, no – I’m kidding. Stoking fires just for the fun of it isn’t my thing – there are plenty of others you can go to for that.)

Doubly selfish: using formula and counting on the four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

Doubly selfish: using formula and counting on the four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

2. The post that was hardest to write:

It Is The Same Evil

This thing was a bear to get through. (ISIS? Evil? Hmm… I wonder why?) I worked on it for weeks – weeks in which I felt like I was trudging through mud every time I sat down at the computer. It definitely felt like there was some Resistance at play. When I finished writing the post, I could barely look at the thing, I was so unhappy with it. But with a little more distance, I’ve come to think I did a decent job of it.

3. The post with the best discussion in the combox:

Yes, I Worry About Religious Freedom

This post makes me so happy. Not because I think the piece itself was any work of art, but because it generated such a great discussion in the comments section. This (despite all my mommy ramblings about exhaustion and vomit) is why I started the blog – to encourage discourse on touchy, divisive, important matters of politics and society. Polite discourse, open-minded discourse, respectful discourse. I know this one little post was just the tiniest of drops in the bucket, but it’s my drop and I’m glad to have let it fall.

4. The post with the strangest subject matter:

The Best Possible Mugging

I had a mugging story. I had to tell it!

Yet another incongruous photo. It's not even Washington, it's Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the events in this post.

Yet another incongruous photo. It’s not even Washington, it’s Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the events in this post.

5. The post that would make the best sitcom episode:

Epilogue (Please) To The Day Of The Snake And The Water

Snake slithering out of a basket of my sons’ toys? Jumping toilets? Brown water shooting out of a toilet’s tank and at my face? It’s my own brand of slapstick!


6. The post that most pulls on my heartstrings:

Single Lady Gets A Family

During my single twenties, I began to think I might never have a family of my own. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I was wrong.


7. The funniest (in a desperate sort of way) post:

Think Of Your Closets

“If I had to choose one piece of advice to offer young people at this very moment, it would be: Don’t be a pack-rat. And if you absolutely can’t resist the urge to be a pack-rat, make sure to be an organized one.”


8. The bossiest post:

Why You Should Vote – Even When It Feels Like It Doesn’t Make A Difference

In which I use guilt and just a little bit of elections expertise to strong-arm you into becoming a regular voter.



9. The post with the most (and maybe the best?) pictures:

Taking A Weekend For Us

Brennan and I went away for a weekend before the baby was born – without our boys. It was heavenly. I took lots of pictures.


10. The post that best showcases my boys’ narcoleptic tendencies:

Greetings From The Land Of Nod… Nod… Nodding Off

New here? My boys fall asleep all. the. time. At the table, in the car, on the sofa, in the highchair, on the floor, in the shopping cart… And when I’m pregnant, I’m almost as bad as they are.


11. The post that seems most pertinent to the events of this week:

Courtney’s Love

Courtney Lenaburg, the beloved daughter of Mary from Passionate Perseverance, passed away this past Saturday morning. Courtney’s wake will be held tonight and her funeral tomorrow. Please keep the entire Lenaburg family in prayer during this very difficult time.

12: The post written with most love for my oldest:

What Matters To Him


13: The post written with most love for my middle:

This Child


14: The most consequential post:


I had a baby this year! Few things are of greater consequence than that!



I’m linking this up with Dwija’s 12 Photos in 2012 link-up at House Unseen, Life Unscripted. (12? 14? Photos? Posts? Close enough, right?) Be sure to stop there for more 2014 recaps — and much more beautifully-shot photos than my own.

I hope 2014 was kind to you. The year brought me some great challenges, but even greater blessings. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Reset, Catch Up, Move On: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 31)

Well, hello there.

It’s good to be back on the blog after my month-long, completely unintended break. I wish I had tales of fabulous travel to make up for my time “away,” but no, we’ve been here the whole time. We’ve been busy, but just in the ways young families are apt to be: We spent time at the county fair, at parks, and at more playdates than I can count. We celebrated my father’s 60th birthday with a good ol’ Maryland crab feast. We’ve been meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. My son has started his second year of preschool and I’ve been trying to organize my home and my mind in preparation for the upcoming season of school, celebrations, and hopefully, writing.

And on that last count, I’ve been stuck.

I had a tremendous response to my last post, the one on breastfeeding (or rather, on not breastfeeding) and I kind of didn’t know what to do with it. So I thought I’d wait a few days to process everything. (Bad idea, Julie. Bad idea.) Soon enough I became caught up and weighed down by all those horrible events going on around the world and I figured I needed to write on them before I did anything else. But (surprise, surprise) they’re not the easiest to write on, and it didn’t take long before I was stuck in the mire, both mentally and spiritually. After a couple of weeks of unproductive writing, I decided to work on cleaning up my physical space so at least something would be heading in the proper direction.

It was the right decision. And it brings me to where I am today: Reset. Catch up. Move on.

What better way to do that than with a 7 Quick Takes?

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!


The biggest thing to happen in the past month, I suppose, is that my four-year-old started his second year of pre-school. I’m not the sappiest when it comes to the passage of time, but I admit that I’m really starting to feel the weight of having just one more year before I turn my first baby over to full-time, full-day school. Sniff, sniff.



His brothers and I went to the park to console ourselves.




When we returned to pick up our guy after his class, the little one up there in green gave his big brother one of the tightest, most earnest hugs around the neck ever. Gosh, next year’s going to be hard.


My actual baby (five months old yesterday!) has the most pathetic-sounding hoarse voice right now. When I brought it to my husband’s attention the other day, he looked at me with these dull, accusatory eyes and said, “It’s because he’s been screaming so much at night before you go in to get him.”


“No way!” I said, “I go in as soon as I hear him!” He just looked at me. With those eyes.

So that night, wouldn’t you know it, I woke in the middle of the night to find my husband standing in our room holding the unhappy baby. “He’s been screaming for quite a while,” he said over those awful, pathetic, hoarse little cries.

My poor baby. I don’t have a problem with babies being left to cry themselves to sleep when necessary, but how sad is it that my little guy has been screaming so much in the middle of the night that he’s gone hoarse? For no reason other than that I’ve been sleeping right through his cries? Oh, the guilt…


In my defense, though, I’ve been sleeping unusually poorly lately. This baby, like each of my boys, has always been a pretty good sleeper. Until the last few weeks. He seems to be in a phase (a growth spurt, maybe?) where he’s honest-to-goodness hungry in the middle of the night. I usually respond by offering him a pittance in the form of nursing for hours on end while I doze in the rocker. But frequently that’s not enough, so Brennan stumbles downstairs to make a bottle and I attempt to feed it to the baby without dropping either it or him. And every night lately I seem to find myself feeling around in the dark for my little pacifier-addict’s fix, praying and hoping that it does the trick so I don’t have to spend another couple of hours sitting on the tailbone killer.

Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!

Anyway, I don’t need to explain exhaustion to anyone who’s ever had a baby. I’ll just add that the situation has made me realize something: God sure knew what he was doing when he gave me the parenting cross (vomit) that he did. My boys have vomited enough to teach me that I’m actually pretty well-equipped to deal with the stuff. But exhaustion from the rare phases when my boys aren’t sleeping well? It makes me a wobbly, achy, dizzy, headachy crybaby. I’m being quite honest when I say I can hardly handle it.

I never thought I’d be grateful for vomit, but now I kind of am. At least, I’m grateful that I feel well-equipped to deal with our most bothersome parenting challenge.

What about you? What’s your parenting cross? Do you (strangely, maybe) feel that it suits you?


(Speaking of crosses…)

We’ve had another snake sighting. I was rounding the corner of the house to get the boys in the car when I saw it on the ground, just inches away from our feet. I LEAPT and ran and squealed and shuddered and my boys… they just stood there. They stared at me with gaping mouths and they were quick to not obey my pleas to RUN! GO BACK INSIDE! NO! COME HERE! JUST COME HERE AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Once they realized I was bleating on about a snake, they started in on the “But where is it? I want to see the snake! I want to see it! I wuv snakes!”


A few days later we had an exterminator here to check out some carpenter ants that my husband had discovered in the house. After he left, Brennan was updating me on what the exterminator had to say about the other pests we’ve had lately. (Bats, groundhogs, etc.)

Me: “What about the snakes?”

Him: “Snakes?”

Me: (Giving him the look this time.) “Yes, snakes.”

Him: “Oh! I didn’t even think about snakes. Did you want me to ask about snakes?”


Him: “Are you really concerned about them?”

Me: “Yes, I am concerned about the possibility of a nest of snakes under our parlor. I don’t exactly want more snakes slithering out of our children’s toys.”

So he proceeds to tell me how he found that some things in the basement had been disturbed and he figured it was probably because big, huge snakes had knocked them over while they were slithering every which way like they own the place. (Or something like that.)

That night I dreamed of snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. Everywhere.


A couple of weeks back we met some friends at a park and ended up having one of our coolest experiences all summer. The boys spotted one of these little guys:


And then another, and another… climbing out of a little mound in the playground mulch. They had just hatched! It was so exciting, like those films you see of baby sea turtles floundering toward the surf.


At first my friend and I wouldn’t let the boys touch the critters because we didn’t want them hurt. (The turtles, not the boys.) But then we realized that it probably wasn’t a good idea for baby turtles to be making their way to the middle of a playground on a bright, hot day with lots of littles swarming around. So we let our boys each pick up one or two and gently place them in the grass.


(I realize that somebody out there might scold us for this, maintaining that we should never disturb wildlife for any reason, but I was not about to allow baby turtles to be squished by running little boy feet if I could help it. For the turtles’ sake and the boys’.)




He’s pretending to be a turtle.

The boys were so sweet, and so interested. We could hardly divert them from their find for the rest of our visit. All I can think now is: Thank goodness it wasn’t snakes.


I’m a little hesitant to make this commitment, but I feel like I need to make some commitment to myself to get me back into writing regularly, so… here it goes…

I pledge to post every other day for the next two weeks.

It’s not quite 7 Posts in 7 Days, but for someone who hasn’t blogged for a month, it’s ambitious! Wish me luck, and stop on back to see if I keep my word.


Happy weekend, all! Don’t forget to stop over to Jen’s to check out all the other Quick Takers.

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!

Photo 20140522161804

Today, The Walsh Household Included:

Six family members suffering exhaustion bordering on hangover from one busy and stressful baptism weekend.

One water line leak requiring one water shut-off and at least one backhoe.

Two baby wardrobe changes before 10am.

One three-year-old reporting the sighting of one big, black snake with three words you’ve just got to take seriously: “I’m not wyin’.”

One mommy, one grandma, and two boys’ witness of said snake slithering out of a basket of toys and into a pile of same.

Memories of similar snakes seen just outside the house on three separate occasions recently.

Yesterday’s specimen.

Three doors shut tight all day in the interest of keeping said snake out of the rest of the house.

At least one prayer of thanksgiving for not having an open floor plan.

One sink and one counter full of dirty dishes which could not be properly cleaned due to water issues and I-just-don’t-want-to-deal issues.

One mama who gave up around 11am.

One desperate trip to a McDonald’s drive-through and a car wash, to nourish (gag) and entertain little boys and to facilitate Mommy’s escape from snake and brown tap water.

One long detour home in the hope of car seat naps for all.

Two minutes of success in that department before baby woke up.

Two books read to three-year-old before Mommy fell asleep sitting up, prompting illiterate boy to say, “Don’t worry. I’ll just wead it myself.”

Approximately 128 nursing sessions and 13 bottles.

Precisely zero naps lasting longer than 30 minutes for the two-month-old.

One big brother whispering sweet nothings to his baby.


Too many hours of mommy staring numbly at the computer screen, aimless and uninspired.

Two slices of key lime pie consumed with loving attention.

Two meals served in front of the television to facilitate said numb internet surfing and pie eating.

One stellar husband prodding pile after pile of stuff with a broom handle in search of the snake.

Zero snakes uncovered.

One sigh of relief – no, wait! – one shudder of horror that the snake could not be located.

Two thrilled/frightened little boys gotten ready for bed with assurances that “No, snakes do not hide in toilets.”

One hard cider sipped over the course of three hours.

Two parents… who can… hardly… keep their… eyes… open…

And yet will still diligently search their bedroom for snakes before going to sleep.