Friday, August 18, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 27 ~ a baby kitty


This week we found a stray cat.  I was out for my evening walk, when I ran into this adorable kitten who looked *just* like our cat, Yo-Yo, except with brown paws instead of white. I told Stephen she looked like a dirty Yo-Yo.... :)  I took a picture of her so that I could show the kids the amazing resemblance!
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The next night, I was out for a walk again, and this time she came up to me and was being so sweet. She let me pet her. She seemed hungry, so I decided to try walking her back to our house. She complied. She was so sweet; she put her paw on my chest as we walked back home- about 1 1/2 blocks.

We became a temporary pet shelter/foster home for this sweet kitty from Saturday until Monday night.  Ironically enough, the Pet Shelter we visit doesn't open until Tuesdays, and our little kitty who we named Chloe (after my childhood cat), had disappeared overnight Monday!

The kids have really enjoyed taking this kitty into their care. They have fed her, loved her, petted, her, given her towels to sleep on and even some of their most beloved stuffed animals to be her friends! We gave her so much water.  I complained to Stephen that if we took her to a shelter, she would be couped up in a cage, and perhaps the home they find for her wouldn't be as nice as ours'! Maybe we could teach her Ballet?


He kept insisting: "No more pets!!" To which I think is wise, but we were all trying not to fall in love with her!

Wednesday rolled around, and still no kitty. I had a dentist appointment, so I was otherwise engaged and the kids had a babysitter. Thursday we slowly drove around the neighborhood to make sure she wasn't lurking where she had been when I found her on my walk.


Perhaps she went home to her owners. I don't know why she seemed homeless and hungry, though!  I hope she didn't go back to a bad or unhappy situation!!!!! We think she may have even been pregnant. :-)

Poor baby.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Taking charge: one month to a cleaner home, with a playlist!



Do y'all remember when Barbies and American Girls were the only toys? I guess they dominated my childhood, so maybe I just assumed that?  I try not  to clean bathrooms everyday; some days I'm happy to add mopping to my daily routine of shining the sink and doing laundry before 9am. Bake a loaf of bread and call me Martha D. Stewart. However, if I have to add clutter to my daily routine, you can count on it: I'm running out in circles like a headless chicken once again. My girls may as well be Addy for the way they imitate my ways.  #barbies #americangirls #minifashionistas

Anyhoo.... I'm currently reading Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall*, and in it, she takes on one experiment per week, in order to live her own life to the fullest (all while trying to stay off Facebook. lol:).  One week she focuses on exercise, one week she focuses on home, one week meals, one week she identifies her passions, so that she can stay true to the way God created her in the way she uses her time.

This concept inspired me.  Lately, it seems that toys and especially unwanted ones have been recently taking over my house. Six kids with birthdays and Christmas every year is starting to (majorly) add up to clutter...**

I found this post on Passion for Savings about taking charge of home organization over a period of 8 weeks.  Because that would take until mid-October (uhhh, no... ;), I decided to up my game, thus improving our living space in less time and with less headache.  We have a few home projects on our agenda for this Fall, so I need to get things organized a bit sooner than that. Thus, my interval required is one month. One month of intensity, rather than procrastination. One month to home organization will look like this! :)

-Week One: Closets and Bathrooms (eat that frog! #bathrooms)

-Week Two: Bedrooms and Play Areas

-Week Three: Kitchen and Office

-Week Four: Laundry Room and Shed

Before we start, we are taking a trip to the dump this weekend to get rid of any unwanted clutter right off the bat. We already had this planned, but it just makes sense to start with a clean, uncluttered state. I'm going to try to do the bulk of the work after the kids go to bed, so that I'm not trying to reach perfection. However, the fact that they will be in school over the course of the next month will improve my mood and and my efficiency tremendously, I'm sure.

I'll make a list to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. I'll do the cleaning required. :) Then, at the end of the two months, I'm sure we'll have to take another trip to the dump as well as a trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army to donate unused items!!!

1. C/B (refer above)
Take everything out.
I'll start with closets and bathrooms by taking everything out, making sure our closets are completely cleared out then put back together in order. I will scrub down our bathrooms, toilets, showers, sinks, and bathtubs. I'll give these things a deep clean and a fresh slate.

2. B/A
Take everything out.
Then, I'll tackle all of the areas where kids play and we have heavy Kid-Traffic.  We'll take a trip to the dollar tres every Friday to get any needed organization bins or other supplies.

3. K/O
Take everything out.
Third, I'll clean out the spaces where we keep school supplies, as well as office items. I will completely clear out the storage areas and the kitchen and put back only the things we have used in the last year. Everything else will be put in the donate pile and I'll take to Goodwill.

4. LR/S
Take everything out.
Finally, I'll deal with our storage areas: namely, laundry room and the garden shed (as we don't have a garage).  Again, I'll clear out anything that we don't use.  I'll take it all out, get the needed supplies or shelving for organization, clean it, and put it back in neatly.


I have an awesome Spotify playlist to accompany me on this journey. 'Songs That Are Slow.' Want to see it?



I'll come back in exactly one month (in September!) to tell you guys/ya'll how it went!
*MOPS director in Colorado
**Insert never enter Dollar General again

Friday, August 11, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 26~ school starting!


Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade, and Fourth Grade :-0

Well, it finally happened. School started.  I remember this time last year, I was so nervous for Madeleine as she started Pre-K. This year, I wasn't nervous at all sending Anders to Pre-K. I think he is so ready, and he will adjust really well. His personality is such that I think he will adapt to the routine smoothly and without nerves. I'm so happy for him! He is going to learn so much! We are already talking about shapes, sight words, and what to eat for lunch in the cafeteria! :0)


It was a very good Summer. The kids participated in two VBS programs, they attended camp in Nashville, we went to the beach, we did a bunch of reading, we played in the splash pads, and we drank a lot of coffee. But not too much. #tallplease


As for Molly's Summer reading.  Stephen bought the Kindle for Molly in June (as I mentioned in this post here) and helped her to load the games and books she was interested in reading.  I have to admit,  a lot of the things she picked fell into the "entertainment" category.  She was reading, which is good, but a lot of the books were entertaining more than educational! :)

When we finally got down to brass tacks and made sure she was doing her Summer reading, she read two books -- Ramona Quimby (this one) and Percy Jackson- The Lightning Thief (from the list)-- and planned to read the Poppy series by Avi to round out her five books.  Then we found out (by finally actually printing off the list for her to fill in) that she had to read three fiction books and two nonfiction books.  She read Geronimo Stilton as her final fiction book, and then read two of the "Who Was.." series of books to fulfill her nonfiction requirement.  I have to say, I think these books are commendable. We picked them from her School Summer reading list, of course, and I couldn't be happier with their content. I had sort of written these books off as too simple for Molly, but it turns out they were just great.

All in all, her Summer Reading couldn't have gone better. Of course I could fall into the comparison trap and wonder why she wasn't glowing with joy to read long, educational books all Summer long, but let's be honest. I rotate between entertaining reads and educational books myself! I honestly think that's ok. I try my hardest not to read crap* ... but I honestly, I think some easy reads can improve reading speed, and perhaps almost as importantly, it can do wonders for confidence.  A lot of what I read has to do with keeping up with pop culture. While that shouldn't be our primary source of nourishment, there is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing what's going on in the world and in our country.  That is not limited to politics only- it also applies to culture!!**

I'm not going to lie or pretend and say this Summer was without trials and struggles.  Why would I do that?  But consider: I had a brand new baby (just in May...), I have six kids nine and under (5 of them 6 and under!!!), and I am JUST ONE PERSON.  The pressure we put on ourselves, people!

I'm excited (truly) about having Annabel and Conrad at home and focusing on them for a while. I love the 2's and the 6 month ages so much. Fun to hold a little baby, and fun to have one you can talk to.  And I love play-doh!  Bring it on!
outtakes: 
"what grade are you in this year?"
"say, monkey lunchbox!"

Funny Things They Say:

conversation at dinner that night:
Madeleine: I didn't like Kindergarten, I loved Kindergarten!
Frances: I didn't like First Grade, I loved First Grade!
Molly: I didn't like Fourth Grade, I loved Fourth Grade!

Anders: I think I left my nap buddy at school, but I will *not* cry.   #lol

Annabel: With a ba-ba here and a ba-ba there....


My number one goal for this year is to just enjoy it.  Some days I'm so focused on the roadblocks in my life, that I'm a slave to my bad attitude. Instead I'll take them in stride and enjoy the days and myself in the midst of the struggles. I know I can do better. I think being organized has a lot to do with it. My theme verse for the fall has to do with not worrying, and trusting in God to take care of me, my needs, our needs. God's hand, and protection.  Chip Gaines has said that he likes to treat everyday like it's Saturday. I am going to live everyday like I'm on vacation. Relaxed, no worries. Be happy.... :) :D

So... anyway.. We did it. We bought the shoes. We did the doctor visits. We got the school supplies. We got our hair did.

Time to learn!

*or sh**
**duh

Friday, August 4, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 25~ getting ready for school!



So, I have been walking almost every night for the past year, minus the couple of weeks after Conrad's birth. It has been so nice to get back into that routine! This week, I saw a rabbit, a beautiful sunset, and green peppers growing in our neighborhood community garden.
two months old! :)

This is our last full week of Summer, since school starts for four out of six of our kids next Wednesday.  I'm excited about the upcoming days; the weather getting cooler, having just Annabel and Conrad at home most of the time, and seeing my children flourish in their school. I'm actually behind where I was at this time last year for getting the kids ready.  Last year I had their school supplies, shoes, and backpacks all ready to go, but I have been overwhelmed by birthdays, travel catch-up, and Conrad just in general!

Molly has been working hard to finish her Summer Reading list. We checked out a bunch of picture books from the lists to get Frances and Madeleine back in the game for starting First Grade and Kindergarten, respectively.  I seriously cannot believe that Anders will be in Pre-K this year.

I made this gift basket and shared it on instagram as a gift idea for a new Mama. It is actually for a friend of mine who just had her eighth (!!!) baby, a little boy!


Anders turned 4 this week, so we celebrated with friends and family by the pool and at Chuck E. Cheese.

I'm so glad it's Friday and the weekend, ya'll.

I'm still reflecting happily on our trip to the beach last week.  It took me about 3-4 days to catch up on laundry and house chores, but the pay-off of a relaxing trip like that will be radiating in me for a long while, I'm sure. The memories can't be priced.
car wash, vacuum out car, errands, tired baby!

Now, to crunch-time: chores, errands, doctor's appointments, buying shoes, etc!  I will breathe a huge sigh of relief come next Wednesday. To all of the teachers out there: We all owe you big-time, and you definitely deserve all of the credit, honor, kudos and more!! :)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Changing Goals: New {School} Year's Resolutions


Changing Goals

Almost every year, I like to write a post chronicling my new (school) year resolutions. Although I haven't started shopping for Fall clothes, I have started mentally preparing myself for the upcoming year.

I know now that my goals have changed since Molly was a little girl.  At that time, I was attempting to homeschool her (for her Pre-K 3 & 4 years), and I had a notebook keeping track of our goals and progress.

When I Was a Homeschooling Mom...

I just found my notebook from when I was homeschooling her.  Here were some of my entries:

-My homeschool planner

As you can see, I got this free homeschool planner print-out (worksheet) from the Life Your Way collection of homeschooling printables ~ recommended! ;)


-My mission and goals

a little cheesy, slightly embarrassing, and very idealistic!


-My Weekly Cleaning checklist

never bored, I tell you!!! :)


-the I'm Bored antidote list

livin' la vida crazier than thou ;)


-Theme verses for the Fall

Perfect for rainy days and copywork!:)


-morals a la Charlotte Mason

I love this list! :0)

This notebook also included...
-Scripture memory work/verses
-lesson plans with counting (math) and reading (spelling)
-DIY ideas
-places to go- landmarks, historical sites, religious sites, etc.

Now...

Now when I look back at my notebooks, I see two things. I see idealism, and I see ignorance.  Why?  I see idealism because it surely made God laugh back then when I was trying so hard to be a perfect Mom to just Molly.  My list of personal improvement was a mile long. My desire for her as a baby was a mile long. HA! "Just wait.." I can hear God saying. "Wait until you have 6 kids."

And I see ignorance because ... well, there is no such thing as the perfect Mom.  My goals have changed so significantly, that, I guarantee it is because I have more knowledge and understanding now. I kept adding more burdens to my ever-growing list of "accomplishments" in the flesh and my accomplishments in the Spirit.

So how have my goals changed since having 6 kids?

I don't say or think, "A picnic in the park is the same thing as an education."  I try to say, "Here are my goals for enjoying my area-- visit a park, go shopping, visit a cupcake shop downtown, visit a historic location, do some home improvements, enjoy my friends, visit other churches, go creek wading, go to Ikea." :)

And I also say, "My goals for the holidays are -- have organized decor, organized craft supplies, DIY whenever you can, make home improvements."

And then I say, "My goals for education are..."

Because in between Summer and the Holiday season? Crunch time.  Intensity.  Lots of reading. Lots of words. Lots of spelling lists. Lots of math sheets. Tons of growth time in the Spirit.  (School is learning curve for us Moms too, isn't Moms?!)  It isn't a walk in the park. An education is a full-time job.  Homework, errands, supplies, to-do's.  It's intense because it matters.  It's a delicate balance of fast and slow. You try to fit it all in, yet you try to practice the virtue of patience. It's intense because the repetition and work required to learn to read, write, and do real math is HARD.  Having the accountability to stay focused isn't an idealized version of Family Matters and it isn't a 5 minute youtube video.

If I were still homeschooling, I know what I would prioritize more than the nature walks and the acting clubs.  I know what I would write other than a shopping list for Target. I would prioritize the long books, the writing of 1,000 words to be successful, the internalization of Scripture. You cannot put a price-tag on wisdom. And that's why I have to be organized. That's why this bears repeating. Because this is a serious business.



Friday, July 28, 2017

Monthly Recap vol. 45 ~ July 2017 The Beach and some news!

~Lately~

It has been a hot July, though we've had a lot of beautiful blooming trees, thunderstorms, and cool nights perfect for catching fireflies.






Also, lately... a beach trip to Pensacola, Florida.  This is a great beach for us. It's only 6 hours away and a beautiful area.  So much fun to be had!!!!:)

~Reading~

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

I thought it would be cliche to read the story of the famous Fixer Upper stars, but it turns out their story is fantastic.  Chip Gaines was sorta a hero around town, helping homeless, mentoring young kids, and generously employing college kids.  Turns out they do not only seem nice, they're legit Christian people with a really amazing story to tell. 5 stars!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I had extremely mixed feelings about this book. If the premise isn't a reflection of L.A. culture, I don't know what is.  A woman with seven husbands, who doesn't love a single one of them.  There are plot twists from the beginning, that continue to the end. She keeps the reader guessing. It's an easy read with plenty of drama. I didn't expect the emphasis on race, but that ended up being a highlight for me. :)  She brings to light the emptiness of spotlight culture, but it's deeper than that.

The reviews rave about this book being heartfelt, but that's not why I was interested in reading to the end. Rather, the drama and the star-worthy writing which reflects the shallow LA culture kept me interested. The let-down in this book, however, lies with her desire to be culturally relevant and instead hitting some really clangy desperate-to-be-politically-correct notes instead.

Wuthering Heights-- by Emily Bronte~  review to come!

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (reread!)

~Watching~

Young and Hungry

This is such a great example of how the marriage vows are a total joke in our culture. If you want to see what American culture gets **Wrong** check this show out (on Netflix).

The Office (American version)

I do recognize that the subject matter here is the problem with dirty jokes. I have to take what I can get.... and at least Steve Carell is actually funny.

Nine Lives

The kids have been into Tom and Jerry recently, so watching this cat movie as a family was a nice change. Starring Kevin Spacey and some others.

The Descendants 2

Apparently Disney is trying to show that you can fight evil with evil (the descendants of Disney's famous villains).  Hmm... not sure that's a valid premise, but the dancing in water scene was a hit with my girls.

~Linking~

For Years, I Felt Guilty For Not Liking the Hook-up Culture @ Verily

I am loving Oui Fresh, the newly updated (or is it new?) shop from A Beautiful Mess!  Check out this t-shirt!

~Writing~

I got very few hits this month, mainly because I have let link-ups go.

A Few (Some) Thoughts on Parenting

Why Covenant Theology Matters (And Why Catholics *Should* Take Note(s))

The Life-Changing Marriage Advice That Really Works 

"Am I mad? Else wise the world is mad and I the tortured same trapped within it."

I do have some very exciting news to share, though. I am going to be a regular contributor and book reviewer for Dappled Things, starting this Fall. I can't wait to update you on that.

Cheers and Cheerio!

linking up with Leigh Kramer

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Some Notes on Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy



When I was little, my parents observed Sabbath rest. I remember *only once* my Dad asked me to clean a bookshelf on a Sunday afternoon. I said, "But Dad, I'm not supposed to do work on Sundays!" And he quipped, "You can do work on Sunday only if you didn't get done what you were supposed to do on Saturday."  It was one minor chore- I knew what he meant.

We all know that the national chain Chik-fil-a keeps it doors closed on Sundays, and guess what? It seems to be working. "They say our chicken tastes better on Mondays..."  Did you know that they make more per store than other fast food chains (except Dunkin Donuts!!), and they have stayed consistent with their policy in every new store opened, in every location?  Yum! Love me some CFA. :)

Recently, I have had on my mind the topic of the Sabbath.  I have had a hard time going to Mass every single Sunday this past year.  It is common practice for our entire family to go to Mass every week. Stephen hasn't missed a Sunday this year.  I have missed a few due to pregnancy sickness & exhaustion, as well as some 'mental health days.'  But you know what? God gives us Sabbath rest as a gift, because he knows that we humans need it! And it gives us grace! :) But the important thing to remember with all of this is that Sundays and Mass attendance should not be seen as miserable or a terrible duty.

I think that - despite those days when we are too sick to attend Mass- we need to think about Sabbath rest in terms of Mass attendance as first priority. It is a grave, nay even mortal sin, to miss Mass. It is spiritual food and it is the best way to stay healthy spiritually.  If you receive communion, you have a Sunday obligation to be at Mass. Let's think about putting the effort we normally put into work, instead into the act of going to Mass.

Channel the energy you would normally use for work, and put that energy into getting up, getting dressed, and driving to Mass.

Additionally, we also need to think about what it means to observe this Sabbath rest all day long on Sundays.

However, we take little allowances, we make excuses, we make compromises.

I'm pretty sure God doesn't see work on Sundays as glorifying the fourth commandment.

How could we observe the Sabbath without "doing the work I was supposed to do yesterday"?

I know that I always get the most done when I make a list.

Instead of making a to-do list, make a "my rest" list.  Write it down. Follow it to a t.

It might look like this:

-Attend Mass
-Practice drawing
-Go for a walk
-Take a nap
-Cook a good meal
-Play a family game
-Go for a drive/swim/bike ride
-Read a good book
-Listen to peaceful music

Write down some things you might find relaxing.  Other than Mass attendance, how would you be able to enjoy your day of rest, as well as giving glory to your Heavenly Father?

You might also make a "to-don't list" that might look like this:

-Don't cut the grass
-Don't do laundry
-Don't do the ironing
-Don't go shopping
-Don't check Facebook
-the dishes/sweeping are mandatory, but make it easy on yourself

Take a rest from your daily routine, and I guarantee you will feel mightily rested on Monday, and refreshed, and in my experience, you'll get even more done and be more productive on Monday-- because God rewards the righteous, as it says in the Proverbs, "The way of the lazy is a hedge of thorns, but the path of the righteous is made a highway."

A few tips:

-Let's say you find yourself sorting laundry out of habit on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe this will help: consider that the night before Sunday (Saturday after sundown) is also considered Sabbath.  That means once the sun goes down on Sunday, if you need to get your laundry done before Monday, you can do it then.
-Remember that with that, you shouldn't do work on Saturday night!
-If you are abstaining from something for religious reasons, remember that Sundays are a day of rest and a day of feasting (particularly, during the season of Lent)
-If you are using Sabbath rest to be lazy, consider that watching sports, avoiding dishes, and sleeping in do not count as Sabbath, because those things are not honoring to God! These things are done out of the desires of the flesh!:)
-Most importantly, make your priority: spirit over flesh. Live by the spirit, not by legalistic rules. Trust your conscience and try to live a holy life. Decisions will flow out from that first posture. :)
-Try to enjoy Sundays- they're a gift from God, not a miserable duty as some would have you believe!


May God bless you.