Friday, October 13, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 33~ reading and fall break recap

This has been a very good, albeit busy week. The kids were on Fall Break, which means, a break from the usual grind, but utter chaos having six kids at home all week, trying to entertain them, and keep them busy (enough)!

Knowing myself, I took a break from my usual mid-week post to focus on the kiddos here and getting some more reading under my belt.  I'm trying to read 60 books this year, and I'll be honest: it has been harder than anticipated.....  basically,  because I had a baby in May, and, this is the highest book goal I have ever made for myself!  Having Fall Break this week, any extra time was spent reading-- another reason to shy away from blogging for a bit, and these littles and espesh the baby have definitely kept me on my toes.

I read 50 books last year. I have been reading some good stuff, though! I picked up quite a few YA on my last library run.  (If you missed it, I decided to do a book spending freeze until January.  I'm getting the rest of my book for the year's reading challenge at the library!  #myresolution)

Books for the kids: Silverstein, and De la Cruz.
All the rest, yep! They're for me!  :-D
YA fiction: We Were Liars, The Unexpected Everything,The Fault in Our Stars, The Giver (Middle Grade fiction)
Normal people books: Summer Island, Bridget Jones' Baby

Frances built a lego castle (belle's!) and I have to say, she did it totally on her own. I was around to make sure no pieces were lost and they sorted by colors as each new bag was opened. Otherwise, all her! 
The kids had a blast watching/helping/playing with her!  Surprisingly this was not the source of fights (that would be the paint that I bought for Fall Break... UGH)

Frances celebrating 7 Years Old! with some of her friends from church and school!
We went out for ice-cream and it was just the special treat we needed. Frances picked the place and friends showed up and made her so happy!
devil's food cake - with a 7 made out of M&M's -- hard to see but squint and you'll see it, promise

I made my amazing pumpkin spice syrup again this year. It is so easy!

Bring to a boil 1 c. water, 3 tbsp. pumpkin, 3/4 c. brown sugar, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). Stir 3-4 min. until thickened. Add a shot to steamed milk and 1 shot espresso (or as many shots as you need/want! :)

#31daysofdrinks over on instagram if you so desire! :)
Kids keeping me running in all directions.... all the more coffee to keep me going!!

Conrad-- so much like Daddy's baby pictures. Here he is delivering on his epic belly laugh. Signature Conrad-- so happy, always smiling, loves cooing/babbling and always, always laughing out loud! (He loves to be tickled with our chin/hair-- and he always grabs on tight to our hair. It is super cute but it also hurts! :-0

The last day of Fall Break, we went wading in the creek.

Prayers for #peace. And I won't back down.

Friday, October 6, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 32~ sadness and heartache

another week, another cappuccino... (no sugar, please, fyi!) :)

I didn't do a weekly minutiae post last week, because I was writing a What I'm Into, for the month of September, which you can read here.
the girls, doing a fashion show with Molly's friend on Saturday :0)

September was really hot and dry here.  I have to admit I was really bummed out on still wearing Summer clothes and sucking it up through these hot, dry days. Our yard looks burnt to a crisp. :(

This week was thankfully just more of the same... sticking to my daily routine, adding photos to my self-inflicted instagram challenge-- #31daysofdrinks, all while caring for the kids and trying to wear.them.out!
Stephen's photo... he took the kids for a hike at a local park! :)

And honestly, I don't want to bring it up, but facing the news of another gruesome mass shooting has put a huge damper on my week.

It has been humbling to read the news as the story has been unfolding, ever since Monday morning.

We are all experiencing the same emotions-- sadness, hopelessness, anger, grief, despair, and the same round and round, curious speculation: Why?

Friends, whether policy addresses mental illness, guns, lawmakers, or citizens, we all need to take responsibility.  State by state, we need to take on the challenge of violence, and do what we believe in needed in each, individual place.

You guys, we are all heartbroken. Let's put aside our differences.  Let's come together, closer than ever, as we are all humans.

Now is the not the time to argue about gun laws, as I have seen people doing all over social media.

Now is the time to love, to open up, to show grace, to pray for strength, and to pray for healing around the world and mostly here at home.

We found a baby lizard in the girls' bedroom this week... it looked like it had literally just "hatched" and crawled out of its egg and into their room!!!!

Frances on her 7th birthday!!! :)

This is our home. It is something to be proud of.  Let us learn from those who lost their lives, how to truly live life to the fullest, enjoy one another, and love one another.  Many people died dancing or singing, many family members held victims in their arms as they died, and they credited the victims as being their "best friends." This is sweet and inspiring, really.

May we all...

(full lyrics available here)

Inspiring also >>> my Aunt Gwenn knew Tom Petty personally... she went on a double date with him and her boyfriend.... to a Janis Joplin concert, no less.  She posted this pic of him in her high school yearbook. (Gainesville, FL) ;)

RIP Tom Petty

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wanted: A Pure Mind

Why, God? Why the senseless tragedy? 
Help us, send us angels of protection!

In the wake of senseless violence (Vegas) and the death of a man who championed lust and using women (Hefner), I think what is needed in our culture today is a pure mind. And of course we need men and women of pure minds, who scorn lust and all of Satan's empty promises!

I remember when I was a young Mom, I participated in a Bible Study every week. Although many times I wasn't in the mood to go, I was always glad when I did!! One week, one of the Moms ahead of the journey- a bit older than me- opened up about her own life when we were talking about having a servant's heart.  

She said, "One day, my husband and I got into a fight.  I complained all weekend about the kids and him not helping out around the house.  On Monday, I woke up with a headache. I admit, I didn't get much done that day.   My husband got home from work, and he said to me, 'Honey, what did you do all day?'  As he (and I) looked around, the house was still a wreck. There were piles of laundry and smudge marks.  I admitted that I had been out with some friends drinking on Saturday, and Sunday even....! When Monday rolled around, I still had a hangover...  I wasn't up to the task of taking care of our home, because I was too busy partying the weekend away."

Another Mom opened up about her own fight that past weekend. She said, "My husband really likes it when I iron his work clothes!!  One day, he came home from work, and I hadn't done any ironing that day. He got really upset, and he soon was barking at me: 'Why didn't you get my clothes ready for tomorrow?' I burst into tears, upset that I had let him down, but also angry and frustrated. I still had to clean up the dishes from dinner and do my own laundry for the day.  Instead of fighting with him, I promptly went upstairs and I ironed one shirt. I swallowed my pride, and I fought back anger and tears, and I just ironed one shirt."

I'll never forget either of those stories.

I think both of those stories speak volumes... and they are each profound in their own way.  The woman who ironed the shirt still comes up in my memory often, when I think about the need to serve my husband and show him love, rather than fighting or wishing for my own way.

A lot of time, we have so much on our plate, that our agendas feel too full to add "Servant's Heart" to our plate. Just ironing one shirt or washing one dish in the sink can feel like too much, like it will send us over the edge! 

But in a family, as in any community, people rely upon each other. We help each other, learn from each other, and of course, serve each other.

The hardest moments in life are when another person really needs us, but it would be easier to ignore their needs, their pleas, and their cries of the heart.  We have to take a deep breath, and sometimes swallowing our pride is just easier said than done.

On the other hand.... as we consider this, another thought springs into my head this day:

Everyone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed once in a while.

We should also be quick to extend grace and compassion when someone doesn't offer us a servant's heart.

But most of the time, we have to bite back our anger, or not listen when our flesh wants to run fast. We have to think ahead, and think of others. Rather than partying the weekend away, sometimes having a family means getting more done on the weekend, so that you can really sink into the rhythm of your routine on Monday and get done what you need to do for others. Rather than shopping for more clothes, sometimes being a servant means washing the clothes of those in your family during the time you wanted to go shopping.

In light of recent events...

"It makes no sense," said Paddock's brother.

But if you know anything about the shooter, you know that he was a man with guns, an addiction to gambling, and he stayed up all night frequently, with a father who was a psychopath.

Many celebrities spoke of Hefner in a positive light after his passing.

I can almost hear Paris Hilton saying, "It makes no sense."


Hefner and Paddock have something in common: They are both criminals.

Inside their minds, you are sure to find reasons for crime.

But what we all need to recognize: celebrities, and everyone else, is that there is a difference between someone with an informed conscience and someone who has no conscience. If they do, it is severely misinformed.

Deformity comes in all shapes.  We need to stop celebrating physical perfection and instead look at spiritual examples of beauty, beautiful souls if you will!

It's hard- for not just me, but for everyone... to choose purity and to choose servitude. Because living in a family is hard and making sacrifices is hard. Saying no to your flesh will never come naturally. 

But the sooner you learn to do it right away, the easier it gets, certainly. I tried this recently: just do one act of service for someone else, and see what it does:
takes your mind off yourself
cheers you up
changes your perspective from self-pity to redemption-mindedness!

St. Michael, the archangel defend us in battle against an increasingly violent, impure culture!!!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

monthly recap vol. 48 ~ September 2017


September kicked off with a good labor day; we spent the weekend on the river: going for walks, noticing nature and wildflowers in all their glory, and eating good food that Stephen cooked for us on the grill.
all six kids!

Annabel's birthday was also at the beginning of this month. We splurged on a very special, delicious cake and she got some cute little toys.... she requested Shopkins and Trolls! :0) :-)~ Yes, she is now two, and boy, does she act like it! :0)

I also lucked out by getting to go on a fun trip/adventure to Atlanta near the end of the month. I met my friend Libba in Atlanta; she came up halfway from Athens, and we had a city-adventure for the day, hopping around from Starbucks, to Winn Park, to The Varsity for lunch! So much fun and the perfect amount of time for a get-together!

I capped it all off with a fender bender (almost)*, and whole lot of reading... I'm finally taking my reading challenge for the year seriously, but I admit, I am woefully behind on my goal/ reading challenge.  I am not above admitting that I'll be looking for easy reads at the library for these last few months of the year! :) :)


finished -- The Interestings and They Say We Are Infidels {from August}

read {this month}

Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
4/5 stars

Reluctant Pilgrim by Enuma Okoro
3/5 stars

All is Grace by Brennan Manning
5/5 stars

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
3/5 stars

Home by Toni Morrison
3/5 stars

Take This Bread  by Sara Miles
(on my kindle but I have yet to finish it)

I don't have much to say in the way of reviews this month. Winter Garden took so much coffee to get through... it was 394 pages about the Soviet Union's sad history of war and famine... I found myself depressed and sometimes snoozy... the book as a whole was satisfying, though.

~Kids Are Reading~


Finally reading chapter books!

Ragweed by Avi

The Critter Club by Callie Barkley

The Candy Fairies by Helen Perelman


Molly is really into audiobooks! She can listen all day when she get the right book/ something she is thoroughly captivated by! ;-)

The Descendants and Counting by 7's -- both on audiobook

~Instagram follows~

Instagram has become an interesting place, hasn't it?!  In the past few months, I have noticed a lot of diversity in my feed and with my followers. Here are some fun, diverse accounts (or accounts that celebrate or embrace diversity!) that I recommend you follow, too!


the Deaf

Asian American

Hispanic American

African American

I am so blessed to call many of this list my tribe.


Ellen has had some interesting stuff on her show lately. I saw this interview with a trans couple (very worth watching, even if just to see what's out there and going on in our world)  and then, this little girl who has a talent with her bunny puppet! {{{.... so cute...}}}

Renee Zellweger Surprises Houston Pet Rescue Group

What an inspirational story!


We borrowed The Illusionist... from the makers of one of my all-time favorite movies, The Triplets of Belleville.  It was very good, and it had a deeper meaning than many movies these days! And we were able to watch it as a family. A+!


this -- so good!

Frances' drawing/artwork of St. Francis of Assisi

I was getting on the interstate, and recently roadwork caused a merge lane to need a stop sign rather than a yield sign. The young girl who hit me didn't see me stop and she hit my car pretty hard! :(
linking up with Leigh KramerSaveSave

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Two { More } Sanity-Saving Experiments

I was amazed at how well my "experiment" for cleaning my house went this Fall.  I do a lot of spot cleaning (fridge, floors, etc) but doing a complete overhaul in the period of one month was an inspiring project for me! It was great and I learned so much! In fact, I am so amazed at the power of a little bit of consistency, that I can't wait to apply it to other areas of homemaking, to see if I can get the same results.

You see, I have always thought that variety is the spice of life. But I think consistency is the backbone of life. Consistency is the strength of life.

I need consistency in all areas... definitely homemaking habits... but also especially with my shopping habits. Lately, I have shopped around for good deals, and I visited a large and wide variety of stores to get all of my errands done. I shopped at Whole Foods, Aldi, Food City (kind of like a Kroger), Target, and various shops near the Mall! I have noticed that not only does this variety sap me of energy, it gives me serious decision fatigue as well.

So for the next three months, I am going to do these two, simple things.

1) Shop at Walmart and Publix only

I have a set day of the week for doing my shopping. Mondays I go get staples, as well as stuff for the house/office for the week. Tuesdays I get the remaining groceries we need for good, yummy dinners. I will go to Walmart every Monday, and Publix every Tuesday for the rest of the year. I will also swear off doing any online shopping or impulse buys!

2) Use the library for books for the rest of the year

I have had a bad habit of buying too many books brand new from Amazon. I have made a resolution not to buy *any* new books for the rest of the year. No Kindle, no ordering off Amazon, no used or local bookstores. I'm also going to get all of our holiday books for the kids at the library this year. I'm going library all the way, and I plan to do this in order to save money, primarily!

Here's what my week-to-week will look like!

Monday- Walmart
Tuesday- Publix/ Storytime/ deep/heavy Cleaning
Wednesday- Miscellaneous outings/ Downtown Coffeeshop/ Kids' play area
Thursday- the Dollar Store
Friday- the Library/ purge clutter :)~

I have also hired outside housekeeping help. She will mop and do dishes and laundry (every other Monday at the moment), and I'm planning to change sheets and vacuum every Tuesday.

I am so excited to see how these two simple changes toward the direction of simplicity and consistency will change my life-- my budget, my shopping habits, and my grocery bill/meals every week! Yay!

What do you do to save your sanity when it comes to the finer points of homemaking and life?

Friday, September 22, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 31 ~ the varsity and finally chugging!

Do you ever feel like you just can't get momentum in life? It's like you're not really "chugging"  yet. You have the rails laid down, but life doesn't align with the rails- or the habits- that you have set in place.  I experienced that the first month of school this year.  It was so frustrating. I got sick, we lost backpacks, the kids wouldn't nap. But happily, I can now say that we've adjusted to the new routine/schedule of 4 kids in school, and I'm definitely tooting along now.  I think I'll stop forgetting to buy ziplock bags within the school year.  :)~ ha ha ha

I had a really fun weekend this past week. I met up with my friend Libba in Atlanta. We met at Starbucks, went to Winn Park for playing and talking/catching up, then had lunch at The Varsity - all with our littles in tow! It was so much fun and always good to catch up with a dear friend (and roommate in college!)  Perfect way to spend a Saturday. #love #friendship #nojudgmenthere #:)

We even got our kids milkshakes! On the ride home, I heard a tiny voice say, 'That's weally cold." I look back and Annabel was *covered* in chocolate milkshake! 😂

Adelaide and Annabel with their new friend at the playground! #sofriendly!
We even met another little girl whose name was Annabel, spelled the same way as our Annabel! Except her middle name was Marie, not Clare. (yes, I asked :) :)

Libba, you "winn"!!! :)
(this was the best pic I could find.... ):)

The rest of the week was very productive. I finally figured out the perfect way to order a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Only 2 shots of syrup instead of 3, low steam (less steam in the milk:0).  It is so delicious *this* way. The normal way is too sweet and foamy and it makes me gag.

^^hydrangeas... and everyone should read this book!^^

I'm so glad not to be sick anymore!!!  I've been reading more {and more!} this month and I've even done a little bit of painting with acrylic and watercolor.

Stephen and I have gotten sucked into yet another season of Portlandia.  I told him I think the humor is waning. Ever since about season 5, the tension between Fred and Carrie became unbearable. I'm not sure about their personal lives, so I cannot vouch that this is true. I think this season is showing their romantic tension even more. I have to finish season 7 before I can give you the full review, but my favorite skit and I think the peak of the show was the Flaming Lips concert episode.  It just got less funny the last 2 seasons! But I still think we love it.... b/c we laugh hysterically through every episode.

Speaking of laughing hysertically, we also discovered An Idiot Abroad, produced by Ricky Gervais, and it is very v. funny. Since we are both huge Ricky fans, this has been a load of fun, and I'm surprised we have just now gotten into it.  Ricky's humor infiltrates the show, and Karl is hysterical as the confused traveler, as well.

cuties :0)

I have to say that even with being stretched to my limits with busyness taking care of these kids, what really centers me more than exercise, good food, and friendship is my time at Mass every week. It is a time to get refreshed in motherhood, encouraged in my vocation, and inspired to live a life of faith. My walk with God is the biggest source of grace in my life. I derive energy from Communion (so much energy!!) every single week. I praise God for his provision and love and for the friendships I have made in our community at Church!

I would like to say we are traveling or doing something special for Fall Break, but I think we're just trying to focus on getting our renovations out of the way first, then we can think about travel again. This somewhat depresses me, but I'll just keep reading books and focusing on my routine and keeping the kids sane, well-fed, dressed appropriately, and finished with their homework. :) :)

cheers. :)~

Also does anyone know will Fall will start back up again in the South? We had two lovely weeks of Fallish weather and cool, rainy days, then it turned miserably hot... Stephen read me the weather and I almost cried. Since I've been pouring sweat, I started my cussing habit back up again. Must get to confession.
#wm #weeklyminutiae

{At least I go to mass every single Sunday now that I'm not prejdgers!!!} :-) :-0

will update photo soon, promise :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

House Cleaning Recap 2017 + an important PSA

It has now been one month exactly since I posted about getting my house in shape for the Fall weather approaching! I would love to say that my house is always pristine and Pinterest-worthy/Pinterest perfect, but with six kids underfoot, we have some heavily trafficked areas and nothing is that easy!

If you missed the original post, I announced that I would spend one month deep cleaning my entire house and purging all of the stuff cluttering our life, by donating to either Goodwill or Salvation Army! (no yard sales or craigslist for me... just not my style but if it's yours, great! Mainly just #stressful...!:)  I think one month is a perfect interval for this type of project!

Thoughts and takeaways from my month of cleaning house...

It has, indeed, been crazy.... but I did get a few takeaways from the experience! ::

thoughts.... :)

Week ONE

- if you find cat throw up outside your kids' room on kitchen-cleaning day, calmly ignore it until you have cleaned and washed your fridge and emptied and decluttered/cleaned 7/12 kitchen cabinets. You can wipe it up when you're done.

- You can work slowly, incrementally on the kids' closets and the great heap of accumulated toys (I don't even know where half of this stuff comes from! Randomly found an easter basket under Madeleine's bed... empty, but why??!) If it's hard to catch a moment to work, stop. Drink water. Evaluate (Maybe search for a few ideas on organization while you nurse the baby down and get a show on for the littles)

- You will notice that daily tasks get easier when you eat the frog-- be it cleaning out the fridge
{gross }, cleaning all the closets, or cleaning the bathrooms {double gross!}

- We have three bathrooms in our house. Stephen was UBER-pleased that I very deeply cleaned all three bathrooms over the course of three days that first week.  What a relief, and it brought joy to all in my home!

Week TWO

- You will happily ignore the last six or seven cabinets in your kitchen to do the easy stuff (wipe down counters, sweep up under the table, change a lightbulb or seven, vacuum the crackers for the 17th time this week) :)

- In general when tackling a specific project, do the hardest thing first-- for example clean out the fridge, THEN worry about the bazillions of cabinets in your kitchen

- The easiest way to tackle the hardest jobs really is to take everything out. It totally works!!!! Yes, I did eventually (eventually) clean out all of the kitchen cabinets....... this project took longer than I thought it would, needless to say. :0(

-Wrapped up week two with a run to Salvation Army to donate a BUNCH of dishes and unused kitchen appliances. Hurray!


- I have a girls' night, so I have to go through all of our office supplies... this in turn motivates me to clean out our art cabinet which I wasn't planning on doing till the final week!

-Moving upstairs, I decided almost exactly halfway through this experiment to do the "Official Capsule Wardrobe" which is exactly 33 pieces of clothing, accessories and shoes left in your closet.  I got rid of two bags of stuff-- shoes, outdated clothes, and some maternity pieces that I never wear any more!

^^ Best Decision Ever ^^  #nocontest  because this results in a complete closet make-over! :) :D

-Go up into the attic for a "Prep Moment" and feel utterly defeated by the clutter, mess, and complete chaos

-Feel super discouraged :(  :(  :(  After three weeks of pushing, the catalyst originally inciting me to work is draining.


-When you hit a wall, in which you think there is no return, and you will never, ever have the motivation to clean. ever. again.  invite people over to your house for dinner. I usually keep up on chores, but doing an overhaul of the downstairs isn't usually on my agenda.

-We invited people over on a Saturday night, and not only did I clean, declutter, and vacuum the entire downstairs in a few hours, I went upstairs and changed all the sheets on the beds, cleaned out the linen closet, and cleared off all of the upstairs desks (the closets are another story; they are already accumulated dirt even though I started the month off cleaning them!!! )

- Last but not least, I finally take on the chore that I've been dreading: the freezer!  Yes, I took everything out. I was shocked at how easy it was to clean, even though it had been over 6 months since I had done it! I threw out a few things, wiped it down completely, then came back later to deal with the tupperware containers that needed to be washed. A little work goes a long way toward accomplishing your goals! #juststart

Magazines give us the illusion that you either have a tidy living space, or a messy one. The truth is, a clean home always takes a lot of work, and *no one* is born clean. We can all learn to tidy everyday and deep clean by good habits. But sometimes a kick in the pants is what's needed! After one month focusing on tasks I added to my weekly chores and deep cleaning, I can honestly say I will happily try this project again someday soon.

I learned so much, and I'm so thankful for our surroundings once again. Taking a little time to give the whole place some serious TLC made me more appreciative of all the gifts God has given us and the blessings (sometimes in disguise!) of STUFF.

by the by.... my publix service announcement if you missed it, my post for Dappled Things ~ Wuthering Heights and the Eventual Doom of Ignorance went out this past Sunday.

God bless YOU and be with you. :)