Saturday, September 30, 2017

monthly recap vol. 48 ~ September 2017



~Lately~



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! :) :)



~Reading~





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~

Frances:

Finally reading chapter books!

Ragweed by Avi

The Critter Club by Callie Barkley

The Candy Fairies by Helen Perelman

Molly:

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!

Albinism

the Deaf

Asian American

Hispanic American

African American

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

~Linking~

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!

~Watching~

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+!

~Eating~

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!


Week THREE

- 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.


Week FOUR

-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. :)

Friday, September 15, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 30 ~ lots of rainy days!

This week's post will be short. I am sick with a cold, but I did want to do a quick check-in.



Ok, we didn't get hit by Irma the way nearby Atl. area and much of Georgia/S. Georgia. But! We did have a lot of rainy days. So in that vein, I bring you....

Your "Mama's Rainy Day Arsenal" for SAHM's:

tea parties
raspberry tea! with sugar! :)
books
lay out a quilt with toys/books
nursery rhymes
bath time for kids  + book for Mama

#backintheday
Anders wearing the green shirt....


Conrad, wearing the same shirt Anders wore 4 years ago!



Anders in 3 month outfit, same size as Conrad :)

Conrad wearing a Skuid shirt (Daddy's work) #completelyadored



Me and my brother, Eric. 
He showed up at our house for dinner earlier this week, because he and his family evacuated Miami on account of Hurricane Irma!




This is the book I'm reading right now, as the rain drenches the windows and falls in sheets. 
 Helpful hint for parents and travelers: put your baby in the bath and read a good book! :)
What happens when a Nigerian-  born, NYC raised, Duke Divinity female student decides to leave behind her Catholic faith?
Find out this and more, in this challenging, somewhat rambling book!

And on a sidenote, this is the real conversation I had with my librarian this week:
-Can I check out these books?
-Actually, there is a balance of $43 on your card
-Oh, is it the Ninjago book?
-No, it looks like Bathtime With Ariel and We Are the Power Rangers
-me: {slinks away in mortified shame}
I'll check them out next time I'm here... {runs away as fast as possible-- afap}

This is what happens when it's rainy four-five days in a row! Lots of playing inside and emptying toy bins all over the floor! #keepitreal 
Yes, that *is* an air filter/noisemaker that got pushed over on its side by one of many toddlers-in-residence.

Look who took up habitation in Conrad's bassinet after said baby outgrew it?!

Have a great weekend! :)





Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why We Stopped Eating Out~ some thoughts and reasons


Today is just going to be a from-my-heart post, and it will probably be short. I just wanted to spill the beans about why we have basically completely stopped eating out.

About a year ago, Stephen and I made the decision to stop eating out. Now before you are slayed by how awesome we are, you should know that it was fighting that instigated this change.  It's not because we are so virtuous, righteous and awesome. Honestly, we couldn't stop fighting about the same things, over and over again.

This may not be forever, but here's why we ended up just quitting the dining-out scene for a year...

We Like to Save Money

Let's get the obvious out the way.  We've been dating for 12 years, counting the year before we got married. :) Eating out is not cheap; when you factor in drive time and tips, it can sometimes be outrageous compared with dining in.  Add in the cost for babysitting, (if you don't have free help) :) and it's not even really that fun anymore. Ha, ha.

We Like It to be Just Us

Oftentimes at a restaurant, we would get a really cute waitress, or we'd be seated opposite an attractive couple. I like people watching and I honestly have a bad habit of staring.  It was so distracting that at every meal we ate out, we were (I was) playing the comparison game. Her outfit, her shoes, his hair, her weight, his ability to small talk.... the list goes on. Then, Stephen. A laugh at the wrong time. A long interval with no words. Awkwardness. We started fighting about this type of stuff after almost every date.  Mostly it was stuff in my head. I would get in a funk. I wouldn't be able to get out; no amount of reasoning on Stephen's part did any good at all.

We Like Grilling

The food at restaurants is the reason people eat out, mainly, right? I know dressing up and looking cute is fun (for some people!), but I consider myself a foodie and I really enjoy good food. Stephen does too! We finally decided that by grilling out almost every weekend all Summer, we could save money and make food we really enjoyed eating.

We Like Eating at Home

My counselor recently suggested having another couple over for pizza, just as an idea for hospitality and dining in, but adding a fun element of a double date.  If you're with friends you trust, eating at home can truly be special! And delicious! :)

We Can Date Each Other in Other Ways

Stephen and I still get one-on-one time.  Mostly we enjoy nights at home, watching a show or movie together, playing a game, or drinking a glass of wine... :)

Exceptions

We do sometimes get take-out, and over the past year, we have met up with my parents/ our extended family for a meal at a restaurant a time or two.  When we went out of town this past year, we did end up eating out a little bit. When we went to the beach, we made pita sandwiches and ate chips and salsa for lunch everyday, had breakfast at the hotel, and only ate out in the evenings!

You may have thought it was the big tab for drinking, nope. (ha ha :0))  It really was these reasons here that made us change our mind on eating out!

Brennan Manning (famous Catholic priest and evangelist and friend to many) wrote, "Marriage by definition involves two people, not one. There are always two sides to every story, and the truth often hovers somewhere between the two." Stephen and I have often seen a situation differently. I'm only attempting to tell you how I think we have held onto our marriage in spite of dips and that of making it strong and full of purity.

Brennan Manning also said, 

"It's okay not to be okay. When you learn this, you are on the threshold of the greatest grace of your life."  #powerful #profound


I think everyone has weaknesses. We all go through hard times. Despite funks and moods, hormones, and tiredness, we all have bumps in the road. Marriage isn't easy as it is, but I have anxiety and depression, and I currently take medication for both. When something is fun, do it; but also, never be afraid to grow. When you get worn out I urge you, if you're tired of eating out, take a break! :)

I suppose eating out is for luxurious purposes more than anything else. I think we just made up our minds that we preferred other luxuries in life to the luxury of eating out.  :)










Friday, September 8, 2017

weekly minutiae vol. 29~ cooler weather, a birthday, and bugs

Well, the weather is finally getting cooler here in the South. I have been trying to get a good shot of Conrad at this phase. He is honestly our chubbiest baby that we have ever had! He is so sweet and adorable; there are no words for how happy-go-lucky his personality is so far. Sure, he has high-maintenance moments, but I guarantee his personality will be cheerful from here on out! (You really can identify a personality even at 3.5 months- trust me!) He is smiley, laugh-y, and funny!


Stephen has been my rock during the upheaval of transition to 6 kiddos. Usually the exhaustion of a new baby doesn't hit until around 4 months, for me. The other day I said to him, "If it seems insane {right around dinner time}, we are *raising six kids.* That's a lot of people."
He is patient, steady, and of a very even disposition - always the logical to my cray-to-the-max. :) I love Stephen; I am so glad I married him. Daily I thank God for giving me an amazing best friend.

Passion flower, which turns out, after an instagram friend pointed out to me, is actually a weed.

We went for a nature hike over labor day weekend, and we spotted so many beautiful wildflowers and other interesting growing things in nature.  I ended up going on three (!) walks the Saturday before labor day.  I took Molly for a walk, then I went out exploring for flowers and butterflies, and finally I took Annabel on a short walk to get her to fall asleep!
My parents have this resource at their River house (house on the TN river).
We have become nature freaks this Summer. Stephen bought like 10 of these Audubon field guides- we have insects, stars, birds, mammals, reptiles,  annnnd the list goes on. We spent a LOT of time in our backyard this Summer. More on that in a second.


I can't do a recap of our week without mentioning that this sweet cutie turned 2! 
She is such a gift.
Words do not express how sensitive and sweet she is.
She calls Frances Wis-a-wis because she can't yet say her f's.
She speaks in complete sentences, despite some mispronounced words.

We splurged on a cake from Rembrandt's coffee shop and cafe, but after one taste, I knew it was absolutely worth it. We haven't eaten out (on a date) in over a year, so buying a spendy cake that tasted DE-licious seemed justified in my mind.


huge grasshopper

We deemed this Summer 17 as "The Summer of Bugs," as Anders has developed a full-on obsession with finding bugs. He knows right where to find slugs, caterpillars, and ants... he loves the occasional roly-poly, as well as ladybugs. We consider a lizard or a large bug the jackpot!


a cicada exoskeleton found by yours truly :);)