This. That. Mom.

Some of this and some of that. Musings of an ordinary mom.


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Miracles and Marinara

Now that I shared our great news, please allow me to share something that happened a couple weeks ago, that says a lot about pregnancy.

I was in the pickup line at the end of the school day. Waiting to get the schooligans is usually one of my favorite times with the little kids, but not this day. I had a headache, and it was a little hot in the car. The kids were singing, and I started to feel nauseous. It was raining pretty hard, so I couldn’t put the windows down for fresh air. The line wasn’t moving, and I started to feel a bit desperate.

I’m going to get sick in here, I thought. I rummaged around for a plastic bag or bucket or diaper or basically anything (in case you’re feeling like I’ve got it together, I’ll be sure to post soon about the ridiculous state of my vehicle).

And then it hit me. I knew with every fiber of my being that if I could just get home and eat marinara sauce straight out of the jar, I would be fine.

I could not make this stuff up. The soothing thought of COLD PASTA SAUCE and some deep breathing got me through that pickup.

And I was totally right. I got home, ate pasta sauce straight out of the jar, and instantly felt fine.

Don’t worry about the double-dipping – I threw the jar away the next day because it was suddenly repulsive.

It takes a lot of miracles coming together to make a baby. And, sometimes, a little marinara.

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What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve NEEDED when pregnant or gotten for your significant other??


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Totally worth it.

Here we are before our annual “fancy Easter brunch.”

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Last year, we celebrated Easter as a family of seven. This year, as a family of eight –

And, next year as a family of nine.

Seven kids.

This is a bit well, terrifying. How can seven kids sound like SO MANY MORE than six?

May I tell you something crazy? Six kids never felt like that many to me. I mean, it was more than most other families had, but it didn’t seem like A LOT. But seven. Whoa.

What if seven kids is one more than we can handle?
What if I am too tired to be the mom I want to be?
What if I never lose the baby weight from three babies ago?
What if it is just um, too hard?

Then I remember this.

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And I think, Totally worth it.


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I Had a Moment

I had a moment this morning.

It’s the morning before my favorite holiday, the sun was shining, my kids were all safe and healthy, and I had a moment.

I was tired. I hadn’t eaten breakfast.
The baby was crying.
Two sisters were bickering.
One brother was looking for a lost jersey.
One brother had to tell me a Harry Potter spell rightthatminute.
The three-year-old was yelling my name from the bathroom because he wanted to be wiped.
And then the crying baby knocked over a container of wallpaper glue, and it spilled all over the kitchen floor.

And I had the moment. The moment when I felt completely alone, and I closed my eyes and thought
Please. Let me be anywhere but here. Let me be in any moment but this one. Let me be anyone but this mom. Let me do anything except clean up this mess, put my hand in someone’s poop, settle this argument. I honestly believe that I might not survive this moment.

Thousands of years ago, there was a young man. And before He died on the cross, before He rose, before He showed us what Love was, He had a moment. In a garden, when He felt completely alone, and He closed His eyes and thought
Please. Let me be anywhere but here. Let me be in any moment but this one. Let me be anyone but this man. Let me do anything except sit here while they arrest me, torture me, put me to death in front of my mother.

In those moments, He and I have a choice: we can run and live – or we can stay and die. Die to ourselves, to selfishness, to worldliness. In those moments, you and I have a choice: to live for ourselves or to live with Him. To allow ourselves to be crucified with Him in that moment. To show the world what love is. To rise with Him.

These moments aren’t beautiful at the time. In fact, for me, they’re some of my ugliest moments as a mother. Impatient, tear-filled, close-to-temper-tantrum moments that I hope no one sees.

But these are the moments that refine us, that move us from what we were before to what we’re trying to be.
These are the moments that unite us with Christ.
These are the moments that make this a vocation, not a job.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some rear ends to wipe.


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I think you’ll like it: Meals for the Week #3

You know when six young kids feels like a lot of kids? At a party with a buffet. At a salad bar. At the froyo place. Anywhere that each person is to pick out his/her own food. Parents walk around *patiently* with each child, as he/she makes the most important decisions of his/her young life.

Do you want mashed potatoes?
“Well. . . ”

Would you like some applesauce?
“Hm. . .”

What else would you like?
“I just need a minute. . . ”

Times six. It’s the Sophie’s Choice of food. Times six. With a line of hungry on-children behind you. So, we get suggestive.

These peas look good! I’ll put a few on your plate.
You love sprinkles! How about a few?
Oh, I don’t think you’ll like that.

That last one. That’s the one. We were so guilty. “I don’t think you’ll like that; it has nuts” and “Remember the last time we were here, you didn’t like the asparagus?” or “That looks like a food for grown-ups.” When we were going through buffet lines, these comments made perfect sense. They were time-saving, eliminating some of the hemming and hawing. And they were TRUE. There were (and are) plenty of foods that I don’t *think* the children will like. But they’ve proven me wrong lots of times. So, now we try to go with suggestive comments of a more positive vein.

You won’t know if you like it until you try it.
I know you didn’t like it last time, but you literally have grown new taste buds since then.
The worst thing that will happen is that you won’t like the taste in your mouth, and you can take a bite of something else.

And it works. The power of positive suggestion has gotten our kids to try more new foods. And honestly, like everything with kids, sometimes it doesn’t work. But it’s always worth a try. As for the buffet/salad bar/froyo problem, I’d suggest not getting stuck behind a family with six young kids – especially if the parents are using it as a time to encourage new foods!

Dinners for the Week
Monday: loaded cauliflower and chicken casserole and green beans
Tuesday: Asian meatballs, stir-fried cabbage and garlicky snap peas
Wednesday: potato bar and broccoli (I’ll skip the bread crumbs)
Thursday: chipotle bowls
Friday: pan fried chicken, mashed cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
Saturday: garlic balsamic pork tenderloin and grilled peppers

When was the last time your kids surprised you by liking something you thought they wouldn’t??


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Day in the Life

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Like all full days, this one started the night before, when I confirmed with RG for the fifth time what the day would be like. This time, literally our fifth run-through, I suddenly realized that I had a conflict, so I emailed my book club and let them know I would miss our meeting.

6:30am. I roll out of bed. I’ve been hitting the snooze since 5:30, when I usually get up to run or go to the gym with friends. This means no workout today – grrr. Coffee first. The next two hours are spent getting everyone ready for the day. I make oatmeal, pack lunches, try to understand a conversation about Harry Potter, change diapers, settle arguments about who-knows-what, check homework, look for jackets, brush hair, help Anne Marie put legwarmers on over her sweatpants.
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8:45am. Leave to take kids to school. Usually RG does this, but he left for work early so I’m on my own. We make it – practically on time and only forgetting one lunch. I drop the three older kids at elementary school (3rd grade, 1st grade, kindergarten) with their daily instructions to “be kind and learn something!” and get stuck in the longest line of cars on Earth (due to being practically on time as opposed to actually on time). Drop Catherine off at preschool. Hardest part of the day is done.

9:15am. Head home. Feed Dom(1) breakfast, feed Luke(3) second breakfast, eat my breakfast (mug of bone broth and an orange. I know.). Make some lists, do a load of dishes, switch the laundry. Change out of sweats (miracle). Forget to grab the forgotten lunch (he comes by it honestly).
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10am. Leave with Luke and Dom for a series of errands including getting Catherine from school and taking her to Kindergarten Round-Up, picking something up at the pediatrician’s office and grabbing a few craft items for the Religious Education class I teach. I’m dragging a little (Dom’s teething and waking up frequently at night) so I resort to my ‘Running Only’ playlist for a pick-me-up and rock out to Pitbull and Rihanna while Luke “reads” some Dora books to Dom behind me. Stop by home for the twice-forgotten lunch then run it to the school (note: this is the third trip to the school today). Luke gets to push the buttons on the elevator at the doctor’s office: day, made. We see friends walking, at the grocery store and at Kindergarten Round-Up: day, made.

12pm. Home again. Lunch for the kids (apple slices with almond butter, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, cheese) and me (leftover grilled chicken with a sweet potato and roasted broccoli). Then a little of this.
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I nap for 30 minutes (the naps!) then pack a cooler of snacks for Mat’s baseball game, prep dinner (grilled chicken salads), look for some new recipes on Pinterest, exchange some very important, world-changing texts with a few friends and sister-friends, and switch the laundry.

3pm. I wake up the three little kids, and we head back out to pick up the schooligans. It takes about 30 minutes. Seems lame but it’s actually a great part of the day. The little kids, having just woken up from their naps, are in great moods, and we jam to Disney songs, read books or have philosophical discussions about dancing trees and the like.
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Big kids jump into Suburban totally full of the day: Mat found out a girl in his class has a crush on him. Bobby is concerned about NWEA. Anne Marie had her favorite substitute teacher. Highs and lows fill the car and spill over onto the driveway when we get home. Probably my favorite ten minutes of the day.

3:40pm. We’re home. Kids unpack backpacks and lunchboxes, put away coats and shoes. Big boys put on baseball uniforms. We sit down to eat dinner. Unusual, but it works for today. RG’s dinner is packed in the baseball cooler. Catherine plays with Dominic, Luke plays with Bobby, Anne Marie reads her library book, and Mathew sulks about. . . well, I can’t remember what it was about.

4:30pm. RG gets home. Four boys load into Suburban: Bobby is going to a friend’s house then to the HS baseball game to be introduced with his team; Luke and Dom are going with RG to Mat’s away baseball game.
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Anne Marie, Catherine and I head to Religious Education class (the boys miss it today for the first time all year); they each go to a class with kids their own age, and I teach first grade. We run out of time before we get to the craft.

6:15pm. ALL THE BOYS ARE GONE. This is rare. The ladies and I take advantage by meeting my mom out for dinner (ahem, second dinner – California burger with no bun, no cheese and broccoli for me). It involoves absolutely no talk of baseball, weapons, Cubs stats or science fiction. It’s quiet and lovely.
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7:30pm. We head home. Girls take a bath while I do the dishes (again). Bobby gets home and showers while Anne Marie reads Cinderella to Catherine and me. Girls go to bed at 8:30. Bobby tells me about meeting the HS baseball players (awesome, lots of high-fives) then goes to bed at 8:45. The kids all fall asleep in under five minutes. I send some emails I’m behind on and look at tomorrow’s plans.

9pm. RG gets home with other three boys. Mat lost his baseball game but is in good spirits. He confesses that he didn’t finish his reading homework and hits the shower. Luke gets ready for bed and has a snack (orange slices and almonds). Dom’s asleep in his carseat. I change his diaper and put him to bed. Mathew heads to bed; he will finish his homework in the morning. Luke falls asleep in our bed; RG moves him to his own.

9:45pm. All kids are asleep. Sink has dirty dishes; laundry has been washed but is piled on the couch, unfolded. RG and I sit in the kitchen and catch up on our days (he sips a vodka and water, I eat almond butter off a spoon): he tells me about some work stress; I tell him I talked to someone about buying local, organic eggs. We laugh about some kid antics, share a few concerns. We talk for about twenty minutes including, for my benefit, going over tomorrow’s schedule for the fifth time.

10pm. He goes to bed. I ignore the dishes and the laundry, and I blog. There will be time for dishes and laundry tomorrow – maybe.


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The Thing about Dinner: Menu for the Week #2

The thing about dinner is that it’s not just about the food. I love the food; I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to feed people. But, more than just food, dinner is a meal – a time for us to come together as a family and take a break from everything else. To share about our days. To talk about what’s coming up. To just be together. And that’s the reason behind our next dinner rule.

Family Dinner Rule #2:

2. Everyone sits and participates in dinnertime, even if he/she chooses not to eat. Sometimes our kids choose not to eat because they don’t like what we’re having. And sometimes they get upset about it. But they are expected to put on a nice face and participate in our dinnertime discussion. Rudeness and bad manners are not permitted, and they are punished with timeout (or an extra chore for the older kids).

And those are all of our rules. Just two. We have other ideas and strategies that have helped us overcome our picky-eating epidemic and enjoy dinner as a family, but those are the only rules.

Here’s what’s for dinner at our house this week.

Monday: Creamy Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole

Tuesday: Potato, Cauliflower and White Bean Soup

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Salads

Thursday: Meatloaf and Green Beans

Friday: Red Pepper Frittata Squares and Brussels Sprouts

Saturday: Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

A couple people asked me last week what we eat on Sundays, which I don’t include on our weekly menus. We usually just eat leftovers and whatever we can throw together easily because the time I spend in the kitchen on Sunday is usually used prepping lunches and dinners for the upcoming week.

What dinner rules help you enjoy dinnertime as a family?

Trying any new recipes this week?

 


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Moms with Benefits

I think I was the last person on Earth to know about the “Mommy Wars.” I guess it’s been a thing since roughly 2005, but I seriously just heard about it last week, thanks to the whole Gwyneth Paltrow debacle. Don’t worry, I’ve made up for lost time because I have been totally bombarded this past week with articles about working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. (Note: if you’re not familiar, take a minute to Google “mommy wars” and get up to speed. We’ll wait.)

And not even about which one is better for kids – just about which one is harder.  So, I started thinking about my job. To clarify, my job is staying at home with my kids. Now, I understand from this “Mommy Wars” business (I involuntarily roll my eyes whenever I hear, see or type that) that staying home with kids might not actually be considered a “job” – but I checked out the definition on dictionary.com (Am I the only person on Earth who still uses that?), and I’m comfortable calling it that.

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I’m also comfortable saying that I’m not thinking about the kids here. I think about the kids basically all the time. At this moment, I’m thinking about me. What’s in this job for me??

My job doesn’t come with insurance, a 401k or um, pay. But it has plenty of benefits. In fact, I think we SAHMs have it pretty darn good! I’m not saying it’s easy; goodness knows there are days when I cry more than the kids (and we have a lot of kids), but this is a job with some great perks.

1. The uniform. After I workout (or roll out of bed – which is it?? You’ll never know!) in yoga pants, I shower and change into clean yoga pants. Or sweat pants. Or leggings. I know they’re not pants, but sometimes I wear them as pants.

2. The job description. Jumping on the trampoline, sledding, coloring, and well, playing are all job requirements. Not to mention that, for a decent part of the year, most of my job is sitting on the side of a swimming pool.

3. The environment. I pick the radio station, the temperature, the scent of the air freshener and the brand of toilet paper. No sleepy soft rock nor scratchy TP in this office.

4. The errands. I get my errands done during the week and don’t have to brave the insanity that is Costco on the weekends.

5. The food. I love lunch (almost as much as I love dinner). Fish, salad, sweet potato. . . you name it. Especially on a rough day, during naptime you can usually find me in the kitchen, on a romantic lunch date for one.

6. The friends. These ladies are everywhere. From playgroup and the gym to the grocery store and the library, almost everywhere I go during the day is a chance to hang out with them.

7. The naps. Enough said.

8. The “it was so nice outside” clause. You know: “Oh, I was going to do the laundry but it was so nice outside that we went to the park instead.”

9. The boss. I am she. I make the rules, and I make the schedule. Rule #1: No meetings where nothing is accomplished but scheduling another meeting.

10. The husband texting. Even if I wanted to, I’m not sure I could hold down a career-type job. My busy schedule of texting my husband about everything from groceries to home repair and random trivia probably wouldn’t allow it.

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Whether you work inside the home or out, what are your favorite job perks??

Oh, and as far as Gwyneth goes, I thank God for the millionth time that I’m not a celebrity and that precious few people have to hear the dumb things I shouldn’t have said.