Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 in 2014

12 photos for 2014. One for each month.  Well I broke the rule for that a few times, but eh, it was hard to choose.  Other times I feel like I probably included one thing but forgot another, but here goes. 


It was so cold this past winter, that Ben made it a habit of eating his breakfast next to the powerful heat vent in the kitchen.


We added a new member in our family this year, and of the boys, Ben was the most excited to meet his baby sister.


Ben turned 4 about a week after his sister was born.  He is such a birthday fan, and honestly I felt terrible that i really failed at giving him a party because well I just had had a baby.  Thankfully my mom stepped in and made this amazing cake for him. Helena was baptized at the tail end of month and it was small but lovely.  


The boys wanted so much to incorporate their baby sister into their lives and it especially showed in April with these two photos.

May started our actual abilities to be outside again after the Frozen winter. This was May Day where we went around collecting flowers for Mary.  Ephraim's flowers are squished inside his fist and Benjamin's make a perfect bouquet, a personality difference for sure.


Ephraim loves his sister a little roughly.  He's making sure she is a tomboy by the age of 1. This is one of our many library trips that we took, followed by one of our many summer ice cream trips.  We are suckers for the local ice cream shops in Cleveland.  This photo is from the Mitchell's that opened on W. 25th near the West Side Market this year.


Edel, Oh Edel.  So much fun, so many memories.  I anticipated it so much that I was sure it would be a letdown, but it wasn't and instead exceeded my expectations, and I had a 5mo in tow. 


We spend as much time outside as possible, and drawing on our driveway is a favorite of the boys. Barefoot in the sun, a perfect reminder of August.


With September being back to school month, we end up doing a lot of post office runs to sell old text books.  This is our tunnel that leads to our post office from the corresponding parking lot, and the boys love it.


We grew pumpkins and enjoyed fall with our hay bale from our local raspberry patch. So much harvest fun.


Despite Keith changing jobs, his work let him take his previously scheduled family vacation to Nashville where we caught up with old friends and visited with family.  


Sometimes, the days are very long with three under five.  This is a moment caught in the madness and yet it makes me smile, because I realize that these kids are full of love too. 

For more 12 in 2014, check out the linkup with Dwija at House Unseen

Friday, December 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes

Its been an up and down week, unfortunately ending on a down note.  Here are 7 snipers of the week.

1. Ephraim's ears are fine.  Hooray! The original test was off, apparently the nurse probably had the wrong size ear piece since his ear canals are a little further back than normal at his age.  That was the only thing I got out of the audiologist.  That and he is still shy. :)

2. We went to a cookie baking party and the boys had a lot of fun. I'm glad I went even though I really didn't know anyone but the host.

3. Sometimes I get caught up with saying no, especially with the challenger, Ben, in the ranks. But I was inspired to do something crazy. It didn't turn out nicely and we had to throw the end result away and the kitchen floor was red and green all over, but the boys had fun.  It was good to say yes to something just because I could. 

4. The baby can now stand on her own and climb the stairs. We are no longer safe, look out world. 

5. While there were bits of yesterday I do not wish to repeat, a couch and two chairs were drawn all over with a pen by the almost 5 year old, because he "just wanted to do his own thing." There were also good bits, like making beaver dams because they were inspired by Lucy from the Narnia books. 

6. We were set up to have a gingerbread house decorating party tomorrow, but alas 2 of the 3 kids are sick. I still baked 7 houses but we may have to hold of the decorating until the wee ones are out of fever land.  Below is what happens when the almost 5 year old gets a hold of 8 lbs of powdered sugar. 

7. So we will end on a high note, because well its best that way right? Last week I hauled the children to a baby wearing meeting so I could learn a back carry hands on. It only took a week to really learn it and a floor length mirror was broken in the process because I turned my back and the almost 5yo somehow got curious and broke it. But mission was accomplished and I learned the carry. It came in useful today with the 3yo and the 9mo for carrying them around for extra snuggles. 

So I guess the moral of the story is that 4.5 year olds are interesting havoc wreaking creatures, not to be undone by sick babies and 3yos. Check out more quick takes at This Ain't the Lyceum

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


It seems there is always a constant reflection of self in motherhood. Your children mimic you in good and bad habits. It seems to go along with it everyone has some expert parenting advice. We analyze it all, and to the analytic that I am it becomes a little much.

I am not saying that we shouldn't strive for great children and great self. But sometimes it feels like we want a formula to produce a good kid. The thing is from the parents of many and older kids it seems like there isn't one, so why be fooled in thinking there is one. 

I think I can so easily pull apart this characteristic or that, to take this picture or that. But I fail to just be and to know. To really look in my child's eyes and just really see them and be with them and just be there.

I think I'm so guilty of always caring what someone may think of me in my way I interact with my kids that I fail to engage in the way I should. I want to blame social media for it. But at the same time I could just put it down. Why the need for the constant validation? I don't know.

So I think I'm going to challenge myself to put it all away in the sense that I don't know all the answers but I'm learning each day. Do I need some validation at times, sure. But I think the incessant amount in my life may be too much.

I want to be real and not live in fear. Fear is not from God after all and I only want things that come from Him. Yes, I will reconcile when wrong, but I want to really work on true relationship, not seeing the little people as projects but as little unique people to be loved. Because in the end nothing else matters.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Resolution in a word

Joy. This is the word I am choosing for 2015. This is what I want for my life. As the boys were helping decorate the Christmas tree this afternoon, there was so much Joy in their faces. I loved it. They live life to it's fullest.

For me it's so easy to get into anger and complaining, but I'm going to try to actively choose joy. Every moment if life is a gift despite the mess and the hurt. I think it may be hard to choose joy over the "ugh this is so hard" bit, but I'm going to try my best to do so.
If you could pick one word for 2015 in your life what would it be?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Stuck... Finally unstuck?

I read a Patheos post a few weeks ago and shared it on FB. I have to admit it was snarky and probably threw a lot of people off that know me on the surface. I think though it had some points and overall, I liked it.
First off, I want to say this is coming from my own experience. If I offend someone I'm sorry, but I need to put this all together so it's out of my head.
I once went to a Bible study for women at the church I was part of at the time. Most if not all the women at the study were 15 years or more older than me. The topic came up of work life and how women were oppressed in this measure. Essentially, the women's liberation in the work place movement. At the time, I really couldn't think of a time that I had been oppressed and I was a science grad student. It was really weird for me to fathom anything different because at the time all the doors had been opened for me. I mean sciences seek out women because it makes them look more well rounded or better and I was one of those women that benefited from this.
When it came to education I could have as much as I wanted as long as I applied myself and did the work. I could do that. But somewhere in there I chose to be a stay at home mom post PhD. I got the degree but wanted a different life. And there I still am today. I have been told countless times that I should be doing something else with my life in the sense that I'm wasting my education, but I'd still choose this gig any day.
When I finished my degree and truly was at home, I had a hard time. My world was upside down. Honestly, as hard as it's been it's been really good for me. After 4 years, I can actually cook from scratch more often than not. I can knit and fashion out a lot out of duct tape and glue. I go back and forth on what is the best way to keep my house nice, but essentially I can keep it in running order.
When I was a grad student and essentially going to work in the lab for long hours each day, there was much talk of what I would do post schooling. Professors thought I would be a professor, others thought I should at least keep my head in the game and do something part time. I knew deep down I wanted to be at home, and some folks let me know that was a frivolous pursuit if I actually told them this truth.  Others said my career was done for if I had children. It was the opposite side of the liberation movement, at least in my experience. A few people really were supportive and I thank them for that. They were the ones that got me through the transition.
The real thing is though, I'm not sure if it's the Internet's fault or if it's the progression of society, but it's definitely been so much harder for me to be a stay-at-home mom day in and day out than getting a PhD was. I essentially love what I'm doing the hard parts and all, but man somehow the filling of sippy cups and the changing of diapers and keeping up with the messes is so much more challenging. Maybe it's the actual guiding the children in their learning, but I felt entirely unprepared going into this motherhood thing.
I'm not sure if we really can be prepared for motherhood, but I wonder if more could be done to connect us with others going through similar things and definitely somehow learn practical life things before adulthood. I learned a decent amount of things because well being 1 of 4 kids, there were chores, but I didn't really get to learn the domestic arts because they weren't stressed. I could cook from a box but that was it.
I want to change the cycle with my own children. I probably won't do it perfectly, but I at least want to try. I do think a lot of policy in society doesn't really allow for a good work life balance. When it comes to really wanting women to be science, I think instead of throwing pink science toys at young girls which aren't reality at all, present the real thing and real life applications. And when they are a twenty-something in the throws of science or some other awesome career, maybe actually allow them to take a full year off or have work from home allowances, be kind to them when they do start a family or heck, give them paid maternity leave.
I feel like we are so focused on our economy and it might not be individually so, but policy forces us to be that we forget that family and the little moments really matter, the time spent with them. Now, I admit to being one extreme with the homeschooling stay at home mom semi crafter, but I do think others more in the middle may be able to identify here.
Its not a perfect world we live in, we all know that, but I think we can do better with how women are treated in roles of family and work. Maybe the pendulum has gone to the extreme one way and is slowly swinging back. Maybe sewing and homemaking will make a resurgence from the few that have kept those things going. I don't know, but I pray it will be better for my daughter as an adult to have a family and choose what line of work she wants, whether it to be at home or be a senator or a museum curator, instead of worse.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Expectations are a peace killer

I went into today knowing I would be taking three kids to mass solo for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. I was even a bit grumpy about it, because it seemed unfair.  "Why should I have to take all of them myself?" I thought. I was creating a hard time for myself in my head even though it didn't exist yet in action. You see I have this expectation to myself that I have to have well behaved kids in mass.  I have had single 20 somethings or actually groups of adults move from sitting in front of us on me for my kids being loud to them aka kids.  We don't have a cry room though and for that I'm thankful. Now, I do remove them to the vestibule if they actually cry but normal babble, as much as we work on whisper voices, happens.
So today, today I did pack up some extra things I wouldn't normally have because mass was over lunch time, snacks and coloring sheets that were themed for today (bonus points right?). But still, I was up, down, left and right for a good portion of the mass besides the normal up and down that comes with the mass. Chew toys fell and little boys wandered and siblings blew raspberries at each other. Poor Helena who probably needed to be fed didn't, but she was a trooper and didn't complain.
At the end of mass, two women actually commented positively on my kids, which I wasn't expecting.  The one woman totally threw me off my game though.  She said she had four children of her own, and two of them were autistic. She then told me it made her so happy to hear my kids and their babble despite the normal expectation of people wanting kids to be quiet in mass.  She said because she knows what a gift it is to have children who can communicate, each time a kid ''talks" in mass she sees it as a blessing.
This stole my heart.
My pride before this had taken away my heart feeling like my kids needed to fit into a box, but I think Jesus had her speak to me today to destroy that expectation of my kids needing be silent always in mass.  I mean, realistically, how is that even possible with 3 kids under 5 years of age?
I remember a conversation with a twitter friend about cry rooms and a certain expectation, this exact one that I just described, having the kids be silent.  Its not real though, people are people and life happens. Jesus is there, he meets us there whether it be in the chaos of three small children or some other life situation. He is there.  While the ideal is certainly something to strive for, the journey is important to, and right now this where I am at, 3 small people at mass sometimes by myself. Letting go of the expectation of perfection at this point is the only way I am going to find peace, and I am going to try my best to be okay with that.

Friday, December 5, 2014

7 quick takes.

Hi ya'll.  Just some quick takes from the week. Hope you are off to a great start to your weekend.

1. I finally got a hair cut. Last one was in July, it was definitely time. I fit into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans too today, I'm calling that a double win.

2. Its the night that St. Nicholas comes!!!!  So we have been reading his story to prepare and now we have the shoes all lined up...in the fireplace as per request of Benjamin.

3. Benjamin swallowed a nickel on Wednesday, and its already through to the intestines, but to which one we don't know, and when it will come out is all a waiting game.  Why he swallowed it?  He claims he was hiding the coin from his brother.

4. To go with my allergy kids, apparently Helena didn't want to miss out on the action.  She reacted badly to a cooked carrot with a light soy based sauce on it.  Ezcema/ instant blotchiness.  She was not amused to say the least and now we will be entering the soy free journey.  Any tips for good soy free products are appreciated, its hidden in a lot of things. 

5. Some friends came over today and her daughter said it was the best day, and all they did was make one huge lego mess in our basement with my boy cohorts.  So I guess Elizabeth Foss is right, messes are blessings. 

6. I'm beta reading Emmy's sequel to her debut novel. You can check out the debut novel on amazon here. It might make a good electronic stocking stuffer. 

7. We made a sidecar full crib for Helena and it just seems like its the change we needed.  Sleep is better and worries are less. I no longer feel like the girl in this video as much...

Check out more Quick Takes at This Ain't the Lyceum

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Today was an interesting adventure. In some ways it helps me to see that I was doing okay and also how much mess little people can create, and big people.
We've been working on numbers lately. Ben struggles with them so I figured maybe I should do something about this since I say we are homeschooling so maybe I should do more of that teaching thing. So today, I gave them piggy banks and said if they put away their clothes, they would get 2 pennies and so on. I know, I'm cheap but they don't grasp value yet and so it's kind of a lesson in the making. So we went about the morning doing little chores because the car was in the shop and we were kind of homebound.
We did our Advent school stuff and colored pictures of saint Nick. In the middle of morning basket where we do it reading, somehow Ben has a nickel in his mouth and swallows it. This was the first time a kid of mine had swallowed and object with me knowing it. He started freaking out and telling me to get it out, but well that was kind of impossible. I called my mom, Keith and the pediatrician. The DR wanted him to get an X-ray to check where it was. Somehow in that time of being on the phone, a glass candle holder got broken by Ephraim. So I cleaned that up.
We did some sticker playing and the boys played with lego blocks. During the sticker play the baby found a marker that had dropped and within a glance away to the boys had what looked like a bad lipstick job all over her face.
At about 3pm the mechanic called about the car and so we packed everyone up and booked it to the edge of the neighborhood with Ben on his bike and me strollering the two younger ones. I'm all for baby wearing, but in the cold with coats and me needing to do only back carries these days, I don't have the right carrier for it. So stroller it is.
We got the car and then headed over to the Dr. Office complex to get the X-ray done. The kids were troopers and Ben got his picture as I called it. The coin had already made it down to his colon, so we were all clear for most issues. Now we just have to wait for it to pass so that it doesn't cause any issues in that department.
Keith was sweet and got Panera for dinner and then I got to run a mile on a neighbor's treadmill. So now I'm sitting here in the dark with a sleeping babe and that's just nice. Really it's my favorite part of the day when all is settled.
Today reminded me that these little folks are crazy beautiful messes. And as Ben was talking to me about his siblings and why they are here. I just said because God knew you needed an Ephraim and a Helena in your life. And it made me think God knew I needed a Ben, Ephraim and Helena too beautiful coin swallowing, marker eating, glass breaking messes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sleep...and other things

So I wanted to finish a post, and well ,I didn't yet. I do hope I actually finish it someday soon.  However, my eyes are failing me tonight, so I think I will just write on sleep.  If you know me, then you know I am a rough sleeper. Honestly, my mother can tell you I've been this way since birth. Somedays and weeks I sleep very well.  Others, not so much.  The thing being that I know this, I tend to avoid all advice on sleep.  Because for one, I've tried most all of it, I know what works most of the time for me, but there are still times that only when I'm completely exhausted and my brain shuts off do I sleep. My babies sleep pretty phenomenally well compared to me and I have been always thankful for that. I'm glad they inherited that from their daddy.

I, on the other hand, tend to view sleep as a performance and can think of the silliest things that will keep me awake for hours.  I've gotten better with not chastising myself over a poor night of sleep, but I still struggle with this from time to time.  Currently, I am in a sleep funk and once I figure out the culprit of it, I may actually sleep well again. :) There is always hope.

The one thing I am trying to take away from this cross is that while it is hard to not be able to sleep easily, God is always there with me. I actually get some of my best praying done in those restless hours.  So in some ways a struggle becomes a blessing, something to give thanks about.  Odd to think of it this way, but I'm starting to see it more and more in this light.

In a random side note, anyone have any experience with a child failing a OAE hearing test?  E failed this in both ears, and we have a follow up in about two weeks.  Just wondering if anyone else has gone through this with their kiddo and what came of it.

Now to attempt to sleep tonight. :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

WIWS, 1st Sunday of Advent

Hi all.  I do have some thoughts on something deeper coming in the meantime, here is a WIWS post. It was the first Sunday in Advent today so we pulled out the advent wreath and did some morning family Bible and Jesse tree time.  The kids really enjoy this stuff as long as it its done in the morning. They don't really stay engaged if its later in the day.  I have it on my calendar to make scones for St. Andrew's feast day, so hopefully I will get that done. Anyway, here is the outfit. 

Shirt: NY and Co. 
Skirt: Old Navy
Leggings: a Christmas present a few years ago
Shoes: Target, and since you can't see them in the pic well, here is another look. 

Happy 1st Sunday of Advent!  Check out some more Sunday outfits at the linkup on Fine Linen and Purple while I attempt to nap a baby who really is trying her hardest not to nap today. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

7 quick takes, Snow!

Just thought I would join in the quick takes link-up as I haven't done one of these in a long while.

1. The baby had her first snow adventure and loved it. She didn't like getting the snow suit on, but once outside she was totally at peace.

2. It hit 25 degrees outside today, so we had some outside play time for a bit today. The boys really enjoyed it. They love "plowing the driveway.

3. I've randomly found some cool natural parenting bits in children's books.  One had a baby carrier the other nursing alongside bottle feeding. I think the first book was Question Boy Meets Little Miss Know It All and the second was Goodnight New Baby.

4. B and E have been playing Clifford and T-Bone a lot lately. Here is a partial dog house bit that kind of gets destroyed every two seconds. 

5. In the snow that we came back to on Sunday, the boys made a snow man themselves. Its amazing how much changes in a year, last year they totally couldn't have pulled this off, this year they are trying to make snowmen themselves. Crazy. 

6. I made a five favorites toy post, and I was thinking if there were any toys that didn't make it but at least deserved an honorable mention.  I would pick art supplies, puzzles and trains.  We definitely have puzzle days, and the trains while not being played with as much as they once did are still around. And I think because I enjoy art projects, the boys do too.  Thus we have 2 cabinets of supplies. 

7. And then I asked the boys what toys they liked the most and I got it right except they wanted to add Lightning McQueen. So there you have it, the infamous race car invaded Noah's Ark for a reason.

Check out more quick takes over at This Ain't the Lyceum. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Creating a giving heart

One thing that is really near to my heart is having a generous spirit.  As advent approaches, the season of giving comes to fruition.  As we all know, our giving shouldn't only be at this time of year but, we all know this time is special.  As Tomie DePaula's Strega Nona says, "Christmas has its own magic."

When I was reading a book about the Strong Willed Child one of the things they said was that it really helps this kind of child to think outside themselves was to involve them with charity work. I think this hit home for me because ever since I was little, I've loved helping those who needed help. In my family, I'm the odd one out who actually gives donations to charities as part of Christmas gifts. I'm just weird like that.  So I want to start giving to others early with my kiddos. Last year we did Angel Tree, and this year I would like to add one more thing the boys can tangibly see as helping someone that needs help.   I was thinking Toys for Tots or Operation Christmas Child.  I honestly like the idea of the latter better because it goes along with what I think of Christmas giving, necessity and fun and personalization with Jesus at the center not just random stuff. Toys for Tots though, is good in its own sense though as it helps people in your own community experience a little joy.  So both have their benefits.  I'm not sure what we will do, Operation Christmas Child has to be done by Monday, so if we do this one, it will be within the next few days.  I would like to do it though, so we will see if we can squeeze it in over the weekend.

So what are your favorite ways or charities that you involve your kids during advent/Christmas time?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Five Favorites: Toys! (Inspired by Jess :))

Hi all.

I am all about the serious on the blog, but this is a less serious post.  One about toys!!! My friend Jess had a post about toys that were favorites for her kids and had lasted through three of her kiddos, soon to be four kids, she's due in December! It made me think about what toys my kids really play with, and so I got to thinking about it and came up with our top five, at least according to me.

1. Blocks

Whether it be duplos, legos, soft blocks, or wooden blocks, if it can be made into a tower, it is a go to! We are always building and creating.

2. Diggers

We love to dig, and diggers are necessary for digging. 

Whether it be little ones, or big ones there is always an excavator on hand or a loader.  Its always sad when winter comes because summer, spring and fall are mostly spend outside digging. I would also put matchbox cars in this category, because despite them being less apt at digging, they join the fun when roads are made in the dirt and such. 

3. Dress up clothes

My kids love to dress up. I usually buy up old Halloween costumes or things out of season and let them go to town.  Its a ton of fun. The boys especially like to dress up their little sister as you can see from the above.

4. Rubber Animals and Little People

I am always finding these everywhere in little landscapes with the furniture and pillows or throw blankets.  The boys love playing with them and Helena loves chewing on them. 

5. Cardboard boxes

No seriously, when given a cardboard box, magical things happen.  We have had roads and rockets and hideouts made from these. Tears are shed when they are recycled. Its insane.

So there you have it.  Maybe this will help you find some good Christmas gifts for the kids. Check out more favorites at the linkup at Call Her Happy.