Friday, January 6, 2017

7 snowy takes

Linking up with Kelly!

1) We got hit with a bad stomach bug a few days after we got back from our great trip and are now finally out of those vomit-filled woods. Praise. The. Lord! I need to seriously count my blessings that that sort of thing doesn't happen more often because as Mike put it on New Years day: "people should only be puking on New Years because they drank way too much the night before". Agreed 110% to infinity. It was gross.

2) Part of the stomach bug was also a little bout with stuff that only the boys dealt with and which left their little bottoms in a difficult situation- some of the worst diaper rash I've seen to date. I only share this so that I can rave to the high Heavens about this Zinc Ointment that Nell's sister makes that she sent me after Freddie's birth- it was a seriously life saver and I wish I could get it for every single person in the world with a baby.

3) My sister had her girls make these adorable paper lanterns  as a fun craft that doubled as super cute decor for their room and in true little-sister fashion I stole her idea and mimicked it promptly after we got back from our visit with them.
The girls made all but the one I made to show them what to do, so it really was that easy and actually cute enough to hang.

4) Virginia got it's very first dusting of snow today, and just in case you were wondering whether 1/2 inch of snow can induce the same exact excitement in children as 1/2 foot-- wonder no more, it definitely can.

I had to laugh a little at Virginians for closing school today because after living in South Bend-- land of the eternal winter and insane amounts of snow that no one ever closes anything for-- it just felt like a little bit of an over reaction this morning, no offense, Virginia.

5) Speaking of South Bend, the father of a really wonderful family that are parishioners at our old parish wrote this blog post about a picture he took at the Grotto at Notre Dame-- I would normally be a little wary of these sorts of stories but since I know them I feel like I can confidently recommend reading it-- it's pretty amazing.

6) On the topic of miracles, Grace gave an update on sweet Joy, the daughter of some college friends of ours who was in a horrible accident but who is recovering miraculously- thanks be to God.

7) The girls have been playing an imaginary game downstairs where there is a war between mice and cats and the mice keep calling the cats the other name for "Cat" in a derogatory way. Think about it.
I'll just leave you with that.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Another Tale of a Pregnancy Test Addict (+ a giveaway!!)

I could run down the list of every single cliche about how crazy it is that Fred is already 6 months old, and it still would not adequately express how simultaneously baffled, full of gratitude and sad I am about the fact.

This year has easily been the most stressful of my life, between the pregnancy, selling our house, moving to a new state, Mike starting a new job whilst us dealing with the capital C Craziness of the 4th trimester. I feel like little Freddie has gotten the shaft with regards to me being able to really soak up his infancy.

The stress of the year has also made all of the events surrounding his entire life run together in my brain, they all feel like such a blur. When I was pregnant with Joe I documented how we found out we were expecting him, and while I realize no one really cares to know all those minutia, I loved that I did it because those are the sorts of little things I forget, unless I blog them out.

I also documented how I have a little addiction to taking pregnancy tests, and to reward any reader who makes it through this tale, there is a little giveaway at the end for, (home of the most accurate home pregnancy test.)

This one's for you, Freddie.

Cue last summer- not this past summer- but the summer of 2015, some time after Joe Pio had turned a whopping 1 year old and also some time around when the various bodily functions needed to be able to produce more offspring had reappeared (aka, return of the old cycle). Every time my babies are around 1 year old I get that itch, that baby itch, and in true Ana-form, Joe had his first birthday and I had it.

It was late summer and Mike and I were in the back yard talking about the coming year and the various possibilities. He was coming on his last funded year of doctoral studies, a year dedicated solely to completing the dissertation and looking for jobs, but as the year was getting started we both knew that it would be rather unlikely for him to do both of those things. It takes an annoying amount of time to apply for positions and fly to interviews and Mike needed every single bit of that time to write his dissertation.

We both came to the conclusion that the year would be entirely dedicated to writing, not applying to jobs, and the next year he could hopefully land some teaching at Notre Dame or a Post Doc and we would stay in South Bend 1 more year. I expressed my I love of this scenario excitedly to Mike because we had been in South Bend for 7 going on 8 years, it was home, all of our friends were there, I didn't want to sell our house yet AND we could have one more baby with my favorite doctor in all the world and at the best hospital ever!!

Mike looked at me like I was pretty crazy when I got to the part about the baby. Joe had not been the easiest baby, he was only 1, I get pretty sick with pregnancy and was planning on homeschooling the 2 older girls for 1st grade and Kindergarten. Yes, it was a little crazy. But baby fever prevailed and I got all giddy about the prospect of maybe welcoming another little one to our family.

I have overshared about my various physical phenomena which make it (literally) painfully obvious that I am in the fertile phase of my cycle, (go fourth and read if you dare), so trying for a new baby or trying to avoid a pregnancy is actually pretty straight forward for me.

I bought a few pregnancy tests toward the end of the summer and handed them all over to Mike (because I have a problem). We made it through one of my interminably long cycles, I took ALL the tests, and we weren't pregnant. Sad face emojis all around. At some point during that time of hoping and sort-of-trying, we had some more conversations about one school that Mike might apply to in Virginia. His sister lived there with her husband who also taught at the college and one of Mike's good friends from ND was teaching there and really wanted him to apply.

I was not happy about that thought and every time it came up I said it wasn't going to happen, though I knew he would apply just to see what would happen. However, if on the veeeery slight off chance he got the job and we went there we were entering crunch time with regards to having another child before a potential move. I had one more cycle left where, if we conceived, I could have the baby in South Bend, with my beloved doctor, before a potential move.

It turned out that the stress of all the unknowns made that cycle go several weeks long than normal, but as we came close to the point of finding out whether we were expecting I went out for more tests  and I handed them over to Mike per the usual.

By this point we we already into October and we were planning a little day trip to Chicago. The morning that we were set to leave for the trip I decided to go for it and take a test, I must have waited long enough to be able to convince Mike to give one to me, but not long enough because the line was too faint for Mike to be entirely confident that it was even there.

^^Pic from the trip, with the teeniest, tiniest Freddie already there 

But I knew the line was there and I was giddy. We went on our trip and I rejoiced internally, but was also a little terrified of the concrete reality of 5 kids in 7 years with a side of homeschooling. Within a couple of days *another test* confirmed that there was indeed another little soul growing in our family, we celebrated, told our families at Thanksgiving, and Mike continued with the application process to that one school.

By February it became evident that it was highly likely that Mike could get offered that job at that one school. I was still in denial and still pushing for us to just stay in South Bend and for him to finish the dissertation, but once the offer actually came we were in no position to turn down a good job, so we didn't.

I had no idea how the heck we would do it: sell our house, buy a new one, birth a baby, pack all our belongings, move to a new place with all these children. But we did it! And now here we are, 6 months later and still alive, no worse for the wear, and with the cutest little person to call our very own.

The good folks at Nakturnal have sponsored this post and are giving away a $50 gift card to, and if you made it through this Novella you deserve it.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bad Pictures, Great Trip

What say we attempt one more post in the year 2016? Hit it.

The last time we went back to our home town to visit family was actually a stop-over during our move from South Bend to Virginia. I was 3.5 weeks postpartum, moving my new family of 7 across multiple states and dealing with a newborn who screamed every waking hour. I don't think that counted as a visit.

The time before that was my multi-week trip away from Mike so he could prep our house for sale and during which time we went house hunting. I was greatly pregnant, watching 4 kids solo for a good bit of the time and super-stressed over the pending sale and move. I don't really think that time counted either.

This trip back was one of the most highly anticipated of my life. Some of my family had never met Freddie, and we hadn't been back for normal visit since last Christmas, and the crazy stress of the last 6 months was making me pine for home and comfort like never before. All my expectations were met and then some.

My beloved sister-in-law, who we now live 5 minutes away from, is due with baby numero 3 TOMORROW, so we opted for an earlier trip where we could be back here in town to excitedly await our sweet new nephew's arrival and be here to help out when it happens.

My mom and amazing sister baked all sorts and kinds of cookies with the kids. I got to see my sisters and sister-in-law and the cousins got to romp and play to their hearts' delights.

These are the 4 boys (one Gemma missing) who were born in 2014:

These are the 4 babies born in 2016:
Common Fred.

So much life, so much love, so much noise. So worth it.

And I am still seriously kicking myself for getting next to no pictures at all with Mikes family, but I'm going to go ahead and count that as proof of the really wonderful time we had, since I was obviously more focused on enjoying each moment been trying so hard to take pictures of everything (or making sure Joseph didn't break all the breakable things at both of our parents' houses).

Also, I'm clearly failed photographer.

We did however manage to get a family Christmas photo at Mike's house, which I posted on Instagram but I cannot resist the urge to post a collage of outtakes, because Joseph.

And we also got a few Christmas morning pics at Mike's house of the crazy excited chillins.
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, December 2, 2016

What Internet?

Just like that it is December and haven't linked up with Kelly in weeks. Remedying that now.

1) One nice thing about life being  almost too stressful for me to handle is that I unintentionally unplug from all Internet things in a desperate attempt to just survive life. Don't go picturing me sipping cocoa whilst reading classics surrounded my loving offspring, don't picture anything very peaceful or quiet for that matter. It's accidental and I miss ye old blog, and Instagram, and adult interaction. Ok you get it.

2) Following my last post I fell down the rabbit hole of scouring Craigs list for couches and hot glue gunning all the things I could find that could be hot glue gunned. We found couches AND a dining set that actually fits our entire family plus guests and I spent last Saturday evening helping Mike move furniture, which my embarrassingly weak muscles are just now recovering from. I had the brilliant idea to make and glue gun little curtains (and bed spreads, pillows and table cloths. Yikes) to the girls doll house...

Then I took it one step further and staged a family photo of their wooden doll family, framed it and glue gunned it to the doll house living room wall. I have serious problems.

3) We've had some weird virus going through our house which only causes a fever and nothing else, but the fevers are scary high and Lucy's has already resulted in one ER visit. Of course by the time we got there the previously administered Tylenol had finally kicked in and they sent her home with the advice "keep up with the Tylenol!" Money well spent right there.

4) Joe had the high fever last week just in time for thanksgiving, but that didn't stop us from celebrating, or more accurately it didn't stop me from taking my glue gun to as many random table decorations as was possible and drinking mulled wine all day.

5) In keeping with my bad liturgical living I erected our Christmas tree the very day after thanksgiving and let the kids watch Christmas movies the entire weekend.

You see those pine cone decorations? I found a tree downtown with loads of pine cones under it and went to town filling bags like a crazy lady, then spray painted them gold and then (wait for it...) glue gunned them together and glue gunned a bow on them. I'm the Gayle Waters-Waters of the glue gun.

6) Fred turned 5 months some time after I last posted and I've staged several photo shoots in an attempt to get a good one for an 8x10 to frame and hang. Which do you vote for?

 I say #2

7) I'm off to attempt a lunch time hot cocoa party to boost the morale of the troops, wish me luck. Happy Advent!

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Finer Things Club and So Much Fall {Quick Takes!}

Linking up my my girl, Kelly!

1: I'm going back almost 2 weeks with this one-- All Saint's Day!!

The girls changed their minds approximately 50 times about which saints they were going to be, but in the end they went with Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Lucy. I went ahead and just sewed some fabric eye balls this year because this is the 3rd year in a row someone has decided on being Saint Lucy and I figure at this point we should just have them for the costume box (hashtag things only Catholic moms do). Poor Joe couldn't join us for the party at the local parish because it started at 1:30- aka smack dab in the middle of nap time- and if you know me you know I will never- never- forfeit that time for anything. Ever. Lucy for us the college Mike is working at now gave the faculty All Saints Day off (hashtag things only Catholic colleges do) so Joe napped his heart out and then had a fun filled afternoon complete with riding the tractor on dad's lap.

So fun was had by all.

3: Mike and I got back on the Great British Baking show train and just finished the latest season which explains why I've completely stopped losing any baby weight. Seriously, you cannot watch the show without eating during it, and it turns me into a crazy baking fiend. We finished the season last week and within one week I made the following:


A Roulade, A Dutch Apple Pie, and Donuts

I have a problem and I need help.

4: Speaking of problems...

We have a bit of a leaf problem in our back yard. That pile took me more than an hour of raking with the baby strapped on, and they juuuust keeeeeep falling.

5: Fall in this town is absolutely gorgeous. We ventured out twice in the last week to this beautiful lookout up one of "mountains" and it was pretty ugly, I mean stunning.

6: We had our first tea party in our new house, I'm a really big fan of tea parties.

The girls wouldn't let Joe come unless he wore his special jacket, thus marks his official induction into the Finer Things Club.

7: I'll leave you with that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

8 Great Gifts for Saint Nick's Day {+ a giveaway!}

I am always a wee bit embarrassed to admit this in Catholic circles, but I get super excited when all the Christmas stuff gets busted out immediately after Halloween. I got all squeely and excited with the girls last week that we were only about 1 month away from putting up our tree (!!!!). I know it's absurd but I've always been a little bit Buddy-Elfish in terms of my love for all things Christmas and it always takes a looooot of effort to enter into the spirit of Advent, with all of its waiting.

Said no one, ever.

We also cheat a little here because we do our gifting to each other on Saint Nicholas day, because we will always travel to be with our extended families for Christmas. So this is my big prep time for gifting, and while I am always very open to taking any and all recommendations in the liturgical area around this time of year, I figured I'd bang out a little list of some good, simple, liturgically appropriate Saint Nicholas gift ideas. This is NOT a sponsored post.

1: My Little Catechism. This would be a really great Saint Nicholas gift for a child and would be a wonderful aid in early catechetical formation. It works in a question-answer format, which I always love for kids, and the illustrations are so sweet. I'm super excited to use it for sacramental prep for Bernadette next year too.

2: A Missal for Toddlers. I LOVE this little book. I have never seen a missal for toddlers that actually brings in concrete parts of the Mass for teaching, without being overwhelming. Joseph legitimately loves it and asks to read it daily, and since it makes sure to highlight the importance of good behavior in Mass I am hoping it will start to go to his head very soon.At Mass this week he held it while he sang "holy, holy" and while it was not even close to the right part of Mass for him to be singing, it was pretty much the cutest.

3: The Christmas Star. I really like Maite Roche's illustrations, and this book is perfect for very little ones who can't sit for too long (I'm looking at you Joe) or if you've got a squirmy nursing baby who doesn't permit long stints of reading (ahem, Fred).

4: My First Prayers for Christmas. Joe got this book for his first Christmas and it's still a favorite around here.  The little prayers are really beautiful and while I think that this one and A Christmas Star would probably be better Christmas gifts than Saint Nicholas, God will probably still love you of you gifted them early. Probably.

5: Lucia: Saint of Light. I first saw this book on Elizabeth's blog and since she is pretty much the read aloud queen, all I needed was her OK to go for it as one of little Lucy's 4th birthday gifts, and we really love it. It would also be so perfect for a Saint Nicholas day gift since the feast of Saint Lucy comes soon after that. It is a wonderful mix of a retelling of the life of Saint Lucy and the origins of all the traditions surrounding her feast.

6: Roses in the Snow. I happened upon this on Amazon and it's another beautifully written and illustrated saint story and since there's a lot of snow in it it feels pretty seasonally apt.

7: Advent at Ephesus. I love Christmas music with all my heart. As a kid, a middle schooler, a high schooler and a college student I was always listening primarily to Christmas music as soon as the first signs of fall were showing themselves until at least New Years. However, this is probably the thing that effects how I approach the season the most and so with the exception of Charlie Brown's Christmas soundtrack, I stick with Advent at Ephesus almost exclusively and it is THE best Advent must-have I've found. The advent hymns are sung by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles and they are absolutely beautiful and so peaceful.

8: A Gospel Advent Calendar. This is definitely the neatest little Advent calendar I've seen yet. Each day has a Gospel reading to go with it, and the little companion booklet has little meditations for the day as well. My favorite part is that it doesn't end with Christmas, but include the Epiphany, the feast of the Holy Family, and the Presentation. If you'd like to score one of these for free, enter the giveaway below, and happy Advent preparation time!

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

totes, plants and homeschooling miracles {early 7 for the win!}

Linking up with Kelly a tad early for a change.

1) One of the saddest parts about moving away from South Bend has been missing one of my very closest besties, Katrina. You probably know her from her stellar work in her Hatch Prints shop, (but if my some crazzzzzy chance you don't, go forth!), but I had the JOY of being good friends with her IRL, hence the sadness at not being within a 5 minute drive anymore. Anyways, she sent me this tote and I am in love:

It's new to her shop so if you're looking for a gift or just an awesome tote for yourself you should TOTES get at it. (winky eyed emojis all over)

2) Last weekend I got to go to a talk by a couple of ladies in the community here (one was my wonderful next door neighbor!) all about decorating and now I am kind of obsessed with finding small affordable ways to make this home prettier. It's a great house, but it's a little bit straight out of the late 90s, early 2000s. Since we bought for size and locale we kind of have no budget for decor whatsoever, but a little thrifting and spray painting here and there never hurt anyone.
I found this planter at a little local thrift store and see succulents were $1.30 a piece at the store (!!!) and I luuuuv them.

3) I am about to fall down the rabbit hole of spray painting as many of our some what horrible polished brass light fixtures as I can with 1 bottle of primer and 2 of paint. Mike is THRILLED at my new found enthusiasm (smell that? It's so much sarcasm).

4) I worked my behind off to try to get a cute picture of Fred for our Christmas card/birth announcement/moving announcement and in the end I got a bunch that I loved...

But I'm not using any for the card.
I would call it a waste of time except that I got this one of Fred and Joe out of it and I crack up every time I look at it.

5) My sister the Christmas Card Maker Extraordinaire did put together a super lovely little thing for us and lest you think I am actually on the ball for getting it done early (is this even early? we usually don't even do a Christmas card): this is a birth announcement. Fred was born in June. So no, I'm not. I love the card though:

I definitely recommend my sister's etsy shop cards or invites for all occasions, she's kind of a boss at it.

6) Bernadette is really taking off with reading and I have to say that teaching a kid to read feels just as good the second time around as it did the first.

No wait, it feels better because this time there was a pregnancy, a move and more kids around so it's basically a miracle.

7) I'm sure that was more than you bargained for, so... done!