7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 4: Not Cleaning all the Things

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1. In my recent venting post about Goals, I whined about how I feel a little paralyzed and afraid of how to make progress right now. This is such a frustrating place to be. This January has offered up a whole bunch of helps that are right up my alley. Hands Free Mama (Which I got in real live paperback because getting on my kindle just seemed too ironic), Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, The Mind Organization for Moms program (for free!)…  The temptation is so great right now to revamp everything, organize all the things! Clean all the things!

responsibility12(alternate)I just want to DO STUFF! But right now I have to rest.  It is really hard to put rest into my day. I know that sounds kind of silly, but it is true. If I want to get rest, that means that I have to feed the littles a real lunch at a logical time (a little before noon in our case) and not just let them graze all day. Then I have to intentionally walk away from the mess in the kitchen (which is not as hard as it might seem) and herd the littles into the bedroom (which is MUCH harder than it seems) changing a diaper and getting a drink and then settling them down and – resting, perchance to sleep?  But my whole morning is now structured around getting that lunch-and-nap timing just right. This is HARD! Dare I say, maybe this is discipline-building.  Yes, I am definitely increasing my self control by having a daily nap.

2. My body is doing this pregnancy thing okay so far this time. This baby the size of a sweet pea makes me look like I have a baby the size of a cantelope. But who’s counting? I have my yoga pants, I have like 2 or 3 shirts that are long enough. I have slippers and pony tail holders, so I’m good for now. I refuse to wear maternity clothes until I have my ultrasound on the 14th of February. Stretch, yoga pants, stretch!

3. I caved in a let myself reread The Lord of The Rings again. I felt guilty about ignoring all the new books I have on my list but it’s been a couple years, and I just missed the books so much, like an old friend. We re-bought (after ruining our last two copies) the movies with an amazon gift card we got for Christmas, so I have been watching them while I fold laundry. But as much as I love the movies, I still love the books more. The pace is so much different. In the movies the pace is harried, exciting, and breathless. But in the books you get a feel for the plodding slowness and exhaustion of the long journey, and I can relate to that so much more. (Kind of like my blog title here!) Last night as I was finishing up the part about Tom Bombadil, I thought about how Frodo has a lot of little pauses, little happy endings in the middle of his story. And I realized that I have those in my own life – little closings of chapters, rescues from troubles, time to catch my breath – but they are never The End.  But those little endings are so important. They help me rest and prepare to move on to the next thing. You miss that part in the movies.

4. As I spiral into morning sickness/exhaustion (which I am counting as a good thing, just inconvenient) I am trying a new spin on the Motivated Moms idea. I have the weekly page and printed it up and posted it on the bulletin board. That way everyone knows what needs to be done. Kids get to put their name down by what they do.  This plan is only in its beginning stages, so I can’t promise you it will work, but I think it has potential since it has space for daily items and weekly/seasonal things too.

Also, one thing we have done is that each big kid has one main chore that is theirs alone – Posy has the bathrooms, Ben has the dinner dishes, James mops, Tessa is usually the one to clean the living room, Max has to empty the dishwasher before school (which isn’t a big job, but you’d think it was from his moaning about it.)

5. Because it’s been a while, my favorite big family song:

6. Sometimes I can fall into feeling sorry for myself, especially when it comes to all the things I can’t do because we have this beautiful, amazing family that I wouldn’t trade for anything at all. But I really do have my moments when that whole dying to self thing just gets a little, well… old. But then I found this verse, which may be completely out of context, but I’ve been too lazy to check because it just speaks so generously to my heart right now and I don’t care if it is out of context:

Isaiah 43:4 Because you are precious in my eyes and honored and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.

It is just what I need to feel a tremendous hug from God and to look around and see, I traded myself for this – for all these little people… I got so much in return for my measly, pouty sacrifice! And then I feel a little less whiny and more thankful. It just helps my attitude.

7. I am loving going through the Psalms right now. I’m up to number 19. I feel so much more normal seeing David’s mercurial mood changes. And I love how even in his darkest times, he turns to God at the end of the Psalm, placing his trust again and again.

 

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 3: Outed by the Bishop, Yummy Lunch, Ripping up Tracks

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1. We began the week with a bang. We had planned to reveal our new pregnancy pretty quickly, but Sunday caught us by surprise. The bishop was saying mass at our parish, and since it was the Sunday before the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, he had all the expectant parents stand at the end of mass for a blessing.

What were we supposed to do? There I was, being climbed on by both Gus and Molly, right at the front of the church. I wasn’t sure at first if I had even heard correctly. Then it crossed my mind to not stand up.

I glanced at the choir and my brother in law, who sings right next to my husband, was about to fall out of his chair laughing. So I stood up.

Jay came down from the choir area to stand next to me – I was so thankful! And while our wonderful bishop prayed over us, we could hear the gasps and whispers behind us.

I don’t think I can ever top a public announcement like that; being publicly outed by the bishop!

 

2.  I had all these great ideas for this post, but they mostly happen when I’m driving. Then as soon as I get out of the car my brain flushes and all those thoughts are gone off to Narnia with the missing socks.

 

3. Yoga pants. That was fast, and I suppose a good sign, but within days of finding out I was pregnant, I had to make the move into yoga pants. It’s not even that my tummy is bigger. I put my jeans on and checked! But I just can’t stand to have anything constricting it at all.  I tried wearing jeans but all I could think about was how long it would be until I could take them off so I’m in yoga pants full time now. Yay?

 

4. We introduced Gus (age 2) to Star Wars yesterday. AS soon as it began he ran up to the screen and yelled “Space ships!!!” He would wander away any time there was dialogue, but he loved all the robots and shooting and “SWORDS!!! Like mine!!!”

 

5. I dropped the kids off at school this morning and was about 10 minutes  away when Lily’s (Kindergarten) teacher called and informed me that she forgot her lunch. I’m a little ashamed of the internal temper tantrum I threw, especially since I was in the middle of a rosary. My brain froze up and I couldn’t think of what on earth I was supposed to do about this situation. I explained to her teacher that we live 30 minutes from school, so running home and back was really not an option.

She calmly suggested that I stop somewhere close-by and pick up something for her and bring it to the school.

Duh.

I’ve done this before, why didn’t my brain work?

I realized that, while I know some of my friends who can change direction easily. I am not that kind of person. I know people who operate like a little bunny rabbit hopping across the field darting this way and that as obstacles arise in their way. I operate more like a freight train. A change of directions means that I have to come to a full stop, rip up the track I’ve laid, lay down new track, and then get the train moving again. I’m not sure why I lock in this way, but I am trying to be more flexible.

 

6.  i just had one of these yesterday:

000811Amy’s Gluten Free Broccoli and Cheddar Bake, and oh my, it was SO good! I have missed mac and cheese so much since going gluten free and this tasted like the real thing, plus broccoli. I need to get my hands on more of these!

 

7.  We have another weekend ahead of garage clean out. Our garage gets a little overwhelmed at least a couple times a year and starts to look like people just throw things out there and shut the door before the stuff can run back in… but that’s pretty much what we all do. If I have to take anyone out there I explain that this is where our house threw up. It’s a huge project is what I’m saying. So if you don’t hear from me again, send a search party or to into the garage.

 

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 2

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My first writing goal this year was to publish a 7 Quick Takes post weekly through March. Except I missed week two. Bummer. But it was a crazy weekend so lets just move on and skip it. No sense in trying to come up with 14 for this week…

1. Boys Choir Sweepstakes is in full swing and this is a new thing for us. We are called upon by the boys choir to choose sites to go and collect donations and sell the sweepstakes tickets. On Friday last week, we had or first experience with selling. It was exciting to see little Max in action. He just jumped right into it, going up to strangers and giving his little schpiel.  Most of the donations we collect go directly to pay for his tuition and summer camp (and eventually tours as well, which can be very expensive!) But it was stressful. We had three sites last weekend in the middle of an otherwise busy weekend. We hit Monday feeling like we had all been through the whole week already.  If you would like to help Max, you can go to this website.

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2. I mentioned in my last quick takes that I am trying to get a handle on my device time (which is also a reason I missed last week’s Quick Takes) and live a more hands free, available to my family life, and it seems that God heard the call loud and clear. I’m losing control of a couple of my afternoons during the week, and being forced into handed the opportunity to play outside with my kids. Here’s how a thing like this happens. Max (3rd grade) has to go for tutoring after school twice a week. So I emailed Lily’s (Kindergarten) teacher to ask if she could also stay for tutoring/hang out in the classroom/whatever and was given a polite but firm “Heck no!” Since returning home is not an option (we live half and hour away from school) I will be staying on the campus with Lily (and Gus and Molly) for those hours of tutoring. I was originally spitting mad when I got the email from the teacher. But I decided to just use this time to be with my kids. It was my plan to increase that, after all. This plan should work great at least until we have a rainy day and have to spend an hour in the car with these little hooligans just being stir crazy. But today? It is 75 degrees and sunny. And this is what the campus looks like.

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3. These quick takes aren’t very quick, are they?

4. My competitive streak is showing up. I’ve been watching my friends totals on the fitbit, and I’m just really not happy being in the middle of the list. I MUST do better. (It would also probably help with the weight loss thing too.) But sometimes it is just not convenient to drag my butt out the door and go around my dull, dreary neighborhood again. Seriously, Arizona neighborhoods are just so full of beige it is disgusting. So I have decided to try to get my hot little hands on a treadmill. That will also come in handy during the summer, when I really only go outside to either get into the pool or into and air conditioned car.

5. I’m doing well on my year in pictures project! I’ve only missed one day so far! And a lit of days have more than one picture. Earlier this morning I went through my posts from 2011, when I tried the project. It certainly wasn’t an every day event that year, but what was there was such a nice remembrance to look through.

6. Tales of Fatigue – I mentioned this problem last time (#6). I seem to be coming out of this episode of fatigue. It reached its peak right around Christmas, and this episode lasted two months. But I have managed to exercise twice this week and it didm’ wipe me out. I’m not falling asleep again by ten in the morning. So hopefully whatever this is, is backing off for now. I am going to try to keep tabs on my energy levels and work hard to not over exert myself or tire myself too badly. I have been being more careful to just rest a while every day. Minecraft is helpful with that. Or reading if I try to act like a real grown up.

7. Potty training began today. Since I’m feeling better, and Gus has gone potty on cue several times now, I am going to take the next step and increase his “potty opportunities” by setting a timer for two hours after he has either a wet diaper or pees in the potty. I will adjust the time as I figure out his pattern a little better.

7 Quick Takes 2014 vol. 1

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Yes, yes, it’s been a while. What else is new? I’m really good at making promises and starting series that never finish, but one of my goals this year is to get back into blogging by doing 7 Quick takes each week through March. Let’s see if I can do it!

1. Best Christmas Present! And my new tool for blogging. Jay got me a pretty one of these:

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Yes it is an older, refurbished Mac, but we got it speeded up and ready to go and I have an AMAZING pink skin for it zooming towards me as we speak. I have fantasies of sneaking of to Starbucks or the library to do some uninterrupted blogging or other writing one of these days.

2. But that means I need to buckle down and get control of my device-time. I’ve been reading at both Hands Free Mama and Orange Rhino and I need to be a better, more present parent this year (and forever after…). So if you have been trying to call me and haven’t gotten through, try the home phone. I’m leaving my cell phone in my purse or put away more often these days.

3.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not so tempted to go and hide, to play some stupid game on my phone to just tune out the world for a while. I still am tempted, and I still give in. Triple Town and Dots are my current faves. They calm down my introverted mind and let it just idle for a bit. I don’t think that is wrong, I just think I need to work on how much it happened. And I probably need to find some other ways to chill for a bit.

4. Like Spirograph! We got one for Max for Christmas and I have to say it’s my favorite toy. Not his, unfortunately. But it is more difficult than I remembered. A couple times we have just plopped down at the table and played with the colors and shapes for a while. It’s so zen… when you aren’t stuck with one of the bent wheels that makes you mess up every 5 seconds. Ah, the problems of a fallen world. I bet Adam and Eve didn’t have that problem.

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5. Paisley (oldest daughter) got a promotion! She will be counter manager for Chanel cosmetics in a week or so. I am so excited for her, she deserves the upgrade in her career and, well, I can’t wait to get some of the makeup!!!

6. I’m tired. I have been posting my journey to better health on my Mommy’s Diet blog, and I’ve made some progress. But I’m still just so stinking tired all the time. Doctors look at me like I’m crazy if I tell them that. They say, “Well, you have 9 kids, what do you expect?” or “You’re just getting older.” But I still think something is not quite right. I’ll keep looking for the answers.

7. 2013 was not a bad year. It had some bad moments in it, and switching schools or the kids was kind of hard – both in the time management and the emotional aspects of it. But this is the first year in a while when I didn’t feel like heaving a huge sigh of relief that it was over. That is a pretty good feeling, I have to say. I hope 2014 will be at least as good!

7 Quick Takes – Mass Behavior

This week I am going to focus on surviving mass with our little people.  Specifically those 5 and under.  Theoretically, those over 5 should only need gentle reminders to be good if you have been working with them through their lives to sit still and quiet during mass.  But some kids might take a bit longer…

People often tell me that I just got lucky and miraculously gave birth to quiet children.  This could not be further from the truth at all.  My children are natural musical and LOUD.  When people call my house they often ask me if there is a party going on.  No, it’s just normal life – and it tries to occur in mass as well.

So I work my butt off to teach my children how to behave in mass.  This means that any attention that I am able to pay in mass is an unexpected treat and that I normally use up any and all graces I would receive from attending mass before I ever leave it.

These tips and tricks will mostly fall into two categories: Closing the Crying Hole and Distraction.

1. Closing the Crying Hole Part 1: Drink
I breastfeed in mass.  Yes, I do.  I am discreet about it and you will probably see less of my breast than many of the women in the church on any given summer Sunday.  I figure it is far less distracting to anyone else than what my child would do if they were not currently nursing.  This offers the extra bonus of said child possibly falling asleep.  The other bonus is that, unlike sippy cups, it can’t be thrown on the floor (no matter how hard the child might try) and make a loud bang.  Some time after the age of 1 however, I try to transition to a sippy of water during mass.  And sometime between ages 2 and 3 I try to phase that out as well.

2. Closing the Crying Hole Part 2: Food
Another hotly debated topic – I decide this one on a case by case, kid by kid basis.  My current 2 year old couldn’t be trusted on any level to not throw things on the floor, so she doesn’t get anything.  In the past though, we have done small things like cheerios.  The trick is, mom hold the container and hands the child ONE AT A TIME.  We remove any trace of food from the church when we leave.

3. Distraction Part 1: Massage
With the child sitting in your lap or close beside you, hold their hand and trace around their fingers and the creases on their palms with feathery strokes.  My kids love this!

4. Distraction Part 2: Whispered Prayers
Whispering prayers into their ears or talking about parts of the mass or the church building are very helpful and even work to distract young babies… at least for a minute or two.  Although it can result in an exchange like this one:
Tessa (8) was doing her part to whisper to Lily and keep her quiet during the consecration. Tessa turned to Lily (2) and said, “That is Jesus’s blood.”  Lily said, “JESUS’S BUTT? That’s not Jesus’s butt!  It’s Jesus’s BLOOD!”

So whisper clearly.

5. Distraction Part 3: Drawing
Magna-doodle.  Enough said.

6. Distraction Part 4: Quiet Toys
Throw any toy that you might bring to mass with you on the floor.  Throw it on the table.  If it is any louder than a light tap, it stays home or in the car.  Although the above mentioned Magna-doodle breaks this rule, it is usually only used with kids who are old enough to know that throwing a toy is a Capital Offense.

7. Jumping Ship:
Sometimes you have tried everything and tried more as well and Kid is just not going to settle down.  If you have to make an exit, try not to make it rewarding to the child.  Leaving mass and letting Kid run around in the back of the church only teaches them how to get back there more often.  No, if kid has to be taken out, they get to sit in your lap, heavily restrained.  It’s no fun for anyone, most especially the parent.  But it is effective.

I’m not one to disregard kid noises, but a peep or a whisper or even a short lived cry are not reasons to leave.  There is going to be a low level of ruckuss in any pew with a family with small children.  For our family, it is only repeated misbehavior or a child who has bumped their head on the pew or something that gets us to make a run for it. (Hurt children do not get restrained, by the way.  I have to add this because one of my children manages to hurt themselves on a pew more often than one might expect.)

My kids aren’t perfect, but we seldom have to leave mass, and I have plenty of little old ladies who love to sit by my kids too.

All of this is only going to work if you are talking to your child early and often about what is expected from them, what mass is about.  And a little prayer to their guardian angel doesn’t hurt either.

7 Quick Takes

This is my first 7 Quick Takes.  I feel like one of those people on the radio who feel the need to start out with, “Longtime listener, first time caller…” and I guess that is actually what I am doing.

Diving in:

1. Bible Funnies

I was reading John 1 this week and came across a passage that made me laugh out loud.  It is a long chapter, and I was reading it as a prelude to a devotional that my moms group is doing this summer.  So I was just kind of going through it quickly.  I’ve read it all before and felt pretty familiar with it.  But then I got to verse 45 (and following):

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”  Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

I can almost hear Jesus saying, “Really, you were impressed by THAT?  Oh man, just WAIT and see what I have in store for you!”  And maybe even thinking to himself, “This guy is going to be easy!”  Maybe I was just getting punchy at the time, but I laughed anyway.  I just think that Jesus must have enjoyed at least a little bit when people were really impressed. (Provided, of course, that they eventually got the true point of His wonders and miracles.)

2. Watership Down

This Summer I am reading Watership Down for the first time.  I have always loved the movie, and wanted to read the book, so here I am, 2/3rd of the way through.  I watched the movie again, during this reading. Um, I think I have had my fill of the movie.  But I am loving the book, and one of the things that I love about it is that Hazel is so perfectly my husband.  He is a faithful leader, not by brute force but by sheer will to do the right thing and responsibility for those around him.  It has made me love both the story and my husband even more.

My kids loved the movie, but seeing my disgust at it are clamoring to have me read them the book next.  But considering we have already spent 2 months and are not even halfway through Black Beauty, we’ll see if we can tackle Watership.  I’m afraid I don’t have the same follow through for reading books aloud as I used to.

3. McDonalds

I have a confession to make.

I love McDonalds.
No matter how many food documentaries I watch or books about nutrition I read, (and I do read a lot of them!) I still love McDonalds.  Their food make be fake and poison for my body, but it sure is yummy.  And the Sweet Tea… ooooohh!  I realize it is lightly tea flavored sugar water.  Really, I do.  But it is so good.  And they have the best playlands too.

4. Yawn

My schedule is so messed up due to summer.  I have been staying up at least 3 hours past my school year bed time and it is not a pretty picture when I need to get up in the morning.  It is so nice not to have to be out the door with six kids at 7am, but I still have 3 kids who get up at the crack of dawn.  And I really am enjoying my time at night, even if I am just watching reruns while folding laundry.  Right now it just means that I don’t have to jump straight from bed to a shower and breakfast.  Soon though.  Just a couple more weeks and we will be back to the school year in earnest and I need to get my body to start switching back.  Which should I start first – going to bed earlier or getting up earllier?

5. The Plan

As a mom, I have tried so many different plans for getting my house in order: Managers of Their Homes, Flylady, Motivated Moms, and other random plans found in magazine articles.  Somehow though, none of the plans work for me.  Could it be my eight kids making things harder?  Maybe.  But for me to follow an exterior plan like that, I find I would be working 14 hours a day to keep my house clean.  The end result is only a little cleaner than if I’m not doing all that and stressing.  So right now it boils down to just needing to do whatever needs to be done next.  In my effort to bring my kitchen up a step though, I am filling the sink with soapy water as I make my breakfast.  The dishes don’t usually get washed until the water is fully cold, but at least they have been soaking for a while.  And then they usually get done before dinner.  Now if I could just get the dinner dishes done before breakfast…

6. Of Raptors and Ringwraiths

My 8 month old has found her voice.  She has always been a loud crier, even as a newborn she could cry loud enough to be heard across the house without a baby monitor.  But her cry has lately taken a turn for the worse.  She is most likely to use it immediately upon waking, on being put down, when we try to give her solids in the high chair (food on the floor is completely fair game), when the wind changes, when the lights are turned off, when the lights are turned on, when there is air in the room… you get the idea.  There is no “fuss” setting on this child.  She goes straight from happy as a clam to Oh My the World is ENDING!  I have heard a LOT of crying in my time.  She is a Zero-to-sixty crier.  One moment she is calm, the next moment she belts out this blood curdling, ear piercing, Oh-God-make-it-stop wail.  Her cry sounds a lot like a home fire alarm, alternated with Ringwraith screeching, she throws in the raptor sounds just to keep things interesting.


7.  Happy Anniversary to Us!

This past week we celebrated out 20th wedding anniversary.  We got married so young, but still that was 20 years ago.  It’s hard to believe I have been doing anything for 20 years.  But parenting and being married are now in that category.  When I look back at how clueless we were when we started out, I can tell you that it is absolutely by the Grace of God that we have made it this far and have the marriage we have today.  We have stumbled along, making many mistakes along the way, and mostly loving the whole process.  I would never have dared to hope to have a husband as amazing as Jay is.  But here we are, 20 years later.  I hope the next 20 years is as great!  (Although I would certainly accept a 20 years with less drama, I’m not holding my breath for it.)

So there you have it, a relatively disjointed 7 Quick takes.  Maybe next week I can pull it together a little more.  My whole goal this week was to get my blog writing juices flowing again, so I can get this blog up off the ground and work a little harder on my Family Blog as well.  Now, go check out the originator of 7 quick takes at Conversion Diary!