Saturday, December 31, 2011

DIY salvage bookshelf

Jonathan asked for a bookshelf of his own in his (our) room. To put it mildly, there just isn't much space for one! But we found a small, 12x12x30 bookshelf offered on craigslist for $1, and since that fits the space and the budget (ha!) I went and picked it up today.

I wish I'd thought to take a "before" picture, because it was pretty ugly. Black laminate and quite beat up. I keep reading on DIY blogs that spray paint is the easy way to fix problems like that, so we asked Jonathan to pick a color and gave it a shot.

Initially I thought it was doomed to failure. You can't see very well in this photo, but the paint did NOT want to stick to the laminate. It was uneven and drippy and definitely uglier than it had been while black. :(

We sanded off the drips and tried again. Hmm. Better. But we ran out of paint.

Gabe ran back to the store to get another can, and we kept working on it. I think part of the problem was just that it is hard to adequately cover black with any other color!

But after all that, it turned out pretty nicely, don't you think?

Maybe we're not DIY failures after all. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sewing for the kids

Usually when Jonathan asks me to make something for him, his imagination wildly outpaces my skills. But this morning we were both inspired, and look at the results!

Power Rangers!

Of course, it took all morning. But that's what vacation time is for, right? :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hybrid shopping

Shopping has never been something I enjoy, and shopping for clothing is the worst. But Jonathan's shoes have been pinching him, and I've simply worn out most of my pants. Something had to be done.

I noticed two fabulous coupons for JCPenney in the weekend paper. Hmm! So last night, after the kids were in bed, I spent about 30 minutes online looking through their site for options. The beautiful thing about online shopping is the opportunity to sort by size, color, style, price, etc. I found four pairs of pants that looked like they had potential, and two pairs of shoes that looked perfect for Jonathan. But pants and shoes really are the sorts of things that should be tried on before buying them! So I put everything in my cart and then printed it.

This morning I headed off with my printout (and all three boys) to Penneys. Just over an hour later, we walked out with three pairs of pants and a pair of shoes. Did I mention that I had all three kids with me? And no one had a meltdown? Not even me?

I love the fact that the "browsing" stage was vastly simplified online. I hate wandering through aisles and aisles of clothing and never finding quite what I want. Online browsing took that entirely out of the equation. All that was left for the store was finding the right section, trying on four pairs of pants, and buying the three that fit. Jonathan's shoes were even smoother: we walked in, asked for the size and color, put them on his feet, paid and walked out.

Seriously, people, Hybrid Shopping. I don't know why I never thought to do it this way before! :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Crowning Achievements Doula Services

Gabe and I spent some hours working on my website today. New photos, new comments from past clients, some new content and better page organization. It is a thing of beauty (and a joy forever?)! Would you take a minute and look around?

I'm working hard to get my name and website more visibility, so that potential clients can find me. If you've known me in any birth-related capacity, could you take a few minutes to write a review? The most important places are yelp and Google maps.

Friends and family with blogs, every time you link to my website it helps Google searches find me. I'd be grateful!

Your help is invaluable! Thank you!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


It was a very merry morning!

Oh look, I was there, too. :)

Hours spent playing together.

And Christmas dinner: brisket, yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, and green beans (Great)Grandma-style. Oh, and pumpkin pie for dessert. After 8 years, we've finally hit on the perfect Christmas dinner tradition for our family; this is it. Yum, yum, yum!

Jonathan approves. :)

A beautiful end to a lovely day.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Animal Discovery: Alligators

Alligators were the favored creature today during playdough playtime. We had tribes of them waddling across the table. Since there was obvious interest, when the boys tired of playdough I printed alligator coloring pages for them. We looked at color photos to see what they "look like, really, Mom".

We talked about their skin and what it might feel like, and how they like to live in the water more than on land. "And do they eat people when they open their mouths like that, Mom?" Um, sometimes, dear.

Finished up with an alligator jigsaw puzzle. It was interesting watching Thomas do a puzzle, and remembering how Jonathan used to do them. Jonathan was fast and furious, completed it once and was quite finished, moving on, we're done now! Thomas is methodical, a bit slower, and chose to re-do the puzzle three times, getting better each time. It is so fascinating, watching my boys learn!

8 years is long enough to wait, right?

I finally have a Kitchanaid stand mixer. Last week I stumbled across a phenomenal deal online. And since I expected a check for almost the same amount only two days later, I bought it. :) Isn't it beautiful?

The boys were suitably enthralled.

(well, we were making St. Nicholas cookies, so perhaps that accounts for the interest.)

I'm in love. I'm so in love that I cleaned the kitchen so that it would match the beauty of the mixer.

Pretty, pretty, pretty!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Song stories

This evening Josiah asked for a "bear song" at bedtime, so I sang "The Bear Went Over The Mountain." When I finished, there was a long pause, and then Josiah said "but I wanted him to see something on the other side of the mountain!"

Me: Well, what do you suppose might have been there?
Josiah: A big giant thing!
Me: Oh my. Do you think the bear was scared?
Thomas: Oh, the bear said "please don't eat me, I'm very small, but there is another bear that is much bigger than I am."
Josiah: And then the other bear came and saved the bear from the giant thing!

Mixed up scripts

We have a couple of "scripts" that we use around here, to simplify resolution of conflicts.

There's the "sorry" script:

Brother 1: I'm sorry for X, Y, Z.
Brother 2: I forgive you.

and the "bothering brothers" script:

Brother 1: Please stop doing X, Y, Z.
Brother 2: Ok, I'll stop.

Josiah is quite happy to play along with this, although I'm not entirely sure he understands anything he's saying. This is evidenced by the following conversation which I have been hearing on a fairly regular basis:

Brother 1: Please stop doing X, Y, Z.
Josiah: I forgive you! :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Auntie Leila on Advent

We're finding ourselves in a very busy life season right now. This tends to leave me feeling rather frazzled, and that has only been heightened by the nagging worry that I "ought" to be doing more with the kids for Advent.

Today I read Auntie Leila's post on Advent, and I'm feeling a bit more peaceful now. Because you know what? As usual, she's right. ;)
The simple act of lighting a candle in the home, if done peacefully and attentively, can open the door to wonder. Wonder is at the heart of Advent.

We can get frazzled and feel that we're not doing enough, that our children don't understand enough. Really, their understanding will grow with each year that they experience the same beautiful, simple rituals at home and at Church. . . . What I think the children tire of, eventually, is our jangling attempts to elicit some response from them, which, in the end, comes to this: That we seek affirmation from them. When really, we should confidently offer them what we know to be good, and trust that the good will be accomplished.
I don't need to have a perfect advent craft or activity planned for every single day. What I do need to do is be mindful of the season myself, and then offer the basic reminders to my children as well. So we light the candles at dinner. We pray and we sing advent hymns. We read books about Jesus and St. Nicholas during our morning story time. We unwrap our creche with care and set the animals in their stable. Perhaps we bake cookies.

And that really is enough. I don't have to *make* Advent special; it already is. I just need to point the way toward Jesus in terms and symbols that little boys can start to understand.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


During dinner today, I asked everyone what they were thankful for. The responses were so much fun!

Jonathan: Jesus, because he's the most important. Our cat, chicken, and flowers.

Thomas: . . . *crickets* . . .

Josiah: I'm thank-you for Christmas!

Gabe: Five Iron Frenzy!

I'm thankful for my family of boys who make me laugh so often. :)


"...It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth."

Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


There's nothing like a few months of school to make you appreciate the vacation that used to be normal life.

Drowsing in the morning while the children play together (honest, I think they play better when I'm not around!) Getting everyone dressed and doing chores without any rush. Morning playtime outside. Art and math at the kitchen table. Naptime without time constraints.

It is all perspective, isn't it?

Monday, November 21, 2011


Me: Laundry is the un-win-able battle. :(
Gabe: Honey, every day we wake up with clean underwear, you've won.

Isn't he sweet?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Where did my hour go?

I swear I just sat down! And now the children are up and ready to be changed and read to and played with. And I haven't started the laundry, and I still have emails to answer, and I think I was supposed to pay a bill or something, but I can't remember, and did I mention that THE CHILDREN ARE UP! and I really did mean to spend part of quiet time reading a book.

Thus is proven the wisdom of beginning quiet time with the Bible and a cup of tea. At least I got that! :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All Saints Day

Josiah was baptized on All Saints Day shortly after he was born, so we always make a point of celebrating both the day and his baptism. We chose to celebrate on Sunday this year instead of Tuesday because our Tuesday is incredibly busy this week, and that's no way to celebrate a baptismal day!

This year I wanted a fun (simple!) visual project that the boys could do, and I found it over at Catholic Icing. (In general, I've found that Catholics tend to be really good at including their children in the church year. Love it!)

I printed a pile of coloring pages of saints - Joseph, Mary, Anne, Francis, the Archangels, Paul, Peter, Augustine, etc. - and spread them across the table with lots of markers and crayons. I also made a huge heart on butcher paper, labeled it "Saints, Our Heavenly Family" and hung it on the wall. Then the boys (and a few of their friends from the neighborhood!) colored to their hearts' content while we talked about some of the different saints. When they were finished coloring, they cut out their pictures and taped them up on the heart on the wall. I was so pleased with how it turned out!

Everyone had fun, and the neighbor kids even took a couple of saint picture home to continue coloring. This might be a perfect All Saints project for young children - extremely hands-on throughout, low prep for Mom, with a great visual result at the end!

Homemade Halloween costumes

Jonathan chose to be a king this year. I sewed his robe, and edged the sleeves, hem, and neckline with gold thread. He loved that. :) We used an existing purple cape (I made it for him years ago), added a belt with a sword, and he did most of the painting/decorating of his crown. Do you see the cross on the front of the crown? That was Jonathan's idea, and very important to him. Overall, I love the way it turned out!

Remember how Thomas wanted to be Yoda? We managed it! The ears turned out a little bigger than I meant them, but they're the right shape and Thomas LOVES them. I sewed his robe from some fabric that my brother Jonathan sent from work (thank you, Uncle Jonathan!) Isn't he just the cutest Yoda you've ever seen?

Josiah was adamant that he wanted to be Darth Vader this year. Since we already had that costume, I was happy to oblige! We purchased a red light saber for him, which actually works out great because the other boys have blue and green ones and Siah wanted his very own so badly.

These photos were taken last night, just before leaving for our church's Halloween Party (a bang-up event!)

My goal this year was to create awesome costumes for a minimal cost. I ended up spending $13 (including the light saber!) and the kids were entirely happy. I'd say that's success!

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Josiah: "I am."
Thomas: "I'm not."
Josiah: "I am."
Thomas: "I'm not."
Josiah: "I am."
Thomas: "I'm not."
Josiah: "I am."
Thomas: "I'm not having this conversation with you, Siah."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Redeeming a bad day

I had big plans for today. A list of errands that criss-crossed six cities, a list of chores at home, a list of phone calls and emails that needed to be attended to.

In other words, I had insane expectations.

I have those quite frequently, unfortunately. And when I try to live up to them, I stress myself out, and then stress my children out as I bark at them to "hurry up" and move at a stressed out grown-up's pace. It wasn't a good morning.

By the time I dropped Jonathan off at school (and I did remember to stop and kiss him, I'm glad of that) I was starting to realize that my plans for the day weren't really going to work out. Still, we headed off to the first errand on my list, the one that was supposed to take 20 minutes before driving across town to the next one. An hour later I shook my head at myself and scrapped my insane plans.

We went to the library. Thomas sat on my lap during story hour, and Josiah sat smack in the middle of the crowd of kids, and both enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I read a book, snuggled my son, and remembered that I like my kids. On the way home the boys asked to stop at a park, and since there no longer was a plan, we did just that. The sun came out. Thomas made friends with a little boy his age, all by himself (a first)! I taught Josiah how to climb up and down a tricky ladder, and then sat on a park bench and ate chocolate.

I still have a very long list. But you know what? I don't really care. I'm choosing to remember that I also have many, many days to run errands. There is always tomorrow, and the day after that, and maybe some of them don't really need to be done anyway. My kids are little and need their days filled with stories at the library and sunshine at the park. Come to think of it, I kind of prefer my days to be filled with stories and sunshine, too.

In about an hour we'll go pick up Jonathan from school. I will say "I'm sorry" for being a grouchy mama all morning. And perhaps we'll get ice cream cones on the way home.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Look who's three!

Josiah seems to be settling into the concept of being three years old. For the first few weeks he kept asking "Mommy, is I'm three?" I suppose I ought to fix his grammar, but it is such a cute part of his three-year-old-ness that I can't quite bring myself to do it!

He was so excited about his birthday. Everything about it: the parties, the presents, the cake with blue icing, the fact of being three!! He gets excited with his whole body, and his voice gets higher and higher and his eyes light up with joy.

He's a great helper around the house, often asking me if he can help with whatever I'm doing. He unloads the plastic dishes from the dishwasher every morning, all by himself. He helps set and clear the table, and sometimes feeds the cat. He loves to do laundry with me, especially tossing in the clothes and adding the soap, and later throwing things into the dryer.

Recently he's started "doing yoda" with me in the morning. He's better at some of the poses than I am - childhood flexibility is amazing - and we have a good time together. One of our favorites is the "dead bug" pose. Josiah thinks it is hilarious. :)

Playtime often includes brio trains, building elaborate tracks with tunnels and roundhouses. Grandmommy & Granddad, Libby & Jon, thank you for adding to the collection! He's SO enjoying them.

And painting! Oh, how Josiah loves to paint! I invested in a painting tablecloth, taught him how to get out his own supplies, and now he paints almost every day.

Star Wars is another BIG DEAL around here, and Josiah joins in with gusto. I often see him running by, in costume and with light saber in hand, singing "dun dun dun, da da da, da da dah!" (the opening notes to the imperial march). No, none of our boys have seen the movie. Apparently you don't need to in the star-wars-saturated little boy culture we're living in!

A movie that he has seen (and LOVES) is Bambi. This story has completely captured him. He'll often tell me little parts of the story throughout the day, or repeat a line that he thinks is particularly funny, giggling so I can barely understand him.

Since turning three, Josiah has happily embraced the concept of "big boys pee in the potty!" He's really training himself, and I'm enjoying sitting back and watching (and cheering and handing out chocolate chips, of course.) :)

He's a big boy, but he's not too big for snuggles yet. I still get to carry him in from the car sometimes, when he's tired. And at bedtime I lie in bed with him and sing lullabies, and he gives me sweet smacky kisses and "bear hugs, mommy, so that you go 'oomph!' "

Josiah, age two, was a bundle of fun, and I'll kind of miss him. But Josiah, age three, is shaping up to be pretty fabulous as well. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011


My mom sends the boys letters on a regular basis. The last one had some fun stickers on the back, along with the question "can you make these faces?"

Jonathan was pretty good at it!

Grandmommy, Jonathan wanted to be sure that you saw these. Perhaps you could mention it in your next letter?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Say Their Names

Kirsten from team-ewan is creating a beautiful video to honor those babies, born and unborn, who are waiting for us in heaven. It is called "Say Their Names", and will simply be a video of a candle, with Kirsten off-screen reading the names of these beloved children. I'm including the names of my four miscarried babies.

Sara Elizabeth
Benjamin Joseph
Abigail Renee
Robert Emmanuel

It is bittersweet, remembering the grief and loss, but better than forgetting them or imagining that their brief lives didn't matter. If you have lost a child, consider including their name in Kirsten's project.