Friday, March 7, 2014

7 QTs: Lent, 12 Angry Men (almost!), God Eats Chips, & Uptight FirstGraders

Joining Jen again!

1) It's the first Friday of Lent! Who's excited?!? 
Yeah, me neither. It says a lot about my current attitude that by dinner time on Ash Wednesday, I was asking "Is Lent over yet?".
Hopefully, I'll get with the groove soon...or, the Holy Spirit will have to kick me into gear.

2) This week, my kids' grade school took their standardized tests. Since this is a Montessori school, this is the only testing they do all year. I think it must exhaust the teachers and the students, because both Jack's and Eamon's teachers declared today a Pajama Party Day. 
Jack was all over that action, while Eamon was horrified. 

He's a little buttoned up.

Kyle offered him a tie.

3) Maeve was accepted to her first choice of high schools. She was accepted into their International Baccalaureate program (basically, all honors) which is impressive. Well, until you find out that all those girls are required to take 6 weeks of summer school to prepare for the rigorous classes at additional expense. This is over and above the 4 weeks of volleyball camp she has to take in order to have a good shot at making their team. Joe told her, "your school is the worst.". Brothers are so kind.

4) As Kyle, Maeve, and I were leaving the registration and uniform fitting appointment at her new school on Tuesday evening, I noticed how subdued Kyle seemed. (We had been nicely shuffled from table to table, writing checks for large sums of money at each one.) When I asked him if he was OK, he responded, "That was the least fun I've ever had for $900.". A-ha.

5) THANKS FOR YOUR PRAYERS! After going through the most horrifying security line in the world, sitting for 4.5 hours, and being interviewed by an assistant state's attorney who loudly exclaimed "DO YOU EVER SLEEP?!" when I told her my "job"
was being a mother to 7 kids, I was excused from Grand Jury service!! And, hallelujah, because, as another Asst. State's Attorney explained to us: it was a guaranteed 5 week service, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm. Seriously, who can do that?? So, if you think of it, please pray for the 16 people who were chosen to serve, as well as the 8 alternate jurors.

6) As I sat there in the "jury waiting room" -- after praying my Rosary and desperately begging for prayers on via text and Facebook -- I practiced one of my favorite hobbies: people-watching. Human beings are fascinating, odd, gross, beautiful, snooty, tired (I'm looking at YOU, Mr. Snoring Loudly), and anxious. It occurred to me once again that we are ALL created in the image and likeness of God. As to why God would continue to pour the microscopic pieces of potato chips into his mouth from his chip bag, is something you will have to ask him. 

7) Are you joining in the 40 Bags, 40
days Challenge? How's it going? Have you hit any stumbling blocks or found buried treasure yet? I'm doing pretty well (7 bags already!), but am once again horrified at the realization that so many of my kids are hoarders. Here's hoping that the Good Lord sees fit to take me before my kids appear on this show:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge

My dear friend Jessica over at Housewifespice asked me to break down how I do the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, and I will try.

For those of you not "in the know", the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge is a way to purge your house of junk in a way that's manageable. It's meant to be done over the 40 days of Lent, so as to add another layer to the spiritual cleanse we are supposed to be doing during this time. 

A few years ago, I used before/after pictures to document my first ever 40 Bags challenge. If you search "40 Bags" here you will see those posts.

As for how I approach the entire challenge, it's pretty simple.

1) I take my handy-dandy notebook (opa-composition style!) and physically walk each room of my house. I inspect each room as if I were a prospective buyer and open all the doors and drawers.

No, not THIS one!!
THIS one!!

2) I list every area no matter how small. In fact, it's easier if I break things down into really small things (i.e. Silverware drawer), so that they're easier for me to tackle. Don't worry about making it too small, because you can always do 2 items in one day if you have the time!

3) I keep my stash of garbage bags/grocery store bags, paper towels, cleaning wipes, and vinegar/water spray in a big reusable shopping bag so I can grab it all at once. (Sorry, no pic! It's in the basement and I'm too cold to run down there!)

4) Every morning I look at my list and decide which items I will tackle based on how hectic my schedule is for that day. So, yes, you can jump around your list as much as you like --- it's YOUR list!

5) Gets to cleanin'!!!

Helpful tips:
- DON'T let your kids (any age) help while 
  you tackle areas which may contain 
  their "precious" items.
- DO let your kids who are 10 and older
   help weed through their own clothing.
- Don't keep anything you haven't used
  or worn in the last 9-12 mos
  (exception: maternity clothes &
  nice hand-me-downs)
- touch every part of each area you 
   are cleaning 
- BE RUTHLESS! Remember that the
  less things that are in your home, the    
  less things you have to clean/organize.

Any questions?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

7in7: THE END!!

Whew! I did it!!! ;) Thanks to Jen for coming up with this brilliant idea to get so many of us bloggers off our blogging hindquarters!

So, we had a nice weekend celebrating our February Birthday Boys. The Dells was ridiculously crowded, but that's what happens when the Midwest has been in the icy grip of the Polar Vortex for so long. People need to move their bodies and feel some energy and warmth. 

Happy to be entering another liturgical season, even if it's a penitential one. Lent always means Spring is not far off and this year...well, see the previous paragraph.

On Tuesday, I have to go to the scariest courthouse in the world and ask to be excused from Grand Jury Service. Yep. Not regular jury duty; I was summoned via certified mail to serve on a Grand Jury. When I spoke to the jury service coordinator and asked her how I was chosen, she said, "just pure luck!". Yes, luck. That kind of luck has been dogging my heels all winter long. Hmmmm. She also told me that, if I speak to the "very understanding" state's attorney there, I will "certainly" be excused from serving, due to my excellent "excuse" of being the sole caretaker for 7 kids. I'm still very nervous and worried, so could y'all say a prayer for me on Tuesday? I'll say one for you, too!

Back in the fall, we discovered that Joe is allergic to gluten. So, we've been traveling the fun road of helping a picky 15 year old eat gluten free while still trying to feed the rest of us. With Lent upon us, I'm looking for some new meatless, gluten-free recipes that Joe will actually eat. Basically, Joe loves meat and dairy and despises fish and ALL veggies (except for corn and potatoes.). My meatless, GF repertoire includes:

- GF Mac n Cheese (from scratch)
- GF cheese lasagna
- GF pasta marinara
- crustless cheese pizza (we've not had
   good luck with the GF crusts)
- some meatless soups
- cheesy rice

So, help a mama out! 

Hope all of you have a really FAT Tuesday and a blessed Ash Wednesday!!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

7in7: My Baby

Joining Jen for the homestretch...

Today, my baby boy is two. Well, if it were February 29 he would be two, but we are celebrating today.

Two years ago, the baby we thought we would never have, came into our lives and blessed us immediately.

Two years ago, I was more scared than I ever have been in my life. But, that 8 week premature baby showed me what fearlessness and strength looked like.

Two years ago, I learned how to be a mother in a much different way.

Two years ago, my baby showed the doctors and nurses what a miracle looks like.

Today, my baby teases his big sister.

Today, my baby can eat his weight in bacon and red meat.

Today, my husband and I marvel at how far this child has come.

Today, we thank God for all 7 of our blessings here on earth. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes for 7in7: LUCKY YOU!

Giving you a double dose of Jen today! 

1) Yesterday was Kyle's 40th birthday. Yes, he's nearly 8 months younger than I am, but who's counting? We celebrated with ribs, Portillo's Chocolate Cake, and an iPad Mini as my gift to him. Welcome to the world of Apple, my darling!

2) Tomorrow is the day we celebrate Will's 2nd birthday. My Leap Day baby will NOT be deprived of a birthday celebration just because he doesn't have an "official" day on which to celebrate 3/4ths of the time. In fact, my second gift to Kyle is honoring his request to take the entire family to Wisconsin Dells for Will's birthday!

3) Have you ever been to the Dells? It's like Vegas, but for families. Just once in your life you should go. We are staying at a resort which has a few indoor waterparks, so the older kids can wander off on their own while we wrangle the little ones. Rumor has it that a swim-up bar was installed, so don't feel too badly for us. ;)

4) I really need a new pair of winter boots and now is the season to get a great deal. Any suggestions for comfy, but cute , boots?

5) Have any of you caught the 90s BBC show Ballykissangel? It's on Amazon Prime right now! I'm only just beginning season 2 (after finishing Season 1) and it really like it! It's all about a little Irish town, it's Catholic priest and all the townspeople. Each episode highlights different characters and their stories, using the priest as the common thread weaving them all together. If you get a chance, check it out!

6) Upon the recommendation of some very wonderful women, I recently purchased a copy of 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley. My wise friends suggested it as a great book for Lenten reading, and I can't wait to get started!

7) Don't forget to buy your paczki on Tuesday!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Theme Thursday & 7in7: Fences

Linking up with Cari and Jen for.....

Fences at Sunset (be jealous of my photog skills)

WWRW and 7in7: The Feeling Good Handbook

Linking up with the Double J Ranch: Jessica and Jen!

Full disclosure: I read this book last summer, but I refer to it weekly and this week I have turned to it almost as often as I have turned to my Rosary.

The Feeling Good Handbook By David Burns came highly recommended to me by a mental health care professional last Spring. First, I checked out a copy from the library, but I soon found that it was one of those books. You know, the type of book you know you will want to refer back to many times. The type of book you can see becoming valuable in all sorts of new situations in the future. So, I bought my own copy and it has been so very worth it.

Overall, it's marketed as a self-help book for the average person and uses behavioral awareness and modification as the tools to help the reader improve. The author is a psychologist (he looks grooooooovy, right?) who has a very conversational writing style and uses many real examples as ways of illustrating personality types, flaws, and ways to improve. 

On it's own, it's a fascinating read.

When you apply it to your own life, it takes on a whole new meaning. Somehow, Burns gets the reader to really see himself/herself as others do, but in a very gentle, non-judgemental way. He then leads you through all different types of exercises to show where you can improve and change. His very helpful explanations show you exactly how to change without feeling overwhelmed. 

He devotes several sections of the book on how to deal with difficult personality types successfully. This was eye-opening, to say the least. Truly, I never realized that there are so many different ways of approaching a difficult person or situation and achieving a tolerable-to-good outcome. Not only do I wish I had this book as a young wife and mother, I wish I had it as a middle-schooler!

This book is laid out in such a way that jumping around from section to section isn't a problem, but I would definitely recommend reading it in it's entirety at some point. 

Whether you are female or male, married or single, childless or a parent, this book can help you in all areas of your life. It certainly has helped me!