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.