Five Favorites from the big 3-0.

It happened! I turned 30 and didn't go up in a poof of three-decade old smoke. Five favorites from the occasion:

1. Let them eat you-know-what

A devoted friend made us both dinner and a delicious gluten-free birthday cake. This truly constitutes four gifts: dinner, cake, no cooking, no cleaning up. Score.

2. Happy feet

A house with nothing but wood floors means momma needed some fuzzy, arch-supporting foot love. Plus, these bad boys have such thick soles, I can accidentally step on a lego without howling and cursing. Well done hubby. 

3. Birthday florals

Getting flowers from a man never gets old, does it? Second well done, hubby.

4. Giving up on the turning-30 angst. 

I tried over and over to write something insightful about where I am in life, i.e., the SAHM route with two little kids and no significant outside-the-home job or cause to speak of. But every time I tried, it sounded like a privileged-lady rant, like a woman who's been blessed with 99 things and then complaining that she doesn't have that one extra blessing, that one blessing that someone else has, and she doesn't, and how it's not fair. If I've learned anything, it's to count my blessings, right now, today. To play the cards you're dealt, dammit (a favorite maxim from my beloved Grandpa Les). You never know when the next shoe is going to drop, when a baby's going to start throwing up, when you're about to break a custom cabinet door in a rental home...

So I'm grateful, so very grateful to God for this year. For another day. For the contractor that called me back to tell me which custom cabinet shop made these doors so I can replace the bleeping thing.  

5. These boys.  

On the phone yesterday with my Mom, I thanked her for giving me my birthday. Maybe, when these boys are adults, I'll call them on their birthdays and they'll say the same thing. And I'll tell them, just like my Mom tells me, that they were and are my joy.

For more favorites (and some Halloween festiveness) go see Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee.


Stay at home, mom.

I lost my keys. Again. This makes it three times in three years, I believe. I would let my husband snicker at me, however, only one of us has locked the keys inside of a still-running parked car, and walked away for 2 hours, unawares. So laugh it up, helpmate. :)

Mary: Joe, do you know where my keys are?
Joe: Yes!!
Mary: Where?
Joe: I don't know!!

But of course it's no laughing matter; replacement keys and car fobs and all that make losing mommy's keys a pricey endeavor. And while I am 98% sure they're in the house somewhere, there's still not in my hands. Ugh. Sean returns tonight from a business trip, and with him returns the spare key to my car. Meaning: I lost my keys yesterday and had to stay at home. All day. With the boys. AT HOME. Like a real stay at home mom.

As a general rule, we go out every day. Groceries, Walmart, terrorize the small caged animals at Pet Smart, fight over swings at the park, etc. Until now, we've never lived in a stand-alone house, and staying home all day seemed like a punishment. And even now our home isn't large by any means.

But today, we stayed put. I didn't force Amby into taking a too-early morning, nap, just so we could get out the door before noon. Today I sat with Joe and read books during Amby's nap, instead of cramming oatmeal down his gullet so as to assuage my fears of him being hungry once we started our errands. Today I didn't cram a howling-in-protest Amby into a car seat when all he wanted to do was chase baseballs around the patio (he's part puppy).

I liked it.

I wouldn't do it every day. But I liked it.

Now begins the dreaded 4-8pm time slot. If we can get through the rest of the day without feeling like this, I'll consider it a win.


7qt / Fall baby.

Linking up with Conversion Diary today!

Honest question: Who doesn't "love fall"? I cannot count how many paragraphs I've read online in the past two weeks regarding how folks just adore:
- wearing sweaters and boots
- collecting leaves, pine cones and other falling bits
- making some sort of home adornment out of said bits
- carving pumpkins and then giving them baths to preserve their designs

Yes. Baths. Now, in no way do I mean be an autumnal scrooge, quite the opposite! I'm a fall baby with a birthday at the end of this month. I could spend the whole of October in this pose:

And I do whatever possible to ensure that each fall weekend is spent doing this:

Pa-pa patch photos through the years
However. Saying you love fall is akin to saying you love:

- puppies
- warm chocolate chip cookies
- the smell of bread baking
- wood floors
- an open floor plan (Sorry for that one. Too much House Hunters around here).

I know. We (pretty much) all love fall. I just find it funny we say it so darn much.

I barely have energy to throw my own kids in the bath each night. Ain't no way my pumpkin is getting a soak. But wow, I do admire the effort.

I've noticed that every single piece of Eddie Bauer clothing I own looks essentially as good now as it did when I bought it. Fall exhibit A:

I think my Mom bought me this red corduroy vest for Christmas about six or seven years ago. I wore it today and felt just as fall-photoshoot-cool in it today as I did then. Well. Almost as cool. I don't think I showered today so that dampened the effect.

Reading some makeup reviews today, I fell into the trap of thinking I should go out today and buy the recommended product, even though I have plenty of decent face moisturizer, foundation, concealer, blush and mascara to make me look more or less awake when I leave the house each day. I am lucky to have such luxuries to smear on my face each morning, because there are plenty of women that can't afford those things. So, there you go. 

Amby just hates being outside these days.


We've been renting a beautiful home for almost two months now, and I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for it. After going to see so many homes and being so disappointed with either the features or the price, I began to feel like we'd never find something decent for our boys. On the way to this home, I prayed out loud to our Blessed Mother: "Please Mother, if this is the right home for our family, please help us get it. And if it's not, well, in the immortal words of Fr. Spitzer, let it crash and burn." Thankfully, it was the former.

Joseph's excited to assist in the carving of his first pumpkin, on or around Halloween. Until then, it sits and greets the mailman each day.

Happy fall. Now go put on some boots.


Five Favorites for kiddos at Mass.

Linking up today with Moxie Wife for her weekly Five Favorites. These are our five top things to take to Mass for our boys which are:

- mostly quiet
- mostly non-edible
- mostly non-distracting to fellow worshipers
- mostly able to fit into an already jam-packed diaper bag

This padre goes by the name "Father Blessing" in our house, and he's kept both of our boys quiet for significant periods during Mass. For a while, Little Joe liked looking at the vocation booklet that accompanies Father Juan, but more interesting to both boys has been the small Mass kit attached to his arm. My Mom got this for Little Joe a couple years ago but he's still in great condition. Plus it usually impresses the heck out of the actual priest saying Mass. :)

Vivid and engaging illustrations have made this book an essential Mass companion. It's on the heavy side, but with so many stories and pictures to pour over, Joseph always finds something new to ask about. Usually from the Old Testament and usually in that all-too-quiet pause between the Gospel and the homily. (In his loudest whisper voice): "Momma! That giant just fell over! Can you give him a kiss to help him feel better?"

Love these. Classic old school illustrations with narration that shows such reverence for the Eucharist, the Trinity and all the saints. We have My Picture Missal and one on St. Joseph. I plan to pick up a few more at our local Catholic bookstore before Christmas for stocking stuffers.

4. Long beaded necklaces

More important for when 6-month-old babies need to be entertained during Mass, I still find a long dangly necklace a nice distraction for Amby (18 mo). Nothing says "bait to keep little hands busy and quiet" like colorful beads on a long chain attached to mom's neck. Plus it beats having an earring ripped out, no?

5. The Sippy Cup

When all else fails (and it most always does by the Great Amen), we whip out a sippy cup filled with water.

Head over to Hallie for more quintuplet fun.


G-free review: Ready to bake Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough.

I threw a bucket of the new Pillsbury refrigerated gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough in the basket of my stroller last week. At least at the grocery stores in my area, it's the only ready-to-bake gluten free cookie dough product out there.

Little Joe and I cracked the tub open yesterday morning and scooped out six tablespoonfuls of the goodness onto a cookie sheet. I had every intention of giving him one and having one myself, then saving one for Baby A (who took a morning nap yesterday, thereby allowing said cookie baking). 


And a little up-close look at the goodness:

Hmmmmmmmmmm. Little Joe escaped with two. Baby A... he'll just have to sample them another time. 

Appearance: Lovely. Though the directions called for 10-12 minutes of baking, I pulled mine out by nine minutes--plenty brown for my taste. 

Texture: Slightly grainy around the edges (typical of pre-made dough), but soft and chewy inside. 

Difficulty in preparation: Nil, duh! The Betty Crocker gluten free choco chip cookie mix yields both a slightly more delicious cookie and 8-10 more cookies per batch compared to this pre-made dough, but I readily admit to loving the benefit of a home-baked cookie without the mess of raw-egg contaminated mixing bowl and spoon. Yeah I know. But this blog is the domestic apologist, not the domestic dish-doing diva. 

Cost: Fred Meyer's shelf price for a tub is $4.99, but the little computer fairies in Fred Meyer's system spit out a $1 off coupon for me at the check stand a few weeks ago, dropping my price to $3.99. And I just saw the dough on sale at another local grocer for $3.79. Compare that to $3.99-$6.70 (!!!) for a dry cookie mix (to which you add the price of butter and eggs), I consider this a pretty good deal. 

Rating: Cheap G-Free Gold Star, when bought on coupon or on sale. 

So there it is. Confession: I may or may not have baked six more with Sean last night. Don't tell Baby A.