move, moving, MOVED

We've moved! And just to prove that we did, I didn't blog for a whole seven months!

Getting our family moved from one home to another one 1,000 miles away had three stages:

1. The "Really? Are we really going to move?" stage

2. The "Get me a drink; we're moving and I'm on the edge" stage

3. The "I think we're finally moved." stage

As of a few days ago, our move is complete, since both all of our stuff and all of us are in our new home in California. 

Because for a while, it was me, our stuff, and the kids in our new home, and Sean still working, full time, in Washington. 

And "for a while," I mean three months. 

Yeah. A full 90 days of solo parenting--90 days of bath time, dinnertime, tantrum time, middle-of-the-night puking time. Ninety days of staring at the microwave clock at 5:35 p.m. every weekday, thinking, "Doesn't something usually happen at this time?"

But, that's over now. When Sean arrived home last week for good, I broke into all four verses.

So. We moved to California, bought our first house, and now live within shouting distance of my parents. All in all... I'm not complaining. [Any more.]

We left a lot behind in Washington, though. Family, precious cousins and best friends, friends that were family. None of that was easy. You can box up your junk in Uhaul boxes. You can't box up the people you love so dearly. 

But coming back to California was a long-standing dream of mine--as is owning a house with a palm tree in the back yard. I can't believe that after nearly seven years of living in the Pacific Northwest, I've finally come home to the sunshine. 

Pinch me. 


7 top clicks / 11

SO MUCH good stuff this week. And only two of the seven below are Fifty Shades related. You're welcome. 

Stay clicky, my friends!

1 /
If this movie is coming to your town on St. Valentine's Day, go see it (because it sure beats seeing a movie about sexual abuse, ehh?).   (Life Site News)

2 /
I shall eat Honey Nut Cheerios again in this lifetime. (WSJ)

3 / 
Fifty Shades began as Twilight fan fiction. Well. It takes one (brooding vampire) to know one (sadistic businessman), eh? (Life Site News)

4 /
This just in: Raymond Arroyo apologizes for false story about being hit by cannonball during the Battle of Lepanto :) (Eye of the Tiber)

5 /
"Everything is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power." (Patheos)

6 /
Okay, Hozier, I'll take you to Church:

"Christian children are being crucified and buried alive by people who compare us to dogs, like you do. You say “Take Me to Church” but I wouldn’t want you to take you to their churches, because people really are sharpening their knives there, with my people as their targets."

Tom Hoopes. Boom. (CatholicVote)

7 / 
Jenny writes about the persecution that's coming (nay, already here) for those of us that will chose to defend marriage.
It comes down to three little words (as it nearly always does): Be not afraid.  (Mama Needs Coffee)

Linking up with Kelly.


baby gear that's still useful years later

I live in a small house that's short on storage space. (Hashtag: first world problems.) And since getting married, I've moved four times. (Hashtag: U-haul adores me.)

Purging unnecessary stuff comes as second nature by now--as does striving to make sure everything I've moved from house to house has value and purpose, or possibly duel purpose. Here are my all-star purchases that have survived each move, AND gotten more useful with time. 

Baby bath with pedestal - It's just a humble little bathtub, I know. But three years ago, that bottom pedestal became Joseph's step stool for potty training and washing his hands.

Why it's still useful: Since it's so wide, both boys can stand on the pedestal together to brush their teeth at night, or wash their hands before dinner. 

Activity gym - Everyone already has one of these, but we've used it for a lot more than just infant tummy time. 

Why it's still useful: Drape a blanket over those crossed bars and you've got a perfect tent for toddlers (or for little boys on the small end of the growth charts). This is especially valuable to families like mine that have mothers who do. not. camp. and therefore do not have real tents. 

Used Halloween costumes - Every year since she became a grandmother, my mom has hit up her local Once Upon a Child in July or August to start scouting out the best of the used Halloween costumes for the kids. Of all the good stuff those stores carry (and there's quite a lot), I'd say Halloween costumes are the tip-top of the "barely used/basically new" list.

Why they're still useful: Playtime is that much more interesting when you're wearing a dog/dragon/giraffe suit, right? Sometimes the boys won't wear them for a month, but sometimes they're all they wear for a week straight. 

Changing table - Traditional changing tables get a lot of hate from the "we just use a low dresser instead" crowd. But I see a changing table as essentially the same thing as a dresser, except you don't need to pull open a drawer to get at your wipes. 

Why it's still useful: Our lightweight (key word!) changing table works as a toy organizer/storage in various rooms (in various abodes). Granted, it's now being used for its original purpose, but when Gussie's bigger, I'm sure that we'll once again move it (without wrenching our backs) to another room and fill its baskets with Legos instead of diapers.

Or heck, maybe not Legos, but My Little Pony things. Or doll clothes. Ahh... 

Baby books - Do moms still keep and update baby books? My mom filled our baby books to the brim with weight and height charts, vaccine records and sickness notes, plus pages and pages of hand-written anecdotes about our childhoods. 

I'm keeping books for our three, though I know that I'm not nearly as good as she was about writing down so many precious memories. 

Why it's still useful: Even if I can't write down everything I intend to, the books do provide a great space for stashing those little tidbits that will be treasures later on: the ticket stub to Amby's first baseball game; a brochure from Joseph's dream visit to the Sacramento Railroad Museum; cards from grandparents and godparents for birthdays and baptism. If I didn't have the books, I know I'd haphazardly stash that stuff in nooks and crannies and lose track of it all. 

What's the best stuff in your house that serves a duel purpose? 

Linking up with Jenna


7 top clicks / 10

1 /
Be careful when/if shopping at Target. You might just run into their "adult health" section, which shelves their 50 Shades of Grey themed sex toys. Yowzas. Ugh. (CNN Money)

2 /
Before they changed their name and became a medical clinic, this pregnancy resource center saved 100 babies a year.

Now? Real Options Pregnancy Medical Clinic saves 700+ lives each year. Amazing. (Life Site News)

3 / 
My hero (aka Abby Johnson) wrote an epic takedown of Planned Parenthood's hiring practices. For instance: Are you a single mother, desperate to put food on the table? Or so in need of a job, you'll compromise your values? Perfect. You're hired.  (National Review)

4 / 
The American Papist gives us a sign of hope for our Church: The Under-35 Priest. He's not going to kick out your current heterodox, aging pastor... he's just going to outlive him.  (CatholicVote)

5 / 
How simple and beautiful is Sheena's wall collage with her homemade "take and eat" art? Talented (and crafty), that girl. (Bean in Love)

6 /
My favorite salad at the moment: Cold Peanut Noodles. Add 1 tablespoon extra brown sugar to the sauce; top with diced chicken. (food.com)

7 / 
I've tried to take the advice of allowing "4 minutes in the nude" in the morning to let my lotion soak in and all that, thinking that it might be something rather beneficial for my skin.

Thus far it's been about 45 seconds in the nude before someone shouts "MAAAAAAH-MEEEEE! He stole my Rescue Bot!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

And by then, I better damn well be dressed. (Modern Mrs. Darcy)

Linking up with Kelly.


what my third baby taught me about motherhood

That's my girl.

My mom flew back to California today after spending a week in town, and I just ended a call with her with the line, "Sorry, I have to go wipe someone's bottom." And at this point in life, "someone" could be one of three people--someone sitting on the pot, or someone who is thisclose to potty training but still does business in his pants, or someone who has thick yellow goodness seeping out of her diaper and will somehow (without fail!) get it on her socks, too.

Three bottoms to manage, but I don't feel like I'm in "survival mode." The thing that's keeping me from going down that sink hole is something Gussie has taught me about my life--something that I should have known earlier, but didn't realize until this year.

I'm an adult.

And I'm The Mom.

So stop worrying about everything.

On the surface, that sounds stupid. I'm five years into motherhood, six years into my marriage and 31 years into life--I should have a grip on what's important to worry about, and what's not. But it took me until baby number three to look at myself as more than just a married, breeding version of my college self; that I've learned a lot about my job as a mom to these little kids--and that I'm pretty damn capable of handling this whole mothering jig.

But I'm slow to grasp the obvious. I blame years of fluctuating hormones. Or something like that.

Being pregnant with Gus hit me hard. I felt slow and lethargic, emotionally drained. Not only did I not look like the girl I was 10 years earlier, I didn't feel like her either. I didn't know who I was now, heavy with child and lumbering after my two other babies.

It took time and lots of conversations with the people who know me best to realize that this third baby wasn't a reason to feel less of who I am, though--she was a reason to feel more like it. They say that now's no time to lose your sense of humor. Nor is it a time to lose touch with who you are.

I used to wonder what my pediatrician thought of me--if I was a good mom, if I looked overwhelmed, if I looked like like I was doing this motherhood thing perfectly.

Three babies in, and I don't wonder that anymore. I'm doing it the best way I know how. Because I'm The Mom. I'm their mom.

I used to worry that the concerns I brought to my spouse were insignificant, under-researched or petty.

I don't wonder that anymore. Because I'm an adult, and what I think (especially in my marriage) matters.

I used to worry what people thought about my house, if it was good enough, if it impressed people, or if it seemed to them a hovel.

I don't worry about that anymore, because I'm an adult, and God's given me this shelter. And I'm grateful for it.

I used to wonder if I spend enough time playing pretend with my boys.

I don't wonder that anymore. Because I'm writing this post with a stuffed tiger balanced on my head.


If I find myself worrying about something anymore, I run the worry through this two-part test: Is it what an adult would worry about? Is it what a mom would worry about?

The answer needs to be yes to both in order for me to continue worrying. If the answer is no, then I certainly don't have time to worry about it. After all, one of my kids probably needs their bottom wiped.


Don't know how to explain roe v. wade to your kids? Try this.

I wrote this post last year, but my intentions for today are still the same: take all the kid to Mass, do some donating, and fast from sweets. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn, pray for us.

If I don't plan on doing something, I rarely do it.

Spontaneity only visits this house a few times a year, and when it does, it's usually for emergency post-dinner fro yo runs in July.

So I'm making my plans now for the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I credit the bishop of my home parish for giving me the little nudge to plan ahead; if a way-busy bishop can begin his preparations for this sad date months in advance, then a little SAHM can find the time, too. 

I see no reason to exclude my little guys from marking the import of this day. They are, after all, the smallest survivors of this modern-day holocaust. And if anyone can understand the importance of protecting life in that most comfortable and familiar of places, the womb, it's a child. 

1. Go buy diapers, wipes or formula for your local crisis maternity home.

Maternity homes and crisis nurseries almost always have an immediate need of these baby basics. Gift cards to grocery stores or Wal-Mart are always in high demand, too. Sure, just writing these life-saving homes a check would be just as useful. But kids will understand the necessity of diapers and giving them to moms and babes who need them so urgently. 

2. Attend Mass--and offer it up. 

I'll be honest here. I've only once attended Mass alone with both my kids, and man, it was a) a humbling experience and b) not one I'm eager to repeat. Even during Sunday Masses with Sean, I fret over my children's behavior. Next Wednesday, I'm planning on taking the boys to (a hopefully brief) noon Mass, sitting waaaaaaay in the back, and offering up any mortification for the pain unborn children suffer during abortion, and for their grieving, hurting mothers (and fathers). 

3. Say a rosary for all unborn babies and mothers. 

If you already say a daily rosary as a family, mix it up by praying the pro-life rosary, created by Bishop Richard Garcia, who served a while back in my home parish. I'm just saying... that's one fine diocese. :)

And if you're feeling brave, go say that rosary outside of an abortion clinic. It's not for everyone, and it's not even feasible for all moms with kids at certain ages. I know I cannot take Amby and Joe at their ages right now, since Amby's not content to sit in a stroller, and our town's abortion mill sits directly on a very busy road. 

But. There's nothing in the world quite like praying at the very place where children die, week by week. And there's nothing more powerful than bringing children--real, beautiful, vibrant, happy (or fussy, either will work) to witness to the reality of life, and to the reality that unborn children become life's best blessings.

4. Give up sweets for the day, and say why.

In that letter from Bishop Soto, he designates January 22 a day of reparation. When I think of all the reparation that needs to occur to atone for the sins of 57 million aborted children since 1973... I get discouraged. I want to don sackcloth and ashes pull a Jonah in Nineveh, running through the streets and shouting about repentance. 

But I'm a mom with three little kids, and to do that, I'd have to push my double stroller while running and shouting. So I'm going to give up my Dove dark chocolate and mini cinnamon gummy Valentine's hearts for the day. I'm going to tell Joe and Amby that I'm sad that not everyone understands that every baby growing in its mommy's womb is precious. That this makes God sad, too.

5. Read Angel in the Waters to the kids. 

Few books have paired fetal development and theology as well as Angel in the Waters. Haven't heard of it or seen it yet? Take a peek:

Since we already own and cherish this beautiful little testament to the value of each life, I'm thinking of purchasing a few more copies and sending to friends and family.  

Have other ideas for marking this day as a family? I'd love to hear.


5 best store-bought gluten free snacks

There are few snacking experiences more unsavory than buying a bag of $6 gluten-free pretzels and finding that their taste remarkably resembles stale hay and their texture calls to mind sea-salted sand.

I speak from a wealth of gluten-free snacking experience. Learn from my mistakes (and my husband's "great goggly moogly!" expressions upon seeing my grocery bills).

Bonus: Save for the pretzels, all of these options are less than $3.50 each. Why are the pretzels expensive? Heck if I know. They're just pretzels, after all!

There's a reason I only buy these cookies in single-serve packs. I'd inhale a larger bag of them just as quickly.

There's no shortage of gluten-free chips in the world--obviously corn and potatoes are as gluten-free as you can get. But Barbara's Cheese Puffs are like the sophisticated yet hippie granola aunt to the tawdry, neon-orange Cheeto. Eat them and feel like the hippie, classy aunt.

Ever have those English Tea Sandwich cookies by Mother's? Ever been ADDICTED to those cookies for your entire childhood, only to eventually learn that those little gluten-ladden puppies were the root of your digestive distress? Ever had to give up all (decent-tasting) sandwich cookies and RUE THE DAY you ever had your first one, because you've never found a suitable replacement?

Yeah. Vanilla Chex tastes a heck of a lot like English Tea Sandwich cookies. I should hoard it in my basement for after the bomb drops.

More than just a salt vehicle, this sturdy chip can hold up under a dip or makes a fine layer in a pretzel/little cheese/little turkey sandwich.

I get these cuties at Fred Meyer, but I wonder if they're in Kroger stores around the country. They're half as expensive as the Annie's brand gluten free crackers, and come in a bigger bag.

Soooo, these are my go-tos. What am I missing? What's the greatest gf snack I haven't discovered yet? Tell me and share the love.

Linking up with Jenna the Happy.


editor in chief / the family yearbook.

Hey! Did you hear the one about the mom with three little kids who neglected her blog so much, her year-end recap came three weeks late?

Yeah... C'est la vie, dommage, and all that. Hit it!


... in which we eschew playing outside for wearing outside play equipment, inside. It was cold, y'all. 


... in which the Bathroom Car Wash opens for business. I'm pretty sure my rugs are still damp.   


... in which I learn I'm pregnant, develop IAS, and read a ton of books ("a ton," in my case, being five). 


... in which we win at taking family Easter pictures. 


... in which these awesome people come for a visit!


... in which The Belly and I enlist small people to douse my feet with cold water during the 100 degree, no AC, hellish heat wave. 


... in which the heat wave continues and I opt for cooking outside rather than turing on the stove. (It was totally sanitary. I'm sure.)


... in which storms loom on the horizon.


... in which Amby's unrequited love affair with juice begins. 


... in which the pumpkin weighs the same as The Pumpkin. 


... in which she arrives


... in which we start to get a little matchy-matchy.

I'm adding what has to be the last link to Dwija's 12 in 2014 link up. But I had to do it, since looking at my recap of 2013 made a wee bit misty eyed. 

These kids. They grow and change so fast, and it's up to mom to document it all. That's such a responsibility, but such a joy, too. I used to be the yearbook editor at my high school and university, producing, designing and proofing hundreds of pages of content--documenting other people's memories. 

I'm still the editor in chief of memories, here at home. There's no staff to direct, and I don't get a private office. There's no year-end awards banquet. But the role is still pretty prestigious, at least to me.  

Ok. Sappy Mom, signing out.