"mom, were you on the news?"


And by "the news," we mean anything playing from the speakers of our van that isn't Raffi.

God bless the hubby of a good friend of mine. He works for a Catholic radio affiliate, and for some strange reason, he got it in his head that I'd be a good candidate for an interview for NFP Awareness Week. (it might have something to do with having a van full of children, ahem.)

Really. God bless him. If he starts getting complaint calls about the crazy lady who compared being on the Pill to eating a Twinkie for dinner, I'm changing my name and leaving the country.

Due to my verbosity, the interview is playing in two parts, one today and one tomorrow (Thursday) on the Morning Drive program on Mater Dei Radio in Portland and surrounding areas.

Listen live here. Or find part one of the interview here.

And thank you John!!


7 tips for post-partum thrift store success

Thrift stores: they're an assault on the senses.

The racks and racks and racks of clothes. The music playing overhead on damaged speakers. The Febreeze. Oh, the febreeze is thick as fog.

And the clientelle... it's a group you wouldn't find in a Nordstrom.

But then again, you wouldn't find me in a Nordstrom, either! Ok!

So. Why do I love thrift stores?

Because I got tired of finding myself 2 months post-partum in the summertime, and having no shorts that fit. I refused, REFUSED I TELL YOU, to put my maternity shorts back on, and yet my regular shorts were still a good 2-3 sizes away from fitting.

I got tired of being six months post-partum in the spring and having zero shirts or dresses that I could wear to mass and nurse in discretely. Cue my Sunday morning meltdown.

I got tired of being four months pregnant in the winter and having to dig out the maternity clothes, only to realize that last time I was pregnant, my first trimester was in July, not December, and I had exactly zero pants that fit.

Back in January when I wrote about my losing battle with minimalism, Sean and I added up how many sets of clothes I need to outfit myself in the various combinations of pregnancy/post-partum/nursing in  summer/winter.


Stevie's shocked, too.

I began thrifting as a budget-friendly answer to my ever-fluctuating body size and shape. I regularly hit up my favorite local thrift store about twice a month. Here are my tips to making that one, solitary, beautiful hour on Saturdays at naptime, out shopping alone, worth it:

1. Find cotton blouses. 

My wardrobe is full of 100% cotton button-downs because they are a workhorse of a shirt. They stand up to being washed weekly. They are universally flattering. If I hang them up while slightly damp instead of drying them all the way, they don't need to be ironed. And, most importantly, I feel great in them.

Gap and Land's End made great cotton button downs. I can usually find good Old Navy ones as well.

2. Skip the knits.

When I'm thrifting, I generally skip over shirts that are knit blends of rayon or polyester. Even if they're in great shape on the rack, they're still more prone to pill, wrinkle and fade as they're washed.

3. Shop for bottoms IN ANY SIZE. 

When I need jeans, black pants or khakis for mass, or skirts for every day wear, I flip through the racks in both my normal size, then also a size down, and a size up (or 2). Obviously the items in thrift stores come from a hundred different brands and manufactures, and so sizing is all over the place.

I'm nine months post-partum and my current rotation of bottoms (all thrifted, by the way) contains items in size 6, 8, 10, and 12! I don't let a number dictate whether I'll try on something. I get a victory in walking out of a thrift store with a pair of J. Crew chinos that make me feel confident. I could care less what size they are.

4. Shop for bottoms, actually, all the time. 

Jean and pants are a terrific aisle to start in for someone who hasn't done much thrifting before. My theory is that women discard their jeans and pants way before they're either out of style or worn out, either due to their size changing (*raises hand*) or making room for other items in their closet. Either way, the thrift ladies win. Thrift stores are chock full of barely-worn ladies' jeans and pants. Carpe denim.

5. Try it on--selectively.
Thrift store dressing rooms often leave something to be desired--namely, clean walls and fresh air. I try not to spend more time than absolutely necessary in them. Pants almost always need to be tried on, unfortunately, due to tip #3. But with shirts, if I've got a good feeling about a piece, I'll often bag it without trying it on. At about $3/shirt, I'll take the risk.

6. Save more money with extra discounts. 
I never seem to remember this but on Sundays at all (I think) Goodwill locations, one color tag is discounted to either $2 or $1. On any given day at my favorite thrift stores, tags of three different colors are either 25%, 50% or 75% off. Some thrift franchises even have points/reward programs.

When items are already so discounted, these extra discounts can make things amazingly cheap. For instance, I thrifted my entire Mother's Day outfit (cute navy blue wedge shoes included) for about $10. #notbad

7. Go alone. 

Some ladies are superhuman and are able to navigate thrift stores, dressing rooms and crowded aisles of used junk, all with CHILDREN IN TOW. I am not one of those women.

And with that, my bag of tricks is empty. If you're a fellow thrifter, I'd love to hear how you score the deals.

Linking up with the Kelly for quick takes!


what NFP looks like, four babies deep

It's posts like this that make Sean nervous when I announce I'm blogging more frequently. : / Ha.

So eight years and four babies ago, he and I were here:

Then here:

Awww. Positively AWASH in blind naivete.

Next here:

Love the bump-as-toddler-seat. Another one here:

and then there was another one here:

and good grief now we are here:

Spots are still available in our workshop how to look THIS GOOD in family pictures. Call today.

I wish someone would have told me (and hey, maybe they did) that the woman in each of those pictures would feel dramatically different about NFP in every snapshot.

I've felt elated by being able to use NFP correctly and space out the births of my kids.

I've felt terrified at the idea that another baby was coming, sooner than I would have planned.

I've felt like a biological bad ass, knowing my cycles and correctly identifying both the conception date and due date of a kid.

I've felt like a unschooled idiot, unable to say whether I ovulated on day 14 or day 24. (Those fluctuating hormones when you're trying to wean.. man, they're nuts.)

I've felt deeply grateful for NFP, knowing my body is free from synthetic hormones and implants (yikes).

I've felt like shaking a tired fist at NFP for not being as simple as... as synthetic hormones or implants.

Now, I've resolved to make NFP charting not an afterthought, or something I try and remember to do if I have time. Now, it needs to be the priority. Writing about NFP resolutions is always tricky, though. Nothing gets you pregnant faster than saying "we're back on the charting wagon!" But since taking my fourth trip 'round the maternity ward last summer, I have substantial motivation to keep the womb room vacant for a while.

I'm tired. Sean's not feeling great. The kids, they all seem so little sometimes. Joe and Amby learned how to pour their own milk this year, so, yeah, that helps. But still. What's it like with four kids? You know the line.

I've learned (finally! slow! learner! alert!) that NFP can't be a passive feature of my marriage, if I want to delay having another cherub. NFP isn't a cute creed that we hold in unison with all the other NFP-using families out there, making us members of the larger-than-average-families club.

It's work. It is a daily, hourly commitment to observing fertility signs--and that was a doozy during Lent when I decided I'd take up drinking a gallon of water every day. #tmi

It's a struggle. It can be embarrassing, for all parties. It's a guarantee of awkward marital conversations. It's a guarantee you'll watch a lot of Netflix.

But. To me, NFP is synonymous with bodily honesty. To me, it's the total fulfillment of "allllllll of me loves alllllll of you." I cherish the simplicity it brings to our bedroom, to our marriage. You don't need much to practice NFP. I think that's worth a lot.

Using NFP right now to delay/avoid conceiving looks so dramatically different than it did for that girl in the white dress up there, kissing her groom, beginning her marriage. She had her paper chart all ready to go, with multicolored stickers to spare and a Creighton FertilityCare handbook at the ready.

She also had a flip phone and thought Facebook was stupid. Ha.

Fast forward to today, when my iphone buzzes at 10pm each night to remind me to chart. I use this simple app (which I absolutely love). I use these ovulation test strips after I think I've charted peak as a double check (you can buy them on Amazon for about $40/ 7 tests). We talk about how the cycle is looking. And then... the baby usually cries. Heh.

Eight years in and four babies later, and NFP and I are still getting to know each other. Here's to a long and happy relationship.


7qt / what I'm loving at walmart vol. 2

Let's play another round of cheap yet moderately fashionable wardrobe add-ons!

1 / high neck swing tank

Nice modal fabric, a high neckline, a long-ish length AND A RUFFLE. Never have I clicked "add to cart" so fast and paid $7 so willingly. Date night. It's out of stock in everything but white right now, but I'd bet it gets restocked soon, based on how popular it was online.

2 / toddler girls knit dress

Gus has been living (and climbing, and digging in mud, scaling the wood pile, etc.) in this $5 cutie of a cotton dress. The stripes nicely camouflage the mud (and the jelly, the cheetos, the neon popsicle drippings...)

3 / woven skort

I am now that person who wears skorts (provided they have the skirting in the front and back). Confession: I love them. Cute as a skirt, practical as shorts. YesI am an SNL skit come to life. : /  This one comes in "railroad stripe" and it costs a whole $3 and fifty cents. Come. On.

4 / inflatable pool

The beauty of a walmart: short skorts and inflatable pools all in one cart. This is an audience poll: are inflatable pools any good? I bought 3 of the plastic shallow kiddie pools last summer, all of which acquired quick holes from Amby throwing rocks in/at them. Think an inflatable might be any tougher? Or is the answer that I've got to make Amby stop throwing rocks in the pool? (Please say no.)

5 / ozark stainless steel tumbler

My beloved plastic travel coffee cup developed a big crack in the lid, so I'm considering going the stainless route. This seems like a winner, purely based on the 3,200 5-star reviews... and considering it's $7.74.

6 / swim shorts

I need to revisit and update my ode to the swim dress post from a few years back, but this is the first year in many moons that I get to wear a non-maternity (and dare I say non-nursing-friendly) swim suit. I prefer the coverage of swim shorts and skirts, regardless.

"Taking Four Kids to the Beach" should be the title of a kick-butt cardio Crossfit-style workout at every gym, because it would contain six hours' worth of:
- deep squats
- resistance running through sand
- treading water
- carrying 40-lb weights (that scream and kick) through blistering parking lots
- kettle bell swings with the toddler as she screams "AGAIN!! AGAAAAAAIN!!!"

A friend sent me this imomsohard video tonight on swim suits and it is EVERYTHING.

7 / real shorts (levi's signature high rise shortie)

I ordered these a size up so they'd sit lower on my waist and thereby not be so... short. But I have a feeling I need a bottle of spray tan and a pair of booties to pull them off. Or maybe a trip to the returns department.

Go forth and shop thriftily!

Linking up with Kelly for 7 quick takes.


mid-year 2017 book reviews!

I told Sean the other night: "Having a catchy book to read is AWFUL. All I want to do is, you know, read it all the time, to the detriment of the children's upbringing."

I think I have to cut out any of the chick-lit romantic/mystery novels, because I find myself yelling "Yes, turn on another Super Why! Even a Wild Kratts, if you're feeling fancy!" to the minions in the family room as I sink into an armchair with my library tome and an iced coffee. Not good.

1. Orthodoxy - book club
G.K. Chesterton
I'm giving myself brownie points for the fact that a work by Gilbert Keith is my first completed book of the year. Absolutely loved it, proud that I finished it, moderately understood most of it, dramatically underlined lots of it. His perspective on liberalism, fairy tales, materialism and the childlike monotony of God made me think about how every age has its madmen and its lunatics--and yet every age has the hope of a renewal of faith.

2. A Hundred Summers
Beatriz Williams
Seemed to be the book everyone was reading last year. Definite beach read that I finished in a few days (cough cough BY IGNORING THE CHILDREN cough cough). I thought I saw the twist coming in the first few chapters, but no! It surprised me with 20 pages to go til the end. Not a deep twist, true, but good enough to make me gasp. A little on the raunchy side.  

3. The Well - book club
Stephanie Landsem
OH MY. I admit to being a book cover snob who cocked a skeptical eyebrow at historical fiction set in the time of Jesus. But good golly, this book swept me up in an incredible (fictional) account of the woman at the well. Not the most well-written and not the sharpest dialogue, but a fantastic imagining of the harsh realities for women, especially shamed women, in 30-something A.D. Palestine. Riveting and hopeful. Our little book club devoured it.

4. Home Cooking
Laurie Colwin
You win, Mags. :) I added this to my list as soon as my wonderful book worm friend recommended last year, and I'm so glad I did. Possibly the best line (though the competition was fierce): "I'm never on a diet that I cannot be talked out of." Amen.

5. Boys Adrift
Dr. Leonard Sax
Good golly. Should be required reading for anyone raising, teaching, coaching, or otherwise encountering BOYS. Sax begins with a root question: Why do young men today lack ambition and goals--besides those associated with video games? He drills down to five root causes that, in his opinion, have created a generation of slackers. I drove Sean nuts for days, saying "I have to read you just this paragraph" and then would go on for pages. One chapter, though, on plastics and the dangers of water contaminants made me freak out, possibly unnecessarily. But the rest was pure wisdom and great advice from a man who sure sounds like he's done his homework.

6. The Jeweler's Shop - book club
Karol Wojtyla
I am no longer the Catholic poser who everyone just assumes has read The Jeweler's Shop. Ha. Yes, enjoyable. Yes, very different to read a play in book form than to see it performed. But yes, something must be a little lost in translation, right? I don't know. The dialogue felt a bit redundant in spots. But it is uncanny how a never-married Catholic priest (or was he already a bishop when he wrote it? hm) can so insightfully write about marriage, write about women, write about the love of a man and wife and how it changes, grows, fades, and renews itself over time. It's almost as if he were a saint, or something...

7. The Secret Life of Violet Grant
Beatriz Williams
Ok, ok, I've got the Beatriz Williams bug out of my system. Pitted against A Hundred Summers, I'd say I enjoyed Summers over this one. But again, I read it in a few days and remained glued to every page. All in all, I'd call it a shade more graphic than Summers, too, and without good reason. Compellingly written and a fine beach read, for sure, but not one I'd easily recommend.

And that's the list! I need to get through The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Thursday for book club, and after that, I was thinking of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

Honorable mentions go to every Zita the Spacegirl book, which I read to the boys and we both LOVED. That Ben Hatke, he warrants his own separate post, methinks.

If you've got recommendations, throw 'em my way!


my motherly sunday best vol. 1

Hey, Rosie! Joining you for my inaugural contribution to the Sunday festivities.

Also, my inaugural photo shoot in front of the garage door. First of many, I know. That's what everyone's wanting to hear.

I've often thought that "veteran motherhood" comes when your children are teenagers on the brink of adulthood, and you look back at the baby years with wistful yearning.

No. I think I achieved "veteran motherhood" TODAY because I remembered to take a group photo on Mother's Day BEFORE MASS--that means it was before the carnage of post-mass maple donuts. Before any diapers overflowed their absorbent dams. Before my shirt had wet chew marks from the teething baby.

I'm just now realizing that my outfit is entirely thrifted. The shirt is a super-nursing-friendly rayon fabric by Merona, the skirt is actually a skort (LOVE) from Kohl's, and the shoes are muy comfortable wedges. And I procured all of it for less than $10. As they say, boom.

Last thing: Gussie's bow lasted through the homily. World record.


navy + yellow living room refresh

It only took me TWO ENTIRE YEARS in this house to figure out how to best configure my living room. I'm really crushing it in the home decor arena, oy .

We inherited the beige couch from the previous owner. It's not exactly modern nor does it have anything resembling "clean lines," but it's incredibly well-built, clean and comfortable. And since I didn't have room for two new sofas in my budget, there it stayed.

futonchairs / lamp and pillows from Ross

This futon. This navy blue linen, convertible-to-sleeper, $209 futon... I shopped around forever online, telling myself how dumb it'd be to buy a piece of furniture online. You can't sit on it! You don't know how well it's built!

Yeah, well. I wasn't having any luck locating a navy sofa in stores or online that was under $1000. So when this beauty popped up for 1/5 that amount, I pulled the trigger pretty quickly.

After all, what do Sean and I say to each other daily? THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS. #kids

The futon arrived in a few days and Sean set it up in maybe 30 minutes. Thar she blows.

Then a few days ago though I was perusing overstock.com when what do I see on their homepage?

Man, that looks a lot like my Walmart futon.

*quick site search for Novogratz Brittany futon*


*mental high fives myself*


minimalism and motherhood: a fight I'm always going to lose

I've read the books: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Nesting Place.

I read the minimalist blogs, read about the capsule wardrobe projects, 10 pieces of clothing for 10 days, more and more and more. People seem to write a lot about minimalism (myself currently included, I guess, ha).

I pin the pins of white pristine bathrooms, of stark white living room walls adorned with nothing more than two black Ikea frames holding abstract art, with a charming fiddle leaf fig plant (or whatever they're called) sitting serenely in the corner.

I read it because it's all so clean. So beautiful. So dreamy. So simple.

And unattainable. For me. Right now.

My motherhood is incompatible with minimalism.

I cannot be a wardrobe minimalist. I have maternity clothes for a VAST array of seasons, climates and belly bigness, then post-partum clothes for the same. I've got the nursing clothes and the non-nursing clothes. And since I'm soooooo open to life (hi NFP!), I've got to keep 'em all. Till I die. (I kid! Kind of!!)

I cannot be paper-clutter minimalist. My 6-year-old produces no less than 8 pages' worth of illustrated maps to imaginary countries, engine diagrams and Autobot renderings, DAILY. And he expects every page of his creation to be available for about... oh, eight weeks, give or take.

I cannot be a toy minimalist. My 4-year-old competes with his older brother's imagination by creating an army of Lego structures each day, and asks me to "keep them safe" on the kitchen counter.

I cannot be a mess minimalist. Gussie's favorite pastime currently is taking anything that's in a basket out of a basket. And then walking away.

I cannot be a baby-gear minimalist. This baby's new phase is "supported sitting"--code word for "not actually sitting but REFUSING to merely lay down anymore"--which means the Bumbo chair, high chair and exersaucer are always in use. And always in the way.

Maybe taken on their own, I could integrate each kid's mess into a minimalistic-looking house. But taken all together, they're train cars on a stopped track, each crashing into the one ahead of them, and I'm the brakemaster who can't hold the lever back against the impact.

But. I am a stay at home mom. I didn't pick this profession so I could have unmarred Benjamin Moore Gray Owl walls and perpetually clean faux-fur white rugs, heh heh.

There's a simple reason why minimalism is popular: white space. To the eye, a design with ample space devoid of content lets the eye focus on one beautiful subject. It's why fashion bloggers pose against white brick walls. It's why they take photos on white sheets. It's the entire reason why a "flat lay" became the MO of so many IG accounts. All these design strategies hinge on white space.

But my children? 

Happy little anti-white space flurries.

They take a freshly wiped table and cheerfully smudge it with fingerprints and ketchup.

They take a freshly vacuumed floor and delight in dumping out the Legos on it.

They dodge into a clean, tidy bathroom and emerge only after leaving the towel on the counter and the soap dispenser sitting in a little pool of suds.

And it's all good. My kids live in a house, not a photography studio.

I want them to come home from school and know they can find their stuff, more or less where they left it.

I want them to know that their mother likes the house to be be clean and tidy, but that she also likes them to be themselves--to the maximum. And that's just as good as the prettiest minimalism, any day.


3 ways I look at my phone less (and my kids more)

The sweetest friend emailed me and asked how to be more present to her two little kids during the day. She feels terrible seeking the social media distractions that plague us all and wanted some practical tips for severing the iphone-in-hand addiction.

For me, the unholy trinity of facebook, instagram and bloglovin frequently distract me from my kids, sucking me down the online hole. And climbing out of that hole isn't as simple as just putting down my phone. I have to pick something up. 

Depending on the time of day, I try and do one of these alternatives:

1. With the baby

I pick him up, put him in a sling and start two-hands-required household work. It's hard to read blog posts while folding laundry. Or doing dishes. Or drying tangled hair.

Saving my household work for when the baby is up means that I can zone out, guilt-free, during naptime or before everyone's up in the morning. Once the boots are on the ground, though, it's all hands on deck, quite literally.

2. With the toddler

I turn on music on my phone--and set it down.

Amazon Prime has a bunch of Sesame Street albums and playlists that we listen to all through the day. Or I'll turn on a YouTube playlist of Raffi songs. Preferably the Bananaphone playlist. Because it's a phone with a-peel. AHAHAHAHHHAHHHAA.

Every time I get the impulse to pick up my phone, the music reminds me that it's off limits.

3. With the preschoolers

Once the babies are down for naps and I have one-on-one time with my 4-year-old boy, I pick up a deck of cards. Seriously, one deck of Star Wars playing cards that I found for .69 cents at at Goodwill has revolutionized our afternoons here. I taught both boys to play 7-Up. Sean wants to teach them poker next. Pretty soon they'll be running the baccarat table on the school black top at recess. Guard your lunch money, kids.

Amby's also great at playing Memory with me. He tries to help me win. Even so, he usually beats me. :)

Do you have other strategies for engaging with your kids instead of mindlessly staring at your phone? Love to hear 'em.


my #1 tip for surviving solo parenting when my husband travels

Is it just the plight of the modern mom that she often finds herself alone at home with the kids as her husband travels for work? I feel like more and more of my friends and friends online say that they're in the survival mode that comes with no one walking in the door at 5pm, ready with a full tank of Parenting Fuel to get everyone through til bedtime.

I've survived some pretty long stints of solo parenting (longest was 3 months with 3 kids) and lots and lots of business-week-length trips. I've done it well sometimes, and I've done it poorly lots of times. None of it's easy, though it's better when I have the right attitude.

But though the right attitude counts for a lot, it's not everything.

My top tip for surviving solo parenting is this: KEEP MOVING.

Keep cleaning.

Keep washing the dishes in the sink.

Keep doing a few push-ups each day.

Keep doing the laundry--but do it during the day light, for Pete's sake! Don't do it at night when there are at least 12 axe murderers hiding in your garage.

Keep the playroom tidy. Don't let the kids go to bed until they've picked up.

My mood and my mind feel INFINITELY better when I'm not staring at a mess in every room.

So many times I've cried to Sean on the phone while he's away, sobbing that "it's a mess! Everything is a damn mess! and I can't clean it all up!" I hate that feeling of losing control of my house.

Even if it means letting the baby fuss for 10 minutes while I wash the sippy cups and throw everything else in the dishwasher... even if it means the kids watch an extra Rescue Bots while I bring in the clothes from the dryer and put them away... I do it. Because I've learned that I need it.

Now, all of that is null and void should someone get sick. Last year we weathered two bouts of stomach flu in 30 days--and BOTH happened while Sean was away. And BOTH times, I caught it. And both times, I did zero cleaning for five days, save for the obvious cleaning up of that involves Lysol wipes, paper towels and carpet cleaner. #gross #neveragain #saveyourpeopleohLord

But if I'm not in the midst of sickness, then I make myself move.

Secondary tip for surviving? A bag of Mini Reese's cups in the freezer. Mama needs a reward for all that scrubbin'.

If you've got a way to survive when your dude's away, I'd love to hear it!


7qt / what I'm loving right now from walmart

I know. Everyone's so glad I began blogging again so I could write these kinds of inspiring posts. : /

I took a leap in December and rounded up every fashion blog to which I was subscribed--all of which engaged in significant wailing and written tantruming after the presidential election--and clicked "unfollow." Quite liberating.

In the wake of that decision, I no longer read about ladies who spend $180 on jeans, $200 on purses and $300 on shoes without batting a mascara-ed eye. Bully for them, but that kind of spending isn't me now, nor do I think it ever will be. It's not a judgement on their spending. It's a reflection of the reality of mine.

What is my reality? Walmart. I love the Savings Catcher feature on their app and have gotten $20-something back to date. I shop there for groceries, household goods and occasionally... clothes. Gasp. Here's what I'm loving right now from the big blue box store:

1 / french terry dress

I bought this one (for $14.88) and have worn it a million times already. Love the length and neckline. Thinking about getting the blue.

2 / colored chambray popover shirt

Current momiform: button down shirt, sweater, jeans. Daily. I want this one in peach stripe.

3 / woven cami

Love this $5 cami. The cut is, shall we say, forgiving, especially for when I was 8 weeks post-partum. This black cami + lightweight cardigan + long necklace was my casual rehearsal dinner outfit for a wedding last October.

4 / pioneer woman vintage bloom kitchen towels 2-pack

Drool. I'll take one of everything she made for this line. All so cute.

5 / pioneer woman country garden rug

As I was saying. One of everything.

6 / Novogratz vintage tufted sofa sleeper

We're in the market for a loveseat. We're also in the market for a new roof, hence the idea of saving our $$$ and buying an inexpensive sleeper sofa sight unseen (say THAT five times fast). But the reviews are great, and that blue color is wooing me! Abbie at M is for Mama is eyeing the pink one.

7 / boys color block rainboot

Amby is my boot lover and woe to the mommy who fails to have his boots ready on a rainy day. I bought him these for $12 but now I see they're down to $9.98!

Happy shopping!

Linking up with Miss Kelly, the hostess.


what my fourth positive pregnancy test taught me (+ a giveaway)

It was the day after Thanksgiving, a year ago. I remember making an extra stop at the closest dollar store that day to pick up a pregnancy test, thinking "it's got to be negative, no way it's positive, but just to be sure..."

Ha! One thing to be sure about in life: When you're definitely sure the pregnancy test is going to be negative, but you're taking it just-in-case--that's a pretty good sign to go ahead and order the newborn diapers and wipes.

Photo: the day before the big news hit.
Sean came home and I immediately departed to pick up the best home pregnancy test I could find (which is definitely not found at a dollar store). Back at home, this one came out positive, too. Surprise, surprise.

My mind immediately began spinning with questions that had no good answers: Where would we put this new baby? Do we find out the gender this time? What makes me think I'm ready for another baby? If it's a boy, do I giveaway all the girl baby clothes? How will I handle four little kids? How will we pay for college four times over? College? Heck, how about parochial grade school tuition? AND HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!!!? (well, that question did have an obvious answer.) : /

In all this pending uncertainty, I wondered how different life would look after this fourth baby's arrival.

My third baby taught me definitively that I'm the mom--I'm the authority on my kids. And now, this fourth baby has taught me a most important lesson: I can choose my attitude. And the attitude I should always chose, no matter the circumstance, is gratitude.

I saw this Ann Voskamp quote forever ago, but it has stuck with me:


"Everyone gets to decide how happy they want to be. Because everyone gets to decide how grateful they are willing to be."

I can choose to be an irritated mess each morning because I've been up all night with the baby. Or I can slurp some coffee and chose to be grateful that my baby is home with me and not in the hospital.

I can choose to be depressed that labor + delivery ate a good-sized chunk out of our savings and delayed our house projects. Or I can snuggle my kids on the sofa we bought years ago as newlyweds and chose to be grateful we have a perfectly wonderful home, dated kitchen cupboards and all.

I can choose to envy the families that are out of babyhood and survival mode. Or I can stop and smell the top of my baby's head.

Get used to church bathroom selfies with your mom, kiddo.

I can choose to be frustrated that going to the grocery store takes a double stroller, 6 reusable bags, a baby sling AND a bribery stop at the bakery counter--and that's all before I go grab one gallon of milk. Or, I can choose to be grateful for never having to wonder if there's enough money in the account to cover milk, eggs and diapers.

I'm much more aware now, too, that at a minimum, I have two bigger sets of eyes observing me--and my boys' observations are likely to stick with them. Children watch. And they learn. Modeling gratitude for them now is essential.

So. Thank you for making it through this little post :) Now on to the fun part!

1. Comment below and tell me one thing you are grateful for today, and you'll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Diapers.com!

2. Sharing the Facebook post for this contest will earn you 1 extra entry.

3. Winner to be picked in one week

 This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal, with a prize of a gift certificate.

Update! This giveaway is closed. The winner was Rachel! Thank you to all who commented and shared on facebook. 


an ode to my Ikea jute rug

How do I love thee, thee of low pile, strong fiber, Swedish origins and light dirt-like color?

Oh, I love thee. Let me count the ways.

I'd been scouring Rugs USA and E-Sale Rugs since October, looking at jute area rugs. And even though they have sales, and yes, even though the shipping is free, I couldn't easily pull the trigger on a $299-$399 rug. And then. On a whim we took a family trip to Ikea during Christmas vacation, looking for a bathroom vanity and a loveseat.

Naturally, we emerged with a trash can and an area rug.

But this rug, this glorious 6'7"x 9'10" area rug cost all of $139.

I repeat: $139. Hold me.

Ikea says of their Lohals rug: "Jute is a durable and recyclable material with natural color variations."

Translation: When your small children drop cereal, granola bars, the infernal mini chocolate chips from said granola bars, and tortilla chips onto this lovely rug with its natural color variations, you can't tell. And when they grind these small pieces of food into this rug before you can vacuum them up, you still can't tell. Glory.

It's alternately the color of straw, dirt and sand--which is basically what little kids are made of.

Yes, a little. But I got it because our family room needed a rug that could endure heavy foot traffic. A few strands of jute have rubbed off onto the boys' pants when they've sat on it building Legos, but that was once in a week, and it's not a frequent activity in that room. It's not a playroom rug, and it's definitely not a soft bedroom rug. We're mostly walking on it (and eating on it), not sitting or directing the kids to wrestle on it, so it hasn't bothered me.

It needed 3 hours to air out, once we brought it home and unrolled it. Since then, nada.

Must you ask? Yes. Yes I'd buy it again, and once we take out the carpet in our dining room, I might put one in there too. Jute forever.