when she was good, she was very good indeed…

…but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Maybe horrid is a little strong. Nonetheless, sometimes Matt and I look at each other at the end of the day and admit, “This kid is driving us crazy.” Mary can be willful, stubborn, impish, and infuriatingly irrational. Something that was fine yesterday might be a no-go today. We might discover her doing something ridiculously against the rules, like licking the carpet or standing on her headboard, just because the idea of the forbidden intrigues her. She scowls, she glares, she comes up with her own gestures of discontent (current favorite: index finger curled slightly, pirate style). We get into power struggles over ev.ery.thing. from trying a bite of dinner to putting on her clothes to standing still in church. She goes from zero to screaming in frustration; she has no fuse. She accepts consequences and time-outs without batting an eye, then goes right back to whining and screaming. Sometimes I have to work very, very hard to keep my temper in check with her, and sometimes I don’t succeed. Three years old is no joke.

But.

Playing her "violin"

Playing her “violin”

Sometimes she is an angel of a child. She has a tremendously powerful imagination and she can exist in her own world, amusing herself with her made-up stories and songs. She was the flower girl in her Aunt Dill’s wedding a few weeks back. After a long day of being told where to stand and what to do, wearing a fancy dress, and smiling on command for photos, I thought she might lose it at the reception. But she happily sat at the head table and played with three little duck toys for the entire dinner and toasting process. Some of Dill’s relatives came up to me later and confessed that their table had spent the evening watching Mary, amazed that she was still quiet and calm with just those three small toys. flower girl

She often gets anxious when I ask her to do something that makes her uncomfortable (latest nemesis: public toilets). Last week a new swim instructor, a man she’d never seen before, told her to jump off the side of the pool into his arms. To put it in context: Mary flips her lid when I try to rinse off her hair in the bath because there’s a chance that some water might splash on her face. She had never jumped into a pool before, but she did it right away, missing his arms completely and plunging totally underwater. She came up sputtering and scared, but after calming down for a couple minutes, she jumped in to him again. I watched from across the pool, jaw hanging open.

At her heart, Mary is a people pleaser, and if she thinks that she can make a grown up happy, she’ll do whatever it takes, even jumping into a pool. But maybe she feels safe enough with me that she can protest when I ask her to do something uncomfortable? Maybe she knows I love her no matter what? The alternative is she’s screwing with me in her diabolical three-nager way, so let’s go with love.siblings

She can also be wonderful even without an adoring public. When the stars align and she’s gotten enough food, sleep, and attention from Mom and Dad, she can be so much fun, enthusiastically spinning from one activity to the next, amazed by the world. Those times just seem to be less frequent than when she was younger. It’s like walking around with a time bomb- which Mary will we get today? This hour? The calm one or the crazy one? I’ve backed out of plans more than once for fear of dealing with misbehavior in public, but then we all get squirrelly stuck inside the house and that doesn’t help either. No one ever said parenting would be easy, I suppose.

Let’s end on a humorous note. Maryisms lately:

  • “I can’t eat that, I’m French.”
  • While eating a carrot: “I’m a bat wearing a bunny costume!”
  • “I have ashes on my eyes!!!” (she meant eyelashes)
  • “I’m going to sing a camping out birthday song for Jesus!”

I don’t even know, you guys. I don’t even know.

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SQT: The winter that won’t end, toddler masterpieces, sleep training and a feast

— 1 —

Back in the day when I used to blog semi-regularly (i.e., before children, typically when I was avoiding writing a paper) I loved participating in Seven Quick Takes. Unrelated ramblings from all my favorite bloggers every Friday? Please and thank you. I love having a home for my hodgepodge of mom-brain thoughts.

— 2 —

We’ve had a banner week in these parts. After Daniel’s hospital visit last week, Mary took her turn with the mystery fever, except she accessorized with a cough and sore throat. The end of winter is just ridiculous, you guys. Go home, winter, you’re drunk. It seems like everyone I know is sick or has a sick child. Plus it’s SNOWING right now. The injustice of it all.

— 3 —

It was bound to happen eventually. I discovered this masterpiece during naptime yesterday. I guess this is what happens when Mom is busy changing baby brother’s diapers upstairs.

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Anyone have any tips for getting magic marker off a matte painted wall?

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The real scary part. We’ve had twenty discussions about not touching outlets if we’ve had one, and up to this point Mary’s never shown a smidgen of interest in them. We’ll be replacing THOSE with tamper-proof outlets, stat. The mom guilt on this one… it’s intense. What if she’d gotten hurt?

— 4 —

As long as we’re talking mom guilt, let’s talk sleep training. At Daniel’s 2 month check up, I mentioned how he’ll only sleep in the car seat, and the pediatrician (who isn’t our usual doctor) told me to put him in his room, in his crib, and let him cry until he falls asleep. By night three, the doctor promised me, he’ll sleep without a struggle. “He’s twelve pounds now, he can sleep twelve hours at once.” I immediately rebelled against the idea and might have been a little harsh with the doctor. Sleep training at 2 months? Are you out of your mind? This is my BABY we’re talking about. Apparently he’s not the only doctor recommending early sleep training, though. After a couple weeks of rough nights, I’m not entirely against the idea anymore. I honestly don’t know. Could it work? Could I handle the hours of crying for two-three nights? Could Mary, with her bedroom across the hall? Would we all be happier in the end? No idea.

— 5 —

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Retreating to safer waters, now… Obviously I’m no food blogger, but let it be known that in a fit of Sunday tunnel-vision productivity I finally produced a St. Patrick’s feast for my family. (Matt had a GI bug on the actual day of St. Pat’s so we skipped the hearty meal that night.) I made Catholic Cuisine’s Irish Beef and Guinness Stew (above) and this Irish Cream Chocolate Cheesecake (not pictured because I was too busy shoveling it into my mouth). Sometimes it feels good to go all out, you know? Even if your feverish toddler takes a look at the stew and decides to go to bed without dinner instead.

— 6 —

Dear Mellow Mushroom: Open a location in Michigan as soon as possible, please. Matt has been jonesing for some Shroom in a big way. Every weekend he mentions casually, “We could drive to Cleveland and get some Shroom…” You guys, Cleveland is three hours away. I enjoy a good pizza as much as the next person, but not enough to drive six hours with a toddler and an infant. Nope. Not gonna happen. So clearly the only answer to my struggle is for some enterprising soul to open a location here. Our family will keep you in business all on our own, I promise.

Throwback to last year in Louisville, when we had multiple Mellow Mushrooms to choose from.

Throwback to last year in Louisville, when we had multiple Mellow Mushrooms to choose from.

— 7 —

Have a good weekend, y’all. I’m kicking things off a little early with an epic afternoon coffee pour:

IMG_20150327_165620167May your coffee be hot, your children nap well, and your skies produce sunshine instead of snow flurries. Amen.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

A letter to my son on the occasion of his first visit to the ER

Dear Daniel,
Yesterday afternoon we took you to the children’s ER because you were running a fever of 100.4. That may not sound very high, but you’re so little that the pediatrician’s procedure is to send you straight to the ER, do not pass GO. The words the nurse used on the phone were, “Young babies can turn septic so quickly…” Just what your mama’s ears needed to hear.

Now that the experience is behind us and we are back home safe and sound, your temperature back to normal as you snooze comfortably in my arms, I can see the blessings in the midst of the frightening.

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On the way to the hospital, while I was internally lamenting not building our house on the hospital’s roof for quick and easy access, your sister and I prayed a decade of the Rosary. Then a Memorare. Then a Hail Holy Queen. Then a litany of every saint I could think of (including your sister’s requests for the mommy saints, the daddy saints, the big sister saints, and the baby saints). Outside of Mass, I’m not sure I’ve ever said so many prayers with your sister. I have no idea why not. The peace in the car was almost palpable.

Your daddy left work right away to come join us at the hospital. He called Uncle Joe to let him know what was happening, and without being asked Joe immediately said he would meet us there. At the hospital, as we waited for the doctor, I posted on social media about what was going on. Right away the offers to help flooded in from our friends. Uncle Joe eventually took your sister home and cared for her through the evening. We are so blessed to have such a loving community here.

After you had some Tylenol in you and you got some rest, you smiled and gurgled at the nurses and doctors, melting their hearts instantly. YOU were a blessing to them, even as they blessed us with their skilled and careful work. Who knows what they had witnessed that day in the course of their shifts? The scariest part for me wasn’t when your temperature hit 101.5 or when they put an IV in your tiny hand. No, the scary part was watching terribly sick children parade by our door on hospital beds. Those nurses and doctors see so much suffering. You lightened their load.

Finally, last night reminded me once again that you are not mine. You have just been entrusted to me for a time. I am not in control. God loves you more than I ever could, sweetheart, and yet it’s so hard for me to trust Him with you. Baby steps. Let it be done to us according to His will.

I love you. I’m so glad you are safe,
Mommy

A whole lot of real, which will hopefully be funny and make you happy?

I WAS hoping to link up with Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real this week, the always-entertaining linkup from Like Mother, Like Daughter in which bloggers share one photo or thought in each category. For example, a blogger who has is it all together might post a pretty photo of her carefully curated and liturgically appropriate prayer corner, a happy photo of her clean and laughing children, a funny anecdote from a child’s creative imaginative play, and a real photo of a baby covered in smushed bananas, because babies will be babies.

Well. Friends, we just moved into a new house right after the baby was born and my husband is working 70 hour weeks. Ain’t nobody got time for making things around here pretty. We aim for functional and mostly sanitary. I’m just proud when I manage to get the laundry and dishes into the correct magic cleaning machines (what did moms do before machines?!) and a mostly-homemade dinner on the table by the crack of 8pm.

Social interaction is pretty rare since my toddler won’t wake up until 11am (due to a combination of the baby waking her up at night, daylight savings and her just plain taking for-ev-er to fall asleep at night). All toddler activities and playgroups take place at 9 or 10 am. It’s an unwritten law. Not that I want to take her out anyway since her behavior has been so bad the last week. To be fair, she’s a really good kid and I know the screaming and crying could be much worse- it’s just that I also know she can do so much better! Gah! We ventured out to the mall last week for a couple unavoidable errands and her SCREAMING- oh my word- I am still cringing. We might never go to the mall again.

On the plus side, we managed to hold our first gathering at the new house. It happened quite by accident- Matt wanted to grill out for lunch in our lovely springish weather, so he invited his brother over, except his brother had friends over at his house already, so the whole gang came over to our place for the afternoon. There was some frantic tossing of dirty dishes into the sink and some speedy removal of empty cardboard boxes from the family room, but oh well. If I wait for my house to be clean to invite people over, I’ll never invite people over, and I want our home to be a gathering place.
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Mary loved having so many grownups at her house since she thinks every grownup is a new playmate. She roped everyone into playing with her.
imageNow Matt has a stomach bug/ food poisoning/ plague and it must be horribly awful because he actually stayed home from work today and hasn’t tried to get out of bed. I’m just hoping and praying that none of the rest of us get it, because of the four of us, he is easily the least whiny. Sorry, hon. Thanks for taking one for the team.

I’m off to deal with the very real toddler screaming in her crib because she doesn’t want to nap and I should probably check on my long-suffering patient upstairs. Happy Monday!

Perspectacles

The brilliant Glennon Melton writes often about remembering to wear her perspectacles. In other words, reframe the situation and look for the positive angle. Knowing today was going to be tough, I made a concerted effort to follow her advice. Here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Baby sleep is the worst. Daniel is a good sleeper by the standards of his age, but holy cow I miss uninterrupted sleep. Reframe: We have a new BABY, you guys!Daniel
  2. Both kids woke up with poop-related difficulties. Scrubbing poop off of bums before I’ve had my coffee ranks pretty high on my list of ways to get a day off on the wrong foot. Reframe: my children have healthy little bodies that make healthy amounts of poop.
  3. Thanks to the time change, Mary is sleeping in even later than usual these days. I had to choose between waking her for playgroup or letting her sleep. I let her sleep, but I’m bummed because I missed a chance to see my friends, including Jenna and her new little squishy baby. Reframe: My kid got the rest she needs because we don’t have to keep to a rigorous school or work schedule yet. That’s pretty awesome. Also, I can connect with friends online if I’m more intentional about commenting and interacting instead of just consuming social media. I’ve been trying to use my phone less this Lent, but going along with what Kendra wrote about adjusting Lenten disciplines as necessary, I’m allowing myself to connect when I need to for my own sanity.
  4. Mary is exceptionally grumpy today because her grandparents’ visit ended yesterday. It’s tough to adjust to less attention and fewer playmates. Reframe: we’re so blessed that Matt’s parents can visit so often. It’s hard when they leave, but my parents hardly ever get to visit and that’s hard in a whole different kind of way.
  5. I had to reheat my coffee three times today before I finally got a chance to drink it, while bouncing a baby and listening to Curious George. Reframe: Thank God for coffee.
  6. When asked why she was screaming, Mary replied, “Because everything hurts in my life!” She’s in SUCH a dramatic stage right now. Reframe: Dramatic toddlers are actually hilarious once the heat of the moment has passed.dramatic
  7. I can’t write a sentence in this blog post without mentally scratching it out and criticizing it as trite or lame or uninteresting. Reframe: practice makes perfect, and maybe it’s time to start practicing my writing skills again. 🙂

Liturgical Living Resources

Hellllooooooo out there! Sorry for the radio silence around these parts. We’ve been traveling and/or hosting friends and relatives for something like the last six weekends and I’m a little worn out. Still haven’t found a rental house in Michigan (well, we’ve found plenty, but they haven’t worked out for one reason or another, I’ll spare you the mundane details). Today I’m just popping in to share a list of Liturgical Living Resources I just generated for my moms’ group at church. Let me know if they help you or if you have more to add to the list!

Tips on how to get started living liturgically

 

Church calendar resources

 

Blogs I read that share monthly liturgical living ideas (check out their archives, too!)

  • Catholic All Year – probably my favorite Liturgical Living blog, I love her in-depth explanations of her family traditions

  • Carrots for Michaelmas – at the end of every month she posts a big list of feast days for the next month complete with crafts, recipes, traditions, etc

  • Two Os Plus More – great family ideas, especially for families with small children

  • Catholic Cuisine– awesome recipes, including plenty for lesser-known feast days. extensive archives. I figure, I’m going to cook dinner anyway, it might as well be liturgically relevant once in a while.

  • Waltzing Matilda – I especially love her extensive library of saint coloring pages

  • Catholic Icing– so many great craft ideas and printables!

  • Catholic Playground– lots of good coloring pages, recipes and even Lego activities

 

Pinterest Boards (I kind of avoid pinterest like the plague because it makes me feel guilty and inadequate, so this section is pretty sparse. I’m sure Amy has plenty of good boards to share ;-))

 

Helpful Websites

  • CatholicCulture.org – Big website with tons and tons of info in their liturgical living section. I love how they create a calendar each month (here’s April’s) with information about feast days and links to recipes, prayers, readings, and activities for each day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed on this site because there’s SO much info, but it’s a great place to go for in-depth explanations and saint  backstories.

  • A couple sites for weekly Mass-related worksheets for older kids (elementary school aged instead of toddlers 🙂 )

 

Books worth checking out

 

Happy Halloween!

Here in Louisville, Halloween looks like it will be pretty much rained out. We are hoping to carve a pumpkin on our sheltered patio tonight and maybe squeeze in a little trick-or-treating tomorrow night before All Saints Mass.

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Get it together, Louisville! It’s Halloween!

We’re not too bummed out about the weather since Mary’s favorite part of Halloween has nothing to do with gathering candy (she’s never had any) and everything to do with wearing her costume. This past weekend we were able to steal Matt away from work for a couple hours and we went to the local duck pond for Mary to frolic with her kind.

And frolic, she did. Gleefully and enthusiastically.

And frolic, she did. Gleefully and enthusiastically.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the ducks for any trauma. (Although from the way they ran away from her and circled back around her to be chased again, I think they enjoyed it.)

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the ducks for any trauma. (Although from the way they ran away from her and circled back around to be chased again, I think they enjoyed it.)

Mary also quite enjoyed the role of chase-ee.

Mary also quite enjoyed the role of chase-ee.

Mary will quack, waddle and flap her wings on command, so clearly I am winning at this parenting gig. (Kidding!)

I also just finished masks for Matt and I to wear if we ever go trick or treating. Nothing like sewing down to the wire!

Our (loose!) theme is that ridiculous fox song from youtube. I wasn't going to do the whole family costume thing, but then I saw a picture of another family's costuming and, well, the mommy guilt got me.

Our (loose!) theme is that ridiculous fox song from youtube. I wasn’t going to do the whole family costume thing, but then I saw a picture of another family’s coordinated costuming and, well, the mommy guilt got me.

That’s all I’ve got. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Linking up with Clan Donaldson and Cedars and Tiny Flowers for their Halloween posts. 

T Minus Eleven Days

moving boxes meme

The countdown is on- eleven days until we leave our home of two years, hand over the keys and depart for Louisville. I’ve never lived this long in one dwelling except my childhood home, and packing has been (predictably) pretty miserable. We’ve accumulated SO much stuff. We are giving a lot away (especially clothes) but it still seems like our stuff doubles in size when we pack it into boxes (especially books).  Complicating everything is the fact that Matt’s company is putting us up in a furnished apartment, but they have not yet provided us with a LOCATION for our future residence… which is kind of a big deal when you’re moving a whole family.

The flip side of all the physical effort of moving is the mental process we’re going through. Saying goodbye to our first apartment as a married couple… where we brought our first child home from the hospital… where she learned to sleep through the night and sit up and crawl and walk… it’s not easy. We have a million photos of Mary in this place but she won’t remember it at all. We’ll come back to Michigan next year but we will live somewhere else. I’m really going to miss this apartment.

Mary wants to be sure we don't forget her as we pack for our big move --)

I’m anxious too about moving to a place where we don’t know anyone. We don’t have a TON of support up here in Michigan, but I can get childcare for Mary in a pinch and we have a few good friends nearby. My (admittedly somewhat creepy) temporary solution to this anxiety has been googling groups Mary and I might join in Louisville- moms’ groups, crafting groups, blogging groups, even a New to Louisville group. It’s kind of ridiculous, but I feel more secure about this move because of a few facebook posts from strangers welcoming us to town. It’s the little things, you know?

Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel was fantastic – one of my favorites in a long time. I love a good fantasy, especially when it’s almost real (set in our world – like Harry Potter rather than LOTR.) The author’s imagination is so impressive, and the story will definitely stay with me. It’s suspenseful without being scary, romantic without being gushy. It’s a love story without ever detailing a sex scene. I was so sad when it was over. I’m stopping now because I’m not doing this book justice. Just go read it!

View all my reviews

Review: The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise of this book is really intriguing. The Earth’s rotation slows down and humans have to cope with the effects of lengthening days and nights, altered gravity, and a deteriorating magnetic field. Unfortunately, the execution of the premise is lacking. The book itself is simultaneously slow-paced and sparse. Descriptions fall flat and the plot moves at a snail’s pace. It feels like this book was written very quickly and not revised at all. I wouldn’t pass this on to a friend.

View all my reviews