Friday, May 27, 2016

7 Quick Takes- Because I know you wanted them...

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum   to give you this week's quick takes.  Are you ready?

Last week, I read an article title (not the article... ain't nobody got time for that) which linked depression to clutter.  I agreed with the title statement (who knows about the article?).  I have toy-binged for the last 1.5 years, every six months- but it's time to release the clutter in other places as well. So I cleansed my linen closet, which hasn't been tended to in six years.  And I organized our family room bookshelf, which had become the catch all for everything in our home.  My plan today is to go at my kitchen drawers...wish me luck.
It's amazing how freeing it feels to let go of stuff.  I've found I have to donate or throw out quickly, if I think too much about it, I hesitate.  If I haven't used something in a year, it's gone. With the exception of my punch bowl.  I am keeping it.
This picture SERIOUSLY doesn't do my hard work justice because the 'before' was taken after 1.5 huge garbage bags of stuff was removed.

During the cleaning, I found the didgeridoo Aaron bought when we were both in Australia together, staying at the same school with a couple hundred other people, but never met.  Anyway, I found it, put it aside and asked Aaron to bring it down to our storage room when he had a chance. 
So far, there have been two occasions when I am hiding in a room, trying to talk to my sisters on the phone. I look up to the door being slowly opened, the end of a didgeridoo peeking into the room and Aaron begins blowing... 
So annoying.
And really funny.
Should have just thrown it out ;)

I had a really great, 'I'm totally in love with my husband' moment last night.
We went to go see X-Men through an event meant to sell a business application.
As we checked in we were told there would be a contest for the 'best tweet' sent during the movie.  I said to the people at the table, 'Oh, we are going to win'.
I am married to a very funny man. 
And I take crazy pride in that.
I was certain, we would win the Apple I-Watch being given away.
It ends up we got 'second place' (a YETI tumbler... who knew?) but ONLY because the contest was just for the first hour of the movie and we didn't know that.  Aaron had just shot off two tweets and was getting warmed up.  
I am very proud of my husband though, and during the movie I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
He is a hard worker
He is a good father
He always tries to be better

X-men was really, really good.
I love those movies. And I love the guy who's really fast (I forget his name)
And I REALLY love Charles.
A lot.
But not as much as my funny husband

We started at the fancy gym.  I do love it. So.Much.
But I forgot that Gym Daycares breed germs.
Everyone is sick here today.  Just colds, but it's annoying.

We bought a plot in our community garden.
In theory we are going to plant stuff this weekend.
This was Big Aaron's idea. 
I do not garden, I don't love outside, and I don't love bugs.
What are the easiest and most satisfying things to plant?
I can't believe we are doing this.
BUT, lest you begin to judge...
I agreed to it because I think it's really cool.
I think it's really good for the kids.
I think it's really good for the community.
I think it will be a really good project for our family...
I don't have to like it.

Aaron completed Pre-K this week.
He was allowed to choose a place to go out to dinner as a family.
He chose Panera (obviously) where all the boys ordered a bagel, cream cheese, juice box and a bag of chips.
How's that for a healthy dinner.

He's pretty much a teenager now that he's done with Pre-K

Have a great week and don't forget to go check out more Takes--- Click this link.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Selfless Love is Life-giving

My brother and I with Paul and Ann
Today is my friends, Paul and Ann's anniversary.  Eight years ago they were married.  The day was perfect in every single way.  I've written about this before, but at the time of the wedding, I didn't know Ann very well. Paul and I had been friends for almost a decade, but I had only met his fiance one or two times.  In her goodness, she gave me a tremendous gift.  Barely knowing me, she invited me to stand up in their wedding as a bridesmaid. "If you were a man, you'd be one of Paul's groomsmen, so I would love for you to be a bridesmaid of mine."  I was nervous heading down to the wedding, Paul was one of my very best friends, he was leaving me as one of the last single people in our group... and I was going to be spending a lot of time with strangers (Ann's other bridesmaids).

But, of course, the 'other' bridesmaids, Ann, and Ann's family...were absolutely perfect.  The wedding was wonderful.  The party was a huge success and the marriage of Paul and Ann began.

Selfless love is life-giving.

Joey and John Paul meeting Caeli
Paul and Ann's daughter Caeli celebrated her third birthday yesterday. One thing I love about the faith I practice is the understanding that children are gifts.  The love between a man and a woman, sprinkled with God's Divine Goodness, gives us little people.   People who share in our traits, and people who we are given the enormous task of raising up to be Saints, to be Disciples.  The profound responsibility of it sometimes overwhelms me.  The selflessness it takes to surrender one's body to grow a child and then to deliver that child into the world is awe-inspiring.  There is such sacrifice when we are raising children,  as our actions become motivated by the life of another.   It is so intense, but so rewarding.  The love between a man and a woman, with God's Divine touch actually creates PEOPLE.

Children are a fantastic witness to the life-giving aspect of God's love.  I don't think it was an accident  that God blessed Paul and Ann on their anniversary with their sweet baby girl.  This day, which holds a profound sadness for Ann now that Paul has passed away, also gives us all a reminder of what can happen when two people choose to love each other and follow God.  LIFE is born.

Selfless love is life-giving.

The love of Paul and Ann is shown through all of their children, but that's not the only life-giving witness they have provided for me, through their marriage.  A few months after Paul joined the heavenly kingdom, my mom was talking about the love between him and Ann. She talked about how their love will truly go on for ages, both through their children, but also through the impact their love had on others.

The people who read about their story online and felt a pull to give generously.
The people who emailed and messaged to say they were praying for the first time in years.
The community banding together,  BUILDING AND FURNISHING A HOUSE!  A house with a foundation that was poured by Paul before he got sick.

Their love moved through the community at a rapid pace 1.5 years ago.

Their love moved people to reconcile with one another.
Their love woke people up in the middle of the night the evening before Paul passed away to join together in prayer, as a vigil of sorts.
Their love inspired complete strangers to say, 'Hey I want to LIVE like PAUL. and I want to LOVE like Annie'.

Their love united tens of thousands of people to live a more intentional, more prayerful, and kinder existence here on earth.

Selfless love is life-giving.

I cry all the time for Paul.  This morning, dropping little A off at school, we listened to, 'I Can Only Imagine', the song I heard minutes after finding out Paul had 'gone home'. As I pulled into Aaron's school, I wiped tears away before getting out of my van.  Two nights ago, I sat with one of my very best friends, Kellie, and we both pondered how it could be possible to grieve him so hard.  How very challenging it is to know we will not see him again until the end of our lives.  We both sputtered through words as we fought back tears that just keep falling.

But man, on days like today...

Days when I remember the wedding of Paul and Ann 8 years ago...

Days when I pray for their beautiful daughter, a gift born from their love, as she celebrates her 3rd birthday...

Days when I allow myself to think about how profoundly life-giving the love of Paul and Ann was and is...

It makes me want to be better. Love better.  Pray more. Laugh longer.  And remember if I can allow my selfish heart to sacrificially love... life-giving grace will surely come.

Pray for Ann and the kids today friends, I know they could use it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Whole30 It's NOT hard

So- we finished our whole30 last week.  We went 33 days though, because, as Aaron said, "We are people who go 110%."

You can check out this website to get the specifics of the program, but basically, it's eating fruits, veggies, and meat/seafood, but not eating dairy, processed food, or grains.  There's a lot of 'no' on the program.   But a lot of yes too, because ALL fruits, and ALL veggies, and ALL seafood sure does gives you a lot of options.

I wrote about this before, but 2016 is our year of health and weight loss.  We will be married six years in a couple of weeks, and honestly, it's been a little crazy- what with the four children and such.  This year, we've decided to make personal health a priority, and the whole30 was a piece of that puzzle.

There were four main reasons I wanted to do it.

1.  I hate vegetables and needed a better relationship with them.
2.  The discipline of saying, 'no' to certain foods intrigued me.
3.  I wanted to do something with Aaron in regards to health.
4.  To view food as fuel.

I didn't like a lot about the website's explanation about their program. Actually, the whole 'tone' annoyed me.  I didn't love things like the program saying banana pancakes aren't compliant because they aren't in the 'spirit' of the whole30, even though they use all compliant ingredients.  Maybe I am just rebellious by nature, but um, that seemed a little much?

However, one thing I really liked is within the explanation, they talk about how it's not hard.
 “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your ‘struggles’.”

I like that.  For me, it was a good reminder.  One of my main motivations for doing the whole30 was something an alumni of my youth ministry program said to me a few years ago.  He said that for him, it was helpful to think of food as fuel. It has a purpose, and it's purpose is to fuel our bodies.  If we frame eating that way, we want to eat the food that fuels us the most.  Every time I started to think of how 'hard' the whole30 was.... I remembered it actually wasn't that hard.

Some things made it a bit easier for us...
We had stopped drinking anything but water, pretty much at the start of the year. Also, I can eat a very monotonous diet. I am an extremely picky eater, so for me to eat the same things day in and day out is not challenging at all. We were doing it together, so it was fun in a way.  Finally, we didn't do it with our kids. I can't imagine a world where that would have worked.

Every morning started with 2 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon and an apple.  The other two meals, pretty much consisted of a protein and vegetables.  A banana for energy when I felt hungry, and pistachios as my 'treat' at the end of the day... eh, voila, I had my whole30.

I did realize some things were missing.  Not drinking alcohol and not putting creamer in my coffee was a challenge.  Making every meal and food prepping took a little extra time.  Though, because we were doing it together, I didn't hate it.  Going to weddings, barbecues, and other events was tricky. Aaron was out of town for a week, he had to eat conference food, and had to be really creative.  It sucked for him not to eat the treats, or the garlic bread.

So, now that it's done.  Here are my thoughts.

First, I didn't see a crazy increase in energy or anything like that.  I'm not great about knowing how my body responds to things, so perhaps that's why.  Even though I didn't notice feeling better, at the end of our whole thirty (on Friday of last week), we ate all the non-compliant stuff again.  And, Saturday, I definitely felt that.  I didn't feel good. My stomach didn't feel good.  Now, that could have SOMETHING to do with the four cocktails I consumed at my birthday dinner- we will never quite be sure :)

Veggies.  I like them now.  Well, that's not true. I like cucumbers, broccoli, tomato, and carrots. And I liked them before as well.  But we did make a good curried cauliflower I liked (and by 'we', I mean Aaron).  And I simply survived on crispy roasted broccoli.

The discipline of saying 'no' was awesome.  That's the habit part of the 30 days I will take with me.

Doing it together was super cool. We shopped together, we prepped as a team, Aaron grilled and we both committed to eating a particular way for 33 days.  I liked it.

Seeing food as fuel was awesome as well.  Food is a gift, eating a huge variety is a privilege.  Our food choices are a daily blessing we shouldn't be taking for granted.  I did a lot of thinking about that these last 33 days.

Going forward...
It's not suppose to be a lifestyle of eating, but I think Aaron and I decided, in our home, we are pretty much going to continue eating like this.  When we go to other people's houses, out to dinner, special occasions, we won't be strict at all, but eating like this is working for our lives.

Cool Stuff...
I lost about 12-14 lbs give or take.  That was nice. I am now closer to my 60 lb end of year goal.
This morning, I am drinking my coffee without creamer in it.  Creamer is in the fridge.  Turns out, I don't hate black coffee ;)

And that my friends, was our experience with the Whole 30.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sometimes I give myself High-5s

Yesterday, I broke it down with 10 confessions of a SAHM.
It was real.
A lot of people related.
And many laughed.
Laughter is good, and kind of the point.

Sometimes we are gross around here. And sometimes the struggle is real. Like, really real.
But, also, sometimes I'm like, 'Hey, I'm not totally screwing this up'.

So, as a companion to yesterday, I'm going to give you a list of ten moments I high-five myself for in this world of SAHMommying. I bet some of you can give yourselves big ol' high fives for this stuff too.

We pray. Everyday with our kids.
Sometimes it's a cluster.  But every night we gather together and our prayer looks like this.
We pray the 'Angel of God'

And then, just like my childhood say...

"I love you baby Jesus, Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, all you Holy Angels and Saints, watch me while I sleep"
"God bless mommy, daddy, aaron, joseph, john paul, malia paul, all my aunts and uncles, all my cousins, and everybody in the whole wide world"

We don't miss a night. And it's good, and I am glad it's part of our routine.

Every night, after I turn off the ipad (so real bedtime) I go into the boy's room and each of them answers the following questions...
"what was the best part of your day?"
"what was the hardest part of your day"
John Paul, every night mumbles something about McDonalds for both questions, but the big boys answer. And it's a nice way to end the day.

Since Malia Paul joined our family, I make my bed every day.  It makes a difference in my mental sanity. And I am proud that I have gone eight months strong making my bed.  It's the little things people.

We clean and vacuum our playroom once a month. 
It used to be every six months.
I've come a long way.

By 10:00 am most days, including on the weekends, the entire family is dressed, all the way down to socks. Now, you might not be impressed with this, but if you've ever had 4 kids in 5.5 years... you know what a huge accomplishment that is.

I toy cleanse once a month.  I donate or chuck out broken ones.  Once a month might seem extreme to you, but it is necessary for my sanity. I think, for the first four years of my marriage, I couldn't get a handle on housework because we had way too much junk. I am in a constant process of making sure junk does not rule our lives.

I have blogged THREE TIMES this week. And I have a fourth one planned.

My children love each other, a lot. They give each other hugs and kisses. They say sorry when they've done something wrong.
Two nights ago, little Aaron asked to sleep in Joey's bed.
Around 3:30 am, Joey couldn't find his blanket.
He got up and turned on the light and started looking for the blanket.
Aaron got up too.
Aaron told him to turn off the light, but not before he helped him find his blanket.
They are taking care of one another. 
It's a great comfort to my mom's heart.

We totaled one car and one van in April.
It was stressful.
We bought two 'new to us' vans without a shred of debt.
It's because we've learned to manage our money and adult-well when it comes to finances.
That was a huge paradigm shift for me- to spend only what I have. 
We live within our means, and that's awesome.

Three days ago Aaron was mowing the lawn.  Lil' A and Joey trailed behind him with their lawn mowers, and then rode their bikes in the front of the house while he finished up. I was inside with John Paul, who is not afraid of anything, with the exception of lawn-mowers. We were watching Aaron through the window with Malia on my lap. I thought to myself, 'my gosh, I am living the dream, I am really and truly living everything I've ever wanted'.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What? You too, I thought I was the only one...

Last year, I was able to give a short talk at a Blessed is She gathering of women from Southeast Michigan.  It was one of my favorite presentations, as gathering with women has become one of my very favorite things.  The talk reflected on a quote from C.S. Lewis.

"Friendship... is born at the moment that one man says to another, 'what? you too, I thought no one but myself'" 

During the talk, I reflected a bit on the reality of vulnerability.  And how hard it is to be honest with each other.  It's especially difficult in the social media world isn't it?  But man, when we are, beautiful things can happen.

And so, in that spirit, I give you 
10 Confessions of a Stay At Home Mom.

I legit don't mop my floors. Like, ever. 
MAYBE twice a year.
I sweep a couple times a day, but mop? never.

I have a very hard time remembering to have the kids brush their teeth.  Isn't that weird?  It's such a small moment in the day, but I always forget about it and it seems like such a pain.  Since Aaron started school, we brush the kids teeth every weekday- but, for some reason, this particular task just doesn't seem to make it into our day to day. Gross right?
For the record, I brush my teeth twice a day. It's just my kid's teeth I don't care about.

When people ask, we tell them our kids go to bed at 7:00 pm.  This is the truth. Kind of.
But the FULL truth is the boys go into their room with the ipad and watch one or two 1/2 hour netflix shows. So their bedtime is more like 8-8:30 pm with 1 hour of 'ipad time'.
Sometimes I think we should break that habit.
Then I think about having the kids awake for another hour of the day and whew. I can't.

We don't eat with our kids yet. 
Sometimes I am insecure about this.  And I know, probably next year with kindergarten, we will make the switch.
Right now they eat at 5:30 pm and Aaron and I eat after they go to bed (but not real bed, because they are watching the ipad).

Ready?  So Big A and I are squabblers.  If you read this blog you know that.
Three weeks ago we got in a squabble. 
And I said, in my typical over-the-top fashion...
"why don't you pack your bag and leave?"
I meant for the night.
(but I really didn't mean it)
Then Aaron, in his A-typical over-the-top fashion...
Of course, we made up 1 hour later... but we had to unpack ALL OF HIS CLOTHES THAT HE THREW IN SUITCASES. 

oh man. Honesty is hard.
I don't change my kid's sheets but once, maybe twice a month.

I only drink filtered britta water- especially since the Flint Water Crisis.
I know it probably doesn't matter, but it's all I drink.
Ready for the confession part?
I still have my kids drink tap water :)

I know a lot of moms will feel me on the, "what? you too" part of this.
I only bath my kids twice a week.

Although I don't text in the car driving anymore, I do sometimes still put on music from my iphone.
It's a habit I'm trying to break, because, to be honest, it's maybe even more dangerous than texting.
Actually, probably is.

A lot of times we leave Mass RIGHT after the final blessing and probably 20% of the time, right after communion.
Mass is so hard with these kids.
It's getting better.

Honesty. it's where it's at.
Now, I'm gonna go mop my floor.

Just kidding.

Monday, May 16, 2016


...a dusting off of the ol' blog.

Imma blog a bit.  I'm gonna tell you ten things to catch us up, and then hopefully do some blogging regularly as we move into the summer.  You've missed me haven't you?  Welp, here goes...

10 things you didn't know, you didn't know, during a blogging break.

This girl.  Malia Paul has changed our world. It is breaking my heart how quickly she is moving through the baby stage.  Gosh, doesn't it seem like it goes faster with each kid? YIKES!

We had an awesome (but totally exhausting) trip to Disney. I hope to blog about some more things we learned along the way of traveling to Disney with kids... that'll be a future post!

After discussion, prayer, more discussion, more prayer...we've decided to stay in our little house in Redford for at least another four years.  I might change my mind tomorrow, but that's the plan for now.  I love every inch of this 1,000 (and some change) square foot house, and honestly, there's just a lot we can do if we stay in this home.  So that's the plan. For today.

Now this is a VERY complimentary picture so don't get too excited... BUT, Aaron and I have both made a pretty big commitment to health in the year 2016.  I plan on losing 60 lbs this year (of the 77 lbs I'd like to lose to get to 'goal' weight, which I am pretty sure is still 'overweight' by modern standards)...I am JUST shy of 25 lbs off.  Excited to hit that milestone. I'll be telling you more about that later this week.

I have SO many things I want to write about the latest controversies in 2016. So.Much. 
But I have been resisting and I think I will continue to?  
 Although occasionally I can't resist on the social media, for the most part, the resistance is real. Honestly, it's kind of depressing, but I think our world has gone SO crazy, it's tough to even have rational conversations about things, you know? It can make you feel like a crazy person,  It can ruin days and moods to look hard at where we are at as a culture.  So, for the most part, I'm focusing on the internal change, and waiting for Jesus to come back.  


My brother, his wife and their seven kids are moving back to the area!  WOOT freaking WOOT. I am so excited to have them back here, to have cousins the same ages as my kids to play with, and to watch them grow up together.  Lil' A was beside himself to have his cousins at his birthday party in April!  It's all so exciting.

Schooling for next year is going to look like this.  Aaron will be in Kindergarten and Joey in pre-K at St. Michael's Catholic School.  Kindergarten is all day, which I don't love, but I love the school and so does he.  So, gulp, I will have to get used to my baby being somewhere else the majority of the awake hours of the day.  I can hear homeschooling mom's hearts break everywhere. 

This is a TERRIBLE picture, but I'm not gonna let that stop me :)  Aaron bought me a beautiful claddagh/mother's ring set that is suppose to be a 'family ring'. I love it so much. like, so so so much.  My wedding ring has not fit since all these babies, so I generally just wear my engagement ring.  However, I think I've decided until that wedding ring can fit back on, this ring will stay on my 'ring finger'.  I love to look at it and all that it represents.  


We finally cut Joey's hair.  Though I miss it, he looks so awesome with it cut.  My sweet boy.  Now we start the process of growing it out again.

We are joining the fancy gym again, with my brother's family.  And I am SO excited to bring the fancy gym back into my life.  For those of you in the know, the fancy gym is 'lifetime'.  Aaron calls me a professional 'lifetime' quitter...and he's kind of right.  It's far away from our home, and in the winter/pregnancy it's just not worth it to me.  But, it's going to add a lot to our summer lives.  AND, I have big dreams of family dates there with my brother's family.  The possibilities are endless.

Hopefully I didn't bore your socks off. I'll be back with more later this week :)