Brennan’s birthday

My raspberry girl turned SIX on Friday!


kids’ gallery wall

I’ve always wanted to be that person who is able to pull together gallery wall ideas, buy the frames, insert art into frames, put framed art on the wall in prearranged pattern, and enjoy.

It’s possible that from the way I listed all those steps, you’re already figuring that somewhere in this process I GET LOST. You would be correct. If I have an idea, I balk at the price of frames. I can’t shop at the thrift store without taking more Benadryl than I can take while I’m nursing a baby, and I don’t have the mental capacity to find what I want while I’m pregnant, so the past three years (and a couple of months) have been a flat bust in the find-frames-cheap department. Which is fine. Because I can’t leave the furniture in place for long enough to make a wall gallery work, anyway.

So. Failure. And that’s fine. Because it’s pushed me to be resourceful and to gracefully and with dignity be FINE (no, really) with alternatives that fit our season of life. It’s sort of like how I stopped buying lamps I like. Because. *sob* Children are too rough on lamps to have lamps you like that will hurt your heart if the lamps are broken.

Gallery wall.

Kids’ room gallery wall.


I designed these signs to print on watercolor paper, and there’s a set up in the living room that I decorated. When I did them, nokids wanted to be involved. But later, they wanted to do the signs, too, confound it. So I printed these on normal printer paper (not even cardstock, which would have been smarter), and they sat in my bedroom for a few weeks.

Last night, the kids were being wild and I needed to know they weren’t hiding somewhere doing something destructive, so I pulled out the signs and my washi tape and some rubber stamps and ink. When I asked about other supplies, everyone expressed disdain for anything beyond stamps and ink. We stuck with those.


And after the initial “Oh, not like that…” I just let them do it. I wanted the washi tape to match – the prints and the room. Theeeeeeeyyyyyy did not care, and this is what they picked.


We added a painting Aiden did a few months ago and a couple of photo prints, and I was anxious.


Then Quinn wandered into the bedroom and yelled, “It’s so good! Thank you!” and Aiden agreed that it was wonderful and Brennan was all, “Thank you! Thank you! I want to reach it my picture!” They all had to tell Jonathan what everything is (using rather a lot of pleasant adjectives).

I’m glad I helped them do this.

girl trip

Annie, Brennan, and I went with my mother, grandmother, aunt, and cousin to the beach for a few days. The point was to spend time together, and to see some of Granny’s family. The weather was not awesome for a super wonderful beach trip, BUT we did get to spend time in the sun, and the gulf was lovely, and overall I rate it a great time. The photos I’m posting are in reverse order… and I’m going to leave them that way.

iphone20140329_163 iphone20140329_161iphone20140328_153(somebody didn’t want to sit in a chair, so somebody was in the floor, ALL THE WAY IN THE FLOOR, watching a fish tank and chatting with people who came up the stairs. and I just let her be that way. because. the beach.)iphone20140327_138 (not asleep. not at all asleep. not hardly. but cuddling and playing and precious.)iphone20140327_130 iphone20140327_128 iphone20140327_118 (the balcony was HUGE, and brennan loved watching the big water. just from the safety of the 9th story, though. the actual big water was a no-go.)iphone20140327_116 iphone20140327_113(we didn’t want to wake the goose enough to actually dress her when we first got in the car – it was crazy o’clock – so she ended up in a tee, sweatshirt, and leggings. and at some point she spilled something all down her leggings, so by the time we got to the beach, she was without pants. fine. at least she was duck-facing for the camera, right?!?)


turning points

I bought an out-of-print book from a third-party seller on Amazon, like, totally on one of those whims they make movies about. You know what I mean – they’re fodder for documentaries and comedies alike. I am hoping this leads to epic win documentary level, instead of comedy or epic fail documentary.

We’re making plans for some serious gardening this year. I’m making plans for some serious produce-related projects. These projects may be pushed into next year, not gonna pretend like I’m aiming for total annihilation of my stuff-to-try wish list THIS YEAR. But I do want to begin preparing – building knowledge and examining space and thinking about time necessary. And I want to plant food and flowers and make the space around our home as enjoyable as it can be.

almost alone on Valentine’s Day

As I write, it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s almost normal bedtime. I’ve been cleaning up the pile of stuff to clean up later… I decided it might as well be later. Annie is asleep on the couch (she’s got a pillow tucked next to her to keep her from rolling off!) and Jonathan is at my mother’s house with the kids.

MomMom needed a break.

It seems pretty weird now that I’m writing about it, but it’s been really nice. We’re about 6 hours in. I’ve played with Annie, fed her, snuggled with her while she slept, read some in my Bible, made notes about some projects I keep stalling on (uuuggghhh), and started working my way through the piles (multiple) of that stuff that needs a home but doesn’t really have one and just keeps being in the way no matter where it is, then isn’t easy to get to when you need it. I’ve got Pride and Prejudice (Hi Colin Firth!!) playing in the living room and a fresh iTunes playlist in the bedroom.

Dirty dishes are piled up on the counters. I hope I don’t trip over that bag of I-don’t-know-what when I need to go feed Annie in the middle of the night. I keep thinking about friends who are in the hospital (or who got to go home today, yay babyZeph!), and friends who are going through some heavy, heavy stuff, and how loving people – deliberately loving people the way they need to be loved – is so difficult but so amazingly rewarding.

I’m all over the place. It doesn’t seem quite like my house with Jonathan AND the big kids gone. I think as much time as I spend with Annie, we still haven’t really gotten to know each other yet. Well. Part of that’s because she’s expanding as fast as she’s growing. All of the kids are. Every day brings with it the possibility of so much growth, so much change. The bigs are pretty good at communicating what they want, and I’ve got a fairly solid handle on what they need that they don’t know how to ask for. Annie doesn’t know what she needs or wants, yet. Except food, a fresh diaper, a scenery adjustment… She’s so sweet.

Quinn is finally really reading. Um. No. He’s finally catching on to that thing where I’m not a total lunatic about letter sounds matching letters in books and in environmental print. It was a HUGE wall to break through, but we’ve done it. He’s done it. All I did was keep ambushing him with every tip I’ve ever heard. None of them worked. Or maybe, eventually, all of them worked.

He still says he can’t read.

But that’s because he’d rather play with his Legos.

Yesterday I let Aiden use a real knife to prep strawberries. He got tired of standing in front of the fridge with the door open biting into the strawberries… so he grabbed a table knife and eventually mashed one in half. I had no clue what he was doing – I was 10 feet away feeding Annie. Facing him. But apparently not with the program. He piped up “I DID IT!” and when I realized what he did, I decided to have a serious knife safety lesson. We especially practiced the part about not using knives without MomMom. AAANNNDDD the part about keeping your left-hand fingers out of the way. He wanted to cut something today and I told him he couldn’t, and he grabbed my chin and looked at me very seriously and said, slowly, “Yes, I can. I can be slow and steady and take it easy and don’t hurt me.” The answer was still a no. But I was glad he remembered some of the directions.

Earlier today, Brennan marched up to me, leaned against my legs, and ordered, “Wook UPT.” which I did, startled. She had to reach way up to wipe my face with a wet baby wipe (turns out she found them in the clean-it-up-later pile in my bedroom), then smirk-beamed at me, hopped down, and wandered away. I don’t know what happened to the wipe. But I wondered how many times a day I say, “Look up!” and then wipe her face. Doesn’t seem like often, from the pictures I take. ha!

I’ve been working on projects this week that I’m so excited to share, but I can’t yet. Teaser, for accountability. Since every time I mention wanting to write about something, I follow through. (Never. Almost never.)

Colin Firth just got shot down (his proposal was lousy, so it was well-deserved) and Annie said something. I don’t see her stretching, but if she made noise then it’s almost snack time. I guess I’ll go change discs and get ready to feed the pitiful creature.

I’ve set this to post Sunday because I know Jonathan will be home by then. Seems like solid internet safety.

those crazy kids

I took some “real camera” pictures of Brennan on her birthday. I didn’t like them. They didn’t say “Brennan” when I looked back through them. Today, however, the goose was stomping on the play table in a crazy outfit… the light was pretty good… we tried again.

And these I like much, much better.

I also got picures of the rest of the kids. Sorry for the photo overload, but when you have four kids, it’s hard to NOT have rather a lot.

She’s eating a Wint-o-Green Lifesaver.

And she picked out her outfit today. By telling me “Nope. Nope. [thoughtful pause] NO-EEE. Nope. *gasp* YES!” while we went through what seemed like every article of clothing she has. Which is silly. Because 2/3 of it is in the laundry. Dirty.

And, this is Annie’s sweater.

DespicableMe 2 game.

Lost tooth.

catching up

Did you know it’s February now? Yeah. Crazy, right?

My elder daughter turned 2 yesterday. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m excited, because she’s growing up and is such a remarkable young person. I’m sad, because time goes and … I intend to do things that don’t happen.

We had a good day. Balloons, glow axes (yes.), candy (!!!), strawberries, lemon pound cake, so much more. There was even some nap action. Inaction. Nap inaction.


Today has been a good day, too. I’ve been reading in my Bible. We’ve cuddled and laughed. Annie’s trying to take a nap on the couch; the boys are sitting with her. She’s getting a little jostled. But it’s fine.

It’s fine because we keep growing as a family. Annie’s four months old and we’re used to her BEING HERE, and now we’re slowly getting used to considering her as a person. A real person, with real wants and needs and opinions. As I watch her, and as I watch Brennan, my mind is blown. The past two years… wow. I keep thinking back and back and back, and comparing then with now. Aiden has been helping to calm Annie when she’s fussy. Quinn lost a tooth Saturday night!

Life is beautiful. We make good choices, we make bad choices, we deal with consequences. Life events can be exhausting, and the daily grind can be frustrating. But I have a fresh chance every day (every minute!) to turn my face to the light and do what is good and right.

AAANNNDDD NOW it’s time for wrangling. Theme: “Why do we have to do school? I don’t want to learn on purpose. This is stupid.”

Yay Monday!!

in the woods

We’ve been snotty and coughing and just generally gross for two weeks now. I say “we” – it’s hit all of us in different ways and at different times. But UGH. I’ve been really good about planning things to do that involve leaving our house, and they’ve all had to be postponed or flat-out cancelled because of this crud.

Saturday, when I realized it was 50 degrees, I made Quinn get dressed to go on a hike in the woods with me. We both felt pretty rotten, but I figured it was just warm enough that it would do us more good than harm to get some fresh air.

We got across the yard and Quinn saw Appy, and Quinn made him go with us.

Because I don’t count as a grown-up when there are woods involved.

Safety first, and all that.

But, yeah. Since Appy was with us, we went WAY back into the woods and saw Quinn’s hole and an almost-clear area that is awesome. I don’t know how long we were back there, but it was a while. Long enough that Jonathan got worried until he realized Appy was with us.




This is the fence that separates the woods from the neighbors’ land – where the cotton field is. It’s clear most of the way down the fence, so there’s a safe place to head if you lose your bearings. We’ve gone in the afternoon, so pretty much we just head toward the sun, et voilà.

iphone20140118_341-001It’s been nice to get out of the house, to feel well enough physically to push myself (there’s some ducking and twisting and climbing involved once you get past a certain point) without hurting myself.

I’ll have to post more about our woodland adventures… later… Right now the kids are too wild for me to stay on the computer any longer!


I set all of my blogs so that I can email posts. I thought that might make it easier when I want to post pictures from my phone. I can at least START a post on my phone, then tidy it up and post from gmail on the laptop.


I’ve started new blog posts almost every day for the past two weeks. But they don’t go where I want them to go, and they all say the same things I’ve said before, and I delete them.

I decided to give myself until the end of January to finalize my goals for this year. It’s almost ALL stuff that will take a few years to really establish, and I want to know that my first steps are really going to be effective. That actually, in real life, translates to “I’m avoiding thinking.” Last week it was super cold and the kids were WILD. This week Brennan is sick.

I HAVE been able to spend more time reading in my Bible, though. I’ve tried to do that instead of flailing for what I should be doing. For the past few weeks, I feel like there’s too much coming at me (things like finding lotion slathered on Brennan’s Merida doll) and too much that COULD be done (Hello: the floor is ALWAYS dirty and there is ALWAYS laundry). I’ve lost focus, I’ve lost motivation; I’m simply swimming in “What next?”

But spending time reading the Bible – without trying to study; just reading, and giving myself room to not remember everything or not have everything make sense immediately – has helped soothe the “NOTHING I PICK IS RIGHT!” feeling. I’ve noticed things I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. When verses or words jump out at me, I jot them down. I am beginning to feel better. I don’t feel so trapped in a relentless spiral of housework. There’s more to life than fighting to keep the floor clean!

I’ve posted twice this month at TendingBabylon about verses I’ve found that have challenged or encouraged me. I haven’t had the mental energy to really flesh out the ideas, but it’s been nice to share.

What’s going on with you???