from a B to an F

Today is Chris' birthday. I texted his mom thank you for becoming a mom and giving birth to my husband 31 years ago today. I'm not the greatest at birthdays; thankfully, Chris is perfectly content with a feast of Mexican food. Carne asada, fresh crunchy taco shells, guacamole, queso (okay, that part is more Tex-Mex) and sopapillas coming right up. 

This morning started pretty easy-peasily. I remembered to tape up the sign from Ryan that read, 
"HAPPY
BIRTH
DAYDAD
AND
ILOVEYOU"
on the bathroom mirror before Chris woke up. We read three different Dr. Seuss stories, and I mentally made a list for our grocery shopping extravaganza coming up. I had a few shop things I didn't complete yesterday during my work time that had to get done before we ran our errands so I thought I'd be a fun mom and let the kids watch a movie ... a saint movie in Spanish. A few minutes later, Ryan had bite marks on his cheek so you can tell how that holiness education via screen time is going. 

After two saint movies and one shared and dumped bag of Frosted Shredded Mini Wheats, my tasks were checked off, and I changed Elise's less-than-pleasant diaper. I was thankful she had taken care of business before we were out and about. Once the kids were buckled in, I decided that although my sweater was decently warm and the sleeves were plenty long, it was pretty chilly so I went back in for my wool pea coat. We left for the Mexican market on the west side which is the opposite direction of Ryan's preschool. My ever-the-optimist self calculated that we could make it there and to the regular grocery store to pick up the rest of the feast necessities and a nutritious lunch for Ryan before dropping him off for class, his preferred moniker for preschool. 

Of course, once an ample amount of time was taken embarrassing myself while ordering meat I don't even know that I wanted from the butcher in English and meandering through the store looking for Chris' favorite salsa, I found myself in the McDonald's drive-thru, placed my wallet in the cup holder, and thought, "I should put that back in my purse so I don't forget it." 

I took some time to post to Instagram confessing to have dropped bite-mark-decorated Ryan off at preschool late while he was eating a chicken nugget. We stopped at home so Conor could use the bathroom and then we were off for the last bits of birthday treats. 

Taking only two kids to the store seemed downright luxurious so I buckled Elise into one of those terrible, terrible car carts. While we were passing through the produce section, I noticed a well-dressed and cute undergrad couple chatting about what they needed. "They must be shopping for a date! Chris and I used to come here before I would cook and leave a complete mess at his place," I reminisced while maneuvering the beastly cart around them. 

We quickly gathered all that we needed, and Elise was yammering to herself peacefully while giggling and turning the wheel. "Wow, this is the best age for the car cart! She's perfectly content with its novelty, and this thing is so long, I don't even know if she realizes I'm here to shriek for stuff," I smugly told myself as I added heavy whipping cream to the cart. What a milestone. Then Conor s-l-o-w-l-y helped the cashier put every single item on the counter. 

I went to pay for the groceries and quickly realized that my forsaken wallet was still in the cup holder of our car. My mom would kill me! I awkwardly chuckled and told the cashier I would just have to run to the car, and I would be right back. As I herded Conor out the sliding door and pushed Elise and the cart, I ran through the day in my head, "Late to school, chicken nuggets, bite marks, forgotten wallet ... this day!" I might have spiced it up with a few silent expletives. My plan was to park the car cart, take Elise out, walk with Conor and Elise to our closely-parked car, grab the wallet, buckle Elise in a cart from the corral next to our car, have Conor ride like a fireman on the side and go back in to pay for the groceries. That cute undergrad couple was waiting in the lobby area with their bags. I slightly smiled at them putting on a front that I was having the best day ever hoping to not discourage them from the circus of family life. 

When I parked the car cart and reached in to unbuckle Elise, I quickly realized she had not completely taken care of business before we left the house. I hoisted her up onto my hip and my arm covered with extra-long sleeves slipped under her coat and the coat scrunched up against my arm. "Hold onto to my purse when we walk through the parking lot," I automatically reminded Conor, and I looked up to see the girl from the picture perfect couple staring at me with disgust. 

The kids weren't even behaving badly; their grade for the trip would probably be a B. South Bend is a pretty family friendly place. "I don't think I've ever been looked at like this just because I had kids," I searched my memory while feeling self-conscious. I looked back, and the expression painted on her face told no other story than complete and open disgust. 

"Well, whatever!" I silently and haughtily protested right before I realized that my sleeve was growing damp. 

"****," I peered down at Elise's exposed back, coat, shirt, leggings, my shirt, and my dry clean only coat and saw the definitively disgusting scene that sh*t on any potential family dreams that couple may have had. 

All I could do was laugh! I could almost hear the chickens from my childhood that had relieved themselves on me during my 4H days clucking with laughter, "We never did anything that bad!"

A million disinfectant wipes later and a million showers with three different soaps later, I realize that I'm going to need something a lot stronger than these 2 for $1 coconut waters I splurged on. 

Clink, clink - I definitely deserve a glass of wine after that one . . .

Cheers!

Confessions

I've been in such a weird spot lately. The majority of the time I feel like I'm failing at all things parenting (and multiple people have shared their observations of the - we will charitably say rebellious - behavior of our kids when I'm the only parent with them so there is some truth to it!), but then there are unprompted times like this:

that make me think, "Okay, maybe I'm only failing half the time rather than the majority." 

;)

We aren't sure where we will be come June so I'm at this limbo point - do I buy another organizer for my shop? Or do I just put the overflow in cardboard boxes because do I want to buy something only for two months? Basically, I'm not even a planner, but at the same time, it's frustrating to not be able to plan. Riddle me that! 

Anyway, I promised myself I would blog today - so tonight I'm feeling like laughing with/at myself with some confessions. You are cordially invited to laugh along with me!

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My blog was down for a month or two last fall because I hadn't updated my payment information, and it just expired. Ask me about my library fines sometime.

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We have had the same number of vacuums and kids in our marriage of almost six years. I take the blame for most of the problems, but I will point out that the second one had a fork sticking through the side of the hose. That wasn't me. Anyway, our third vacuum was so abused that we finally took it to get serviced. When Chris picked it up from the store, the repairman gently asked, "I don't mean this to be offensive, but ... does your wife have really, really long hair?"

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During the Christmas rush, Chris ran out solo to run some errands for me while I stayed at home with the kids, and he stopped into a shop that I visit often, normally with everyone in tow. When one of the employees asked Chris what the name the order would be under, he answered, "Katrina like the hurricane," and the other employee deadpanned, "Your kids are a hurricane." 

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My temperament is phlegmatic melancholic.  My melancholic side really only comes out when I am making art. My dominant phlegmatic side means that I have this gift of being able to ignore things that are not just so.  I hung these frames in a gallery wall above our bed, and that was quite a feat ... last February. One year + one month later, they haven't been filled completely other than brown chipboard covering some artwork that was oriented incorrectly. 

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Being phlegmatic also means that it's natural for me to drag my feet to start something, but once I start, I don't want to stop until it is finished probably because I know it's a big endeavor for me to restart. 

Last summer, I bought some wooden shelves and brackets at a friend's yard sale. I had visions of perfectly styled white shelves with copper brackets on our patchy walls. The project was finally spurred into action a couple days before some of Chris' extended family with impeccable taste visited. For some reason, the fact that spray painting shelves wasn't the most efficient and smooth way to paint them never crossed my mind, and I was out in the early mornings and at night adding another coat for a couple of days, ignoring the recommended drying period. Somehow, I completed all the spray painting before anyone arrived. 

But I never hung them. 

They sat on our floor and against the wall for four months. 

And then I donated them rather than go through the marital stress of hanging perfectly level shelves that would only adorn our walls for a few months anyway. 

This is me. 

Named by Anne

I actually wrote this awhile ago and forgot about it, but I saw today is the feast day of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity so I thought it would be the perfect day for this post. 

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We've been pondering baby names for what is probably longer than is sane to admit so I'll leave that number up to you to guess. Anyway, Elise Anne was our girl name for Ryan's pregnancy and for Conor's pregnancy. But by the time we reached Baby #3, I wasn't sure that I loved the name Elise as much as I loved our boy name so I started to waiver and totally fell in love with the name Felicity. Chris was still for sticking to our plan and having a little Elise so girl naming rights became marital banter. "Okay, I'll bake oatmeal cookies, but only if we can name her Felicity ..." or "I'll get Chick-fil-a for you and Elise ..." Chris quite unfairly, but thankfully also teasingly, had us play shuffleboard for naming rights on our anniversary. 

The one given about our potential girl name was Anne as a middle name after Chris' grandma who also happens to be his godmother. When we were out in California watching Chris' siblings, I was chatting with Grandma about the baby. She had been really ill, and we all knew she was getting worse. I let her know that Chris and I were currently battling it out over girl names: Elise Anne or Felicity Anne. Grandma was always one to smile and assure you softly, "Oh, both are just beautiful," in the most sincere way. But that isn't what Grandma said! She told me with the same loving smile she always had, "I like Elise." 

The story qualified as another hint that Grandma knew her time was drawing near, and I told everyone else at the house about it. Everyone agreed how out of character it was. Chris had already flown home to Indiana, and a few days later the boys and I and our question mark joined him. 

The jesting continued. Elise or Lici. During the Easter Vigil, I elbowed Chris with a ha! wink when the name Felicity rang out during the Eucharistic Prayer. 

A few days later, I was late as always picking Chris up from school. He got into the car, and I typically started to talk a mile a minute as I slowly turned the car around. My speedtalking came to a halt when I heard, "Grandma died." 

What do you say when one of the women who made your husband who he is passes away? 

Grandma helped me answer that question. A long hug at first and then, 

"We know our baby girl name now."

Chris was understandably confused so I told him the story about Grandma's decisiveness. He was so touched that our baby (if the baby were a girl!) had a name chosen by the saintly woman that was both his grandmother and godmother. It was a comfort in the midst of a lot of sorrow. 

And so that is how we have our Elise Anne. 

If you'd like more background on her name: we call her Elise, Elise Anne, Elise Annie, and have decided instead of Lisey (with two long e's) to nickname her Lici (short i then long e like in Felicity). She has the most saintly name out of all of our children. I wrote about choosing Ryan here, and then Kate at Sancta Nomina kindly did a spotlight on his name here. I still need to write one about Conor's name ... but (spoiler) it's pretty similar to Ryan's story. Compared to her brothers' names, Elise's name comes with so many intercessors! St. Elizabeth, cousin of the Blessed Mother and mother of St. John the Baptist, a true example of faith and awe of God. St. Anne, mother of the the Blessed Mother, patron saint of mothers among many other patronages. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a wife, mother, caring sister-in-law, widow, convert and founder of a religious community. Actually last year, the first time Elise participated in the saint of the year tradition, she grabbed a piece of paper out of the bowl and who was the saint? St. Elizabeth Ann Seton for Elise Anne. Wow! Now that we call her Lici, too, I feel like we can tack on St. Felicity as a patroness, as well. This girl is set. 

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Saturday, I mean Sunday Takes

Late to the party, as always. I started writing these on Saturday, and now it is somehow Sunday. 

1. Ryan is going to preschool two times a week in the afternoons this semester as opposed to last semester's three mornings a week. He finally started this week (on St. John Bosco's feast day! Patron saint of school children!) after a few delays (some inevitable like sickness and some embarrassingly silly ... what parent can't drag herself to Target for a few crayons and a crib-sized pillow in a timely manner?). I don't know if it is because we have been together for most of December and all of January or if I just let the bickering and yelling overshadow the good, but the first afternoon he was gone, I'll admit to being shamefully baffled when Conor came to me with a book asking me to read it. It hadn't occurred to me exactly how much Ryan and Conor play together and thus, babysit each other, until Ryan was gone. This is what we looked like without Ryan on the second day of preschool this week:

Post-nap solace, despair and utter confusion as to what to do upon realizing Ryan wasn't here. He is even attending one day less than last semester, and we are at a loss. A certain little brother later confided to Chris, "I miss my brother. He is fun. Is he at school?" 

IMG_20170202_164729.jpg

^^^ I was informed the bear had a dirty diaper. Conor definitely gets his liberal use of baby wipes from his father. 

Watching the dynamic at home shift while Ryan is away doing crafts remains to be sweet and fascinating. We (Ryan and the rest of the family) are not ready for him to be away all day, five days a week at all, but there have been so many benefits from preschool so far for everyone. Except I'm not supposed to call it preschool, according to Ryan. He goes to class. A grad student's son!

2. I'm aware how pitiful it is to think it is such a novel thing to read a book just to my second child. Step up your game, Katrina! The library received many hold requests from my account on Friday. You all were so wonderful with your recommendations on books with loyal sibling relationships. Check out the comments here if you missed it. Do you have any recommendations for books that display good manners? We need some literary reinforcement! I should add that I'm not a fan of manners books that show the bad behavior/negative language. We have enough enthusiastic exclamations of "buttcrack," to fill our ears already. 

3. Ryan requested that this prayer card be taped onto his locker. I'm not sure where he got the idea of pictures other than the normal child photo so they can see which one is theirs on a locker, but I most definitely obliged. 

4. This can be number four and five. I honestly told Chris that the one thing I wanted for Christmas was a reading light. Falling asleep on my own has always been difficult for me so growing up I would read, and for the past few years I horribly fall asleep looking at my phone. That habit needs to go so I thought if I had a reading light, all my sleeping problems and wasting time problems would be solved! And they immensely have been, I'm happy to report. I love being able read at night without bothering Chris with a bright lamp, and it is so enriching to not spend the last minutes of my day on social media.  The above photo is from a night Conor had woken up vomiting, and he asked me to sleep with him, but without touching him on his makeshift floor bed of towels in our room. His sweet request and the reading light made it a pretty decent night!

5. And in that photo is one of my latest reads. Chris came home from his retreat with Silence by Shasaku Endo and while he had been away the internet blew up with commentary about the new movie based off of the novel.  Chris had mentioned the idea that we go see the new Martin Scorsese film while we were in San Diego, and I shot it down because I'm a lame homebody who has to hear about new things from friends and the internet rather than my husband before I'm enthusiastic about doing something. How annoying! Anyway, I didn't realize that it is only showing in select cities, and the closest one to us now is Chicago! The upside is that we have both now read the book before we see the movie which is the best order of events, in my opinion.                                                                                                          

6. Here's a look at what is new to the shop, and what I've been working on. This welcome the stranger piece is a draft for a new group of works. I know our society is largely starving for works of mercy, and I feel like I personally need to work on the corporal works of mercy so painting them has been a moving experience of challenge. 

7. Next weekend is  the Edith Stein Project at Notre Dame! This is my favorite conference, and I always leave refreshed and extra alive. Here is the conference schedule. I'm sad my favorite lecturer and girl crush will not be there this year, but this awesome and inspiring lady will!  I will have a table for Hatch Prints selling paper goods and mugs so if you are local, come see me in the lobby of McKenna Hall on campus.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

Thursday Takes

1) ^^^ This girl hid our cordless mouse that goes to our computer, and it was missing the whole day until I found it with the diapers. Obviously she was sending me a message to actually carry out my new "do not touch the computer when you are in charge of the kids" rule. Anyway! Better get these quick takes up before she stuffs it away again.

2) I don't mean to brag, but Chris has perfected a subtle smokey eye ... from a boxing spar. I'm sure when he enters the boxing ring, his intention is not to leave looking like he is better at applying eye shadow than I (which is really not a huge feat), but that is exactly what happened the night before we left San Diego. Check it out:

3) That photo is from our flight back to the Midwest. I will be so sad when we stop being pampered by the combination of the academic calendar and cheap flights. This year we spent two whole months with my in-laws. It breaks my heart that the kids and Chris' siblings don't get to grow up along side each other as neighbors so those two months were cherished, toddler fights and sickness and all (we were the worst house guests ever and brought a stomach bug that hit everyone like dominoes). 

^^^ the four little boys on Christmas morning

4) I've also noticed the kids relate best to books so I'm looking for recommendations for chapter books and picture books with strong, loyal sibling relationships. It always pains me to think about brother combinations such as Mufasa and Scar or Cain and Abel (am I really referencing Disney and the Bible in the same sentence?) as examples for them. I think we are about to start The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with Ryan. 

5) To go along with my new no computer rule, I really want the kids to see me reading independently more. The first few years of motherhood were very pathetic in terms of reading, only kept afloat by the occasional book club meeting. Rather than lament over those years of lost literary opportunity, I'm resolved to put more books on hold at the library so all I have to do is pick them up rather than take three loud children through the quiet areas of the library. 

6) Elise is pretty much weaned from using me as a lovey during the day after a winter break of me wearing turtlenecks or buttoning my shirt to the tippy top. It's a fashion statement. A fashion statement for sanity! 

7) In shop news, I changed things up and released a blue mug, and I love it. They are currently sold out (God is good!), but I can't wait to get my hands on more.