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Showing posts from April, 2016

Day 119: Zombie Zoo!

Zombie zoo. Tom Petty reference? Anybody? No? Ok. 

Yesterday we hit the Red Rover Zoo and we hit it hard! Our zoo is pretty lame by most people's standards, but when you are 4, it is awesome. I like that we can make it all the way through in less than 2 hours and still have happy kids who aren't exhausted. I can't imagine taking preschoolers through the wonders of the San Diego Zoo or some such amazing place. 
Two of my sisters-in-law bought the boys a family membership for Christmas. This gift is a win in so many ways. For the cost of taking the kids about 3 times, we can get in free all year, and there are some other membership perks, too. Also, no toy or art or clothes clutter! Just a little card in my wallet! 
Their favorite exhibit by far is the ducks. We spent so.much.time feeding them and watching them. The weather was perfect so I contentedly let them stay as long as they wanted, which goes against my nature of wanting to rush them everywhere. 
The zoo also has a new f…

Day 118: Giggles

Yesterday the weather finally gifted us with signs of spring after a couple of cold, windy, dreary weeks. Even though we are eating late these days, we headed outside into the cool but refreshing mid-50 temps for a walk to the park after supper. It's rare these days that we get out as a whole family of 5 so I'm glad we took advantage of the sun to do it.

We visited the swings and the slides, caught a couple of outs at the softball game across the street, and then my spouse played tag with the boys. I forgot what joy tag can be for kids. I usually feel like I'm about to die when I play it, so it was nice to sit and watch while my (much more in-shape) spouse played. The boys were squealing with delight and joy and I just loved listening to it. I don't do it enough, so thanks for the reminder, spring. Well played.

Day 117: All the Wee Babes

Today I got to meet two (2!) new babies! Luke was born April 15 and Corbyn was born April 22 and the are both so precious I could hardly stand it. I don't know how someone can see a newborn baby and not know with certainty that there is a God and that he loves us. A whole person, wrapped up beautifully in a 6-or-8-pound frame. Truly amazing.

I so enjoyed seeing their leeeeeettle newborn movements and hearing the squeeeeeaky newborn sounds. They are both such precious little darlings. They also made my "baby" look like the monster that he is. I'm so grateful for new life and for the moms who let everyone gush over their little ones.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to zone out and listen to a podcast today while I was making and cleaning up supper; nothing too heavy, just something to entertain me while I worked. So I picked The Simple Show - Episode 26: Neighbor's Table with Sarah Harmeyer. I loved it. The concept of bringing people together face-to-face for real, …

Day 116: All The Light We Cannot See

In addition to gratitude, my other endeavor for the year is to read more. I sadly admit to being one of those people who just couldn't read actual books once she had kids. So busy! But everyone's busy and we should make time for what we love, so this year I vowed to make time, even if I could only find 10 minutes a day.

I cheated a little bit, because i didn't technically read Anthony Doerr's "All The Light We Cannot See." I listened to it on Audible. All 16 hours of it. For several years I haven't really followed new fiction, but I heard of this through a couple of my favorite bloggers/book nerds and since I trust their recommendations, I jumped aboard the bandwagon. Apparently, he won a Pulitzer for it, so I guess I just missed the memo.

This is the type of novel I've always wanted to write. I don't feel like I can give it a just book review because the writing, imagery and story were just astounding. It's a WWII story interweaving the lives…

Day 115: Ale

It was one of those days. What am I grateful for? Redd's Apple Ale. That's what.

Day 114: Boredom and Brotherhood

We had a quick overnight trip out of town yesterday. Swimming at the hotel didn't go as planned, the weather was terrible, and the parents were a bit grumpy and tired. It wasn't until after everyone was snoozing soundly on their cots and in the travel crib that I looked back on that last hour of crazy before bed. I realized that, even though my husband and I were annoyed at their antics, all three boys were able to delight in each other and entertain themselves with nary a toy or iPad in sight. They giggled and laughed and played games we didn't get, and they loved every minute of it. 
I won't say there were no screens, because we were watching a baseball game - a total gift for those of us in the baseball-loving but not the cable-having crowd. 
When I was up in the night, even though I was upset that I couldn't fall back asleep, I enjoyed listening to the sounds of everyone snoozing peacefully. I'm grateful we 5 don't all share a room nightly, but it is so p…

Day 113: My Birthday Boy!

This little cutie is 4 today! He's so sweet and loveable and we're grateful to be his parents. He loves sports and Legos and playing with his brothers. He cares deeply about his friends and is such a joy!

Day 112: Softball

I mentioned before that we are a baseball family. Lucky for us, we live half a block fr a softball complex, where we do to play. We also love across the street from a high school softball field, so we can see practice and games from our front door and driveway. Today was a beautiful day and we were able to walk across the street and enjoy the first couple of innings. I love that the boys can see how the whole game works, and they get really excited. Free outdoor entertainment!

Day 111: Memorizing a Verse

I maybe have two or three Bible verses kind of memorized. It was never something that important to me (because can't you just Google it if you need one?). I do read scripture daily, though I'm somewhat new to that as well. The other day I watched this video on Facebook by a blogger that I like. She was asking people if they wanted to join her in memorizing a different verse each week. When the verses are already in your memory, you can call on them when you need them. And boy do I need this one.

If you'd like to join along, follow Bonnie on Instagram @bonnieengstrom. Her blog is A Knotted Life, and it also has a facebook page

Day 110: Baseball

I don't think we're pushing the boys into things they wouldn't naturally be inclined to, but I suppose some families just like similar things. We like baseball. 
My dad's side of the family is definitely a baseball family. My grandpa is in the ND baseball hall of fame and his brother in the softball hall. My grandma threw the first pitch when my hometown hosted the state Babe Ruth tournament when I was a kid. We love baseball and my husband does, too. 
We're Twins fans (ok, we probably are pushing the boys in that direction!). In the NL we cheer for the Brewers. 
I'm doing today's post before yesterday's because I need to be on the computer for that one, but what I'm saying in a lot of words is that I'm so grateful the boys love baseball (at least so far)! 
We just returned from an hour at the field a half a block away. I'm not a mom who loves playing all that much but if people are behaving and the baby toddler is somewhat safe, I could pitch f…

Day 109: Like My Mom

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. I could, as many daughters would, go on and on about why I am so grateful that my mom is my mom. Today's not that day, since I'm thumbing away on my phone and hoping to get caught up here!

She's great, though, so stay tuned for more on my million reasons to be thankful for her. 
I'm thinking of her today because I was actually able to prepare a decent meal and have it all ready at the same time, something my mom makes seem effortless, as did my grandma before her. 
When I got married and started cooking (although my husband did the majority of the cooking in those early years and still does quite a bit), I was certain I would never master the art of having a meal ready at the same time without one thing being burned, another soggy and another raw. 
I still don't consider myself an expert meal preparer, but I celebrated it today. We had a tough day at our house and this little victory was exactly what I needed.

Day 108: Little Joys of Adulthood

Sometimes adulthood can be so lame. Someone I follow on Facebook once said "One of my favorite childhood memories is not paying bills." I second that! 
Adults have to spend a fair amount of time doing things that are not fun and even sometimes just awful. We spend money on lame things instead of concert tickets and road trips with friends. 
I spent some money this weekend (not much) on some lame adult things: bedroom curtains that finally make our room look like adults live there, and a new stainless steel saucepan. Super lame! However, I find that I'm deriving great pleasure from both. I smile every time I walk into our room and lay eyes upon curtains that match and can be opened! I enjoyed washing my new pan after making lunch, because it's just so pretty! It also sits flat on my burner, which is a nice feature if you want to eat during the same day or week in which you begin cooking. 
Little joys. Small, lame adult things that bring me adequate amounts of joy for tod…

Day 107: Fun Finds

One of the positive side effects of getting a house ready to sell and going through everything is finding unexpected treats!

I found a rolled up decal from Upper Case Living that had been long forgotten in a closet, and for some strange reason I had an unopened canvas in the same closet. So a couple days back I decided to take all of naptime to get it done. The decals were less sticky than they were when I got it around 50 years ago, so it took some finesse, but I got it done! 
I don't know where it will hang yet, but every time I walk by it propped up on our dresser, it makes me smile! 

Day 106: My Helpers

I don't want to jinx myself, but I may have reached the stage where the small dictators with whom I live might actually be able to pull some weight around here!

We have some company this weekend and the state of the house had reached panic levels of disaster. We made a plan at breakfast and I sketched out a to do list the the pre-reading set could decipher. 
By nap time, we had the majority of items done. The biggest boy cleaned the big boy room, the entryway, vacuumed some, and did dishes. Legit help! The middle brother helped me sort laundry and distracted the baby enough that I was able to clean the bathrooms. 
At 3:00, I felt a sense of accomplishment that I was able to get most of the house cleaned, and I did it with three small kids in tow. Then I realized that although one kid did his best to sabotage our work, the big kids really did help! I'm sure it's too soon to expect lots of help, but it's nice to know they can do things that actually contribute and that I…

Day 105: Chirps

I'm getting a little behind again. Shocker. 
I did think of something yesterday; I just didn't take the time to write it down. 
I sat in my bed after a non-heroic minute of snoozing, and I heard birds chirping outside. I've noticed them all week. They chirp and swing sweetly and cheerfully, even though the weather before Wednesday was frightful. They didn't seem to care. 

Since junior high, I thought I hated birds. As it turns out, I probably just hated having to do 4 years of bird journals in science class. We had to make perfect little books and record every bird we saw, including the time, location, birdwatching companions, genus and species. The whole thing annoyed me and I came to dislike birds. Now, though, 18ish years after completing my last bird journal, I'm grateful for the experience. I still have (and sometimes even use) my copy of Birds of North America. 
And now, since I'm a grown up (sort of), I can appreciate the birds, their vastness and variety an…

Day 104: SPRING

Yes, I'm shouting. I almost forgot yesterday's post. Maybe it was because we were outside for more than THREE HOURS. Yes. We didn't blow away, the sun actually felt warm on our skin and it was glorious. After the last few weeks of miserable weather, I'd almost forgotten what warmth feels like. Yay spring. At least until my allergies catch up with me.

Day 103: Jan's Lasagna

For my first few years as a grown up, I made frozen or "easy" lasagna. It was lasagna, I guess, but it always left me disappointed. I finally asked my mom for her recipe, because her lasagna is the best. The recipe isn't hard to follow, and lasagna's really not that hard to make, but I continued to shy away from it. For some reason I had in my head that it's a labor-intensive undertaking of mammoth proportions.

In the last few years, I've made mom's recipe more often. Although it makes a huge mess in my kitchen, it's really not as big of a project as I'd always thought. If a normal person makes it, not constantly stopping to mediate fights or doing it one-handed with a babe on the hip, it could be put together in 45 minutes or less. 
I made it for supper last night and, man, was it worth the work and mess. Even the shredded mozzarella the baby toddler dumped all over the floor: worth it. 
Lasagna is my love language, I'm pretty sure. Mine neve…

102: Starting the Day My Way

Monday Monday Monday. I almost forgot Monday's gratitude post. My three loyal readers would have been devastated.

A few months ago, our wise priest challenged us to include more silence in our days. "Oh, Father," thought a skeptical Ashley. "You are adorable. But you don't have little kids. What is silence?" But I took his advice to heart because he is wise and holy, and started incorporating more silence into my days. From mid-January through most of March, I was rising at 6 and starting my weekdays in silence, prayer, and relaxation. I also showered most days. You're welcome.  Since Advent, I'd also been incorporating 10-15 minutes of silence into the post-lunch hour when the kids were napping.

Then, two or three weeks ago, the baby toddler threw a wrench into my beautifully planned silence. He actually throws everything but this was, of course, a figurative wrench. He started rising somewhere between 5:00 and 5:45 a.m., which was extremely frust…

Day 101: Shopping Spree

One of the lovely ladies from my mother's group organized a shopping party at Clothes Mentor for last night. About a year ago, I had a most excellent experience with their personal shopping consultation, and I was excited to get back, especially since my favorite jeans now have around 5 holes.

We had the store to ourselves for two hours last night and I tried on all the pants. I hate trying on jeans. With help I was able to find a couple pairs, along with a top, tank top, and cardigan. I got it all for $65, which I feel is a pretty good deal. I also tried on a dress, backwards (because I guess I thought the tags went in the front), which accentuated my dry, Scandinavian white, flaky legs. All the NOs you can no.

I know some people aren't into used clothes, but I definitely am, especially from a respectable store like Clothes Mentor or Thred Up. I KonMari'd my clothes at the beginning of Purgefest 2016, and now my closet has mostly versatile pieces that I like and that fit…


I've been practicing gratitude for 100 straight days! Yay me! I am definitely noticing a change in my attitude and how it is easier for me to find something to be grateful for each day. I still complain a lot, so I'll keep the project up for another 100, I suppose.

Yesterday I actually spent most of the day in bed because apparently a migraine and the stomach flu met and mated and the offspring attacked me. I didn't suffer gracefully, even though I have talked about how everything is a gift. The kids played well while Ben was gone for a bit, and he took over everything without complaint, so it was easy to recognize those gifts! 
I did get to introduce the kids to my favorite childhood Disney movie, Aladdin, when I was feeling better in the afternoon. I still remembered all the songs and some of the dialogue. They didn't seem as impressed by it as I'd hoped, but there's still time!

Day 99: Sweet, sweet sleep

Oh, it's day 99! Wha!?! I'd like to tell you I have something super profound, well-written, and/or exciting on deck for big day 100. I do not. I don't get paid for this gig, so you get what you get, and you don't throw a fit.

I was up with the baby toddler from 3:30 until almost 6 this morning. He's finally sleeping well, so this is not the norm for him. He wasn't fussing, and he was tired, just not so much into sleeping. We snuggled and read a few blog posts and prayed and I tried to doze off with him on my lap. The dude did not abide.

I've mentioned it a billion times, but grace is what saved me. My husband typically leaves for work around 5;30 a.m. but today he was working in town and didn't have to leave until around 7:15. He got #3 back to sleep around 6, which allowed me to get back to sleep, too. Then, I assume, he got up, showered, fed the big kids breakfast and gave them a pep talk about being quiet and not waking us. We slept until 7:45! Unhea…

Day 98: Audible

I love reading! However, as a mom with three kids under six, I don't get a lot of time to spend with my nose in a book. I do spend lots of time with my nose to my iPhone reading blog posts, which are much shorter than books and require less of a commitment. I vowed to myself at the beginning of this year that I was going to read more, since it brings me so much joy, not to mention the relaxation factor I so desperately need.

I've also mentioned once or twice or fifty times that I love podcasts. Last fall, after listening to a few episodes of The Simple Show , I took Tsh up on her offer to try Audible for a month for free. The first audio book I downloaded was Patrick Madrid's "Envoy for Christ." Everything I've ready by him gets a thumb's up from me, so I loved it, and I also loved the platform. I could "read" a book while doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, watching the kids play in the yard. I was hooked.

It only took me a couple of months t…

97: A Good Hair Day

I had a good hair day today. I don't have a picture because of the previously mentioned aversion to selfies. You're going to have to trust me. 
I got up early with the baby toddler and barely got a shower in so that makes the decent hair even greater. My hair does weird things and if I can get one side to look normal, the other side most often does something wacky. I'd like to think I've figured out the new bangs, but I'm betting it's just dumb luck and light winds.

96: We can do the things

We were just discussing whether or not to enroll the big boys in the next session of swimming lessons, and I realized what a gift we have that we can even have that discussion. We have the money to pay for things like swimming lessons and can debate whether or not we want to. Most of the people I run with are in the same boat and we take for granted that, while we can't have everything we want, we certainly have more than we need. If I wasn't making a conscious effort to be thankful for the large and small gifts in my life, I would have completely missed this.

Day 95: Roommate!

It happens on lots of days, but on every April fourth I'm always grateful for my roommate! It would be easy to assume I mean one of the people who currently lives with me, but I actually mean my college roommate, Maren, whom I haven't lived with in 11 years!

We lived together for three years in small sorority house rooms, as well as a summer at the fraternity house across the street and a summer in an apartment after graduation. We referred to each other as roommate or RM or any number of other terms of endearment that made our friends roll their eyes. I didn't send her a birthday card (because I forgot) for the first time in.... well, probably she only got a birthday text. And this gratitude post! Happy Birthday, RM!

A lawyer by trade, RM currently stays at home with her three kids under 5, so even though we live almost 200 miles apart, we still have a lot in common. It pains me that we are not next door neighbors raising our kids to be little besties, but I kn…

Day 94: Everyday moments

Oh! I just realized I didn't post for yesterday yet. I know I didn't commit to a daily post, but I've made it this far and I don't want it all to fall apart on day 94! My left-brained self just couldn't handle knowing there was a missed day here, now that I'm kind of on a roll.

Yesterday was... average. In a good way. I had much to be grateful for, as usual. We are free to go to the church of our choosing, and we chose a great one. We all woke up healthy (enough) and the kids behaved well enough at Mass to get a donut. I shared the baby toddler's. He got at least 7% of it, I promise. We heard another solid homily from Father Bryan. So much gratitude before noon!

My mostest gratefulest feelings were reserved for my beloved yesterday. I accidentally double booked myself, and he ended up taking three kids under six to a pool party (a friend's son's birthday) at a local hotel by himself while I attended a meeting. I know, it's not a huge deal in the…

93: Small Victories

Yesterday was a day of small victories, ones I probably would have easily overlooked a year ago. Through my practice of daily gratitude, however, I was able to see the gift and give thanks for seemingly insignificant details of my day.

My spouse and I had a half-day retreat at a church in town and childcare was provided. Yay! The big win, though, was that my little troop of introverts handled childcare provided by strangers and new kids pretty well! I'm sure it helped having new toys/movies, lots of snacks, and a few kids they already knew there, but I really expected the baby toddler to make a stink and end up on my lap for at least half of the morning. We heard some great talks and I added a couple books to my ridiculously long Amazon wish list. While all the people napped, I was able to give the kitchen/dining room floor and the upstairs bathrooms an overdue cleaning. The fruits of my labor were pretty much destroyed immediately after they woke up, but the sense of accomplishmen…

Day 92: Grace in Suffering

I woke up this morning with a headache. It was the kind that coffee and Tylenol can usually handle so I didn't think much of it. 
We visited friends this morning and we moms heard nary a peep from the five one-to-five year olds. Such a play date has hardly happened! By the time we got home from their house, I basically threw some PB&Js at the kids and went to lie down. (Not lay down, right mom?)
I spent the next 3 or so hours moaning and groaning with a pounding headache and feeling nauseous. I was about to call a friend to come and watch the boys when my headache started to subside a little. 
My husband drive himself today and was home really early. Grace! My friend would have come had I called on her. Grace! The kids behaved beautifully with minimal fighting. Grace! PBS plays cartoons all day. Grace! Even the baby who lately needs to be held nonstop seemed to get that I just couldn't, and he kind of left me alone. Grace! The big boys even put away their own laundry. They mu…