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Showing posts from September, 2016

Day 272: Ice Cream in Walking Distance

Wednesday, Wednesday. What shall I say about Wednesday? Except that I was super duper crabby and we had a horrifically terrible day, mood-wise. We needed a break from the school volunteering we had been doing the past few nights, and the boys were a little crazy, so their dad took them on a neature walk, where they saw two deer and a cat, which kept them out of the playground.

I spent my free time walking a the two blocks to Polar King for some ice cream and reading my book. I needed that! My arctic swirl hit the spot and I knocked out several chapters of the book, so it was a productive hour, in my opinion.

So basically I'm grateful that our apartment is located within walking distance of ice cream. Win.

Also, there's a new Neature Walk!  Nothing will beat the original, in my humble opinion.

Day 271: More FB Excellence

I listened to this homily by Father Bryan on Tuesday. It blew my mind. I intended to write about it, but then...life, sick kids, volunteering at school, maybe online shopping.

Anyway, I listened to it again today: The Logic of Mercy. Wow. Stop reading and go listen. I've never heard this parable approached in exactly that manner, and I love it. Jesus died for each one of us as if we were the only one. Kind of mind-blowing to think about, isn't it?

I really miss getting to hear him preach every week. I'm so grateful that he podcasts his homilies because they are so good. Insightful. Convicting. I love the way he seems to approach each set of readings from a big picture standpoint, teaching us about how those little bits of the Bible fit in to the larger story of salvation, while also managing to find ways to apply them simply to our real, daily life circumstances. He really has been given a gift for preaching. The podcasts are fantastic, but if you can hear him preach in pe…

Day 270: My Big Sis!

Sunday was my sister's birthday. I still haven't sent a card, because adulting is hard. I did remember I ordered a part of her gift; it's just not here yet. So maybe I'm not a complete failure. 
I love my sister dearly. I used to wonder how two people raised by the same parents in the same household could be so different. Then I discovered the temperaments. I'm melancholic choleric and she's phlegmatic sanguine (I think).
She's spontaneous. I'm organized. She dresses cute and trendy. I wear jeans and a solid-colored t-shirt most days. She's a school counselor. I worked with spreadsheets. You get the idea. 
Despite our differences, we've mostly gotten along, save those couple of teenage years when we were both living at home. She's been generous to me with her time and advice and her kids' old stuff. I'm endlessly grateful for her and I sometimes pity women who don't have a sister. It's a special thing, sisterhood. 
I had intended…

Day 269: Fall Colors and Fingers

Today we were a little hungover from our day of fun yesterday. We finally made it out of the house by about 5:00. We went on a little hike near the river and I'm calling it the high point of our day. We were experiencing a wind advisory, so we chose a trail that was pretty sheltered. We only hiked about a half hour, but it was the burst of exercise we all needed, and out of the wind it was actually a pretty nice day.


Day 268: Pumpkin Patch!

Yesterday we loaded up ye olde minivan and headed west to Bismarck, where we realized our kids had never been. We visited Papa's Pumpkin Patch and the Dakota Zoo, and we give both a resounding thumb's up. Turns out we all love Bismarck! 
Typically outings like this involve tons of fighting and whining and crying and general misery, but yesterday went 10 time better than I expected. We managed on very short naps, PB&Js, and favorable weather. 
In almost 6 years of parenting, we've managed to successfully dodge all pumpkin patches. We are an introvert family, after all. This one was great and the kids didn't want to leave...except we also wanted to go to the zoo which was closing early. 
The zoo had different animals than we're used to, and our Red River Zoo pass allowed us free admission, so wins all around. We all enjoyed the primates most. They had several different species. I can't find our favorite on their website, but there were two adult and one baby…

Day 266: That's Marriage, Man.

Our day started when the toddler got up at 4 a.m. and joined us in our bed to scratch me and roll around. I finally got up with him, accompanied by a headache, around 5:15. I did get him back to sleep, mere minutes before #2 got up and wanted to snuggle. As the day progressed, my headache got worse. Whenever this happens, it seems to stay just barely on the edge of manageable until my spouse is in transit, at which point the throbbing and nausea kicks up a notch. 
With only a couple of whiny sentences to warn him, my spouse walked in and immediately took over all the things. It's not super unusual for him to do that on any given day, but today I quickly quarantined myself in my bed and left him to manage baths, supper and bed time all by his lonesome. He did it all and managed to check on me and get me a bit of supper, too. 
I couldn't really put thoughts together lying in bed, because my brain hurt too much, but I remember hearing all the teeth brushing nonsense and thinking,…

Day 265: Blind Boys, Book & Booze

Imagine my delight last night when I was browsing YouTube and trying to finish up this post, and my computer shut down for an epic update-fest. Windows 10 for the win!  Kidding. Anyway, when I indicate today below, I totes mean yesterday. 

My spouse sensed an impending explosion of my head after supper and graciously offered to take the boys outside to run them tired. I spent a few minutes finishing supper cleanup with my sights set on parking myself on the couch.

When we moved, we actually stuck a CD player by the CDs. Revolutionary idea, huh? We're trying to get back into our old ways of listening to lots of music. The album pictured above, Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama's There Will Be a Light was already spinning. As I do every time I hear it, I thought to myself, "Why don't I listen to this more?" It's so good. Just beautiful. 
Here's one of my faves: Mother Pray
And another, because it's that good. There Will Be A Light Does anyone cli…

Day 264: Bees Knees

Nothing notable happened yesterday, and I'm happy to report it. I'm grateful for how average the day was. We managed to get the kids in bed by 8:30 and I was happily reading in bed shortly after 9. Having this time to be detached from all the activities and having the opportunity to read before bed is the bees knees, in my humble opinion.

Day 260: Wardrobe Function

Day 260 has been in draft form for a while. Mostly because I forgot about it. I do remember being pretty pleased with my outfit that day, but I wasn't sure what to say about it, because I'm mostly anti-selfie (serious selfies anyway - I've been known to send ridiculous ones to friends as a joke).

I remember reflecting as I was getting dressed on how much more I like my closet now. I guess I mean my wardrobe, although I do like our apartment closet, too. Wink!

I think I've mentioned here how I KonMari-ed it last spring. I could probably afford to get rid of an additional 30-40 percent of what I have, but I'm happy with the way it is right now. Getting rid of a few sentimental t-shirts and sweatshirts wouldn't affect me in a positive way, so I'm hanging on to those for now. I also have a few dresses and suits that I need to convince myself I probably won't wear again, but for the most part, the main section of my closet and drawers are filled with pieces …

Day 263: 9:08 pm

It is 9:08 on and I'm lying in bed about to crack open my latest novel. Sure, the house isn't as tidy or clean as it could be, but it's good enough for me. I'm sure there's something productive I could be doing, yet I don't feel like I have to. 
I'm sure it's a combination of many things, but I can't help feel that the circumstances most at play here are:  -smaller living space  -less stuff  -fewer activities.
I do love getting involved in all.the.things but moving has been a welcome break from a few outside commitments that had run their course for me. It feels good to be "off." 
The other two go hand in hand, I suppose. Downsizing from 2500 square feet to around 1350 has its merits and demerits, but one that I see as a positive is that you just can't have as much stuff. We got rid of an embarrassingly large amount of stuff this year, and we still have plenty of excess (look in our garage!). I do feel like we're making slow but steady p…

Day 259: Morning Prayer

A few weeks ago, I bought Christian Prayer from my (formerly) local Catholic bookstore. With texted advice from friends, the iBreviary app, and some random blog posts, I jumped into it. My husband and I had been throwing around the idea of doing the church's morning prayer together before he leaves for work. Which is usually while I'm still sleeping. I know, bold.

I thought it would be good for me to "learn" it before we started praying it together, because it involves flipping to different parts of the book, and learning a format that is unfamiliar to both of us. I've been trying to do it during weekdays the last couple of weeks and we just started trying it together.

The one reflection I can share on it so far is that it has been an exercise in unconditional love. Or at least in understanding that I am unconditionally loved by the Father.

I sometimes imagine Him watching me with my lap full of resources, double checking the app on my phone to make sure I used …

Day 262: The Hills Are Alive

After 15+ years in the Red River Valley, it's kind of fun to live in a place with hills. I may not be saying that the first day I have to drive to school in freezing rain, but today's weather was beautiful so #3 and I took a long stroll around and through the University of Jamestown campus. It's quite beautiful and serene and we had a lovely time. My Fitbit seemed pleased that I finally got off the couch. 
Also notable: 
My spouse made German Apple pancakes for breakfast. 
I wore a rarely-worn but super cute skirt and one of my favorite necklaces to church and was pretty please with the ensemble I put together. 
I finished Theodore Rex and enjoyed not almost as much as its prequel. Only one left in the trilogy. I feel like it might make me sad so I might insert something else in between. 
I napped. With football on in the background. A winning combination. 
All of this is, of course, gratitude in spite of my kids' best attempts to turn me into an angry monster. The W H I N I…

Day 261: Everything

Everything today was great. Today nailed it. I felt blessed all day. I won't go into the details because I'm tired and rocking a non-tired toddler while watching football with my barely open eyes. It was a day I needed, with good food, good conversation, good friends and all the goodness.

Day 257: Our Teachers

We are at a new school this year, and we have a fresh kindergartner and a preschooler. We know almost no one in town, which is not ideal for a family of introverts. Needless to say, we've had a few struggles in the "enthusiasm for school" category. I mentioned it to one of the boys' teachers and she was so consoling to me, and later to the sad and scared little boy.

I know that it takes a certain type of person to be a teacher. A good teacher, anyway. But there's an even smaller niche of people who want to be Catholic school teachers. They get paid so little to do so much work, often with minimal resources. The few that we have encountered personally have showered our family with so much grace. It's definitely not something manufactured. I am so grateful to feel secure dropping our kids off at their school and with their particular teachers this year.

Day 255: Sunday

MassDonutsChatting with one of our new priestsCleaning out the leftovers in the fridge for lunchQuiet time and dozing while dad took the big boys apple pickingPizza in the park for supper Sometimes average days where nothing too notable happens provide the most moments for gratitude.

Day 256: Missionary of Mercy

I'll tell you what was great about my Monday. My spouse, despite a long day at work, and three rowdy kids to be bathed and bedded, permitted me to take off and see Msgr. Thomas Richter speak at our new parish. I wasn't sure if I should go, but I'm so glad I did. His speech, How to Receive God's Mercy in Your Heart in Faith, turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear.

The only paper I had was one sticky note in my purse, because I come prepared to highly recommended speakers. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind me trying to relay his message to a dozen people on the Interwebs.

He defined mercy as "intense activity from the heart of God to heal us from what keeps us from being faithful and close to Him." Wow. I'd never thought of mercy in that manner.

He mentioned five steps to receiving God's mercy. We need to believe in God's merciful movement toward each of us, and believe that He wants us to experience his mercy in heartfelt and concrete…

Day 258: Autumn Blessings

It appears I've fallen a leeeeeetle behind, because things and stuff.



Today was filled with blessings. Namely:

My in-laws came a day early for our school's grandparents day celebration so they could babysit and I could take a day off! I downloaded Four Seasons in Rome on Audible yesterday and I'm really enjoying it. I had three hours in the car by my lonesome, during which I almost finished the above book.I made it to Fargo just in time to see all my favorite mom friends at our mothers group's first meeting of the year. I will miss them more than I can explain, and it felt so good  to see them today. The group is thriving and I wish so much that all moms could have a support system like that. My Pictionary team at said meeting won and I got the cute little door decoration pictured above. It spruced up the little entry outside our apartment door nicely. Lunch with a dear friend. I can't explain how important that was to my general well-being. Also, I heart Potbelly. …

Day 254: In Which The People Behave

I'm pretty sure there was a point yesterday when I had a semi-profound thought involving gratitude that I intended to write about. I do desire to try to knock out something decent and worth reading. Unfortunately, the moment passed and here we are.

My Friday mood carried over to Saturday. My spouse mercifully noticed I needed some alone time, so I sat at a coffee shop reading and writing in the morning. The supper conflicts of the previous day picked up where they'd left off, and I found myself pretty nervous about how the evening would progress since we needed to give three buzz cuts and three baths. In a moment of calm, I talked to the boys about how we are a family and we're a team and how mom and dad aren't out to get them. I talked about how we want to be happy, to love and serve God and each other.

One big kid seemed to get it, the other mostly rolled eyes and changed the subject. I'm pretty sure the toddler yelled "chicken." At least I tried, right…

Day 253: Barely Anything

On Friday, we had a terrible day. Moods plummeted, things happened or did not happen. After supper the boys begged to go to a park, and there's a little playground a block from our apartment, tucked in behind the local hockey rink. My Fitbit numbers all week had been dismal, averaging in the 6000s, so despite my terrible mood, I tagged along. The big boys are still enamored by merry-go-rounds and the little one loves swinging. My husband mused, "The Jamestown parks department must have been flush with money in the late seventies and eighties." I'm still digging the old metal playthings. Mosquitoes excepted, the evening was beautiful. I'm delighting in the fall temps, and the few moments I stood pushing the baby toddler on the swing were the high point of my day.

Day 252: White Bread

I thought about taking a pic of my dinner plate but because every self-respecting blogger knows you need to include a picture with every post. But then I remembered that I have rarely seen an amateur food photo online and thought anything besides, "Huh. I bet that was yummy but it looks disgusting." So I didn't. For the record we had dry-ish crock pot country style ribs and corn.

Also on my plate was a nice slice of white bread with butter. Yum! Growing up, my dad had bread and butter with almost every meal. We blew through loaves of bread at breakneck speeds. I try for high fiber bread if I can, and I mix up what I buy so that the kids are exposed to more than just plain white bread, but it is comforting to go back to good ol' white bread sometimes. Bread and butter is so simple, so yummy, and comforting because it reminds me of growing up and of my dad. 
I also can't stop humming this little tune when I think about (and eat) white bread.


What is a comfort food …

Day 251: Water!

You know what they say: you don't know what you've got till its gone. Well, I experienced that feeling today. Our water was shut off most of the day and I totally didn't realize how often I wash my hands and rinse dishes during the day. I'm glad I had the wherewithal to fill a water jug and get the dishwasher run last night. I was still amazed at how often I flipped on the faucet only to have nothing appear. 
I'm grateful that it was some routine maintenance and not an emergency. It's back on and my husband cleaned the kitchen! Whoop!
Happy feast of the nativity of Mary! We had angel food cake with strawberries and yelled at each other to celebrate!

Day 250: Autumn Temps

I've not much time to write at the moment, but wanted to gratefully admit that I'm loving this week's autumnal temperatures. It was dig a relief to play at the park after school in jeans and short sleeves and not sweat profusely! It won't be long until I'm b***hing about cold weather, so I'll enjoy the sweet spot while it lasts! Next time we go to the park, though, someone remind me to grab mosquito spray!

Day 249: The Benefits of a Small Space

Y'all.

Am I allowed to say that as a North Dakotan? Whatever.

I forgot to mention in my apartment post yesterday how nice it is to only have half of the square footage and one less bathroom to keep clean. It's really starting to convince me that we don't need the big houses I'd been looking at and dreaming about. All we end up doing is filling it up with crap and spending every free minute trying to keep it clean and organized.

The layout of this apartment works well for us, but I do recognize the benefits of a family room in addition to the main living room. I do dream of enjoying a gin and tonic in the peace and quiet while the kids make giant messes, tackle each other and scratch up the walls in a different room.

As I mentioned, we have a garage packed full of stuff. We could probably afford to get rid of about a third of it, and if we had well designed space, both living and storage, we wouldn't need nearly as much square footage as we had at our old box house.…

Day 248: Home Photo Dump!

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen the prettiest spots of our new home. It's a three-bedroom apartment on the third floor, and was recently remodeled with all new flooring, cabinet fronts and appliances. It's actually a great apartment and living here is going better than I'd expected.

I love the layout of the place. Our furniture fits well, and if we had the gumption to get through all of our yet unsorted American excess, it would be quite comfortable. Our garage is packed like a game of Tetris of all the stuff we don't "need" but we've got plenty of stuff yet to find a home inside. But the master suite is better than what we had at our last house, the bathrooms are both large, and we have a laundry room. I dare say many apartment dwellers can't boast of those things. I do hope it's temporary, but we're making the best of it while we're here.

So without further ado:







Day 247: Present Over Perfect

I haven't really taken the time to organize my thoughts on this yet, but I listened to episode 38 of the Simple Show podcast yesterday, and immediately grabbed the book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist from my Audible wish list. The podcast episode and the book (I'm almost halfway through) are really speaking to me. I've known since the beginning of the year that 2016 would be one of transition for us, and hoped that it would be one of discovery and of learning about ourselves and of trying to follow God's will in our lives.

While I have found a few things the author has said to be a little contradictory, and while her theology differs some from what I have found to be true, I do like the basis of the book and I relate easily to what she is saying. Her story seems so similar to many women I've encountered, and since she reads the Audible version, it almost feels like she's a friend over for coffee, chatting about real life.

She had found herself living a…

Day 246: Charming Charlie

My one-year-old-who-thinks-he-is-three woke up sick today. His fever meant cancelled plans and big brothers that were SO BORED. It was pretty obvious the little bugger didn't feel good but for most of the day he was still cheerful. So pretty much the opposite of me when I'm sick. He wanted to snuggle most of the day, and I spoiled him with juice and "caw-toons" and he obliged with charming smiles and funny comments. For a sick day, it wasn't too bad!

Day 245: Parks and Rec

One of the many reasons I was sad to leave Fargo was that we were surrounded by parks. We had three in walking distance from our house, and many other ones we loved to visit. I worried our new town would leave us feeling slighted in the Outdoor Recreation for Kids category. 
Turns out J-town has some great parks. We've visited a new one almost every day after school and have found something to like about each of them. While we do miss the baseball fields across the street, we've been pleased to find large grassy areas where we can play baseball, plus some pretty sweet play playgrounds. 
Most of the playgrounds here have a mix of colorful new plastic equipment and sweet rusty old metal stuff. Some moms would shudder at that (and I probably will the first time one of them causes us an ER visit), but we all know the old stuff is way more fun, right? 
Metal slides, so long as they don't burn you, are way faster. Weird monkey bar cages can keep little boys busy for a long time. An…

Day 244: Imagination

Sometimes when I park in a lawn chair and read my kindle while the kids play, I start to feel a little bad for not being "engaged" and "present." Then I realize that in the course of half a chapter of Theodore Rex they have mediated several of their own conflicts and created no less than three uniquely strange games only they could understand. I'm calling it a win for the posterity of imagination. Boom.