Friday, July 17, 2015

7 Quick Takes-FREEDOM

1. Today (okay, technically tomorrow at midnight) marks the beginning of Will's block leave. Block leave is a glorious, beautiful thing. It means Will has sixteen days to do anything that is not even remotely Army related. Staying up too late playing XBox, enjoying a beer and a cigar late at night, not setting his alarm for 4:30am, not dealing with soldiers who thought it would be a great idea to get a DUI after leaving the bar, and NO PAPERWORK. For sixteen days. It will be awesome.

2. In other awesome-related news, the end of my pregnancy is rapidly approaching. Here I am, a day shy of 36 weeks.

Of course my back doesn't feel like it's going to break in half...why do you ask?

Not wanting to be left out, Tony demanded that Will take a picture of his belly as well. Will asked if he was pregnant like Mama.
Tony: "Yes!"
3. My back, unsurprisingly, has gone from bad to worse. Or as my midwife put it, "You'll be crowning and you'll have your neurosurgeon on the phone, scheduling the earliest available appointment." Yeah, pretty much.

4. I'll confess to having a slight obsession with The Walking Dead, although I was less than thrilled with the turn the show took this previous season. I'm also slightly obsessed with baby wraps and carriers; specifically, Tulas. At this point, I really need someone to talk me out of hiring an artist to customize a Walking Dead Tula for me. I mean..I just think that would be the coolest thing ever. I would be the envy of every babywearing parent in Colorado. 

(Just repeat over and over..."it's not in the budget, it's not in the budget, it's not in the budget..."). 

5. Speaking of zombies, I am once again reminded how poorly I would fare in the event of an apocalypse. We briefly lost power last week (and by "briefly," I mean like thirty minutes), and I grumbled incessantly about not being able to turn on any lights, get dinner started, charge my phone, etc. Talk about first world problems. I am hopelessly spoiled, and if I'm being honest, pretty hopeless in general. I have no idea how my ancestors did it. 

6. Is it bad that I have to bribe my children with doughnuts as a reward for good behavior at Mass? Our parish ever so thoughtfully provides coffee and donuts every Sunday following Mass, and naturally Tony and Alessandra want in. We've had to skip the doughnut tradition every now and then due to wretched behavior during the homily, and man that is one painful car ride home. I'd like to think I'm not the only parent who takes away the promise of sugar as a result of bad behavior...but I think we all know by now I have embarrassingly low standards. 

7. While we're on the subject of low standards, what are the odds that Will can sneak a margarita past the nursing staff at the hospital once I give birth? Purely hypothetical question. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Friday, June 12, 2015

7 Quick Takes-Thwarted By the Weatherman

1. Two posts in two days, can you even HANDLE it? I'll pretend that my semi-frequent updating is due to me getting my s*&# together, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with wicked third trimester pregnancy insomnia. I mean, what else am I going to do when I wake up at 4:30am, a mere 5 hours after I fell asleep? Okay, I suppose I could find something to watch on Netflix, but at least by blogging I feel somewhat productive.

2. Colorado weather is really throwing me for a loop. We had some gorgeous days here this past week; sunny, in the 80's, perfect pool weather....and then the rainstorms began. Pre-kids, there were few things in life I loved more than rainstorms. Storms meant spending the afternoon in a coffeeshop or Barnes and Noble, a latte in one hand and a book or my journal in the other. Now? I dread storms. Every time we hear a clap of thunder, Alessandra shrieks, "oh no!!!" and runs and buries her face in my shoulder. Okay, so that's actually very endearing. Storms bum me out now because my kids get bored FAST, and there are only so many activities around the house I can offer up that we haven't done a million times already. By mid-afternoon, everyone is crabby. 

3. Determined not to let the constant rain get to me, however, I rounded up the kids a few days ago, and purchased a kiddie pool from Target. I had my eye on a simple but sturdy-looking inflatable pool that was big and safe enough for both kids, but Tony somehow managed to talk me into the "super cool" kiddie pool with a slide, a palm tree, and a sectioned off splash area. I had a hard time saying no, especially since this bad boy was on sale for $28. 

4. I'd like to take a moment to personally thank the Target employee who assured me that this particular pool came equipped with a manual pump. Anyone want to take a wild guess as to what WASN'T included in the box?

5. I can neither confirm nor deny that there is a picture of me flipping off the un-inflated pool in our backyard, while my kids whined and cried a few feet away. 

6. Fortunately, all those Army moves over the past 10 years were good for something. We have air mattresses galore in this house (anyone want to visit us in Colorado? We have a variety of sleeping arrangements for you to choose from, and, umm, rain. Lots of it). Air mattresses have electric pumps. Electric pumps actually work pretty well for kiddie pools. Unless, of course, you were expecting to inflate the slide and palm tree as well. Then you're out of luck.

7. No matter! The husband, who has been absent these past few weeks due to field training, will be home in a matter of days. After an appropriate amount of time to recover (I'm thinking half an hour, tops), he will be available to do all those husband-y type things around the house that need doin'. I'm sure he absolutely can't wait to return home and blow up palm trees and hang curtain rods.

Happy Weekend! For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That

  Summer is here in full force, and for the most part, it's been great. Hot days that aren't unbearable, since we no longer live in the South with 100% humidity. Lots of outside time, popsicles, library trips, and the occasional run through the drive-thru for an ice cream treat. Speaking of which...

  Pretty much everyone I know has read that blog post on how to give your kids a 1970's summer. Hey, I'm all for it. My laziness is well known through these parts, so pretty much anything that requires zero effort from me gets two thumbs up. Now, I realize that this whole 1970's summer thing is more or less geared towards parents who have older children ("drop your kids off at the movie theater and let them sneak into different movies all day long! Let them play at their friend's house all day without checking in with the parents!" and so on). Well, no. I don't really feel like dealing with CPS, so I don't think I'll be dropping my 4 and 2-year old off solo at the movie theater anytime soon. As far as just bringing them to a friend's house and letting them run wild all day? Pretty sure Maureen and Rashel would permanently block my number, and hide under the tables in their respective homes if I ever pulled a stunt like that. So, losing track of my brood for the day is out. 

  But wait! "Let them eat whatever they want." Okay, this one I can handle. Sort of. I try not to be a stickler about nutrition...but despite my best efforts, I'm pretty fanatical about the food my children eat. We don't do fast food, or super processed food, sugary snacks, etc. However, I don't ever want food to become a battle in our house (I have seen that backfire many, many times), so our general rule is this: you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as it's healthy. That means I always have fresh fruit, string cheese, yogurt, baby carrots, hummus, etc in the house, and Tony and Alessandra can eat snacks whenever they please. I'm a grazer myself, so I wouldn't feel right enforcing the "you WILL eat three square meals a day and that's the name of that tune!" rule around here. But I'm getting off track. Despite my anal retentiveness regarding childhood nutrition, I tend to relax a little bit around the holidays and summer. I also like having spontaneous treat days with my kids, because let's face it, pregnant ladies like the ice cream. And if I'm REALLY getting into this whole 1970's summer kick, what's more old school than a chocolate and vanilla swirl cone from McDonald's? And more importantly, how much damage can one little cone do? 


  According to the cashier, McDonald's no longer sells swirl cones. Boo. However, they did offer a vanilla cone dipped in a chocolate shell for a mere $1.75. Hey, sounded good to me. I was picturing a small cone in a delicate chocolate shell, a slight mess in the backseat of the car that would definitely involve my kiddos getting a bath that night, and satisfaction all around. Well, the reality was somewhat different. I was handed three ginormous cones; they were steadily dripping vanilla ice cream through a chocolate shell so thick I had to wonder if the McDonald's employees had some kind of Willy Wonka chocolate river in their kitchen. With a sinking feeling, I handed the ice cream cones and a few paltry napkins off to my children, all the while begging them to not make TOO much of a mess. I had barely pulled out of the parking lot when I realized my jeans and t-shirt were covered in ice cream, I somehow managed to get chocolate all over the steering wheel, and my fingers were beginning to stick together. Did I mention I hadn't even taken a bite out of my cone yet? 

  The mess became so unbearable (and I must reiterate, the mess on ME) that I was forced to pull over into a Mariott parking lot on the way home to avoid getting into an accident. It was close to the end of the day, traffic was getting heavy, the kids were covered in ice cream and chocolate and they were begging for baby wipes, and my hands kept sticking to the steering wheel. I was fairly certain I was about to cause some kind of serious pile-up, and the law would not have been on my side ("Mrs. Tenney, do you mind telling the jury exactly what you were eating when you rear-ended a fuel tank?"). I took a flying leap out of the car, chucked my ice cream cone into the trash can by the door, and made a beeline for the package of emergency baby wipes I always keep in the car (see? I'm not a completely lame parent after all!). I opened the door to the backseat...and I actually had to step away for a second. There was chocolate EVERYWHERE. All over the kids. All over the car seats. All over the passenger seats. All over the coloring books, stuffed animals, seat belts...all I could do was curse my laziness, and wonder why in the hell I didn't just pick up a tub of ice cream at the grocery store like a normal person and have an ice cream sundae night instead. 

  I cleaned up my crabby kids to the best of my very limited abilities, making multiple trips to and from my car to the trash can. At this point, a small crowd had gathered near one of the doors, and they were alternating between open-mouthed stares at me and whispers amongst themselves. I gave them my best, "move along folks, nothing to see here!" smile, but it did nothing to help my case. Keep in mind, at this point I was just trying to make my kids and my car passably clean; I hadn't given a second thought to my own appearance. It was pretty much at that moment I realized what I looked like to the crowd of people gathered outside the hotel. A gigantically pregant woman, whose clothes were covered in ice cream and had melted chocolate smeared across her face, arms and hair? I'm not sure I've ever felt more unattractive in my entire life. 

  By the time we made it home, I immediately stuck both of the kids in the bath and scrubbed all the ice cream and chocolate off them. I put them in their jammies, stuck them in front of the TV with an episode of Octonauts, and went out to the car to face the music. To make a long story short, I ended up having to hand wash both car seat covers, scrub melted ice cream off the plastic parts, and actually removed, discarded, and re-assembled a brand new harness to Alessandra's car seat (I had an extra set upstairs in my closet). The straps were seriously that far gone. 

  After I put my kids to bed that night, I got myself cleaned up, and collapsed on the bed, dreaming of the day when I would once again be able to indulge in a giant margarita. Because I have to tell you, this whole "effortless 1970's summer" has already required far, far too much effort on my part. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

7QT: Woes of an Army Wife

1. Will is once again in the field for a few weeks; it's day three, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already reaching my limit. 95% of the time, I'm grateful for the military life. Seriously. Will has a steady job and paycheck, we have tons of great benefits like free housing, utilities, and inexpensive but excellent healthcare (we have Tricare Standard, for those who are wondering), we were able to live overseas for five years, travel around the world, and I've met some amazing people through the military who I know will be lifelong friends. So rest assured, this isn't another Army wife whining about how everything sucks all the time. But...sometimes things do suck. There are downsides to the military life; deployments, incredibly long days, your spouse is in the field or at a training school for weeks at a time with zero communication, dealing with Finance, etc. I've been having a couple of cranky days, and I thought I would lighten the mood by shamelessly using 7QT to describe our life (at the moment) in memes.


TRUTH. The day after Will left for his fourth deployment (in 2008), our internet went on strike. Not just any internet, mind you; TKS, German internet which was created by Satan himself. Customer service was useless. I ended up dragging our huge, bulky desktop all the way down the stairs, hooking it up to the modem on the floor of our living room, and it stayed that way for the whole eight months. 


Pretty sure these handbooks are the most useless things ever created. 


Yep...definitely learned this the hard way. 


Seven moves in ten years, people. While I may projectile vomit at the sight of a moving van and cardboard boxes, at least I can say we've become experts in PCS (permanent change of station) moves. 

The struggle is real.


Now, I'll give the military credit where credit is due, and admit there have been some massive improvements in housing over the past couple of years. But...not all the bases care that much about housing conditions and updates. We've seen some pretty scary places over the years. 

Happy Friday! For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Friday, May 8, 2015

7QT: Obstacles to Adulting

1. I've decided that in order to keep order in my house and in my family, I need to be a better adult. Adults don't browse Pinterest or binge watch Netflix shows until midnight. They go to bed at a reasonable hour, wake up early, and get the day off to a great start. However, as I so unfortunately discovered...there are setbacks.

2. Setback #1: my body clock. I always have wicked pregnancy insomnia, and it's become quite the problem lately, seeing as how my kids like to wake up at the crack of dawn. The night before last, I was prepared. I shut off all electronics around 8:00, made myself a cup of sleepytime tea with honey, and diffused a "sleepy blend" of essential oils in our bedroom. Rather than turning on The Walking Dead, I read the Bible and the Catechism (go to this page if you want to read both in a year), and I drifted off to sleep somewhere around 10:00 to the sounds of Gregorian chant. Perfect, right? Except I wasn't counting on pregnancy nightmares. Nightmares involving being chased by a knife-wielding Michael Myers (curse my obsession in my 20's with cheesy horror movies) that woke me out of deep slumber at 4:30am. Naturally, I couldn't get back to sleep.

3. But no matter! If I'm going to try and be A Good, Responsible Adult, I might as well be An Awesome Wife as well. I trudged downstairs, straightened up the kitchen, made a pot of coffee, and got a load of laundry going. Did a quick budget analysis for the day (how professional can I GET?), and contemplated doing a morning pregnancy yoga DVD. Contemplation was as far as I got.

4. Down come the husband and our kids somewhere around 6:30. Husband is delighted with the fresh pot of coffee to greet him (clearly, this doesn't happen too often), and children demand breakfast. My offers of scrambled eggs with cheese and wheat toast are shot down in favor of Chex. Happiness was ours for about 2 minutes, until the dog  jumped up on the kiddie table and stole Alessandra's cereal. Screams ensued. Already feeling the beginnings of a migraine, I put the dog outside, replaced Alessandra's stolen cereal, and attempted to enjoy my coffee in peace.

5. Make plans to take children to the park in the early morning. Great plan. Foul-proof plan. Kids will burn off much-needed energy, get some fresh air, and I will feel like Awesome Mom for getting my kids out of the house for an hour or two. Look outside...big storm headed our way. Drat. Convince kids that homemade smoothies and multiple renditions of The Cat in the Hat are just as good as the playground on base. Kids give me skeptical looks, but fortunately go along with it. Suckas....I mean, great, they bought it. Children lose interest after an hour of stories, and I can already feel my back beginning to spasm. This is no good, this is not right, why must my back hurt day and night?

6. Step away from Dr. Seuss. Break a cardinal parenting rule and allow the kids to watch a movie in the middle of the day while eating an oatmeal raisin cookie (at least it's homemade...grasping at straws here). Take a Norco and make myself a cup of tea. Realize with sinking feeling kids are quickly losing interest in the movie. Check clock...only 9:30 am? Are you kidding me? Briefly allow myself to indulge in dreams of being a crafty mom. I bet crafty moms have a ton of rainy day projects on hand just waiting to be completed by their kids. Berate myself for being craft impaired. Feeling slightly foolish, I offer up crayons and coloring books. Rejected. Again.

7. After many hours of children's books, an episode of Octonauts, a failed attempt to make dinner (I hadn't made my "Adulting" vow before going to the grocery store last week, and I was missing a few necessary ingredients), I gave up all hope of maturity. I threw together a French toast and bacon dinner for the kids, and a bastardized taco skillet for Will and I after rummaging around in my pantry. I played Hooplakidz nursery rhymes on my phone while Tony and Alessandra danced around the kitchen, and almost collapsed in relief (and pain, thanks degenerative disk disease) when Will walked through the door at 6:30. So, adulting may be out of the question for me. At the very least, I can take comfort knowing that by the end of the day, the house wasn't in flames, no one had any broken bones, everyone was fed, and CPS didn't show up.

It's important for adults to have high standards.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

When You're All Out of W(h)ine

  Not too long ago, I was sitting at my weekly Catholic Women of the Chapel meeting. We were reading and discussing the book Walking With Mary, and we got to chatting about the wedding feast at Cana. Specifically, when the wine ran out and Mary asked Jesus to perform to be what I consider one of the coolest miracles ever; turning water into wine. This prompted a great discussion about the strict social customs of the time, how it was considered to be the ultimate faux pas to run out of wine at a celebration, and how Jesus truly turned the water into actual wine, and not grape juice (as I've heard before). Now, obviously our musings had much to do with the miracle Jesus performed. However, what I've always found so interesting about the wedding at Cana is that it was Mary who noticed the impending disaster. She and Jesus were guests at the wedding, but Mary wanted to spare the groom's family the embarrassment of having to tell their guests that they had run out of wine. So she did the only logical thing; Mary turned to her Son, the miracle worker, and asked him to remedy the situation. As we all know, Jesus turned the water into gallons and gallons of wine, more than anyone could possibly drink, and everyone continued celebrating.

  I've called upon our Mother frequently, not as a miracle worker, but to intercede on my behalf TO the ultimate miracle worker, her Son. One of the ladies at the meeting told us that one of the greatest (and simplest) prayers she relied upon during difficult times was, "Mary, I'm out of wine!" Crazy, isn't it? Yet there's something about the honesty and, frankly, desperation of that sentence that really resonates with me. How many times have you been at your wits end, with chaos raining down on you and nowhere to turn? I've certainly been there, and as a woman, a wife, and a mother, I often turn to our Blessed Mother. Yes, she is the ultimate model of chastity, obedience, and virtue. But...she was presented with the most earth-shattering news in the history of the world as a teenage girl, and she accepted without question. She gave birth to, cared for and protected her Son, who was the savior of the world. She experienced more heartache and agony than any mother should ever have to face. Because of Mary's strength, her fortitude, and her gentleness and humbleness throughout her life, she is frequently the one I turn to in prayer and in desperation. Take the other day, for example.

  Our fridge and pantry had reached Code Red status the day before payday, but thanks to my mad budgeting skillz, I knew we could make a trip to the commissary to re-stock for the week. Our morning didn't get off to the greatest start; Tony went to bed late and woke up ridiculously early, and when I told him he wasn't allowed to watch cartoons on Will's tablet, he threw a fit and woke up Alessandra to punish me. I was not pleased. The morning continued with incessant demands for every type of breakfast food imaginable, more tantrums, and a dog who decided to throw up grass all over the dining room carpet. By the time I actually got everyone buckled in their car seats, I was exhausted and in no mood to brave the commissary. What are you going to do, though, amiright? Armed with my grocery list, budget and Tula (Alessandra has been throwing a fit when I place her in the cart), we pulled into the lot...and my heart sank. There was some huge case lot sale going on, and the parking lot was jam packed. Realizing once again I had no other options, I put Little Miss in the back carry, Tony in the cart, and I rushed through the store like I was training for a marathon. I was feeling pretty good about myself, and congratulating my kids on their exceptionally good behavior, when I noticed the line. A line that stretched all the way past the checkout counters, past the deli, past the dairy products, and all around the store to the snacks and cookies (of course). With a sinking feeling, I pushed the cart to the end of the line, and made wild promises to my children ("extra goldfish crackers at lunch! a trip to the super awesome park later this afternoon! a popsicle after nap time!"), and hoped for the best.

  "The best" didn't last long. Within minutes, Alessandra was screeching to be let out of the Tula, and when I tried to put her in the car seat, that became another battle. She wanted to run around, and with the commissary chaos and my back giving out on me, that was not going to happen. I put her back in the Tula, ignoring the stares and raised eyebrows of the other patrons at my child's demon-like shrieks. I was hissing "don't touch!" every 2.7 seconds at Tony, who was trying to reach over and grab a bag of Oreos without me notcing (a pregnant woman not noticing that a package of Oreos made its' way into her cart? Not likely). A few moments later, I realized Alessandra's cloth diaper had given out when I felt the unmistakable trickle of...urine, yes, urine down my back. At that point, I was near tears, and the line showed no signs of moving. I put my head in my hands, and slightly louder than I intended, said, "Mary, I'm out of wine!" Okay, not the most inconspicuous move on my part. A largely pregnant woman with a toddler on her back, and a preschooler in an overflowing grocery cart is bound to draw some attention. But just saying those few words, just getting out my frustration, gave me the strength to press on. And press on, I did. After standing in line for 45 minutes (seriously), we got to the checkout counter, paid for our items, made a potty stop for Tony, and made our way back home. After feeding my whiny crew with our newly acquired groceries, I removed my pee-stained shirt and took a luxurious shower while the kids played quietly in Tony's room.

  Was it a perfect end to an imperfect day? No. No one wanted to nap, Alessandra refused to sit on the potty, and Tony gave me attitude until Will finally walked in the door that night. Fortunately, due to either my extremely low standards as of late or the fact that I knew my kids were overtired and crabby, I wasn't expecting a water into wine kind of miracle. Nope. I just wanted to get by...and get by I did. I rarely, if ever, pray for things, or pray for permission. I don't think God really cares (nor should He) if I want a fancy new car, a big house, or a fat bank account. He has more important matters on His hands. I do, however, pray for strength. And grace. And forgiveness. And a slew of other things that will ultimately make me a better Catholic, a better wife, and a better mother. I frequently seek the intercession of Mary and the saints, and ask them to pray for me when life is just too much for me to handle. I'll admit, coming from a Protestant background, that asking for intercession is still somewhat of a new concept for me. It was something I initially struggled with during my conversion, and slowly grew to understand over the years. After doing more reading on the lives of the saints, I came across this quote, from Saint Maximilian Kolbe. "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did."

  To end on a light note, I shall leave you with this. Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, April 17, 2015

7 Quick Takes-Momming

1. I'm making an effort to get back into blogging on the regular. Blogging keeps me sane during the week, when Will is gone and every other minute I hear "mama mama mama mama mama!" from one of the two members of my brood. Blogging is also very helpful when it comes to ignoring things that need to be done around the house, such as laundry, mopping, scrubbing bathrooms, what have you.

2. For the first time ever, we live relatively close to a Trader Joe's. I've heard a LOT about TJ over the years, and one of the selling points was (seriously), "It's kind of a poor man's Whole Foods." Hey, fine by me. By the time payday Wednesday rolled around, our refrigerator and pantry and reached Code Red status, and I decided it was time to go grocery shopping. Since I decided to half &$% it this week in terms of meal planning, I was able to find everything I needed (yogurt! fruit! tuna fish! jam and natural peanut butter! whole wheat bread! spinach and ricotta frozen pizza! organic string cheese!) at TJ's. Bonus points for the store? Despite my children acting like asylum escapees, no one batted an eye or gave me "the look." Rather, the employees were very pleasant and helpful. Can I get a HOLLA???!!!

Yes, I know. I have a first class ticket on the next train to Hell.

3. Speaking of TJ's, our grocery bill came to...$65. I'm still in shock.

4. Will unintentionally got me hooked on The Walking Dead. I say "unintentionally" because Will stopped watching the show after season two. Honestly, zombies really bore me, and this normally wouldn't be the kind of show I would enjoy. Buuuuut the plot has kind of drawn me in, and I've found myself really looking forward to nap and bed time so I can enjoy some zombie slaying without fear that my 2-year old will accidentally view a decapitation.

5. Speaking of The Walking Dead, Alessandra re-joined the Occupy the Crib movement the other night. I have no idea what got into her, but that little stinker woke up crying every hour and a half. No amount of soothing would settle her, and by the time 6am rolled around...let's just say it wasn't pretty. I sent Will a text and told him if I was gone when he returned from the field, he shouldn't worry. My absence could easily be explained by AMC, who saw a picture of me in my sleep-deprived state and immediately wanted to cast me as a walker.

6. Almost all of the Easter candy is gone, save for a few lone jellybeans. It makes me sad.

7. I've decided that living in Colorado will be most excellent in terms of making me feel all crunchy/attachment/organic mama-ish. Driving on the highway, it's not uncommon to see "Peace, Love, Babywearing" bumper stickers on the back of a minivan. There's a Natural Parenting Expo in Denver this weekend. Breastfeeding support groups, babywearing groups, and cloth diaper exchanges can easily be found in any major city. Midwives and doulas are plentiful, and unlike other states I've lived in, nursing in public is not only tolerated, but encouraged (at any rate, that's what I've observed so far). Yep...I'm going to do just fine here.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.