Tuesday, July 22, 2014

C is for Crunchy, That's Good Enough For Me

  So, once again, I'm on a crunchy kick. When the forecast for your area is nonstop rain for the entire week, and you have two small children, what do you do? You improvise. 3-4 days in the mornings, it's the gym. It's a good (and healthy!) break for me, plus the kids get to play at the gym daycare with the other children for an hour. I win, they win, America wins. Another day, it's the indoor kiddie pool. Tomorrow, it's the amazing-seriously-Infantry Museum, which is a mere 3 miles from our home with a $5 suggested donation. The kids and I are both fascinated by it, and we can easily spend an hour and a half there. Yesterday, though, desperation set in. I was unprepared for the onslaught of dreary weather, and by 8am the natives were already restless. As I sat on our couch, mentally planning our week, it occurred to me that our Sam's Club membership was about to expire. Here's the thing...as convenient as it may be shopping in bulk, I'm not really a big fan of Sam's Club. They don't have the greatest variety, they stock a bunch of things I never buy (frozen corn dogs, sugary cereal, ramen noodles, stuff like that). I've been hearing a lot of great things about Costco from my friends who are fortunate enough to have one nearby, and to my delight I discovered that there are not one but TWO Costcos in Colorado Springs. Unfortunately...we won't be moving to Colorado until February at the earliest. However, after doing a bit of searching, I found a Costco 70 miles away, in Montgomery, AL. I considered for a brief moment the ramifications of packing two little ones in the car for a long drive on a rainy day, then immediately thought, "eh, what the heck." I gave Tony and Alessandra their breakfast, made sure Tony had a potty break, packed extra diapers and a spare outfit for each of them in my diaper bag, fed the dog and let him out, and we were off. I'm pleased to report that Tony had zero accidents, and Alessandra only screamed for part of the drive.

  We arrived at Costco, I filled out the membership form and paid the $55 fee, and we began our shopping adventure. Let me tell you...I was impressed. Tons of organic products, brands that I love, good looking meat and produce (which I did not buy, as I forgot to bring my cooler), and fairly reasonable prices. $40 later, we had the hand soap our household so desperately needed, Nutella which Will so desperately wanted, a ginormous bottle of vinegar, and this. Feast your eyes upon this glorious purchase.
Am I the only one who squeals in delight upon reading "100% organic extra virgin?"
  I have become a massive coconut oil convert/promoter over the past year. Seriously, you can use coconut oil for anything. Cooking, hair conditioner, shaving cream, lotion, diaper rash ointment (add 1 drop of lavender essential oil for particularly nasty rashes; as an added benefit, coconut oil won't destroy your cloth diapers), and a million other uses. I've been going through the 14-oz bottles faster than the speed of light, so I was thrilled to discover that Costco keeps this bad boy in stock. A few weeks ago, I made this mummy tummy belly concoction with a combination of extra virgin olive oil, organic extra virgin coconut oil, vitamin E oil, beeswax, rosewater, and geranium, grapefruit, lavender and frankincense Young Living essential oils. I've been applying it to my belly and hips every day, and I'm already noticing a difference after just one week of applications. (Check out my Young Living Pinterest board for more coconut oil recipes). So I figured, "why stop there?" If there's one thing I've been hearing overandoverandover again for the last year...it's oil pulling. To be honest, I was getting a little sick of hearing about it.
Here is a good blog post describing oil pulling, for those of you who haven't heard of it. I kind of had the "eh, what's the harm in trying?" mentality when it came to OP, because I'm certainly not opposed to whiter teeth and good oral hygiene. I started last week, upon the urging of a friend, and I have to say...so far I'm impressed. I feel good, my teeth look shiny and whiter (which is a huge benefit if you're an avid coffee drinker like myself), and I've also noticed the absence of migraines, which were plaguing me over the past month. Coincidence? Perhaps, but as I said, ain't no harm in a little coconut oil.

  The kids? They did great yesterday, in part because they were promised a "fancy lunch and playtime" at Chik-Fil-A if they behaved at Costco.
Enjoying his chocolate "shake 'n milk"
Happy (and exhausted) little camper

Friday, July 18, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Great Googly Moogly

1. For those of you who don't remember those awesome 90's Snickers commercials, here you go. (This particular one is pretty much an indication of how my morning is going).

2. I have insomnia. It's as unpleasant as one would expect, and I had a particularly awful case of it last night. Ultimately, I got about 2 hours of sleep, Alessandra was awake and in rare form by 5:30, the kids were already fighting over toys by 7am, and the dog is throwing up. I'm on day 2 of a novena to Saint Anne, and my special intention this morning was something along the lines of, "please Lord let me make it through this day pouring myself a 64-oz drink of Jameson." Okay, not really, but close.

3. I joined a women's only gym a few weeks ago, and I'm loving it so far. Very reasonable monthly fee, childcare is included, and it has the added bonus of not being surrounded by huge, sweating, muscular Rambo types like the ones you find at the gym here on base. They also offer a free session to all new members with their personal trainers, and I had mine last night. I've never met with a personal trainer before, and I'm glad I did. He gave me a full fitness profile, spoke to me about my current exercise routine (which I discovered is more or less useless), and worked out with me for 15 minutes. During which time he kicked my butt into next month. I never realized how a) I have been working out the complete wrong way ever since I turned 18 and started going to a gym, and b) how woefully out of shape I really am.

4. So, here's the big question...commit to weekly sessions with a personal trainer? Yay or nay? Pros: will get professional fitness experts working with me to lose weight, strengthen my core, help with a LOT of my back issues,  motivate me, get me in possibly the best shape of my life. Cons: the cost. It's not insanely expensive, and it's doable, but I'll have to do some creative budgeting to make it work. I'm torn. Will is very supportive, and has encouraged me to go for it if this is what I want. I do, but I'm not sure I can justify the cost at this point. Decisions, decisions.

5. My mother in-law is coming to spend the weekend with us, and everyone is excited and looking forward to her visit. I opened up the door to our guest room (we usually keep it closed, so the dog can't go in and get the comforter covered with his hair), and thought to myself, "you know, I bet my MIL would greatly appreciate it if I took all of Alessandra's newborn photos off the bed, and hung them up like I've been meaning to do for the last three months. She might also like it if I got rid of the giant suitcase in the corner, and she'd probably consider it a great personal favor if I actually made the bed." Housekeeping fail.

6. I made a rhubarb pie yesterday afternoon when the kids were napping, because that's how I roll. I ate one piece (quality control, you know. I can't, in good conscience, serve my mother in-law pie that hasn't been thoroughly inspected), and it is quite tasty. Summer produce is where it's at.

7. Parents, how old were your kids when you signed them up for swimming lessons? I would really like to sign up Tony, but they would have to be independent classes (i.e not "mommy and me" swim. That wouldn't work with Little Miss in tow). Tony loves going to the pool, but he has a definite fear of the water. He gets visibly nervous when we venture towards the deep end, and if nothing else, I'd like to ease his mind a bit.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!7

Friday, July 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Back in the Groove

1. It's been exactly 8 days since our return to Fort Benning after the Epic Road Trip 2014, and I just finally feel like we're getting back into the swing of things. Let's just say I had some serious housecleaning to do upon our return. Will and I had to have a brief discussion of what constitutes "clean" after I walked into the house to find an inch of dog hair covering EVERYTHING, clothes washed but thrown into laundry bins waiting to be put away (apparently, the laundry fairy failed to make an appearance after I left for Wisconsin), and a mold ring and a dead bug in my bathtub.

2. I think one of the biggest challenges Will and I have faced as a married couple is the age-old question, "what do you consider clean?" Will considers my cleaning habits to be fanatical; to date, he has made about 2038913492928912839 comments insinuating that I should have my cleanliness obsession "checked out." I consider Will's cleaning habits acceptable for a crack house. So, clearly, even after eight years of wedded bliss this pesky little issue still tends to pop up from time to time.

3. Speaking of which, our anniversary. Eight years, peeps. In true Tenney fashion, we spent it away from one another, but we will be officially celebrating with a date night to our favorite restaurant next week. Also, I received these at my parents' house in Wisconsin.

4. This husband of mine...we may give each other grief about cleaning, or getting projects done in a timely manner, or constantly ask, "did you forget to bring Alessandra's shoes to the park AGAIN??" but I truly couldn't ask for a better husband or father for my children. There's no one I would rather spend my days with, snuggle with on the couch after the kids are in bed, and laugh with.
10 years ago. What in the world was I thinking with that haircut??

5. I signed Tony up for Vacation Bible School at St. Anne's this month. It's four days, and I'm sure he'll enjoy it...but I found myself getting kind of misty-eyed as I sent in the enrollment form. My little boy is growing up. By this time next year, we'll be thinking about preschool. What happened to my chubby little baby boy?

6. Speaking of chubby babies, parents, I need your help. Alessandra has ridiculously fat feet. When we were in Milwaukee, I took her to see my friend Andy (who runs a shoe store near Bayshore Mall). He measured her feet, tried a couple of shoes on her, and recommended the ones his daughter wears. Only problem? Alessandra's feet are so fat even the specialty-ordered wide shoes don't fit. Any particular brands I should try? This is frustrating, to say the least. She's walking, it's summer and the pavement is hot, and my little girl needs shoes. Preferably pink and sparkly, but I'm willing to let that one slide.

7. Georgia allergies are killing me (at least, I hope it's allergies. Otherwise I have a potentially serious issue on hand). I've had a near-constant migraine for the past four days. I'm pulling out all the stops-local honey, essential oils, changing air filter in our home, what have you. I'm reeeeally hoping I catch a break soon, because I don't do well with headaches. Natural childbirth? No problem. Migraines? I turn into the whiniest, moodiest, most incompetent person on the planet.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Frugal Mama Meal Planning

When I think back to the first couple years of our marriage, I want to laugh at my utter ineptitude when it came to meal planning. Wanting to be the perfect little wife, I painstakingly would plan new, exciting, and frequently pricey dinners to serve Will every night of the week. Even though it was just the two of us. Even though I had a full-time job. I somehow had it in my mind that the fancier the meal, the more Will would know the depth of my love for him. There were a few problems with this mindset. First and foremost, my logic was flawed. Will was grateful for any home-cooked meal I served him, whether it was a casserole or a dish that took me hours to prepare. Second, I don't even want to think about how much food was thrown in the trash, and how many times the produce or meat in the fridge went bad. There were nights when I would come home from work after a long day of people being nasty to me, and dealing with horrible traffic on the route back, and the absolute last thing I wanted to do was cook. Not to mention,what was I thinking, trying to serve a 3-course dinner multiple times a week to one person? Will was always good about bringing leftovers to work for lunch the next day, but I'm not kidding when I tell you there was a ridiculous amount of food in the fridge. And finally, our grocery bill was out of control. There was no reason to spend over $175 every single week when it was just the two of us. Over the years, I've discovered (and, I'm happy to report, mastered) the art of sensible meal planning and budgeting for a family of four. Pinterest has been a huge help in this area, and I've found that lurking on forums on Catholic Answers can be helpful as well. Trust me, when it comes to budgeting and feeding an exceptionally large family, Catholics know what they're talking about.

Since we've become part of the Army life again, Will and I have been making an effort to not only build up our savings account again, but to become debt-free as soon as possible. We have a lot of big decisions to make in the next few years (including but not limited to Catholic school for our kids, hopefully having another baby, buying a home, growing our emergency fund, planning vacations, etc), and we've decided one of the best ways to meet our goals is to get rid of the debt we have right now. We're not drowning in debt; we have Will's student loan and our car loan, and both are very manageable. That being said, we cut corners where we can to throw extra money at the monthly payments, and one of the ways I do that is by coming up with a monthly meal plan. Yes, monthly. I received quite a few incredulous looks when I've mentioned that in the past, but trust me, it really does work. I'll share our current monthly meal plan in a minute, but first I need to clarify a few things.

1. I only plan dinners. I keep breakfast items on hand all the time (yogurt, fruit, oatmeal, cereal), and I will occasionally make pancakes, French toast, or an impressive egg dish, but I would lose my mind if I tried to plan more than one meal per day. Same goes for lunch. I buy lunch meat, cheese, peanut butter and jelly, baby carrots and celery sticks, and make bread, tuna fish, and hummus. That's enough variety for the kids, and it's all healthy and filling so I'm not having a panic attack over sugars and overly-processed food. 

2. When possible, I buy local. The quality of the food is amazing, and it's frequently cheaper than anything I could find at the grocery store. We have a farmer's market here in Columbus, and this morning I'll be picking up some local honey from a lady in a neighboring town. (Side note-if you have horrific seasonal allergies like me, local honey can be a lifesaver). 

3. Just because we eat on a budget does NOT mean we eat junk. I think there's a common misconception that inexpensive=poor quality. Nope. Not in my house. If you looked through my refrigerator and pantry today, you won't find ramen noodles, Hamburger Helper, jarred pasta sauce, etc. No way, no how. I make almost everything from scratch, and it's not nearly as time consuming or stressful as people make it out to be. 

4. I've mentioned this before, but if you don't own a crockpot, go purchase one right now. One thing I love about the crockpot is that I can buy cheaper cuts of meat, and after simmering all day you can't tell the difference between an expensive piece of meat vs one that's several dollars cheaper. Not to mention, crockpot meals equal quality AND quantity, which equals leftovers. Yup, we eat leftovers now. 

5. I tend to follow a pattern most weeks; I still do big Italian Sunday dinners, and we always have leftovers on Mondays. Tuesday-Thursday are the "easy" meals, and Fridays I usually make pizza or calzones. It's just a fun little tradition for us, plus the kids love it.

6. At least once a month, I'll plan for a night of ordering takeout or going out to eat. Why? Because something ALWAYS comes up. I may not have to deal with nasty customers or heavy traffic at the end of the day anymore, but there are days when my back pain is overwhelming, or the kids have been running me ragged since 6am, or the dog got sick and threw up or pooped on everything for hours on end...you get the picture. Better to just plan ahead and assume something will go wrong at least once a month.

Okay, time for me to work my magic! This is our meal plan for the month of July.

Since it's kind of hard to see the individual meals in this photo, I'll type it out for you.

Week 1
S: salad, garlic bread, spaghetti and meatballs
M: leftovers
T: lemon chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, escarole
W: Mole pulled pork with guacamole
T: leftovers
F: homemade pizza
S: salad with grilled chicken

Week 2
S: salad, spaghetti alla carbonara
M: chicken cashew casserole
T: Spanish rice bake
W: pork chops alla savlio, sliced zucchini
T: red beans and rice
F: leftovers
S: Latin spicy chicken stew (freeze leftovers)

Week 3
S: salad, garlic bread, baked ziti with meatballs
M: leftovers
T: leftover Latin spicy chicken stew (defrost in fridge the night before)
W: Nana's rosemary chicken, roasted red potatoes and veggies
T: MaPo Tofu
F: calzones
S: Date night! Celebrating our 8-year anniversary a few weeks late...because that's how we roll. We're getting a babysitter and going out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants.

Week 4
S: salad, garlic bread, braciole, spaghetti alla carbonara
M: leftovers
T: pesto, avocado, sun-dried tomato and mozzarella panini
W: salad with grilled chicken
T: Asian lettuce wraps
F: homemade pizza
S: chicken taco stew

There you have it. Many of these recipes can be found on my blog from previous years, and I promise, one of these days I'll actually add another recipe post. I would also like to add that I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover a few months ago, and we've been incorporating his practices into our monthly budget. One thing that Dave strongly advocates for is the cash-only system, and I've been doing that with the grocery store. When the money's gone, it's gone. This has helped me-immensely-stay within a strict budget while serving healthy meals to my family. Oh, and the grocery budget I mentioned before? At least $175/week for two people? I've managed to cut back to $150/week feeding a family of four. It might not seem like a huge difference, but knowing that I'm saving our family money in the long run while providing my husband and children with nutritious meals has been such a blessing for us.

One more thing before this blog post comes to a merciful end. Will and I feel strongly that we need "our" time, and that includes a bi-monthly date night for us. However, date night hardly ever means going out to eat at a restaurant. By the time we pay the babysitter and pay the restaurant bill, well, let's just say the end result can be a little scary. That's not to say we NEVER go out to eat (our anniversary is obviously a special occasion), but more often than not a perfect date night for us is me preparing one of our favorite dishes, eating by candlelight at our dining room table, and watching a movie together. All after the kids have gone to bed, obviously.

Go forth and meal plan, readers! Let me know what your own meal planning looks like, and as always I'm open to suggestions. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Back and Better Than Ever

(Not really. I just felt like saying that).

So I haven't updated this blog in almost a month, which is unheard of for me. Writing/blogging/"researching" in the name of blogging is cathartic for me. However, the kids and I have spent the last three weeks in Wisconsin with my parents, extended family and friends, and between the lack of space at my parents' house and sheer exhaustion, blogging just wasn't going to happen. Let's recap, shall we?

Early June-bid a tearful goodbye to Will, prayed a silent Hail Mary and hit the road with my packed-to-the-brim SUV, and two already tired children in the backseat. We hadn't even driven two blocks when I spotted Will, sprinting across our neighbor's backyard and up the main road, holding Alessandra's pink sandal. I had one in the suitcase, and I foolishly I assumed the other was in the car. God I love my husband. It takes a real man to run across an Army base waving a tiny baby shoe like the Olympic torch.

Later that night: Having made it all the way from Columbus, GA, through Tennessee and Kentucky, I finally called it quits somewhere in Indiana. Dragged my progeny in to a hotel, and most likely scared the wits out of an elderly, kindly hotel manager when I begged, "please tell me you have a pack 'n play at this hotel? Please please please please please?" Alessandra, for no reason whatsoever, let out a bloodcurdling shriek and Tony spilled a bottle of water all over the hotel lobby floor. The gentleman assured me that not only did he have a spare pack 'n play, but he would personally deliver it to our room. I must have looked rather frightening at that point.

Kids didn't sleep at all that night. Alessandra screamed the second I put her in the pack 'n play, and continued to do so until I was certain she was going to wake the dead. I put her in bed with me, and slept approximately 10 minutes out of every hour, convinced she was going to roll off the bed and die. (Have you figured out by now Will and I never did the co-sleeping thing with our babies?).

Well, we made it to Wisconsin the next day, and I immediately proceeded to hand my children over to my mom and brother, and fall asleep in the bathtub. I wish I was kidding.

I was ALL SET to attend my 10-year college reunion that weekend, and my mom and I had a fancy schmany schedule all set up. Me: drive to Appleton, and partake in reunion festivities. Mom: drive to Green Bay with the kids, crash with my aunt and uncle at their house, and drive up to the cabin the following day. Thursday night at 11pm (also known as "the night before we were scheduled to go up north"), I thought, "you know what, it might be helpful for me to know what to pack. Surely there's some kind of dress code for the weekend." I emailed my friend who was on the reunion committee, and asked him about the attire for this weekend. He messaged me back right away (thank you sweet baby Jesus for the invention of Facebook), and wrote, "Hi Marisa, I'm looking forward to seeing you too! I hope that was a typo, though...the reunion isn't this weekend. It's the weekend after." Yes, you read that correctly. I had the date of my reunion wrong, and after some very creative swearing (what can I say, I put my English major to good use), I frantically scrawled a note to my mom and put it next to the coffee pot so she would see it first thing in the morning.

I swore once I had kids my head wouldn't remain permanently lodged up my butt, and...you can see how well that's working out for me.

Fortunately, all's well that ends well, and it really wasn't too much of a hassle to switch our plans to the following weekend. I had a wonderful time at my reunion; spent quality time with college friends, walked around the (new! improved!) campus, and reminisced about my college years and the choices I made way back when. Some good, some very bad. Not going to lie...it was weird being back. I'm still glad I went, though.
Roommate Becca and I next to Main Hall.

Honor Code cocktails at the VR. Quite tasty.

A few of my Delta Gamma sisters and I.

Professora Vilches!! (My Italian professor from senior year).

The rest of our time in Wisconsin passed in a blur of exhaustion, thanks to teething, daily trips to the park, delicious dinners with family and friends, and quality "limoncello and Prosecco time with Mom."
On the Thomas the Train ride in Green Bay

Getting ready to go fishing up at my parents' cabin

Alessandra got her chunky thighs stuck in my old crib.

Fun times with the hose in my parents' back yard.
That being said, it's good to be home. We had a...let's call it "harrowing" drive back to Georgia. The kids and I left the morning of July 2, and I drove the 900 miles back to Fort Benning. I'm not even exaggerating when I tell you that Alessandra screamed for 850 of those miles. This goose was cooked by the time we pulled into the driveway on Thursday evening. Will was ecstatic to see his family again, and after a long weekend of rest and fourth of July festivities, I finally feel human enough to tackle the rest of the week. I have a whole list of blog topics I intend to post, to make up for lost time.

In totally random news, Will and I took the kids to one of the (fabulous) pools here at Fort Benning, and I'm happy to report that no one was traumatized. Quite the opposite; both kids had a wonderful time and didn't want to leave. I'm thrilled to be raising "pool children" and even more thrilled to have something to do during the long, beastly hot days in Georgia during the summer.

Here's to a few more months of heat, pool days, popsicles, bike rides and staying up late making smores. Summer, I think we're going to get along just fine this year.

Friday, June 6, 2014

7 Quick Takes-The Epic Road Trip

(And by "epic" I mean holy sweet Lord in Heaven let me make it through this kthankxbye)

1. T minus 2 days until I begin my voyage from Georgia to Wisconsin with 2 small children. In the car. By myself. In a brief moment of weakness last night, I thought, "Is driving really better than flying?" I started thinking about the last disaster trip when we flew from Wisconsin to Texas-with Will, I might add-and remembered how much fun it was to park the car in the long term parking lot. Then wrangle all of our luggage, car seats, and kiddos up to the transfer bus station. Load everything and everyone on to the bus. Exit bus with people and luggage at the terminal. Drag everything and everyone through the terminal in an attempt to find to check-in counter. Sort through my purse with holding a crying baby and trying to keep a curious 3-year old from running off while I attempt to find our respective IDs. Drop off luggage and lug car seats and children over to the (naturally, long) line for security. That's always fun. Attempt to convince Tony through gritted teeth that the ropes are designed to form a line, not give him an opportunity to "swing like a monkey in a tree." Once again, haul out IDs and hand them to TSA agent. Almost sob with relief when the TSA agent informs me I don't have to take off Tony's shoes. Through some divine intervention, we make it through security unscathed (perhaps everyone took pity on us? Either that or they wanted to stay far, far out of our way). Try to re-assemble everything in my purse, put my shoes on, deal with now-screaming baby and child who has unfortunately spotted "gummy worms!!!" at the airport general store right in front of us.

Note that we have not yet boarded the plane.

2. Nope. No way, no how. Driving wins, no matter how long the trip may be. At least I can STOP somewhere if the kids are losing it in the car. Kind of hard to do that mid-air, flying over Missouri.

3. Surely by now you're thinking, "well, clearly Marisa has this all planned out. She must be all set with a map detailing every possible rest stop, the fastest route back to Wisconsin, and her SUV is already vacuumed, cleaned out and armed with enough toys, coloring books and diapers to get her through an apocalypse." LOL. Not quite. I've managed to throw together two freezer meals for Will and take a brief look at Mapquest.

4. Current plan for tomorrow: sleep in while Will gets up with the kids, and makes coffee for us and Nutella crepes for everyone. Get the house straightened up, laundry under control, begin packing (okay, first I should probably make a list), finish making freezer meals for Will, clean out the car and do a major vacuuming job, pack car with non-perishable food items and games and toys to keep kids out of my damn hair while I'm operating a motor vehicle occupied, make a list of things that need to go in the cooler, give babysitter a brief high five for agreeing kind of last minute to babysit for us while Will and I enjoy some kid-free time, and go out to dinner with the husband. I got this.

5. So, uh, while I'm at it, anyone got any ideas for toys/games for a 1-year old in the car? I can handle Tony. Alessandra...she's my wild card.

6. Despite the craziness I'm anticipating, I'm really looking forward to our time in Wisconsin. A chance to see family and friends again, good restaurants, park dates with my kids and my friends' kids, etc.

7. So....if anyone could offer up a few prayers for a safe and relatively painless trip for us, I would greatly appreciate it. Pretty sure we're going to need all the prayers we can get.

With these two innocent faces, what could possibly go wrong??

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Answer Me This-A New Link Up!

  So, I'm trying out a new link up. Kendra at Catholic All Year hosts Answer Me This, which features a series of questions that you may have all been wondering about me ever since I started this blog. I kid, I kid. Regardless, I thought it would be fun to do on this morning when everyone woke up FAR too early and Will won't be home from work until midnight. Sigh...

1. Do you have a smartphone? 

Yes. Yes I do. I have an iPhone 5c (only because I was due for an upgrade...I'm really not someone who jumps all over the latest and greatest technological fad). During the five years Will and I lived in Germany, both of us had pay-as-you-go phones. iPhones had recently made an appearance at the T-Mobile stores in Germany, but obviously they required a contract, and if there's one thing we lived during our time overseas it was to avoid getting locked into a cell phone contract at all costs. So Will and I had our basic little flip phones that did nothing but make calls and take mediocre pictures until we moved back to the States, and became owners of fancy schmancy smartphones. (Mainly because my parents are on an AT&T family plan, and they offered to add us. We didn't put up too much of a fight).

2. What is your favorite meal of the day?

Dinner. Whenever I make meal plans for the month, I only plan dinner, and I have fun with it. Breakfast and lunch are kind of thrown together haphazardly, and everyone likes to eat different things. Dinner, though, is fun and relaxing for me to make, and it's really the only time we get to eat together as a family (if the Army allows Will to come home from work at a reasonable hour, that is).

3. Shower or bath?

Depends on the day. If I have to wash my hair, shower. If I have a limited amount of time to clean myself up while the kids are playing quietly and not tearing the house apart, shower. If I have lots of time and my back is killing me? Bath all the way (scented with essential oils...ahhhhhhh. Luxury).

4. Think of a person you love. How many days have you been in love with this person?

That would be 4614 days, beginning on October 14, 2001. That was when Will and I officially declared our love for one another (yes...online. I can hear your laughter from over here). We had feelings for each other prior to that day, but October 14th was when everything became official. I should also like to add that we had yet to meet each other face-to-face.

5. What's the best church you've ever been inside?

Well, this might seem like a completely obvious answer from a Catholic blogger, but I'm going to have to go with the Vatican. I mean, Saint Peter's Basilica...there are no words. Will and I were on our first Eurail trip in 2006, and our last stop was in Rome. Both of us were in absolute awe, and I'm not kidding when I say we spent all day there. Here are a few close contenders:
  a. Sacre Couer in Paris
  b. Malaga Cathedral in Malaga, Spain
  c. St. Josephat Basilica in Milwaukee, WI
 d. Santa Croce in Florence, Italy

6. The Feast of the Visitation was yesterday! Has anyone ever come to visit you?

Yes, many times. My parents and in-laws have visited-and helped us out-many times when we were in desperate need of assistance. (Hospitalizations, new babies, moving to yet another new city, etc). We've also had close friends come and stay with us for a little while; my best friend since kindergarten came to visit us in Boston when I was eight months pregnant with Tony. I think it goes without saying she's a very brave woman.