Friday Five: 1/31/2020

1.Well, we hit another milestone in our house. Beginning right after Christmas break, Ruth started preschool (Holla!!!) She goes two mornings a week and loves it. She has had absolutely no hesitation in her newest adventure. Her favorites so far include painting, sand table, snack time and riding the bus home. 🙂 But let me tell you, getting 4 kids to school before 7:50 am is a new skill….one I’m working on, and they are too.


2. Our house has been riding the wave of culinary bliss that is the 2nd trimester…meaning I have been cooking A LOT. Because I. am. HUNGRY. After minimal eating for the cost of pure survival for the first 13 weeks, I am happy to say that my appetite has finally returned and so has my enjoyment of cooking, but not-so-much my enjoyment of dishes. All I really want to eat is sushi, and I know I can’t make it decent at home *sigh* and cooked rolls are no match for raw (which I can’t have).  Here’s a list of some of the recents around here (links included!):


Stuffed pepper soup

Homestyle chicken noodle soup

Instant pot pizza pasta

Loaded sweet potatoes with chipotle lime crema

BBQ chicken bean quesadillas

Queso chicken chili

Aloha chicken rice bake

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie


Healthy peanut butter banana bars

Country breakfast bowls

Homemade granola bars

Healthy No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies

3. Since our house has also been riding the wave of winter illnesses this January, I’ve spent more than enough time at home due to a sick child. The only silver lining of this is that I’ve had some extra couch time/naptime to read! I’ve checked off a good start of books this year and my to-read list only continues to grow! Several of my favorite large family/Catholic/inspirational bloggers/vloggers have published books recently and I cannot wait to get my hands on their bios! Here’s what I’ve been digging through lately:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood–4 stars (Fiction. Disturbing dystopia, and for some reason I enjoy dystopias, why, I don’t know?!)

A Priest in the Family by Brett Brannen–5 stars (Nonfiction. May not be applicable to everyone, only those that have a seminarian/priest in their family! For these people, it is a great read)

Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman–5 stars (Nonfiction. SO GOOD. Every American parent should read! The French are fascinating parents)

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth–5 stars (Fiction. Not at all what I expected by the title, but obviously, very well written!)

The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor–4 stars (Nonfiction. Inspirational read about positivity and happiness)

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand–4 stars (Fiction. A beach read, it was ok, but not a favorite by any means. Good story, just soooo loooong. 420 pages are too many for me and I found the story to be too drawn out!)

4. We’ve been spending quite a few Saturdays at swim meets. Gabriel is closing the gap to reaching state qualifying times, and we are hopeful he does so in the next few weeks! Sometimes one of us stays home with the girls, sometimes we all go. I have a love/not-love feeling about swim meets. LOVE: warm pool room, good winter activity, G lives for it and watching him is fun, Chik-Fil-A after the meet, and volunteering at meets is kind of fun! NOT-LOVE: keeping Kateri out of the pool, nausea from pool warmness (this has now subsided, thankfully), keeping younger girls occupied in a gym for several hours, the inability to pack enough food for all of us for an afternoon in said gym/pool (we avoid concessions–maybe I need a bigger cooler?!). A few weeks ago we had a few feverish girls on a Saturday, so I stayed home and J took Gabriel to his meet. We lucked out in that they broadcast the entire meet on YouTube in real-time! I was delighted! It was like the Olympics or something, there was an announcer and all the swimmer’s names, times and team logos popped up before and after the race. It is pretty cool seeing your son’s name pop up…with a personal record time too!


Snapped from my TV!

5. Pregnancy update, because I know everyone is waiting on the edge of their seats, dying to know *sarcasm*: I’m 15 weeks and change. I have a very strong feeling this is another girl, and I have a girl name that has been etched in my brain since about week 5….which probably means we are having a boy because I’m about 80% inaccurate on guessing gender. I’m finally feeling less pukey, but still have moments of nausea and feeling like junk. I’ve switched up my workouts to BodyFit by Amy on YouTube and Amy’s rocking it! I’ve gained a few lbs and a belly. No doubt I’ll have a massive torpedo belly in a few short months, per the norm. I suddenly want to eat all the things, but am trying to restrain myself as best I can. On my short list: sushi, sour cream, cottage cheese, cheese and crackers, (theme here??) broccoli/veggies and dips, cheddar veggie straws, avocados. I could literally eat a vat of sour cream with a spoon….gross, I know, so I don’t. Apparently I need some dairy fat?! IDK, trying to eat in moderation! That being said I am still able to eat a pretty balanced diet for the most part. Stuff I stay away from: salsa, pork, plain eggs, plain ground beef, moderately ripe bananas. I enjoy sleeping and have been known to pass out at 9:15pm on the couch.

Now that I’ve almost turned this into a food blog, I’m going to sign off 😉




The Sisterhood of the Traveling Maternity Suitcases

Today I drove my big van with the two little girls across part of Iowa and retrieved a set of 2 suitcases that have become very fond to me. What’s so special about them? Well, the contents of these 2 suitcases have been through 11 PREGNANCIES now. Think about that for a minute.


Heather and I have been friends for a loooong time and are similar sizes. When she was pregnant with her first child in 2007, she of course acquired some maternity clothes. I became pregnant 2 months after her baby was born, and she packed up all of her maternity clothes and loaned them to me. Woot woot! I added a fair share of new and used maternity clothes with my pregnancy, and then returned it to her when she became pregnant again. Over time, the collection of clothes has grown to fit (sometimes overflowing!) into 2 suitcases that travel quite nicely. We each periodically weed out the old stuff and are always adding new items as we need them. We have passed the suitcases back and forth over 13 years while expecting her 5 children and my (going on) 6 children. 11 PREGNANCIES!




Some of my winter favorites

We’ve always used the same 2 suitcases since about 2014. We’ve handed them over on the side of the Interstate, at each other’s houses, and sent them with messengers. We’ve transported them across the country by car and plane. They’ve been stored for short times in the states of Georgia, Iowa and Kentucky, but have been in use more time than they haven’t. We’ve overlapped pregnancies, but always been able to work out a way to share!

The suitcases contain all seasons of pants, shirts, tanks, shorts, skirts, leggings, formal and casual dresses, sometimes swim suits and postpartum accessories, along with just about everything else. Need a maternity little black dress? Got one. How about flowy shirts to cover the postpartum pooch for a few months? Got them. A belly binder? Several. You’re looking for a specific color of solid colored v-neck tshirts? We have them ALLLLL. Need the perfect dress to attend a funeral in December while 4 months along or a wedding in July in your 3rd trimester? Gotcha covered.

Let me tell you, some of these clothes have seen it all.  Many things have been loaned out to other fellow mamas as well. If you need it, we’ve probably got it.  Each time I pack up and hand over the suitcases, I’m more than ready to be out of maternity clothes. I always wonder if I’ll need them again, or if my childbearing bonding time with them is over. So far, they’ve always returned. 😉 Each time I get the suitcases back, it’s like Christmas morning and I acquire an entire new wardrobe. There’s always new things to love that show up in the suitcases!


14 weeks …. and a new shirt!

So, the traveling maternity suitcases are currently living with me, and after that they’ll go into storage in my laundry room until they are possibly needed again by someone. Only time will tell 🙂

Seester Sunday: Happy New Year!

After a bit of an absence with Seester Sunday, we’ve decided to (try) to get back into the habit. This week followed a snowy Saturday that left us cooped up in the house most of the day. The kids were a bit antsy and honestly we didn’t do much. I spent a good majority of the day on the couch and J even cooked dinner (spaghetti-his trademark 😉  ). All that to say we were slow getting up and about on Sunday morning and were LATE to church after de-icing the van and driving on slick roads. Kateri was the only one who got her hair fixed and Ruth wore her snow boots. We were even short one kid as Lucy was at a sleepover. We walked in and Ruth took off in Ruth-fashion running up the center aisle to where we usually sit…..except we weren’t sitting there because, as I mentioned, we were LATE and had to sit elsewhere. Ahem. Anyways, here’s what I wore:



Who’s that handsome teenager standing next to me? Oh, that’s only my man-child, Gabriel. I somehow convinced him to get in a pic with me. In case you’re interested, he now can wear man-sized jeans, I buy his shoes from the men’s section and he no longer needs a booster in the car. {tears**}


My dress/tunic/long shirt thing is thrifted and old and some brand I’ve never heard of. I love it. It’s comfy and forgiving. It’s short enough that I don’t wear it in the summer but feel comfortable putting it with leggings. I can bend over and wrangle Ruth kids without my hiney showing. My leggings are run-of-the-mill from Old Navy and are much warmer than they look! Boots are my favorite grey ones from Famous Footwear that I’ve had for 2 years.   And that’s that!



So, the reason this Seester Sunday post is a day late is because yours truly did not get her act together in time for a Sunday post. While I do not ANY human children, nor do I have a husband, my life seems to keep me busy with other things.


I spent my snowy Saturday working at Barnes and Noble. What began as a part time seasonal job has become a permanent part time job that I absolutely LOVE. Hopefully I can continue to balance my bookselling job with everything else going on in my increasingly crazy life!


On Saturday night, I had an amazing first date at Centro, my favorite restaurant in downtown Des Moines. Then, I was invited to join this great guy for a second breakfast date on Sunday morning before mass. While I was home by 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, I barely slept! Glad I still woke up early on Sunday though, because breakfast was awesome.


After breakfast on Sunday, I attended 10:30 a.m. mass at the Basilica of St. John. Then I came home for some office time. My client 50-50 in 2020, whom I currently serve as Executive Director for, has A LOT going on during these next two weeks! By mid-afternoon, I was off to Barnes and Noble for the rest of the day and evening.


I also wore a thrift store gem during this past Sunday. I found this dress at Phase 2 Consignments in Grinnell, just over a year ago. This photo is not from Sunday, because, as we have established previously, I did not have my act together this week:




This photo is from the Women Lead Change Dubuque Conference in November 2019, where I exhibited on behalf of 50-50 in 2020. Paired with my dress then and this Sunday were Silpada earrings, and brown tights and boots from Target. I do not wear a lot of jewelry, and earrings are my go-to accessory – in addition to my glasses!


Another note on my dress: I love cowl necks and things that flow openly. Nothing is worse than a form-fitting dress when you are having a day when you feel bloated or fat. Yes, we must be self confident, but we all have those days because we are human.


We look forward to posting together again next week!