Lucy’s 9th {quarantine} birthday

Lucy was incredibly sad when she realized that she would not be able to have a ‘normal’ birthday or birthday party this year. She had planned to have a bracelet making party with a few friends at our house and eat cupcakes. She had designed the invite on Canva and had it all planned in her mind. She was disappointed to say the least and many tears were shed. I told Lucy numerous times that her birthday could still be great, just different this year, and she needed to be open to different ideas. She wasn’t so sure, and was pretty down about it for a long time. But it worked out pretty great.

The week of her birthday, thanks to Aunt Mel, Lucy got loads of mail from all kinds of people! THANK YOU to everyone who sent her anything, she loved it all!!!! She also decided on this raspberry chocolate cake and ribs for dinner. Yes, ribs, of all things. For a 9 year old…..


The night before we always put up streamers around the house and some balloons if I have some. So we did that. The kids always love it, especially when they’re hung in doorways….it’s the little things I guess! I also made a little clue hunt for Lucy to find her present the next day. There were 7 clues that were kind of corny and kind of cute and somewhat clever, and it worked!

We had funfetti waffles and eggs for breakfast, then watched Mass. Then it was present time…..

So, after hunting 7 clues throughout the house, yard and garage, she got a kayak! Lucy has been waiting for a kayak for 2 years, since Gabriel got his when he was 7. She asks me about it all. the. time. It was purple and blue and perfect for her. She was very excited and very surprised!

I had a picnic packed so we went right out to the lake so she could try it out. We took 2 of our other kayaks as well and Amelia also went out alone, even though she’s never even set foot in a kayak! She was impressive and figured out maneuvering in no time! Gabriel is quite seasoned so he was right in his element.




Ruth was not about to be left out, so she climbed in with me and we tooled around a bit. She enjoyed paddling with a stick. Kateri enjoyed digging in the mud and ruining a pair of tights.



Lucy had 6 different drop offs from friends and family during the day and lots of phone and video calls and it was so great! She enjoyed it so much and she smiled all day, which made my heart happy too!


Since she had requested ribs for dinner, Jeremiah took that on as a good catalyst to begin smoking meat for the first time. He took over 5 hours carefully checking and monitoring their progress on this beast. I had no idea smoking meat was such a tedious process. I think it may be a new obsession 😉


We did a Zoom call with family to share in the happy-birthday-singing and candle-blowing later that evening and then enjoyed this after ribs and homemade potato salad:

I know Lucy really missed her friends and seeing family in person, but I think she was overly happy and very surprised with how awesome her quarantine birthday turned out to be!!! Let’s hope next year she can live out the jewelry making party 😉

This is hard: Week 5

Monday April 13

Lucy will agree with me when I say that she is having the hardest time of all the kids with this whole situation. Her day is brightened with a surprise porch drop off from a friend and her (almost) nightly video chat with a group of her friends. She’s such an extrovert! We have a pretty mellow, weird day. The highlight of Easter day is over, everyone has had too much candy in the past 24 hours, and I feel really drained and out of energy. The kids weren’t technically scheduled for school since it’s Easter Monday, so they have no online classes and I didn’t make them do much. This proceeded to blow up in my face, when will I learn?! No schedule=chaos. There’s too much crying, complaining and everything like that. Jeremiah is gone allllll night with a meeting and we go for a walk before dinner even though no one wants to. It’s cold cold cold and windy. Dinner is stuffed pepper soup and it’s oh so good. We basically have nothing left in our fridge but I was proud that I scraped this soup together. I stay up waaaaaay too late and pay for it on Tuesday.


Sister time: bird and squirrel watching


Gabriel’s dream bedroom, complete with pool, roller coaster and telescope

Tuesday April 14

We NEED to go outside today. It’s so cold but I don’t care. I’m very indecisive today about what we should do which starts the whole day off on a bad note! We finally head to Lowden and walk the walking trail there and it snows on us the whole time with gusty winds. Ugh. Ruth wonders where the ducks are when we walk over the creek. Probably frozen in an ice cube, it’s so stinking cold! We’re there about 15 mins then head home. At least it killed some time and we (I) got out of the house. G and L worked on an online math challenge (1000 questions). A new pack of voluntary home learning arrived on our porch from the school. I took the next hour+ weeding through it all and trying to set up a schedule and figure out what needed to be done each day for the 3 older kids. I am so thankful for all of this help and instruction, yet so overwhelmed. I got a good schedule worked out (I think) for each kid and hopefully it’s good enough. It’ll be what it’ll be.  I look into buying a Chromebook as one computer is a challenge for all that we need right now. The kids don’t want to do anything school related right now and I’m really frustrated because I’m not asking for much. I leave it alone and let them do whatever. I do a 30 min youtube workout and then a 10 min pilates workout and I HURT afterwards. Another roofing contractor stops by and we have black bean and rice casserole, I added chicken. It was good, not great. I’m so done for the day. I head up and take a shower and spend an obscene amount of time hiding from my family doing anything I can think of that I can do from the bathroom/bedroom which is securely locked. #mentalhealth  I venture back downstairs just in time to help put kids to bed and I proceed to eat a giant brownie. I’ve been doing well on the weight gain front and after this past week or so I feel like I may be heading the opposite direction!


Wednesday April 15

Lots going on today. Morning online classes, complaining there’s nothing for breakfast (which there isn’t!), lots of screaming from the little girls, many messes made. Oh, and we got about an inch of snow overnight. Ruth and Amelia wanted to play outside but, of course, I packed away 80% of the winter gear last week. Gah! They found enough gear to suffice and played outside for about an hour and had a good time. I listened to Nathaniel Rateliff and read to Kateri on the couch. {Side note: we saw Rateliff and his band live last fall and it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to, and since has been one of my go-tos!} I cannot figure out anything for lunch, but finally find some brats in the freezer and cut up almost all the remaining vegetables we have that the girls devour while the brats are cooking. No leftovers. I make some baked oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow while the girls run crazy and G and L finish up their last online class. I work with Amelia on her new kindergarten work in the afternoon and I feel like we have accomplished something! Fold 2 loads of laundry. Amelia gets a surprise porch drop off from a friend. One of the things is a book that her and Lucy decide to make into a sister’s book club. They start immediately with Lucy reading aloud in their bunks. Their only request is ‘privacy to read’. Got it. J comes home and I take off to get my groceries picked up by MYSELF. It was great. I listened to 2 podcasts (Jen Fulweiler and Jami Balmet) and tried not to notice the lingering snowflakes in the sky. The man loading my groceries gave me a whole rundown on how cross contamination of cantaloupe could occur if they’re not bagged correctly. Ummm thanks for that random information?!?! Kids played outside while I was gone and were on a house cleaning mission when I returned. We had simple bean/chicken/cheese quesadillas for dinner and I broke into the bunny tracks ice cream after they were in bed. I’m tired today, and 26 weeks along.


Thursday April 16

We are going outside allll morning because Mom says so! We are supposed to get snow later today and tomorrow so you better believe we are going to soak up every ounce of warmish weather that we can. I saw a neat sidewalk chalk stained glass thing on social media somewhere so we try that and it actually works! Even better, it requires very little effort from me, after putting down the tape. I tell the older 4 kids what they need to do for schoolwork/activities after lunch, then I go for a walk back and forth and back in forth on the block in front of our house and listen to a podcast. I should do this more often because it’s great. The kids actually do what they’re supposed to and it works pretty well other than my aching belly and legs. Ugh. Jeremiah is gone all evening again at a work thing so I keep it pretty low key. Kids bathe/shower and we lounge. I’m pretty pooped by the end of the day lately!


Friday April 17

We woke up to 4 inches of wet heavy snow. Seriously. Could things get any more weird?! I made Gabriel climb into the loft *again* and retrieve snow stuff. He’s a trooper. I went out and played with the girls while G and L did online classes and we made a snowman, a maze, and watercolor sidewalk chalk. The kids want hot cocoa so we do that, always a winner and always a mess! Why? I don’t understand. People take naps and I rest and help Amelia with her schoolwork. Man, pregnancy always kicks my butt. I sort alot of laundry and make pepperoni and pineapple pizza for dinner before we watch something on Disney+.


A different kind of Holy Week: Week 4

Monday April 6

The day starts with Kateri learning to climb out of her crib. This doesn’t make my day. Kateri proceeds to want to participate as usual in all school related activities (ie scribbling on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. and climbing all over the table on repeat) We do schoolwork and build with magnet tiles and read a lot and help G and L with figuring perimeter/area and play in forts and play with Legos. Legos are a gift from God, seriously. My kids play with them daily and always have. I foil wrapped some some freezer sandwiches for lunch and voila! Lunch lady hot ham n cheeses that the kids loved. They did say that the school’s were still the best….I’ve got nothing on Ms. Teresa! I washed up all of the snow pants and some of the winter coats and the girls rounded up allll the boots and I convinced Gabriel to climb up in the garage loft to help me pack them all away. I fell off a ladder once while pregnant and don’t care to repeat that experience. Lucy wanted to learn the line dance for ‘Feel it Still’ while Gabriel wanted to learn how to play it on the piano. We had pork loin from the crock pot along with broccoli, baked beans and some delicious cookies for dinner. My body is hurting in new ways daily which is becoming more of a struggle!


Tuesday April 7

Tues/Thurs *usually* I’ve been letting the kids have a lighter ‘school day’ and we either go hike somewhere unpopulated or ride bikes on local trails before we do school work in the afternoon. My sanity appreciates it, as does my mood as long as I don’t overdo it. Today we ventured to Wapsi River Center which is about 10 mins from us. The actual nature centers are closed but the trails are open and lovely! We ran/walked trails, climbed hills, watched 5 deer cross our path, found an ‘enchanted forest’ (thank you Frozen II). The kids caught frogs at a pond that must have housed a million frogs and looked at frog eggs while I sat for a break on the trail. It was so WARM!! Lunch on the porch and afternoon school work outside while I lounged in the reclining chair in the warm sunshine and read a book *bliss*. We listened to ‘Wow in the World’ kids podcast on our way to/from grocery pickup, their favorite. J helped me make BBQ pizza with pulled pork for dinner which was nothing short of AMAZING. We ate again on the porch, one of my favorite things, Amelia added some daffodils for aesthetic pleasure 😉 The kids rode bikes off a homemade ramp and entertained the neighbors who were watching from their porches. Ruth joined in the fun and insisted on wearing cowgirl boots and gloves to do the ramp. She kills me. From the porch we watched a big thunderstorm roll in. Just as I was getting the girls into the tub, we heard what sounded like baseballs pummeling the west side of our house and roof. HOLY HAIL. I have never seen such huge hail! A few girls ran outside naked before we corralled them back in to collect some hail, but we did get a good pile for the freezer. The kids were completely jacked up about this. Absolutely incredible. Nature astounds and amazes me!!!



Golf ball sized!!

Wednesday April 8

I woke up Wednesday with a million and one things to do. Today also marks 25 weeks of pregnancy and the fact that I can now feel every joint in my pelvis move and shift and hurt! Always a good time. The aftermath of the previous night’s golf ball sized hail storm was adding up to be a lot. G and L moved outside for their first class but realized it was a bit too loud with all of the tree mulching and cutting machines chomping away in the neighborhood. Our yard was covered in sticks, it looked like there wasn’t anything left on the trees, they were all in our yard! We went to our rental houses to survey the damage and there were huge holes all over the siding. Broken windows. Circle spots all over the roofs. I spent some time on the phone discussing damages. Yipes. Thank goodness for insurance! After lunch we raked allll the sticks out of the yard and had a little bonfire in the street that Gabriel started. There was a whole tree in the pile! It all of a sudden got really chilly and windy and we retreated inside. We made turkey kale pasta for dinner and I didn’t get a picture of anything else for the day. The kids loved the pasta. We were all pretty wiped from today and yesterday and sat down to watch The Little Mermaid before bed. Kateri could not keep her elbows out of my belly so I retreated upstairs for awhile. Seriously, it is painful. Sometimes, mama needs a time out and to sneak chocolate and look at her facebook stories in the quiet upstairs without elbows in her sore belly. Anyways. I was falling asleep reading before 9:30 so went off to bed!


They actually really love their classes, despite their expressions here

Thursday April 9

I wasn’t feeling it Thursday. Not at all. I decided we weren’t going to attempt any school. Everyone could use a day off and it is Maundy Thursday. I asked the kids what they wanted to do today, to come up with one fun thing each. We ended up with the list including making homemade ice cream, riding bikes in town, playing Adventure Academy, and having a Wii Mario Kart tournament. Still seemed like a lot of work as I was feeling lazy, but I agreed. We cleaned the girl’s room so you could actually walk in it, and vacuumed the upstairs. I got some laundry done. We went for a walk/bike ride and I froze my hands. What the heck happened to the weather?! After lunch I put the little girls down for naps and the rest of us did reading and learning games for something like 3 hours. I know, way too much screen time, but whatevs. Everyone lived. I started a new book and read 50 pages and it was quite difficult to put it down! Once J got home I sent the kids up to do the Lego challenge and I did an online workout, which was long overdue. I thought the endorphins might help my mood, and it did somewhat. We watched a Mass of the Lord’s Supper on YouTube and then warmed up carnitas for dinner. We made them into tacos/taco salad type foods. Super yummy. We proceeded to do the family MarioKart tournament in the basement (which is unfinished but houses the Wii) which ended up to be a lot of us telling the girls to get off the exercise bikes, stay away from the furnace and for everyone to stop YELLING. We then made the homemade ice cream, which they rolled around on the basement floor in a round sugar container. Kateri screamed for most of the evening because she’s in that great toddler/I throw fits every 3 minutes/I want what I want NOW/I can scream really LOUD phase. The day seemed very l.o.n.g. and I was ready to park it on the couch with chocolate and new book, but that was a ways off. The ice cream never solidified, the kids went crazy and bedtime got too late. Woof. We’ll be doing some type of schoolwork tomorrow…..


See that?? It’s bare floor!!





Carnitas on a bed of greens it was SO GOOD

Friday April 10

Jeremiah had the day off and it was a good thing, because the insurance adjuster spent 2+ hours at our properties surveying hail storm damage. What an undertaking this is going to be! I tried to have the kids do some schoolwork, and they got a little bit done. We got chili going in the crock pot. G and L virtually attended their Rubiks cube club at 1pm. I wasn’t feeling too lively so I went and laid down for an hour and a half in the afternoon and read. The kids only came in 67 times but I did get a lot of reading done {WIN}. We watched the Good Friday Mass at 3pm then did a little egg hunt in the yard. Kids cleaned up the house because it looks like a bomb goes off daily in our living room, kitchen and dining room. Chili for dinner and watched ‘The Gospel of John’ on Amazon Prime which is Jesus’ life told from John’s point of view. The kids enjoyed it but it was 3 hours long so we only watched about half of it. I didn’t take any pictures all day. Thank goodness for sunshine today!

Saturday April 11

I did some food prep in the morning, played some lawn croquet and packed a lunch. We then headed to Cedar Valley Park for a blanket picnic and walking trails. I had made a hodge podge chicken salad that included the regular chicken, mayo, celery, but then added kale, pepitas, stone ground mustard, dill, seasoned salt and green onions. It turned out so good! I feel like I’m mastering shelf cooking where you just make something out of what you have on hand. We got rained on pretty hard so turned around on our hike, but got to see some quarries, new spring flowers and some wildlife on the river. We returned home with the kids all jazzed up to dye eggs, make Easter decor and a bunny cake. We/they did just that. The girls named the Easter Bunny cake ‘Lindsey’. Love it. My cake decorator tool that I’ve had for going on 7 years broke, but we pressed on! A construction company came and gave us our first estimates for damage. We had spaghetti for dinner and watched the Easter Vigil Mass. We normally don’t do the Vigil because it’s a long Mass (although beautiful!) but it gets too late for the kids when it usually starts at 8pm or after. However this year, we just put people to bed before or during.



Catching raindrops



Lindsey 😉

Sunday April 12

HAPPY EASTER!!! HE IS RISEN!! We spent the day playing in the yard, hunting eggs, Zoom calling family, eating chocolate, watching Mass, playing croquet and convincing the kids we could get one decent picture. The kids were so excited about Easter, it made it all worth it to put some effort in. We made scalloped potatoes and ham for dinner with our bunny cake and it was so, so good 🙂



mmm bunny cake

I’m not sure if anyone is reading these weekly diary-type blogs, but they have become kind of therapeutic for me!

Keeping it Real: Week 3

Monday March 30

It was ‘chalk your walk’ day for the virtual spirit week and we did several drawings. The weather was gorgeous, we had a picnic for lunch in the yard, schoolwork moved outside, grocery pickup was the fullest I have ever seen and it took forever and a day. We grilled ham steaks for dinner with roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus. I felt like I had a good amount of energy today!


Tuesday March 31

We ventured to Eden Valley Refuge and hiked, learned about the park history, bounced on a swinging bridge, climbed a lookout tower and marveled at spring; picnicked in the van, did school work in the afternoon for a change. Fresh air is good for the soul, even if it is windy and cool and I need a substantial amount of it daily. Ruth serenaded us with ‘Old Town Road’ while on a horse meant for dolls. Gabriel won the Lego Challenge for the day to build a wagon to travel cross country. We had cilantro lime tacos for dinner, quickly becoming a favorite here! I was exhausted today, but it was good.



Wednesday April 1

Jeremiah took the day off, I got a much needed nap, Ruth drew an interesting self portrait, we cleaned up the yard and hauled wagons full of sticks forever, burned an entire burn barrel full of sticks, took leaves to the city pile, raked and cleaned up rocks from the winter snow. We had amazing homemade grilled orchard turkey burgers for dinner and got DQ ice cream via drive thru as a treat. I needed that nap.


Thursday April 2

Another morning hike at Bennett Park, we skipped stones in the water and enjoyed the trails and creation. I made the kids a childhood favorite of pizza dogs for lunch. They loved them! School work in the afternoon 2 days a week seems to work pretty good. It’s so windy the kids don’t want to play outside much more. They call and reschedule my midwife appointment that was set for next week for another 3 weeks out. There’s hospitals (not ours….yet) that now aren’t allowing laboring women to bring in their spouse for the birth and that scares the you-know-what out of me…that’s a conversation for another day and let’s just hope by July it’s a bit different. Played volleyball and mini-baseball in the yard with the girls. Gabriel swept out the treehouse in preparation for some work on it this weekend. Million dollar spaghetti for dinner was a good comfort food.


Friday April 3

We hit the school work hard. Amelia and Ruth focused really well and cooperated with the majority of their work. Ruth has asked almost every day this week if today she gets to go to preschool, and honestly it breaks my heart. She also doesn’t understand why we can’t go to the pool or the playground. Gabriel and Lucy bickered, fought and picked at each other all day. I had given them alot to do for school, otherwise it would have been worse! We got some daffodils delivered to the porch. Lucy videocalled her girlfriends. I tried unsuccessfully to finish a book. We walked, as usual. The younger girls and I did a Frozen ballet class on YouTube and I think I enjoyed it even more than they did. Watched the Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari. Family photo for ‘Bennett pride’ day for the virtual spirit week. We had loaded baked potatoes for dinner and I snuck off for a shower while they watched ‘Onward’ on Disney+ because honestly I needed a BREAK and if anyone else elbowed/jabbed/smashed my belly (inadvertently, even) I was going to lose it. We eat ice cream way too late and it’s so worth it.



Another week in the books! Hope everyone is doing ok out there!!