I met a goal!

In February of 2017, I set a goal. I was tired of not getting to do the things that I enjoyed just because I had a lot on my plate. After all, don’t we all always have a lot on our plate?! A few years back I made a resolution to resume doing the things that I enjoyed; running/exercising, crafting, reading, sewing, baking, hiking, kayaking, etc etc etc because I desperately needed to. So last February I decided that in 2017 I was going to READ. My goal was 20 books, which really, is not very much. That’s over 2 weeks of time per book. Which is more than plenty for me.

I’ve read 23 books this year!! And I still have a few weeks, so hoping to add 1 or 2 more to my list! Most of these I knocked off in less than a week’s time each.

I thought I’d post all 23 of the books that I enjoyed this year, with my top 5 favorites listed first. I read a good mix of fiction, nonfiction, biographies, and memoirs. If nothing else, this post can give people some motivation to resume a hobby that they enjoy, no matter how busy life is! And definitely make the time to read these:

 Wonder by R.J. Palacio #1 There’s a reason that this has been made into a movie and is selling out. So, so, so good. I actually just finished this last week. This is such a great based-on-real-life story that makes you cheer for the characters. Any adolescent especially should read this. Makes us all think a bit harder about how blessed we are. Quick read and worth the time!
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai #2 The nonfiction story of one of the arguably bravest girls in the world; shot in the head by the Taliban, who survived to tell about it and become  worldwide icon for women’s rights. Great read!
Still Alice by Lisa Genova  #3 So authentic in a woman’s struggle with early onset Alzheimer’s. Gripping and difficult to put down. Fiction.
The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines #4 Ah, The Gaines. A true hard-work-pays-off, sweat-blood-tears and risk-taking motivational book of a truly inspirational Christian couple and family. Great read, especially if you are a Fixer Upper fan. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one.
When the Brain Can't Hear by Teri James Bellis #5 This is not a very light read, but I found it fascinating and extremely enlightening and helpful. Nonfiction, but especially for the parent of a child with Auditory Processing Disorder. It made it all make sense.
The rest of the list, all of which were honorable mentions!

My goal for 2018 is 30 books!

Read on, fellow bookworms!!





Friday Five: 10/13/17

  1. I have never met a child so in love with preschool. Most days, before I even get a chance to ask her, she says ‘Mom! Do you want to know how my day at preschool was? It was GOOOOD!!!’. Love her and her fun personality. She sure does get a lot out of 3 hours a day at school! She’s especially fond of the songs, playing with the ‘unicorns’ at center time (AKA My Little Ponies), being the line leader, riding the bus home, and the ‘silent cheer’ they do on Fridays, which is so cute. I hope she continues to have a love of learning past the days of center play and dot markers!


2. Although Ruth’s birthday has now come and gone and we have a 1 year old terrorizing running around the house again, I wanted to show her birthday cake. Truth be told I am no good at birthday cakes. Not. At. All. I scoured google for easy ideas and this is what I came up with. Sprinkles make everything look good 😉


3. I have pushed a baby or toddler in a jogging stroller for 8 years now. How did I miss the memo on the magic of the weather shield?? Awesome idea for 13 bucks. And thank you Amazon for prompt 2 day delivery as always 😉 I’m hoping to prolong my outdoor running another 6 weeks or so until I’m banished to the basement and the Airdyne bike for the remainder of the winter. *sigh* Ruth hasn’t complained about the temp or misty/rainy weather yet, but I’m thinking this will keep her even more comfortable. YAY! Winterized and ready to go!


4. Another recent discovery of mine is the allure of the podcast. Yeah, yeah, I know this is old news. I need to get with the modern-tech program. But really! Listening to something of use and thought-provoking while loading the dishwasher at nap time or driving home from work?! Mind blowing! The epitomy of multi-tasking!! My favorites so far have been on the topics of Catholic moms stuff (big surprise here, I know), helping children develop healthy body images, simplicity/organization, family/household logistics and interviews with people. I’ve listened to bloggers, podcasters, through a Motherhood Matters Online Conference, and others that have come recommended. Love me a good podcast!

5. BOOKS. Of course.

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Little Heathens was my most recent finish. The story of a young girl growing up on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression. It seems so much of what was used and learned during that time of history is gone. Like how to waste nothing in terms of food or goods. How to live off the land. Home remedies that were often as effective as medications. A fascinating read and literally so close to home.

Still Growing: An Autobiography

Still Growing is an autobiography written by Kirk Cameron himself. I love biographies to start with, but this was an interesting read about his journey into being a child TV-star on Growing Pains and 100’s of other things he was casted for. It is also his conversion from atheism to Christianity. I watched Growing Pains frequently as a kid.Well written and easy to read.

The Name of God is Mercy by Pope Francis

This will probably not be of interest to anyone who is not Catholic, but this entire book is an interview with Pope Francis by an Italian journalist. They covered various topics and I found it interesting. Not something I would want to read all the time, but good nonetheless.

That’s all I got for today! Happy Friday!


Today is Ruth’s last day as an 11 month old. Tomorrow she turns *ONE*. We will have a toddler moreso than a baby. I can hardly stand it.


Ruth was a long awaited, anticipated and prayed for addition to our family. We had to wait longer than we had planned for her. We all know how those plans go…. I started to think that maybe we were meant to have 3 kids….but then she came around. 🙂 I also found myself waiting longer to deliver her than any of our other babies (40wks + 1 day, to be exact). Those interested can read her birth story HERE and my end of pregnancy rant HERE. Ahem. But what I didn’t see during any of that was that God had a plan. Of course I see it now, hindsight is always at least 20/20. She fits into our family so well and I can definitely see that she was given to us for so many reasons and has taught all of us so much already. Timing for her was perfect, of course. She’s been an amazing gift to our family. And tomorrow she turns ONE.

She walks. She CLIMBS. She jabbers; says ‘mama’, ‘dada’, ‘nana’, and I think I’ve heard ‘mo’.  She attracts people because of her strawberry-blondish hair, piercing blue eyes and happy toothy grin. She’s mischevious and prefers to ride around on my hip, not a fan of strangers. She continues to highly enjoy climbing in the dishwasher, stairs, the great outdoors, pulling flower blossoms, bouncy balls, eating paper and almost all foods. She’s a busy girl when a lot of exploring to do. She tries hard to keep up with her siblings. She’s a good sleeper and an overall delight.

We are so lucky to have her 🙂




Friday Five: 9/8/17

  1. We survived our 3+day tent camping excursion, and I can honestly say that it was probably the best family trip we’ve had. We had such a wonderful time!!! I never once heard ‘I’m bored’ and there was actually very little fighting amongst the siblings. The weather was beautiful other than the first night dipping to the mid 40’s and a 30 minute shower of rain on Saturday. {Side note: how does one dress an infant for sleeping outdoors when it’s that chilly? I tried a few different things and really nothing was successful = I got little sleep. So if you have tips, let me know} We did a lot of hiking, cooking over the campfire, fishing, caving, kayaking, playing on the beach and exploring the park. Our kids are awesome hikers and we covered some serious miles of rough terrain. Iowa has so many hidden gems and places always surprise me! Gabriel chopped a whole fallen tree in half with a hatchet {talk about a boy being proud of himself}. We saw a coyote, beaver, eagle, deer, trout, chipmunk and lots of birds.We got some relaxing time around the campfire and ate a ton of smores and the like. I am finally getting caught up on laundry and literally did just that for 3 days upon returning from our trip. That’s a serious endeavor! The kids are already asking when we can go again so it looks like I better figure out how to dress the infant at night 😉

Backbone ridge trail



Six Pines Trail

2. Amelia is loving preschool! No surprise to us, but I thought she would have had more of an adjustment period than she did…..which was basically nonexistent. The adorable preschool artwork and projects have returned to adorne our fridge and I love it. Her favorite parts of school include recess, cutting with scissors, riding the school bus home, singing songs, and snack time. What a kid! Her speech continues to improve and I think being around other little people has helped. She declares daily that ‘Mom, you are my bestie!’ Melt. my. heart.


Dot markers–a preschool fav

3. My better half is running for school board! The election is this upcoming week, so if you’re in our district please vote! He will make an awesome school board member!

4. Ruth is a beast baby. That’s the first thing I said to J this morning and it’s the reality as of lately. She’s cutting molars and is not sleeping well. Le sigh. I’m talking thrashing around for 5 hrs last night. Poor girl. She does wake up happy though, so that’s good. She continues to climb anything and everything and can even open the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs now. Uff da. She loves to chew on sidewalk chalk and sticks and is relentless about getting in the dishwasher and pulling everything down at the library. This day she figured out how to use a step stool to reach the cookie dough in the mixer bowl. I like to think that she’s a problem solver 😉


5. My latest reads: A man called Ove was a charming one. I gave it 4 stars and can see why it’s been at the top of the bestsellers list. Fiction is not really my favorite genre, but it was pretty good, although it took me longer than I care for to get through it. Another recent one that I absolutely LOVED was The Magnolia Story about Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’. Talk about hard work paying off! This autobiography was awesome and very inspiring. It’s so great to see honest, good, hardworking, Christians make it in life and live their dreams. And now I’m on The Boys in the Bunkhouse which is the story of the mentally challenged men who were living in Atalissa, a town just 20-ish miles away, and working at a turkey factory. So far this book is extremely well written and weaves complex story of how these men got into such a dire situation. Read on, my fellow bookworms, read on.

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Uncharted territory

  1. So I did something new today. I took 3 kids to school, and I left them all there. Weird.


I snapped this picture without them knowing #momskills.  And I’m pretty sure they should be Land’s End backpack models, just sayin’. I’m not sure I even needed to go into school with them today. The older 2 helped Amelia into her room, found her cubby, helped her to hang up her backpack and then held her hand and walked to the playground. I snagged a hug. Amelia turned around and yelled ‘Bye Mom!!!’. And that was it. Talk about not feeling needed. 😉 I am SO excited for her to be in preschool. She has been looking forward to this for so long. I love watching them grow!!!


2.I started looking at cake ideas and birthday gifts for my BABY who is turning ONE in less than a month. Super weird. What’s also super weird is that I think this kid really is part of the monkey species. She climbs like no other. We have never had a kid like this….. or maybe it’s just been awhile since Gabriel was one. She enjoys climbing in and out of the dishwasher and attempting to break the hinges off the door, climbing into/out of/on top of the broiler drawer of the oven, climbing chairs, slides, stairs and ladders, splashing in the toilet, as well as yanking all and every last book off of the bookshelf. She sure is cute and fun though 🙂


3. We are planning a camping trip involving 3 tents, 3 nights, 7 people, and a lot of food. Wish us luck and pray for no rain. We have only ever done 1 night trips before so this will be very different. We are VERY excited. We will have no electricity so all meals will be over the fire and hopefully be a lot of tasty trout that we catch. Hopefully the mosquitos take a vacation then too.

4. I am teaching Sunday School this year to a grade I’ve never taught. In the past (before our kids were born) Jeremiah and I taught 2nd grade (and we really had no idea what we were doing) and then I got wiser and co-taught 3 yr old preschool faith formation with a friend, because preschool is way easier than 2nd grade sacramental year. This year a nun asked me to teach 1st grade, but I have never done that grade before. But, when a nun asks you to do something, you do it. So, I’m teaching 1st grade and Lucy is over the moon that I’ll be her teacher. We’ll see how that goes.

5. Last and certainly the most unimportant of this blog post, I am going to attempt to make salsa verde today with a massive amount of tomatillos that a patient brought to us out of his garden this week. Also going to try our hand at refrigerator pickles. Never have done either of these things before, so wish me luck once again. Now that I have 3 hrs of the morning a few days a week with only 1 kid anything can happen!




How We Do: fitting 4 girls in 1 bedroom

I’ve been meaning for quite some time to do a post on how the triple bunks turned out, and that means showing the girl’s room. No, we don’t have 4 girls, but we could fit 4 girls in the room if needed. We have slept 4 girls in there for several nights when cousins visit and I have to admit I felt like that was a huge parenting win! When we moved into this house, we had a ‘sleeping room’ and a ‘toy room’ for the kids. When we were expecting Ruth, we decided we needed to move to having a ‘boy room’ and a ‘girl room’. We did not know that G would end up with his own room and a spare bed, and that the girls would end up with triple bunks AND a crib. It does work though. Big(ger) families + medium sized houses = creativity. 🙂

So here goes: *disclaimer–this is a rare sighting and their room is never this clean. It took quite awhile to look even this presentable. And I made their beds. So there’s that….*


Welcome to the girl’s room 🙂



We painted the bunks a medium gray because we thought it’d be a neutral color that would grow and change with them. We had to carry each board individually in from the garage and upstairs into the girl’s bedroom, then assemble in there. You could say that it took a huge amount some time. I got their matching comforters at Target on super sale and with Cartwheel so that made me extra happy. I had thought about making a little curtain for under the middle bunk for a hideout, but it works really well to keep a lot of their taller toys under there, so I saved myself some work and they just roll them in there. Lucy’s prized posession, her vanity, sits next to the window and Amelia’s ladder.


Lucy rearranges her vanity daily. It’s always a source of my clutter anxiety because she cherishes all the trinkets…..

The room actually has a good amount of floor space, especially for having 4 beds. They also have a large chest that is overflowing in dress up clothes and a large bookshelf that I didn’t photograph because it’s always just full of stuff. You get the idea.


I have a thing about dressers. I don’t like them. We have 1 in our bedroom, and the rest of clothes are kept on shelves in the bedroom closets, arranged in bins or baskets. This has worked so well for us, because the kids can put away their own clothes! It’s quite magical….. They each have 3 bins; 1 for tops, 1 for bottoms, and 1 for PJs. They also each have 2 drawers in a Sterilite cart; 1 for socks and 1 for undies. All of the hanging clothes and dresses go in Gabriel’s closet because it has a hanging rod and he’s got the space. We go through their clothes 2 times a year (or sooner if they have a growth spurt) to change seasons and whatnot. I do all the washing, drying, folding, but it’s their responsibility for their clothes to make it from the laundry room to their bins and to the hamper when they’re done wearing them. I don’t care if their bins are just a heap of unfolded clothes, as long as it’s in the right bin and not all over the floor. I am thinking of doing a post just on managing kids clothes…I know, rivoting, but this is what season we’re in right now and maybe others can relate. Stay tuned.


Lucy and Amelia’s bins, on lower shelves so they can reach


Ruth’s bins (outfits, onesies and PJs) and rolling drawer

So yeah, my girls may never know what it’s like to have their own bedroom, and I think we’re ok with that. 99% of the time they like having all of them in there at once, even when Amelia sings a little too long at bedtime and Lucy steps on Amelia when she’s climbing into her bed.



Friday Five: 7/21/17

  1. Helloooo blogging world! I’ve returned from hiatus as a lot of our time-consuming aspects of summer are now over. We spent an average 4 nights/week at a ball field in June watching baseball and t-ball (and much to my surprise, I really really enjoyed both!); G and L just finished swimming lessons; G and L did a week-long 4H day camp; we’ve swam, hiked, ran; attended 2 professional baseball games; J finished his intensive summer class for grad school; visited an alpaca farm; kids did VBS; summer reading programs at libraries; wedding reception/birthday parties/bridal shower/grad parties; we camped overnight, in a tent, with 5 kids under 8 and survived to tell about it…..
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    Mermaid sisters

    Speaking of surviving, those puddle-jumper floaties that Amelia’s wearing are pretty much the bee’s knees. Especially for parents of many younger kids. I took all 3 girls to a beach by myself and it was a game changer.  I didn’t have to worry about Amelia toppling over in the water and sinking if I looked away for 3 seconds. I next bought one for Lucy as she is on the verge of being a good swimmer, but it’s good when the pool’s full and we can’t hold her hand constantly. We took all 4 kids to an aquatic center today and they worked so well! The girls don’t mind wearing them (G is becoming quite the fish!) and it is amazing how well they keep them afloat without all the bulk of a lifejacket or the inconsistency of arm floaties. We had a moment of bliss today when J and I looked out from under the giant shaded umbrella and saw the 3 older kids all floating and playing together without us worrying about them sinking. Puddle-jumpers 4 the win!

  3. Awhile ago, on one of the days I was feeling overwhelmed and underimpressed with dishes and messes and whining and clutter and well, life, I decided it was high time to fill my own bucket, and I committed to doing the Quad City Half Marathon in September. The race is the day after Ruth turns 1 and will be my 4th half marathon….and I have 4 kids! Well well….. because what all moms of 4 kids who also work outside the home, have a husband in grad school and multiple other projects on the side need to do is to sign up to train for 13 miles….amiright?! Well, this mom DID need to! This bod ain’t 25 anymore and I can definitely tell I’m going to have to work harder for a decent time. So far so good, I’m running farther than I have in a few years, so I’m headed in the right direction.
  4. Ruth. Well here’s an update on her. She’ll be 10 months old on Sunday (where did that come from?!) She has 8 teeth. EIGHT. Nursing + EIGHT teeth = a circus. And sometimes, I hear her grind her teeth *shudder*. She can climb. Stairs, picnic tables, lounge chairs, trampolines. She definitely has strawberry blonde hair, there’s no doubt about it as people are asking us where the red comes from (ahem, have you not met Aunt Mel or Uncle Cam?!) Her hair has just recently started growing at an exponential pace. She’s about ready to walk but in the mean time is mastering the quiet crawl to the bathroom where her most favorite activities include shredding rolls of toilet paper, dumping the trash, and dropping tiny things down the heat register. I got her a baby walker, she hates it. She’s in that stage where she enjoys trying to gouge out my eyes and hooking my cheek like a fishhook, all the while breaking the few full strands of hair I have left on my head. We have been making it through an average of 15 mins of Mass before one of us ends up out in the entry way because her scream is blood curdling and loud. She’s a very observant child and never wants to miss out on anything. In all truth, she really is a good baby. She’s always VERY excited about life. See what I mean:

    Her cuteness kills me!


  5. We did something weird at the beginning of this summer. Well, more weird than we already are, I suppose. We removed our TV. It’s in the garage. We have NO TV in our house, for several reasons. And guess what? We haven’t missed it! Tonight, G told me “Mom? I like having no TV. I think it’s better.” BAM. Spoken from the mouth of babes. Before we took it out, it had probably been 3 weeks since anyone had watched it anyways, so we really didn’t notice. The final straw was Ruth’s 3rd attempt at pulling it over on herself from the low stand it was perched on. We’re not much of the TV type, but we have watched some netflix and youtube here and there. I’m planning to write a whole blog post about my thoughts/our experiences on it soon, maybe by the end of summer. The TV will probably return at some point when it gets cold and The Voice is back for a new season, but for now it’s taking a little time off on a shelf in the garage.  😉

J and I are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary tomorrow! We have a little 16-hr getaway planned that is going to be a blast, I’m so excited!!!!!