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!!

Getting into routines: Week 2

Monday March 23

I’ve never seen a kid as excited on Monday morning as Gabriel. He’s up, dressed, has 30 mins of reading done and is making himself eggs by 7:30am. He’s got an online Google hangouts class at 9am and 11am and is psyched!!! These kids are hungry for friend and teacher interaction! We have some technical issues due to my computer’s mic not working, but we figure something out. Lucy, not one to be left behind, has declared that she will be attending both classes as well. I get Lucy going on a writing prompt that she insists she wants to share with her teacher. This girl loves school and is really missing her time there. She even Googles an image to add to it. I help Amelia do her work while simultaneously reading a book to the little girls and keeping Kateri off the table. Gabriel highly enjoys his math class at 9am then dives right into 2 pages of homework. They do a reading class together at 11am in which they’re going to read/discuss/activities for a Magic Treehouse book. Kateri cannot keep her hands out of the markers. That drives me crazy because Amelia and Ruth use the markers almost all day. It’s almost impossible to keep her out of trouble during the day. Lucy wants to make a recipe out of a kid’s cookbook for lunch– ‘sushi rolls’ (made with flattened bread, meat, cheese, veggies, spreads etc) so starts taking orders. Amelia does ABC Mouse for awhile. Gabriel works on his writing prompt then works on mastering ‘Hallelujah’ on the piano and it’s sounding really good. Ruth watches a few letter ‘Y’ videos and works on her ABC book. Kateri continues to wreak havoc. Lunch was good. Even better since I didn’t have to do it! I get the little girls down for naps and the older girls get the mail and they got a card from a cousin! Made their day. They draw/write back to her and then start the Lego challenge–today’s is to make a boat that can carry you and 4 others back from being stranded on a deserted island. They get really into this! Yesterday they had a toughest Lego pickup truck contest and Amelia dominated…didn’t hurt that Jeremiah oiled her wheels *ahem* I’m re-scheduled for my anatomy ultrasound scan for tomorrow and I call to make sure I should still go. They tell me yes, but no kids and only 1 other person can come. I’m almost 23 weeks now. So many things {everything except this} have been rescheduled or cancelled it makes my head spin.


Action shot


“Sushi rolls”


Toughest truck winner!

I had about 3/4 of the rest of this post written and due to technical issues it did not get saved and when the computer was restarted it did not survive. 😦 Due to my lack of ambition to re-write all of it, I am going to finish the week in pictures 🙂

Tuesday March 24


Ultrasound did happen, and Baby looked great. Too bad the hospital policies changed in the 24 hours since I called, and Jeremiah couldn’t even come in to be present for the ultrasound 😦 

Wednesday March 25


A little garden work  to break up the morning. Hoping to plant a few things soon


Sand, our friend (we stayed off the playground!)


Love their creativity–it’s a couch


And they found a frog

Thursday March 26


A happy porch delivery! Weird that this was exciting to me…

We visited a local bike trail Thursday morning and it was wonderful…until Amelia got tired, it started to rain and Lucy had a small meltdown. At least we got some exercise.

Friday March 27


Trying our hand at making meringues


Lego challenge winner for day #11 was Gabriel…build a castle. The kids have loved doing this every day.



Lunch cookout while cleaning the garage


No social distancing here…


A little quiet following Mass at home


Found Amelia reading to Kateri behind the bed 🙂

Here’s to another week down!


Filling our days: Week 1

I’m tired of the C-word. You all know what I’m talking about. I’m not working for the time being, my 5 KIDS are home all day every day for at least 4 weeks, our lives have been overturned, and everyone has a lot of big emotions about this whole situation. I’m really trying to keep things in some sense of ‘normal’ for the kids. I can’t imagine what it feels like as a young kid to go through a pandemic like this.

Anyways, enough of the gloom. I’ve been earnestly trying to keep an upbeat attitude when possible, fill our days with activities and learning and movement (as much as this 22 week pregnant body can handle anyways) to maintain some sense of security and safety and family and enjoy our time together as much as we can. I suggested to the kids we should keep a journal, as it may be neat to read back someday and see what this time was all about. I hope they have somewhat fond (?) memories of this time all together and that we stay healthy. And I have gleaned a plethora of great ideas from other moms, teachers, and parents that have discovered awesome things to do. If this gives another parent some ideas, awesome. So, here’s what we’ve been doing to {try} to fill our days:

Monday, March 16

I woke up with a plan. First thing was to sit the kids down and explain the whole situation. They took it about like I thought. And I didn’t cry. So I’ll consider that a win. I stress to them the importance that this is how it is FOR NOW; it does stink and it is all of a sudden; feeling weird/sad/mad/down is totally normal and ok to feel; and we are going to try to make the most of this time. And guess what, it was a mess all day, regardless. We listened to the daily Mass readings, everyone was dressed and ate breakfast by 9am, so that was a win! We did learning activities of ABC Mouse,, Scholastic Learn at Home, workbooks we had, etc. I realized I needed to do a little more planning and prep work for this time of the day. I want to have them do ‘school’ type stuff for a few hours in the morning, but I had little ready or set up. I tried to get some laundry done, and for some reason I’m way behind and there’s alot of it!!! By 11am everyone was ready for a break, so we took a walk/bike/scooter ride around town. We went across the truck scale and the kids always love to see how much we all individually and collectively weigh. We played on the school playground and swung on the swings. I second guessed this later, but how do you know what’s ok?! After lunch little girls took a nap and older kids and I tried to set up all their accounts and discovered a few new things for online learning. Technology is kind of a stressor for me!!! I had scheduled a grocery pickup at 3 so we set off for that. I am thankful for grocery pickup in a time like this. Kids didn’t even get out of the car. We had brats for dinner with roasted asparagus, cottage cheese and baked beans. For some reason I’m having trouble having ambition to make anything lately. It was tasty. We watched something on Disney+ before kids went to bed. I ate a giant brownie-the last one 😦 Today seemed surreal.


Tuesday, March 17

The leprechaun had apparently visited us overnight as our toilet water was green! 😉 Scrambled eggs for breakfast and onto school-type stuff. Amelia got a packet from her teacher along with sight words, readers and writing practice (THANK YOU!!). I worked with her while the older 2 did Adventure Academy (which they claim is like a learning Roblox game and subsequently love it). Ruth and Kateri destroyed the house and I pulled Kateri off the dining room table over and over and over. At 11am we ventured to Bennett Park (which was 100% deserted!) and hiked the trails, played in the mud, played in the sand, spotted wildlife and rolled down the hills. We listened to some history about St Patrick. 2 glorious hours later we came home, had lunch and put K down for a nap. I let Ruth stay up which made her into a crazy lady by the end of the day, but I didn’t want to deny her the glorious afternoon sunshine!!! Lucy made a chocolate coconut lime pie while the other kids played outside. Amelia wrote her BFF a few cards and we walked them to the mailbox. Ruth and Amelia took a bike ride around town and I walked behind. Amelia can ride on 2 wheels now! YAY! We had corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots for dinner and it was actually really good (I’m not usually a fan!). The neighbor paid Gabriel to remove rock from her yard from the winter, he was thrilled to do so. Little girls had a bath and we watched an episode of The Voice before bed. I felt like if I could repeat this day every day, we’d have a good time off. Doesn’t hurt that it was sunny and somewhat warm….


Wednesday, March 18

It’s raining today, blah. I made a list for each kid of things to complete for the day; a few chores, some learning stuff online, reading, reading to siblings, other tasks, etc. G had all of his done too quickly. I helped Amelia with all of her paperwork, and she’s quite diligent with it. We watched some preschool videos on the letter ‘X’ letter of the week and catching a leprechaun. We also watched some sight word videos by Jack Hartmann. Ruth started a few things her teacher sent home (THANK YOU!) and she loved it. After lunch Lucy read to Ruth before her nap. When the little girls were napping we did kid’s art tutorials on YouTube. I was actually impressed with my little drawings because I am the farthest thing from an artist! Amelia cried A LOT during this time. She wears her emotions on her sleeve, and girl and was having a trying day. I am working HARD on my patience today. I did 3 loads of laundry. Amelia and I made breakfast cookies while Lucy did her and Ruth’s nails. We went for a bike ride/walk around town in the mist. We had a creamy chile poblano instant pot meal for dinner with ground turkey and brown rice. Kateri had a massive diaper blowout, the kind where a bath is involved, during dinner. After that fiasco we cleaned up the whole main floor of the house and watched a little bit of some videos from the Cincinnati Zoo and The Voice before kids went to bed. I realize today that I feel I’m in a similar funk as to after I have a baby. Weird.


I know, they’re absolutely breathtaking *haha!!


Thursday, March 19

Why is getting out of bed so hard? So tired. The kids watch TV and get ready by 9am, then TV goes off. I sit with Amelia for 1.5 hrs and do worksheets, readers until she melts down and wants to take a break. I’m always surprised how long she lasts! She does ABC Mouse for awhile. G and L do their usual. They’re both really digging Adventure Academy. Ruth and Kateri watch some videos that her preschool teacher shared on the letter X and ABCs. She sings along. I take the kids for a walk at 11am, it’s lightly raining but I don’t care. We go around town, jump in puddles, run down hills, get the mail and read the closed sign on the bank 😦 Not much happening and we don’t see anyone! I enlist Lucy to help make lunch – BBQ pork and cheese enchiladas with cut up apples, which Amelia does. I was pretty proud of this meal because it used up a lot of leftovers and I’m trying to make everything last. I lay Kateri down for nap and G starts doing art tutorials, Amelia does ABC Mouse and Lucy decided to write a letter to a friend. Awesome. I read to Ruth then lay down to nap myself. Apparently I didn’t make myself clear as to what I was doing because Lucy comes in twice to ask me about her letter. I finally just get up and she knows I’m not happy. Amelia and I do a pregnancy Pilates workout and I strain both of my round ligaments-OUCH. Amelia wants to make brownies…but we’re out of butter. No fear, google finds me this and they are good. The kids each decide we should make hats. We had enchiladas for dinner with homemade enchilada sauce (drooooool-I’ve got plenty of time to make it, so why not?!) So good. While I’m making that, J leads the kids in some music interpretation; he plays a song and then they’re supposed to write what they think it’s actually about. I thought they’d hate it but they actually loved it. It’s good to be married to an educator, and how creative! After dinner we do a Rosary. Again, why not!? We have to do a massive cleanup because our house is a wreck. Ruth randomly asks how paper is made. After everything is cleaned up we watch several YouTube videos on how paper, bubble gum, highlighters, milk and candy canes are made. I cannot lie, it was super interesting. Kids go to bed and we watch more of The Voice. I realize today that Lucy is a huge help, with the younger kids, meal prep, etc.



Friday, March 20

Jeremiah comments that I look terrible. I’m tired and it shows. Mentally and emotionally I’m exhausted! I start by emailing the kid’s teachers and setting up more online platforms. G and L will have actual assignments from their teachers, Google hangout live classes and discussions and book chats. I LOVE IT. Their teachers are just so great!!!!  The kids to-do lists each day are getting longer and there’s less ‘What can I do??’ I feel like I’m less lost during the day. It’s getting better…it seems. I get 2 phone calls before 9 but the kids still seem to get dressed and eat and brush so we’re making progress. I do table work with Amelia while G and L do online work. Kateri and Ruth literally tear the house apart….until I let them watch an alphabet video on my phone. One of the things I put on the older kids’ lists was to play with and read to the younger girls. Lucy enlists the girls in some kind of exercise class involving babies and miniature horses. Whatever works. G wants macaroni and cheese for lunch so I put him in charge of that job. Lucy and Gabriel say numerous times how they are excited about the new stuff they will be doing with their teachers starting Monday. I’m glad to hear! After lunch the 4 older kids do the daily ‘Lego challenge’ — today’s is build a tall tower. I put Kateri down for a nap and read the rest of the time. The Lego challenge lasts for 1 hr and 45 mins! I’m surprised and there’s little fighting. It’s cold and no one wants to go outside. We do a kid workout, dance, GoNoodle, KidsBop dance and stretching videos for almost an hour. I’m sufficiently wore out. Kids put away a ton of clean laundry. I made homemade cool veggie pizza for dinner and no one but myself and Jeremiah like it. That is unusual and our normal is that you eat what is served. I’m exceptionally ticked because a) I’m tired b) I homemade the crust/sauce/ranch seasoning so it was all GF and c) I’m mentally and emotionally spent at this point. I’m not feeling it so a couple of kids make themselves egg salad sandwiches (#Lent #Catholic) I am making constant conscious effort to give everyone a lot of grace….this is uncharted territory and things are just. plain. tough…….no matter what age you are. The kids stay up a little later than normal but it’s fine. Today I wonder what in the heck we are going to do all weekend with nothing to do and nowhere to go!?

PS- We figured out the weekend and it hasn’t been so bad…so far!


Lunch and ‘house’ in a tent for the win!

Seester Sunday: Chili, books and rest!


Today was truly a Sunday Funday! I was busy with a few awesome activities today.

After mass, I attended our Basilica’s Knights of Columbus 10th Annual Chili Cook Off. I had a blast trying four out of the seven chilis. I would have tried more, but I was stuffed and did not want to be miserable for the rest of the day.

Today I wore one of my “winterized ensembles.” This full outfit is from Target. I started with a sundress, and then added a cami, cardigan, tights, and boots. I was careful with the color selections for each of my additions, as I did not want to over power the floral print with too much black, and I also did not want to look out of place and washed out with too much white.


I really enjoy pulling colors out of prints to complete an outfit. I wore my favorite blue Silpada earrings that I wore last week. And this week I added my necklace with Saint Agnes (my confirmation patron saint) and Miraculous medals. 

After all of that chili eating, I was ready to relax with the pups. The only thing better than reading books is reading books while snuggling with dogs. It’s simply the best.

I finished my day with an evening shift working at Barnes and Noble. I made a few book recommendations tonight and splurged on some cheesecake during my break. 


Hope you have a great week!



Well my Sunday was much less exciting than Mel’s, but still good!

We have been battling the plague for the entire past week 6 weeks at our house. Jeremiah was hit HARD on Mon/Tues and really didn’t emerge from the trenches until Friday evening. Gabriel was home from school for 3 days this week. By Sunday morning, Jeremiah still wasn’t feeling great, and offered to stay home with Kateri. I jumped on that idea, because ‘Me/4 kids in Mass alone’ sounds a lot better than ‘Me/5 kids in Mass alone’!

I quickly got myself ready while the older 4 got dressed and we were off. Ruth was naughty during church (what’s new?) but everyone else was fine and well behaved.  I shared with Jeremiah awhile ago that I know one of the specific reasons God gave me Ruth was to keep me HUMBLE. And that she does, very well, almost daily. After Mass, the kids ate doughnuts while I chatted with a friend, then we all went to our respective Sunday School classes. Gabriel’s class played Bible Jeopardy for part of their session, how fun! My 1st grade class talked about Baptism and Sacraments. 

My outfit was an oldie, but a goodie. My shirt was thrifted a long time ago and is super long. I like to tie it in a little knot to give it a little something and so it’s not shapeless. This shirt is so wonderful because I have worn it when I am trying to hide a post-baby pudgey belly, when I’m not pregnant, AND when I am pregnant, and I think it looks decent in all situations and is very forgiving–my favorite types of clothes!! My leggings are maternity from Old Navy and I basically live in them when they’re not in the washer. I wore tall boots and forgot to put earrings in. I did nothing with my hair other than a ponytail because that’s how I roll a lot of days and Kateri pulls on it all day anyways. 😉  This pic was taken right before bed, so yes, I look a *bit* tired and my glasses are on. haha!


Photo cred to Ruth(?)

After that we all headed home on icy roads and had lunch. The rest of the day consisted of me getting 100 pages into a new book (“A Woman is No Man” by Etaf Rum–VERY GOOD), watching an episode of “Flip Wars” on Prime, helping Gabriel with a pile of makeup homework (–see couch), making all people take a nap (they all were quiet for 2 hours!!! WIN!), planning our week in my planner, keeping Kateri from climbing on me too much, doing laundry, watching the kids go crazy (anyone else’s people have cabin fever?!) and ordering dinner in from the bar/grille in town. A good, restful Sunday, but I am happy to see and feel the sun today!!


Seester Sunday: Groundhog Day


Well, so much for posting again “next week.” Ha ha. (See our last post from A MONTH ago!) Life happens, I guess. 

This Sunday is a big day for a lot of people. Not only is it Super Bowl Sunday, but in Iowa, it is Caucus Eve!

I worked at Barnes and Noble during the day today and afterward took Percy and Gemma for a nice, long walk around Gray’s Lake.


Then we stayed in and watched the Super Bowl. I can’t remember the last time we had a night in. With holding a final 50-50 in 2020 three day candidate training for women running for office, wrapping up the 50-50 in 2020 organization as a whole, lining up new clients to begin work for on February 1st and after, attending caucus events, and dating (Yes, the first date at Centro has turned into several dates now!) during the past three weeks, this lady has been on the go a lot. 

Today I wore a sweater, tank, and Pixie pants from Old Navy. This was the perfect outfit for today: practical and comfortable for work, and something I could keep on for the rest of the day at the lake and at home. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it a million times yet or not, but I like to get dressed once for the day and call it good. 


I accessorized with my main thing: earrings. These I bought from a Lia Sophia consultant eons ago:


I wore my tall brown boots to Barnes and Noble and then switched to my waterproof ankle boots for lake time. Both pairs of boots are from – you guessed it – Target! 


While life has been crazy lately, I have continued to stock up on books for the slower days ahead. Today’s Barnes and Noble purchase:


Hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl, and if you live in Iowa, please caucus tomorrow! I recommend caucusing for Amy Klobuchar. 🙂




Happy Candelmas/Feast of the Presentation, Eve of Jeremiah’s birthday, Superbowl Sunday, Groundhog Day, National Tator Tot Day, and the first global palindrome day in 909 years. How’s that for a great setup for the day?!


Today’s outfit consisted of a white maternity tshirt, jean jacket and thrifted black maxi skirt with black Old Navy leggings underneath. I wore boots as well. I also, like my sister, like to get dressed ONCE for the day, and I hate changing during the day, so this is what I wore for everything! My legs were warm and I like having the option to remove my jacket as I tend to get quite *warm* these days! I wore this outfit for church, brunch, walking to the library, folding laundry, making food, soothing a fussy toddler, photographing handstands, delegating jobs, loading the dishwasher, overeating Superbowl food and visiting at my parent’s house. Gabriel was a gift bearer at church today and Lucy read half of the prayers of the faithful as it was 3rd and 4th grade Mass ministries today. It was a good day!

We will hopefully be back again soon with another installment of Seester Sunday!

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 🙂